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I’ve frequently joked in the past, here and elsewhere, about my “dinosaur phone”.  I’ve also complained a fair bit about how crappy my cell service was, a combination of AT&T being not-so-great outside metro Atlanta and my phone’s age.  (It wasn’t the latest and greatest iPhone when I bought it two years ago, and it was actually a used, refurbished phone then.)  On Wednesday, I upgraded both.

I knew two things: I wanted to have decent coverage pretty much anywhere in the country (remember, there’s a good chance we could be living in any one of two or three other states in six months), and I wanted to continue to have an iPhone (mostly because I have collected a lot of apps over the last two years that I want to keep using, and yeah, some of them did cost money).

I’ve spent the last several months thinking about my options and asking a lot of people (family, friends, people at work, etc.) about their coverage.  T-Mobile has reasonably priced plans/phones (I would have been paying $50 for my service and $27 for my phone each month; even though I would have paid full price for the phone by the end of two years, I wouldn’t technically be locked into a contract and would still be saving at least $20 a month after taxes) but they have spotty coverage down here and appear to use somebody else’s towers at home.  I looked at a no-contract company I’d never heard of until I came down here, Cricket, because their service seemed reasonably priced.  However, not only does their website say all their iPhones are limited to 3G, even the very newest ones, you pay the full cost of the phone up front.  In addition, their coverage maps show pretty spotty service once you get out of Warner Robins/Centerville proper, meaning whether or not it worked here would probably depend on what direction the wind was blowing, and the phone would basically quit working about 20 miles south of where my dad lives, except for right along I-75.  (And it wouldn’t work at all at my grandparents’ house, unless I either drove 16 miles from town to get back on I-75 or took US-23 out of town almost to Mackinaw City, my old route to the job I had way back in the summer of 2007.)

Like I said, I’ve complained plenty here about AT&T and their coverage, both here in Georgia and back home in Michigan.  They only got 3G up and running up around my mom’s house (a tourist-heavy area, where you’d think they would have prioritized upgrading services due to the huge numbers of people coming from other parts of the state and country) right before I moved down here.  My phone would drop entirely off the network half a dozen times between home and work.  There are two distinct sections of Warner Robins (along Watson Boulevard, which is pretty much the major road through the middle of the city) where my phone would say it had full signal, but I couldn’t call, text, or connect to the internet.  With Dallas home, I’ve gotten out and about a little more, and over the last month, I’ve found a bunch of other places where my AT&T phone didn’t have signal.  Their customer service has always been top-notch when I’ve had an issue, whether I called, requested help online, or stopped into a retail store, but that won’t make my phone work in places it should be working.  So the only logical solution was to head to Verizon.

Back in December my mother-in-law told me she wanted to get me a new cell phone when my contract was up as a late Christmas present, and she wanted me to get something good that wouldn’t be horribly obsolete before I could upgrade again.  So I ended up with an iPhone 5S.  This, too, was not without its hurdles: my AT&T contract ended Saturday and I went to our local Verizon store on Sunday, thinking I could walk out with my new phone.  No such luck–everybody else wanted new iPhones too!  Everything was out of stock in-store or on backorder through Verizon except the larger models.  I have no use for a 32 or 64GB iPhone.  It would be nice, but it would also be $300-$400, and I really don’t need that kind of storage capacity on a phone.  I ended up ordering it through the store with two-day shipping to the house.  Later, I found out that if I’d ordered it online I would have had it a day earlier, but in the long run it isn’t a big deal.  I waited around most of the day on Wednesday for FedEx to bring my phone, and they finally came with it about 10 minutes after Dallas and I ran out to Target because I was sure they weren’t coming any time soon.  Luckily his mom was home to sign for it.

And it’s been amazing so far.  I basically couldn’t use the Facebook app to check my news feed on my old phone, and a lot of the time my emails wouldn’t load automatically (lots of that “tap to download” thing).

As far as iPhoneography goes, I’m really impressed so far.  VSCO Cam worked on my old phone, but very slowly; with the new phone, I can take a picture, make a bunch of edits/corrections to it, add a filter, and export it to my camera roll in less time than it took for the image to process on my old phone.  I’ve been finding my way around the stock camera too; been having an especially good time with the slo-mo video mode, especially when Dallas is throwing a tennis ball for one of the dogs, because there is nothing funnier than clouds of Aussie hair waving in super slow motion.

I haven’t fiddled much with Siri yet because I still have a weird hangup about talking to my phone (which is, of course, different from talking on my phone); I haven’t set up the fancy thing to scan my fingerprint in lieu of a passcode (also, I don’t use a passcode).  I haven’t gotten around to setting up my university alumni email address in the Mail app, though I probably should do that soon.  But hey, I’ve probably got at least 2 years with this phone, that’s lots of time to get to know it.  In more practical matters, I called my grandmother this afternoon from inside our house and she could actually hear/understand me, because somehow one bar of signal on Verizon provides better voice service than four bars of AT&T signal did.

I’m pretty excited, obviously.  I had kind of hoped I could end up with service that cost a little less than what I was getting through AT&T, but I’m okay with paying the same amount if it means I’ll actually have signal in more places.  And of course I love the phone itself.  It just seems like it does a lot more than my old one did.

P.S.  Happy Pi Day, geeks.  HEY GUESS WHAT, I CAN WATCH THIS YOUTUBE VIDEO ON MY PHONE NOW.

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