Dracula Is A Sparkly Vampire Compared To AT&T

So here’s the deal…Tuesday, June 15 I woke up early to pre-order my new iPhone 4. I had an iPhone 3g and being 2 1/2 years old, it was getting a bit long in the tooth. While the AT&T servers were committing seppuku for being unprepared for the onslaught of orders, I somehow managed to slip in my pre-order. This was followed a couple of days later by a reminder to be sure to show up the following Thursday, June 24 to pick up my shiny new toy from the local Apple store.

Thursday rolled around and I woke at 5am to get a shower and get to the line by 6am. I figured that they would have a separate line for those of us with pre-orders and an hour early should be good enough. The original single line wrapped around the corner and to the far side of the parking lot…with me right at the curb. A little free Chik-Fil-A and Krispy Kreme later (Apple stores know how to handle big launches) and they finally split us into the have and have-not lines. Fortunately the pre-order line was very short. Finally the doors open at 7am and people begin getting filed in. It only took 46 minutes from doors open until I was walking out with my fully activated iPhone4. I even made it to work on time. As I said, Apple knows how to handle things.


My daughter had a piece of junk prepaid mobile phone. I didn’t even know that Sanyo made phones…if that’s what you want to call it. In light of the stupid amount of expense for the incredible lack of service…I decided she needed to have my old iPhone 3g. We could switch to a family plan with more total minutes and data and unlimited messaging for a grand total of $5 more a month than I have already been spending. And all she really had was unlimited texting. It’s a winner of a plan. This should be pretty simple: I call them and change my plan, tell them I need to re-activate the old iPhone as the secondary line with a new number…and pick up a new SIM from the local store (since you cannot re-use a SIM that’s been cancelled).

But I failed to realize I was dealing with AT&T.

So the nice lady on the phone supposedly takes care of all this and hands me over to sales to finalize the whole deal of changes she’s made on my account. The nice lady in sales kindly informs me that there is no way to do what I want over the phone and I will just have to spend the hours in the store it will require to get service because the old iPhones require a special SIM card that can only be obtained by rescuing the princess going to an actual AT&T store. I kindly inform her that she must be mistaken since the SIM in my iPhone actually came from my AT&T Tilt. She argued. I hung up on her. I cannot abide idiocy and that was the kindest thing I could do at that moment. This was, of course after she checked my account at my request and told me unequivocally that there were absolutely no changes to my account despite what the first nice lady told me.

Later that night…texting becomes disabled on my phone. WTF have they done to my phone? Well, I can’t find out because the almighty AT&T doesn’t have a 24/7 call center. They’ve closed for the evening and now I’m stuck without my main medium of communication. Beauty. Anyone else notice that the AT&T emblem looks like the Death Star?


…on the way to work I ring them up yet again. The nice lady that took my call apologized profusely for the inconvenience that my outage had caused me. She then found the problem and fixed it. I haz txts againz!!!!!! And apparently my account is mysteriously on the Family Plan that I was unequivocally assured was not added. Curiouser and curiouser this becomes, no? All of this prompted me to launch into my tales of woe and betrayal on my previous call. The nice lady apologized again and helped make the necessary fixes to my account so I could go to the local store to get my new number and SIM card. She even gave me a $16 credit for my troubles. This call ends on a happy note.


I head out on my one hour lunch break to the closest AT&T store to finish up this whole ordeal. I show up and have about a three minute wait until someone helps me. This should worry everyone. No AT&T store I’ve ever been in has ever had less than a 45 minute wait to get help. The nice man whips out a SIM card and begins getting my new number set up for the old phone. After a bit of typing and clicking he gets a perplexed look on his face and announces that it appears his terminal locked while finalizing the new number. He starts over. The perplexed look returns and he picks up the phone to call someone at AT&T’s fully armed and operational battlestation. He spends some time on the phone explaining things and asks the stormtrooper rep to see if they can finish it for him since his station is on the fritz. Another minute or two passes and he gets an apologetic look. We are now 32 minutes into my lunch hour.

He asks if I recently closed another account on my name. I confirm that I did…back in April. He tells me that there is a balance on that account which is preventing the completion of the line addition. –Backstory to this: My ex-girlfriend’s phone was on that account. She missed a payment and the phone was suspended. I called and had them permanently suspend it as it was out of contract so she could pay it off and I could cancel it. All of that happened…in person…at an AT&T store. I was personally guaranteed by the nice people at the store at that time that there were no pending charges and there would never be another balance on that account as long as I live.– NOW, there is a balance. I get a phone number to call and retire to the exterior of the store because I didn’t want the people that have been so nice to me to hear what was about to escape my lips.

The nice lady that answered my call checked and confirmed that there was no balance on the day I cancelled. She also confirmed that despite my assurances otherwise, there was a bill cycle 3 DAYS LATER that put a $104 balance on said account…part of which was a RECONNECT FEE. I tried to reason with her and she was very understanding. She was also willing to work with me in any way possible as long as that way involved me giving them the $104 dollars I was assured I would never be charged. We are now 54 minutes into my lunch hour. I go ahead and pay it because it isn’t worth the rest of my workday to fight it.

I get my confirmation number for the payment and return inside to the nice man that has been helping me. He tries again and fails to add the line. He again calls his cohort on the small moon. He then proceeds to argue with the disembodied voice on the phone that I did in fact pay that bill just now and it was completely fine to finish adding my line. The arguing continues for several minutes. We are now 1 hour and 7 minutes into my lunch hour. Eventually the soulless wretch on the phone gives in and pushes my new line through. HURRAH! Then the nice man looks at me and mentions in an off-hand manner that there will be a $25 fee for adding this new line.

So to recap, we are 1 hour and 15 minutes into my lunch hour. I have now spent $129 more than I was told I would have to spend. AT&T has now sucked my meager savings over the past few months dry. THEY CHARGED ME TO ADD A LINE THAT THEY WILL CHARGE ME FOR. Everyone was kind. Everyone was understanding. Everyone was apologetic. Only one made any effort to compensate me for being financially raped. AT&T is a death star vampire. They will suck your money and your soul and your will to live. I’ve been a customer of theirs for over 10 years with wireless and even longer with various land lines and internet connections.

I would gladly fire a pair of photon torpedoes up their thermal exhaust port.

Whoop De Doo, A New iPhone

Media is all atwitter (yep…a pun in the first sentence) about the launch of the 3G iPhone. Well I say whoop-de-doo. Apple finally released the device they should have unleashed upon the masses when it first hit the market a year ago. Seriously, why wouldn’t you make your ground-breaking new piece of hardware take advantage of the latest and greatest technology like 3G?

Think about it. One of the major selling points was online media a-la Youtube. What possessed the creators to settle for EDGE? We all know EDGE sucks. We all know 3G is much faster and makes the entire mobile online experience tolerable. We all accept 3G as the best thing to use next to WiFi and real broadband. But you settled for EDGE. 3G always wins because EDGE is dumb.

You touted how great it was to have online map lookups for places you might be interested in and yet you didn’t include GPS. So I can know where I’m going but not where I’m at? Who comes up with this stuff? If I’m using the map to find a place to eat, I am probably in a place unfamiliar to me so it would help to know where I’m sitting in relation to my destination. It makes it easier to determine my travel route. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just full of crazy talk.

You finally decided to let AT&T subsidize the price so more people can buy it. Why didn’t you do that before? Sure the whole profit sharing thing may have sounded interesting but did you not learn a lesson from Wal-Mart? It’s far better to get a dollar from thousands than ten dollars from hundreds. You make more in the long run that way. If you don’t believe that then you haven’t been to ebay lately.

You say it has wonderful Exchange integration. Like it or not they own the market. Why wouldn’t you support that right out of the gate? There are several clients that can talk to Exchange so it shouldn’t have been a huge deal to get working. Did you have some delusion that by offering this “must-have” device to the masses that corporate attitudes would change overnight? I certainly hope not. I really don’t understand what you were thinking there, Steve.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not an Apple hater. I adore my iMac and I use it far more than my Windows laptop. I really like the iPhone and I want to get one. But I think you goofed. You brought out a device that, while revolutionary, lacked in many key areas. You also flubbed the pricing and had to offer some compensation to stifle the ire of the masses. The intial offer seems more and more like a beta and popular opinion would say that doing such a thing is a Microsoft thing, not an Apple thing.

Then to top it all off you earn the Fail Whale trophy for activation. You had the stock out there. You really should have known what kind of bombardment you were going to have as AT&T doors opened. But it’s okay. You aren’t the only one that loused it up today. AT&T is right there with you. They had the gall to allocate every last store rep to iPhone sales. Every last one. I needed to get a phone for an employee today…a Nokia…before he left for a job out of town. I was told point blank that I couldn’t and I would have to wait until this afternoon or tomorrow. You know, AT&T, you aren’t the only game in town that offers standard ho-hum phones. I can get one somewhere else if my business isn’t worth 10 minutes of one rep’s time.

All in all I say that the Fail Whale award for today goes to Apple with support from AT&T.

AT&T Business Care(less)

I was on the phone the other day with AT&T. I manage wireless phones for the company I work for and I needed to upgrade one employee’s phone and remove two numbers from suspension so I could issue phones to a couple of new employees. That should be simple process. It should take less than five minutes per task to complete. The problem is that there is a difference between “should” and “is”.

Let me take a quick moment to explain how business accounts work. You have a Foundation Account Number or FAN. This is the master account. Under this (like subfolders on a computer) you have Billing Account Numbers or BANs. These are where Subscriber Lines (phones) are located. This allows you to separate groups of numbers by department or region or manager. Now that we have that down…back to the story.

Apparently AT&T has decided that we need a new FAN but didn’t bother to tell me or give me access to it on the Premier site. For the past week or so I have noticed that I haven’t been able to pull up information on voice lines (our air cards are on another BAN and require far less maintenance). Any time I tried to get into the information or perform an upgrade I got a notice about technical difficulties with some long unintelligible string of characters in pretty red text. I tried to give it a little time because I knew that Premier isn’t exactly known for being the most reliable system out there. Go Java!

So anyway, I get tired of this and call the Premier support number. I run through the voice menu options that make the most sense and finally get a person on the phone. This person is not in Premier Support. He advises me I should call this number to get to the proper department…which was the number I dialed that sent me to him. AT&T – Your World Delivered (to the wrong place). We argued back and forth about whether I called the correct number or not and eventually I convinced him that I did indeed dial the correct number and that he should try to get someone on the phone from the correct department to help me out. This results in me being put on hold.

About twenty minutes later I’m finally back on with this guy who tells me the proper option sequence to select in the voice menu system to get to the support department. Someone tell me why the number dedicated to Premier Support puts the option to actually get Premier Support down at option three. Apparently when it asks if you are having trouble with your service on the Premier Support line it doesn’t mean Premier. AT&T wins again with great design. Okay, enough digressing…the guy informed me he had the right place and was transferring me now. I thanked him and heard myself transferred…to the call queue. Yep, stupid music met my ears and the recorded voice thanking me for my patience. Apparently he failed in locating a fellow human being. At this point we’re nearly forty-five minutes into the call when all I wanted was three little things done. Oh, those tasks still haven’t been completed.

Here I am in the call queue of what I can only hope is the right place. I’m not really holding my breath because I usually get transferred incorrectly at least twice before I get to a person that can actually help me. I started all of this at roughly three o’clock. I hit the queue just a little before four o’clock. It is now four forty-five and I am still listening to stupid music and annoying recorded voices thanking me for my patience. I hung up and haven’t gotten my problem fixed yet. And don’t bother trying to get help from your account representative. That’s not his job any more. He’s there to put contracts in front of you and to tell you which useless numbers to call for help. This isn’t like the old days when a rep actually tried to get problems resolved. Nope. He’s a paper and responsibility pusher.

I’d like to thank AT&T for this absolutely wonderful lack of service, confusing voice menus, and absolute most retarded customer service restructure in the history of man. If the guy in charge of my account isn’t really there to service my account. Then call him by a different title. I suggest going with something like Corporate Rape Specialist or Blame Pusher.

iPhone Pricing – Some Restrictions Apply

Well the net is all afire with the just released pricing plans from AT&T for the iPhone 3G. Jobs announced that the phones would be retailing for $199 for the 8GB model and $299 for the 16GB model. What he failed to mention was the specific circumstances at which these prices are valid. Yes, I know it is shocking to think that AT&T might make things complicated and that they might have their own pocketbooks in mind rather than the customer…but it’s true.

See, the prices are for a specific group. To get these prices you must have purchased an iPhone before July 11, be activating a new line of service with AT&T, or be eligible for an upgrade. If you don’t fall into these categories, then be prepared to pay the same old $399 and $499 prices for these phones…with a two-year contract. Isn’t it great to be the customer? They will also be offering the phones without a contract but that’ll run you $599 or $699 depending on storage size. Now, I like Apple. I also happen to like my AT&T service. I want to like the iPhone. But man are they making it hard for me to consider giving up my Tilt.

Jobs failed to put the tell-tale * in the slides with the pricing during his keynote. I can understand how this information could dampen the response to his company’s new toy. But I can’t stomach the special “customer service” that’s going on with this pricing. Well, it really isn’t the pricing itself that I find annoying. Most AT&T phones have two prices, the upgrade and the non-upgrade price. It’s the deceitful way that Jobs presented it to the world. I think my Tilt has plenty of use left in it even though it is a much bulkier device.

Thanks so much for saving me a few hundred dollars AT&T. I couldn’t have done it without your special touch to what was a wonderful offer from Apple. Oh, and don’t forget kiddies, AT&T data plans no longer include an SMS package. You’ll have to add that piece of overpriced fluff separately.

AT&T Tilt Software – Revisited

In my previous post, I did a very high level overview of what software changes I made to my phone for better usability and performance. This time, we’re going to talk ROMs. The Tilt/Kaiser/Vario III/TyTN II/etc is a versatile piece of equipment. However, I have yet to find an owner that didn’t have a few pet peeves for things that were on there or things that were left out. Now many of these gripes can be addressed with just installing the programs we want. Removing provider bloatware is another matter. It is usually cooked into the ROM itself and does not show in the Remove Programs app. Enter XDA-Developers and the Kaiser ROM kitchen.

This little bundle of joy allows one to take a dumped ROM and customize it. You can then flash the rebuilt (cooked) ROM to the phone and enjoy all the new toys. Don’t have the knowledge/time/patience/desire to build your own? No problem. The guys at XDA are fanatical about tweaking and performance and have already built lots of ROMs to suit most everyone’s needs and desires. Personally, I like the ROMs cooked by Dutty. He produces them quickly and they almost always push a new boundary making the experience just that much better. I’ve gone through about four different Dutty ROMs and all have left me impressed.

I am currently using his DualTouch v2 Fixed Full ROM. This one incorporates elements included in HTC’s DualTouch phone such as TouchFlow and the Cube. Performance on this ROM is worlds beyond what I had with the stock AT&T build. Just make sure that if you flash the ROM, that you also flash the Radio ROM. These are separate steps and both must be done on an AT&T Tilt if you use a non-AT&T ROM. Why? The Radio ROM handles the peripheral hardware like the cellular radio, camera, and speaker. If you use a non-AT&T Rom with the AT&T Radio, you will lose the speaker and a have weird issues out of the phone. Don’t worry, the flashing of the radio is just as easy as flashing the ROM and faster. It won’t wipe out any settings, either.

So, how do you do it?

  1. Download and install HardSPL. This will allow you to flash non-factory ROMs to your device. Note: some AT&T users report a solid white screen when installing, there is a thread about it here. BE SURE TO FOLLOW ALL DIRECTIONS IN THE FIRST POST OF THESE THREADS.
  2. Pick the ROM of your choice and download it to your PC. Unzip it and run the .EXE file. Follow the directions on the screen. (There is no master list of ROMs, you just have to peruse the threads.)
  3. Most of the ROM chefs advise doing a hard reset on your device after the flash. This prevents odd issues. So do this after the ROM is flashed and the device reboots and finishes basic setup.
  4. If you have the AT&T Tilt and used a non-AT&T ROM, you need to install the Tilt Keyboard Fix. Just copy this to the phone and run it. Otherwise, some symbols on the keyboard will be incorrect.
  5. Also, If you run a Tilt, now is the time to flash the Radio. Just download the version of your choice (most suggest either .17 or .32 for best overall performance) and run the .EXE. Failure to do so will result in loss of audio and possible dropped calls and system instability.
  6. Load any CAB files and change any necessary system settings (like configuring email and marrying BlueTooth devices) and enjoy.

Beware, however, that flashing becomes addictive. You quite probably will end up changing the ROM often to see what new gadgets there are and what kind of performance the latest combination of tweaks provides. Don’t believe me? In the time it took me to write this article, I changed to Dutty’s DualTouch v3 test version to see what the hype was about. And yes, it looks like the performance increase is huge.

The Noreve P4550/Tilt Case Dilemma (updated)

I spent a lot of time researching the various case designs for the Tilt. There is a reason for that. A phone where the top half slides out and then tilts up is not going to be the easiest product to design for. I had some specifics that I wanted in a case. So I began my search for something that met these criteria:

  • Covers the touch screen
  • Allows access to all slots/buttons/lenses/etc without removing the case
  • Allows screen to be opened and tilted without removing the case
  • Has pockets for MicroSD cards
  • Does not have a plastic sleeve covering the keyboard

I found all of this in the Noreve case for the P4550/Tilt. So I ordered it. Overall, I have been pleased with this case but I do have to share what I’ve gone through to get to this point with a case that is sitting on my desk with no phone in it.

I ordered the case on October 18, 2007. The case description on the site said that black cases were in stock. I receive an email confirming my order a few minutes later. After a couple of hours, I receive another email stating the black case was not in fact in stock and it would be shipped within 15 business days. Of course, the site states it would be in my hands within 15 business days should it be out of stock. Not a big deal…the Tilt is very popular. But I ask for clarification as to whether it will ship within 15 days or if it is to be delivered in 15 days. This makes a difference because I was going to be out of town the week of Thanksgiving and if it only shipped by then…I would probably not get it until I returned.

I got some very patient and understanding help on my questions. Kudos to NoreveUSA for that. Turns out the promise is to ship by the 15th business day. Still, not a huge deal, just a minor inconvenience. Fast-forward to November 13. The case finally ships. So now they’re already behind. It’s taken nearly a full month to ship my case which is beyond their 15 business day mark. But that’s okay. This is the only case that I have found that fits my criteria perfectly. I’ll wait for it. The case arrives on my desk that Friday, November 16, 2007.

The case is everything I had hoped it to be. Everything works wonderfully. The only thing I was even slightly disappointed in was the belt clip. I wear a thick leather belt and this clip really digs into and scars it. But such things are really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. This is an old belt and it already has a few scars on it from the cats.

But…early last week I was pulling my phone off the clip to check a message I had received when I noticed the peg for the clip was sitting a little odd. Upon inspection I found that the metal plate they put under the leather for the belt clip peg to attach to had come loose. Now I have a peg/plate that slides around stretching and distorting the leather around the opening for the mount. This case isn’t even a month old. But that’s okay. Noreve came pretty highly recommended from the various sites I perused. I’ll just drop them a note about it and get an RMA for a replacement.

Well it has been more than a week. I’ve filled out the web form on three different days, sent a request to the info email address, and called three different times (leaving messages twice since I never got an answer). I have not gotten a single response from NoreveUSA. Thus I have tried another approach. I sent an enquiry from the corporate(European) site explaining the situation and asked if I could resolve the problem through them. At least I got a response saying they’d look into why I haven’t heard back from the USA branch. Which leads to me sitting here with my phone in my pocket and the case on my desk.

Now I won’t say that my experience is typical. Actually, from what I have seen and read about Noreve and NoreveUSA is that my situation is very atypical for both their products and their customer service. That still doesn’t change the fact that I have a $52 phone case that I cannot use. If I hear back from either the USA or European offices with further information about my request, I’ll update this post. Until then…here’s to the nice pockets on carpenter pants for protecting my phone.

**Update: I finally received a response from NoreveUSA. They claim an excess of communications due to holiday orders that is slowing their response time. I cannot doubt the truthfulness of that nor can I fault them for taking longer during the holiday season…though it would be nice if they had an automated system to reply with said information like many sites and businesses do. Anyway, the long and short of it is they will be sending me a new case when they get their shipment in next week at no charge and they don’t need me to send the old one back. They suggested just throwing it away (keeping the clip and small parts as spares). So if I get the case fairly quickly, kudos on an easy resolution but points off for really slow response.

AT&T Tilt Software

Well I’ve had my Tilt for a while now and I think I have pretty much gotten everything right where I want it. With that in mind, I figured I would write up a little post reviewing some of my software picks and settings tweaks to make it more user friendly. After all, the greatest technological device in the world is nothing more than a paperweight without the right user tools.

Let’s start with the “value added” (read “crapware”) software that AT&T loads these devices down with. Unless you actually plan on buying a slew of overpriced games or the TeleNav service, I would skip it. When you first turn on your Tilt, it will bring up a box saying that it is installing the AT&T customizations. Just do a soft reset on the device and none of that junk will be there when it boots back up. To do this, just poke the stylus into the reset hole on the bottom of the phone. That’s all there is to it. All of the goodness of Windows Mobile 6 and none of the crap.

Next, I made a little jaunt over to the XDA Developers website and hit the Kaiser forums. The first forum has a sticky post with a slew of cab files (programs) for the Tilt. I suggest that getting the HTC Home cab with the N2A patch is a must. First off, it gives you a large clock that is easily visible on your home screen. It also has a weather tab, customizable quick launch and contacts tabs, and a notification area for new emails, text messages, and missed calls. I advise the N2A patched version because it has a modified DLL for the weather tab allowing you to add custom cities since there are very few US options available by default.

If you compliment the HTC Home cab with the HTC Home Customizer (version 0.8b in the Hermes forums) then you will have an easy way to add cities to your weather database, change the look of the clock, and of course change most of the appearance related settings for the Home plugin without needing to hit the registry. It is a simple tool with a lot of power under the hood.

Some settings, however are just going to need a registry editor. The PHM Registry Editor is linked in the forums. There are a couple of others, but I find that PHM’s is very easy to use. The XDA forums will have information on any and all of the registry hacks you could need or want to tweak your Tilt.

Moving on, I also endorse the use of Windows Live Mobile. This tool allows you to add your Hotmail/Live account as an email account via IMAP and has the Live Search tool which will allow you to get directions. Yes, it will use your GPS for positioning and give you turn by turn while in map view. The best part, it’s free. That’s a far better deal than TeleNav if you want a system for your GPS that doesn’t require GBs of space. The downside is it only works when you have a data connection…but then so does TeleNav. The only alternative I can recommend if you need GPS directions when you have no signal is to go out and buy a product like TomTom.

Lastly on the programs side of things is another Microsoft offering. Microsoft Voice Command v1.6 has become my most used tool. At $40 it isn’t very expensive. This system lets you issue spoken commands to the phone without all of that tedious “training”. You can easily access any contact via name or have it dial a phone number that you dictate. Also among its features are media control, announcements of incoming messages and calls (and who they are from), and the ability to report device status. I find that I get irritated now if I actually have to touch my phone to do anything. I much prefer the ability to just hit my Bluetooth earbud button and issue a command while on the go.

That pretty much sums up the rundown of my software additions. I would suggest looking into the XDA forums for registry hacks for things like disabling the SMS Sent Notification which can become annoying rather quickly. And since your SIM contacts will get dropped into Outlook if you sync your phone with your PC (assuming you connect the phone to Exchange), you can get the hack to have Contacts not display SIM entries. That way you won’t see double. There are many more options out there and even some options for the more adventurous.

So this isn’t good enough? You want to use the standard HTC version of Windows Mobile? You don’t want any of the AT&T custom software anywhere on your system? XDA can help there, too. The Kaiser Upgrading forum is where the wizards have gone in and cooked custom ROMs for the Tilt/Kaiser. As time goes on, there will be more but they already have an impressive set of custom ROMs for just about anything a person could want. Just remember to read the threads carefully. You void your warranty when you use a non-AT&T ROM on a Tilt, though there are ways around that. Hence…read slowly, read thoroughly, and take notes before taking the plunge. I haven’t gone that far yet, but I’ve followed the threads of Tilt owners that have. Perhaps that will be a project for next year…

AT&T Tilt

Well, I took the plunge and ordered my AT&T Tilt this evening. My old RAZR V3 has been on the fritz lately and I’m not entirely certain it isn’t because I’ve been planning to dump it. Technology has a way of being finicky when replacement is imminent. With luck, my new toy should be in by Tuesday. Suffice to say…I’m giddy.

Now one would think that the biggest problem with ordering a phone on the day of its release would be availability. New flagship products have a way of garnering a following far before the first unit hits the stock. However AT&T has found a wonderful way to circumvent that kind of problem. Unless you are an avid follower of new PocketPC technology, you probably haven’t heard of this device. That would be because AT&T has decided for unknown reasons to skip all the pomp and circumstance that surrounded the iPhone launch. This one slipped in under the radar.

And that leads us to the second problem of getting this phone. They released it so far under the radar that from all reports…more than half of their sales reps still have NEVER HEARD OF THIS PHONE. One would think that at least the people manning the Premier and National Business Services portions of the company would be briefed in some way about a new phone that will be the flagship of their business device line. One would be wrong. I spoke with three different people and only one of them had even heard of it…and that was because he was interested in the device and had been following posts at HowardForums and XDA-Developers. AT&T, your world connected clueless.

Luckily, I had those wonderful forum resources myself over the past few months to gather my own information from users of the unlocked version. Now let me take a quick moment to familiarize you with a few of the names this device has taken on (and sometimes shed). This unit started as the HTC Kaiser. It then became the HTC 4550 and finally the HTC TyTN II. At this point AT&T decided to use it to replace their 8525 (also known as the HTC TyTN) and it became potentially the AT&T 8925 or the AT&T Tilt. There was even a few posts mentioning that the internal AT&T name was the Pilgrim. So the Kaiser/P4550/TyTN II/8925/Pilgrim/Tilt has surprisingly little confusion surrounding it considering…

So here’s the basic rundown of features:

  • 256MB ROM/128MB RAM (twice that of the TyTN)
  • Windows Mobile 6 Professional
  • Pocket Word, Excel, Powerpoint
  • Built-In GPS (not locked to TeleNav, tested successfully with TomTom, Google, and Live)
  • 3MegaPixel Camera
  • TouchFlo (HTC’s version of iPhone’s flick to scroll feature)
  • 3.5G connectivity
  • 802.11 b/g WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • MicroSDHC slot (yes, 6GB cards work, theoretically capable of up to 32GB)
  • Slide out keyboard

This list goes on but this should give you an idea of how amazing this device is. It is very slightly thinner than the TyTN/8525 but heavier by accounts of current owners. The battery life does leave a little to be desired but that will be remedied when the high capacity versions hit the market. I’ll post a bit more when mine finally arrives.

MacGyver Phone?

The iPhone has been much lauded as both a savior and a plague. It both fulfilled and crushed hopes. It spoke of style and yet lacked substance in several places. But regardless of your feelings about this device, you have to admit that Steve Jobs definitely got everyone’s attention trained on Apple’s little morsel of electronic goodness. On the other end of the spectrum, in more ways than one, is a little company called HTC. They make Windows Mobile smartphones. One of their most popular, the TyTN has been a boon to the Microsoft collective. HTC does to Windows Mobile what Apple does to style…they kick it up a notch. And now it looks like HTC is about to do it again with their TyTN II (also known as the P4550 and the Kaiser).

Several people running tech sites have gotten models to review and the news is good. With twice the RAM and ROM of the predecessor, built-in GPS, and a tilt up screen when in landscape mode…it seems HTC has decided to bring some game. Rumors currently (as we haven’t seen official releases from companies) say we should see the AT&T Tilt (possibly the AT&T 8925) in about a week. There is also a possibility that there will be two models, one with a front camera for video conferencing and one without. This will, of course, change the cost of the phone. Pricing should be in line with what the current AT&T 8525 debuted at.

Now this phone isn’t the alternative to the iPhone if you like form over function. Love it or hate it, the iPhone is heavy on the sleek and stylish looks. The TyTN II is a little bulkier and less refined. But can you open your Office 2007 documents on an iPhone? Yes, the TyTN II comes with Office 2007 support. This is great because as businesses move to the new version and inevitably send files out in the new format…mobile workers will still be able to see and edit what is sent to them.

Which brings us to one of the real differences between the two products. People that need to get work done are the ones most likely to pick up the TyTN II. Less business oriented users will probably gravitate to the iPhone. Now I’ve had my hands on the original TyTN and on an iPhone. While the majority of my cellular use is personal, I’d much rather have the TyTN II in my possession. I have more use for a phone with Office capabilities than a phone with a novel interface. Especially since most of the actual iPhone functionality is available on the TyTN II. Instead of iPod mode, you can use Windows Media Player. Instead of using IMAP or POP to get Exchange email, just use Pocket Outlook. Best of all…the TyTN II has MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, and AIM from the factory.

I was one of the many buying into the iPhone hype, albeit a little skeptically (after all, who actually believes all of the marketing hype these days?). As time has begun revealing its inadequacies, I find myself more and more drawn to this new option that offers all I wanted from the iPhone and most of what I wanted beyond the iPhone.

UPDATE: It looks like HTC has changed their homepage to include a large banner for the TyTN II. I think we can safely assume that it’s official. The TyTN II is here and the carriers should have them in our grubby little hands within weeks. Now…if you’ll excuse me, I need to see if I can find a way to get the upgrade price before my upgrade eligibility in October.