iPhone Strike… 8? 9? I'm losing count.

Yesterday afternoon, I got the call! My iPhone 3Gs was in! I promptly drove to Montpelier to get it. But this was just the beginning…
I arrived about 45 minutes later to a near-empty store, where an irate Unicel customer was complaining, loudly, about being unable to return her phone during the trial period because she didn’t have the original packaging that it came in. She proceded to go through sales rep after sales rep, then the manager, complaining every step of the way about the service, the phone, the company policies, etc.
Meanwhile, I was told that since I was a Unicel customer, they could not help me because Unicels’ intranet was down. I told my rep, Shane, that this was not an option, as this was my 8th attempt at getting this damned phone and I was through waiting. He suggested that I could just sign up as a new AT&T customer, but they would not be able to waive the $36 activation fee and Unicel would want another 30 days of contract from me. Essentially, I could get the phone, but it would cost me an extra $140 or so. Needless to say, I was not amused.
I asked if it was possible to waive the fee, talk to a manager, etc. While he went out back to wrangle some manager time, I called Unicel customer service to try to see if I could get them to waive the fees in the event that AT&T couldn’t. Fortunately, Shane returned, telling me that they would be able to set me up with a new phone and temporary number, which I could then roll over to a standard upgrade when Unicel was online again. An hour or so later, I walked out the door with my shiny new iPhone 3Gs.
I did a little web surfing, and found the keyboard will take some getting used to, but acceptable. I’m a little slower on it than I am on the Nokia e71, but I can cope and expect I’ll get better with time.
I used the voice dialing to call my other cell phone. It worked flawlessly, even with a lot of wind noise. Very impressive. Granted, I only did one try, but it was my first try, and it worked perfectly.
Now for the bad news. Email. I primarily chose an iPhone over a Blackberry because I plan on using the web browser more than email. The truth is, however, that I use email a lot. I mean a whole lot. It’s by far the biggest app I use on any given day, and unquestionably where I spend most of my time on my cell phone.
I attempted to set up a connection to my Exchange server, and it’s failed every time. I presume this is because we operate our Exchange web server on a port other than the standard 443. So far, I have not found a way to specify the port. Strike one.
I decided to try my hand at Gmail. The iPhone comes with presets for Exchange, Gmail, Yahoo! mail, and AOL. I chose Gmail. I entered my account info and… got nothing. It won’t connect. Swell. Strike two.
So, I decided to connect to my Exchange server via IMAPS. It is operating on the standard IMAPS port (993) so I figured this would be a snap. Wrong. It’s not connecting to that either.
I’m calling AT&T now to see if they can shed some light on this, but for the moment, the Blackberry is looking better and better…
*45 minutes later…*
Oddly enough, after working with AT&T tech support, and reconfiguring my account, IMAP (to my Exchange server) started working. What’s REALLY odd is that my GMail account, which heretofore was not working via the pre-configured GMail settings or via a custom-configured IMAPS configuration, also just started working. I was watching the whole time via my desktop PC, running Thunderbird, and accessing GMail the whole time, so I know it wasn’t a connectivity error. The only thing AT&T could say to that was “Hm. That’s weird.” I agree. They also said that they would have someone call me tomorrow to check and make sure that things were still working, given the odd intermittent issues I appear to be having.
As for my connection to the Exchange server, I was told that this won’t work without my purchasing a plan upgrade for this. So instead of $30/mo, I’d need to pay $44.95/mo to get Exchange connectivity. I guess I’ll settle for syncing with Outlook via iTunes for now. For some reason, it seems that I need to keep Outlook as my default email client to make this happen. *sigh*. Another strike.
My first experience with AT&T tech support was a good one. Now, let’s see if the iPhone lives up to the hype. I’m also going to be in the northern part of the state shortly, and was told that the roaming charges, should I drift into Canadaland, will be “.010 per kB.” I asked “that’s one cent per kilobyte?” and the rep said “yes.” That’s about $10/MB. I’ll make sure to take the SIM card out when I’m up there.

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