iPhone All about my iPhone

Yes, I'm happily running an iPhone in Canada.

And yes, I know you want one too.

From the moment I returned from Macworld Expo in January, people have been asking me:
"So, do you have your iPhone yet?"

If they had attended Steve Jobs' Reality Distortion Zone -as I had- they would have known that no-one could get an iPhone until June and even after launch date you could only purchase the phone from Apple U.S.A. or AT&T and that it was locked to the AT&T cellular network.

The iPhone is not for sale in Canada. Period. Apple announced its intention to market the iPhone in Europe in 4th quarter 2007 and in Asia in 1st quarter of 2008. Since January, there have been no announced changes in this plan and no mention of an iPhone for Canada.

My personal estimate of a Canadian introduction is no earlier than June 2008 and, more likely, December 2008.

So how, and why, did I get one?

Gotta have it
If you are like me you were completely wowed by the ease of use and simplicity of the iPhone. In fact, like the Apple colleague that Steve Jobs mentioned in his keynote address, he had me at scrolling.

But that wasn't enough to make me buy one. For that leap I required months of constant and even annoying attention on a daily basis.

After 7 months of answering the daily questions about it I decided I might as well respond by pulling out my own iPhone and asking the questioner if he/she would like to hold it! I felt sure that a few people might faint. Now that it is a reality I can tell you it sure make's peoples' tails start thumping the ground.

Does it work in Canada?
A Canadian can use an iPhone. And it is pretty much the best phone, best iPod and best video player I've ever had. Having the full internet in the palm of your hand via the Safari web browser is also outstanding.

But you will easily see that it is not an economical prospect. Since the phone is locked to AT&T it will be roaming on Rogers/Fido while in Canada and paying 79¢ /min. for voice and getting billed for data at about 20 times the normal local rate. AT&T has special add-on plans to lower these rates somewhat but you will still be paying at least 10 times more for roaming than what your Rogers/Fido account would cost.

How to get it
Here's how to get your iPhone:

Ed. The following instructions have now been made redundant because the iPhone 3G will be available in Canada starting July 11th from Rogers and Fido dealers.

  1. Obtain a credit card with a billing address in the U.S.
  2. Get an iTunes Music Store account at the U.S. iTunes Music Store.
  3. Purchase an iPhone from a U.S. Apple Store or AT&T corporate store.
  4. If you don't have a U.S. Social Security # you will have to either pay a $500 deposit or attach yourself to someone's AT&T plan in order to pass the credit check.
  5. After preparing how to pass the credit check (above) you activate your phone online at the U.S. iTunes music store and choose your plan details.

Be prepared to go down to an AT&T store in person with your phone. In my case it only took 5 AT&T staff, 4 trips to the stores, 3 SIMM chips, and 2 different AT&T stores to get things done!

See it, touch it, scroll it
Next time you see me, ask nicely and I might let you take it for a spin. But you better be sitting down with your hands over table... LOL

Other Alternatives
Not ready to take the plunge now roaming at 20 times the cost but can't wait until it finally arrives in Canada on the Rogers network? No problem. Build your own Do-It-Yourself Cut & Fold Paper iPhone here.

A plethora of techniques have appeared for unlocking the iPhone and allowing it to connect directly to Canadian GSM networks like Rogers/Fido. Some involved software, some involve hardware and some a blend of both (one even requires two sewing needles --don't ask!) Problems with these techniques involve general phone instability, lack of Voicemail and YouTube functionality, the possibility of turning your phone into a brick (one guy actually blew his up and melted it), loss of wireless and bluetooth capability, and/or the possibility of Apple fixing the security flaw which allows it to happen in the first place. In other words, for Canadians who want to rely on an iPhone in their daily life you are going to have to wait until Ted Rogers bends his knee in the negotiations and kisses Steve Jobs ring.