Friday, 20 November 2009

iPhone for all my internet / comms when away on business? 4 out of 5.

At the start of the week I told you that I would spend 48 hours abroad on business with only my iPhone for all communications and internet connectivity. I award the experience a surprisingly good 4 out of 5.

The need for this experiment came as a result of wanting only to carry hand luggage onto the EasyJet flight, and finding that no amount of compression would get all my clothes, bathroom stuff and laptop into the 55 x 45 x 20 cm flight case. Here's how I got on:

  1. Taking off from London Luton airport, the iPhone plays the gritty drama Brit movie London To Brighton which was worked very well on the small screen although I did have to zoom in once or twice to see the looks on the characters' faces to check if they were frightened or not! Great sound even if the surround element is reduced to stereo. I rate this experience 4/5
  2. When I land at Berlin Schoenefeld airport I receive the first of several solemn text message warnings from O2 not to override the automatic data-roaming bar the iPhone has turned on, otherwise it was going to cost £3 per MB. To have downloaded the 700MB London to Brighton movie file directly from iTunes store over the 3G network in Germany would have cost me £2,100. Zooming in on my face looking at such a bill would have been London To Brighton -worthy indeed. Nice to be told up front. 5/5.
  3. Arriving in my room at the InterContinental hotel causes my first shock - they only have wired internet. The 19.99 euro proposed daily bill is my second shock. No internet in the bedroom, then. 1/5
  4. Reading the hotel guide reveals that Wifi is available in the lobby and Marlene's Bar lounge. Arrive to discover that the first hour is free! Email is quickly brought up to date. 5/5
  5. In Marlene's Bar I use Skype to call home, first to the landline and then we quickly switch over to Brin's computer for a free Skype-to-Skype call. Very high quality audio but I have to remember to keep still and not wander round as the Wifi signal varies in strength greatly. I forget and the call drops. However it beats the 35p/minute cost of calling over the cellular network, and I use the saving to drink beer whilst on the Skype call. 4/5
  6. I like to spend an hour most nights grazing over my favourite news and blog sites. This works well for a while but the small screen begins to strain my eyes. The constant tapping, pinching and finger-scrolling to zoom the pages around gives me hand-ache and I uncover a new form of potential repetitive strain injury. Give up for a while. 3/5
  7. I find an app called 'Berlin City' that is a complete guide to using the U-Bahn and S-line rail stations. It can find my nearest station based on location and animatedly travels along the lines to a destination station I enter, so I can familairise myself with the route. It even has a whole list of tourist attractions to navigate me to. Best of all, it is a self-contained application and doesn't need any network connection. And it's free. Fantastic! 5/5
  8. If my phone changes cellular provider, I get a fresh text warning from O2 about the costs of roaming. OK you've told me already! 3/5

So overall I rate the experience as 4 out of 5. If I was staying for much longer I would have started to miss the bigger laptop screen. However if I was staying for much longer I would take hold luggage so the problem would not there anyway - there's only so many clothes you can compress into a flight case even if you do sit on it to zip it up.

So if you're on a 45 hour business excursion, try leaving the laptop at home and eek your communications out of your smartphone. Worth it for the experience!


  1. What's also interesting is trying the same exercise with an iPod Touch - i.e. relying totally on wifi and not being tempted by ludicrous roaming charges.
    I tried it on a recent trip to Milan, and it was OK except I forgot to buy a microphone for the iPod, so that stopped skype working (well, actually, no, it didn't, but it prevented the person on the other end of the call hearing what I was saying).

    Strongly recommended for anyone trying this regularly - Boingo. Unlimited global wifi from lots of different providers for just £4 per month. Bargain

  2. Wow! I'm wondering what on earth you packed to not have room for a full office for a week in that bag!!

    Impressed that the iPhone delivers so much useful capability though - makes it all the more tempting.

  3. Nice overview! I'm wonder that Inter-Continental hotel in Berlin has only wired internet. I was last year in London's Inter-Continental, they have wireless in very low price. But in common view - good post, I enjoyed to read!


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