How the iPad Mini killed my iPhone

The single greatest feature of the iPad is the fact it cannot receive phone calls. Despite being a telecoms engineer by training, I despise phones, and it seems the millennial generation shares my disdain, as it favors less intrusive means of communication like texting.

The iPad is an essential device for me. I am on a 2-year upgrade cycle (at best) for phones, a 5-year cycle for my desktop Mac Pro, and have stopped using laptops altogether, but I will get every single iteration of the iPad. Now, even though my jacket has a pocket sized large enough to hold my full-sized iPad, the weight and bulk means I seldom did so, and kept it in my bag, which I rarely take out with me when going out for lunch. When I saw the iPad Mini and how lightweight it was, I bought one and started carrying it with me all the time.

The Mini is not a replacement for my Retina iPad, as my worsening eyesight makes it a strain for sustained reading, which is why I kept my grandfathered unlimited AT&T data plan on the full-sized iPad and got a limited Verizon plan on the Mini.

No, the device that was displaced is actually my iPhone. The iPad Mini weighs barely twice as much, is thinner, fits in my jacket pocket but has a screen 4 times the size while remaining single-hand-holdable, and is actually usable as a web browsing device or eBook reader, unlike the iPhone’s cramped screen. I don’t believe in the 5-inch phablet form factor, which combines the cramped screen of a phone with the the bulk of a tablet, i.e. the worst of both worlds. I find I never use the iPhone as anything else than a dumb phone any more. I consume less than 60 minutes of voice per month, and if my wife and my startup’s co-founder would let me, I would ditch mobile phones altogether.

Alas I am unable to cut the wireless phone tether, but there is no point in my spending $100 a month on an unlimited data plan for my Verizon iPhone 4, so now that my contract ended, I ported my number over to my old unlocked AT&T iPhone 3GS with a prepaid plan from Airvoice (a MVNO that has the cheapest rates I could find online). At $0.10 a minute without any exorbitant cellco taxes or spurious surcharges, I can expect to spend $6 a month, or 94% savings. That more than covers the $20 a month I pay extra for the iPad Mini’s data plan. The only reason I still use an iPhone instead of switching to a dumbphone is the automatic address book synchronization with my Mac and iOS devices.

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2 Responses to How the iPad Mini killed my iPhone

  1. I can imagine doing this myself, except that I rely on WhatsApp Messenger too much to communicate with my wife (“pick up milk”, etc.), and that requires a phone number.

    How do you feel about the mini for showing photos? Do you whip it out to show pics of Afsheen, and if so, do you feel sheepish about it? (I feel sheepish about showing any kind of photo on an iPhone because it’s so tiny.) The iPad is great for photos, but as you note, too bulky for casual all-the-time use, so I’m wondering whether the Mini hits a sweet spot in between.

    • majid says:

      I haven’t yet used it as a brag book. At the office, the screen saver on my 27″ iMac is set to do so, no iPad can compete with that… The screen is certainly adequate, if a bit smaller than a traditional 4×6 print.

      As for texting, have you tried Orchestra or TextMe, or simply Apple’s iMessage? The first is a collaborative to-do list app, the second an alternative texting app (disclaimer: I am biased because the founder is a classmate and they sublease office space from us). Requiring a phone number seems so passé.

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