iPhone on XT: take II - it's a success, and simple
Keallhauled has just returned from Telecom, where it was demo'd how easily a Vodafone-bought iPhone can be transitioned to run on XT.
An iPhone, bought new at a Vodafone store, was taken out of the box. The Vodafone SIM card was extracted, using the simple, paper-clip style tool that comes with every iPhone (pictured; I know it's dull, but they wouldn't let me video anything).
Next, an XT SIM card was inserted, then one setting changed (by selecting Settings/General/Network - making sure the Enable 3G box is checked at that point - then Cellular Data/APN and changing the APN setting by typing internet.telecom.co.nz.
The whole process took less than a minute, and I could immediately make voice calls, download iTunes songs (which began streaming almost immediately) and watch YouTube videos (which again only took a couple of seconds to cache then ran smoothly). A kick play with Google Earth and Google Maps revealed snappy streaming, with near instant redraws.
That is to say, no software hack was required, and no docking to a PC nor connection to iTunes. Only the simple setting change described above.
Telecom will sell SIM-card only XT accounts from May 29. Once you buy your SIM card, the telco says it's your business what you do with it. But you could, for example, do what we did this afternoon and pop it into an iPhone.
Deconstructing the fail
Telecom still has no carrier settings uploaded to iTunes, and won't while Vodafone remains Apple's only official New Zealand carrier.
So what happened during our epic fail last week, as NBR found itself embroiled with an iPhone that demanded carrier settings be download?
A rep for Telecom says the APN trick will only work for an iPhone bought from Vodafone (the iPhone involved in our epic fail came directly from Apple; not for our network-hopping experiment, I should add.).
More specifically, the iPhone must be bought from Vodafone New Zealand, which does not lock iPhones, or any handset it sells (unlike Vodafone Australia, and other telcos that also sell the iPhone).
Our mutual friend Steve visited Telecom too, and the team there also got his iPhone - the one that was the subject of the fail - working on its network, albeit with a couple more tweaks (it's my duty to relay that as well as emanating from the other side of the ditch, that iPhone did not have 3G data enabled; it had unwittingly been locked to 2G). After downloading a speed test app, Steve hit 900Kbit/s (more speed tests, and speed test provisos, here).
I did also get my Nokia Navigator working on XT - also through simply tweaking the APN setting - but Nokia asked me to point out that it was running on XT's 2100MHz band which, unlike its ubiquitous 850MHz, is only available in some urban areas.
An official iPhone through Telecom?
Anyhow, enough of the SIM card skulduggery. Does Telecom have an iPhone coming through official channels? After all, consider that:
1. Vodafone NZ's iPhone deal is not exclusive.
2. Apple favours multiple carriers - in Australia, there are three.
3. Telecom is steeped in self-described Mac Men, from boss Paul Reynolds, to the iPhone-totting head of Gen-i Chris Quin, to ex-Apple manager and now head of Telecom Broadband Ralph Brayham to the ex-Apple staffer who showed me the SIM card switching routine today.
So all the ingredients are in place.
Is any deal in the works?
Apple wouldn't comment.
Telecom says its lips are sealed until it unveils its full handset line-up this Wednesday at 10am (tune in to Keallhauled for details).
Reversal of fortune
Incidentally, in a sign of the times, I also just heard from Nokia that its new flagship E series smartphone, the E75, will be available for Telecom's XT network first - from May 29 - then Vodafone from the end of June. (There will actually be two iterations of the E75; identical for all intents and purposes, but with one supporting Vodafone and 2 Degrees' 900MHz band and the other Telecom's 850MHz. So: no SIM card hopping in this case).
It's definitely good to see Telecom customers finally getting access to some decent handsets beyond the (cough) Okta.
But until we see Telecom and Vodafone's pricing for the E75 - remembering that one Aussie telco is apparently going to carry it for zero dollars up front on a $A79/month contract - we can't safely say that we've entered a brave new world of competition.
Anyhow, more news on that front Wednesday at 10am.
Meantime, check out the trailer for the new Peter Jackson/Neill Blomkamp alien flick District 9.