AMITIAE - Thursday 31 October 2013

Cassandra: Finding an Available iPhone in Thailand: And what Follows

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers

Actually finding a version of the latest iPhone that is available to buy, is a bit like an elephant giving birth. It is a long time coming: delayed by geography and Apple's priorities, further delayed by the spectacles that the carriers put on to dish out the first arrivals to the lucky few; and then suddenly appears in all its new and shiny state.

iPhone 5s - Apple image My luck with the carrier I use has never been that good. I am at the top of their list when it comes to free offers of Starbucks coffee or special pizzas for two, but despite being a DTAC customer for almost 15 years, my name is never selected for the iPhone extravaganza that starts just before midnight, when the iPhones are released here.

That hardly seems to matter as usually, a day or so after the parties, I walk into one of the iStudio outlets around lunchtime and find that there has just been a new delivery. That happened with the iPhone 4, and then the iPhone 4S. I missed the iPhone 5.

Just after the release of the latest version, I called in at the iStudio at Siam Discovery and was nearly lucky: there were a couple of 16 GB versions available, but not the 64 GB I was really thinking about. Estimate of the next deliveries: 3 weeks.

Just under a week since the release here, I called in at the Pinklao iStudio outlet and, not really expecting any iPhones to be there, put out a tentative query: 64 GB? . . . . No have, I was told. But then the manager told me that if I wanted a slate grey 64 GB one, next door (True) had some available.

The True store was packed out, but I said the magic words to the girl at the door and (once she was sure I really wanted one) went to fetch the box. After unsealing and some basic checks (and paying the 31,900 baht) I was out of the door within 5 minutes.

Next was the SIM card. The 5s needed an even smaller card than the 4S. DTAC produced one of these instantly. I now had a new iPhone 5s with 3G, but no apps and a 4S with lots of apps, no 3G and flaky Bangkok wifi. I bought a few essentials and headed home.

iPhone 5s

In the taxi, I entered the account details for iCloud into the settings on the new phone and before we were halfway the Contacts (and Notes) had been synchronized. At home, I turned on the wifi, and linked when I selected the connection. There was no fussy password entering as the iCloud Keychain did its job, although I managed to spoil that later.

In the meantime, Facebook, Twitter and email demanded my attention on the iPhone 4S. I also reorganised the positions of those apps already installed on the iPhone 5s, but I was going to have to connect it to the computer to put the rest on.

The iPhone 4S had been backed up to iCloud the previous night, so that was perfect (or so I thought). When I connected the new iPhone with its Lightning cable to the Mac, I could see no way to use that backup for the new device. I was only given the option of a computer backup and the last one was done in March.

I changed the iPhone 4S settings and backed up to the computer. It took about 15 minutes and when complete, I connected the iPhone 5s and started again. Before I could restore from the backup, I had to turn off Find my iPhone. An email was sent to me automatically.

Restoring started, but I now had two iPhones with the same name: I made a note of that and fixed it later. At this stage it was easy to see which was which, as the 5s was connected by cable: the 4S and the iPad were linked via wifi. At the end, there was a vibration and the iPhone restarted (fingers crossed).

Back in iTunes, I was asked to register - Apple ID, click, done - but Aperture recognised it as a new device and offered to import all the photographs that had just been synced to it. I cancelled that.

With a spare 34.28 GB (as opposed to 1.3 GB on the iPhone 4S this morning), I had some elbow room. I can now put back some of the apps and videos I had earier culled. As I watched, iTunes showed that the 237 apps I do have were being installed, but the space available did not change. Downloading the free Pages and Numbers apps later did make a small difference of course and I ended up with some 33.12 GB free.

After the backup I did have to enter the wifi password as the Keychain was off. It needed wifi (not 3G) to be accessed again. Just think about that sequence. Wifi went on, Keychain was accessed (with a password) and I found that Find my iPhone was already on.

Keychain did initially show, "Pending" and needed approval, either with a security code or from another of my devices. A message appeared on the Mac about this. When I clicked on that, iCloud Preferences opened. A message was shown alongside the Keychain item and a button to the right was marked "Details". When i clicked on that I was asked to enter the iCloud password again, but it is clear how closely integrated the devices have become by way of iCloud, iOS 7 and OS X 10.9, Mavericks. This is evident also in apps like iPhoto/Aperture and with iWork.

While most of the apps behaved perfectly, especially with regard to passwords, one or two let me down. Two of my email accounts needed me to retrieve the passwords from Keychain Access on the Mac, while Twitter let me down utterly and I had to resort to the "Lost password" process with one of the accounts.

I was annoyed later when I tried to sync the new iPhone with iTunes over wifi. Nothing I did would allow the device to be recognised, so I used the cable (make sure those Lightning connectors are pushed well in to the phone) and was required to go through a mini-setup procedure again, entering iCloud details once more. I keep being sent messages as apps identify the new settings and tell me they are now using them. That may last for a few hours or more.

I was still not able to sync via wifi, but the iPhone 4S was often reluctant. A router restart would often do the trick. I eventually restarted iTunes: the iPhone 5s appeared, but the 4S and the iPad were no longer shown: perverse.

There is more to come on all of this as I play with the new iPhone and see what I can get out of it. I am particularly keen to see camera output, especially with some of the apps I have installed, as well as checking out battery life. The iPhone 4S has begun to sag - I use all the power-hungry features I am able to - and it is not often I see a full day's use out of it.

I am now pleased to see that according to reports coming out of the US that I will be able to use this on flights from now on, so I will be able to join in with the other passengers out of Bangkok who have always done this.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



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