Ultra Late Adopter: Why I Don't Want an iPhone... But Will Probably Cave Anyway

Our great leader Blam has a pet name for me—he calls me "Ula." Now, while thoughts of svelte Swedish nymphets may be running through your mind, put them aside right now. ULA actually stands for ultra-late adopter—like your sister, or your girlfriend or your lazy cousin Cletus (you know, the one with the squint and behavioral problems). Maybe you are a ULA too, although, since you're reading Giz, I very much doubt it. Either way, you may be suffering from the same dilemma that many ULAs are suffering: Is this new iPhone worth adopting as your own, especially after resisting temptation and waiting out the first wave? If that's you, read on.

When you've spent a year fiddling around with your better half's iPhone, every other phone just seems a bit double-figure IQ, if you know what I mean. A bit Cletus, shades of Prince Ruprecht, "Normal for Norfolk," as the doctors say over here. My last phone was a sad, small, sorry abomination of a telecommunications device. They called it RAZR, I called it $%*ing bastardófono because of its amnesiac pecadillos and the fact that it was way past its sell-by date. Now that we're in the UK, I can use the Sony Ericsson 3.2-megapixel Cybershot that Vodafone freebied to me last year. It's easy to use, I like the UI, and the pictures it takes are not half-bad.

But the iPhone is dangling a not inconsiderable carrot in front of my eyes, stimulating the tech-fancying part of my brain. One: I could get it for free over here, if I sign up for 18 measly months of service. (I like free things.) Two: It's available in white—though possibly not for free—and white's not just a style statement. It means I can measure how crazy my year has been by the amount of grime that collects on it. And three: That gloriously sized screen with its how-do-you-want-me accelerometer is just—well, it's rather like the 12-foot-wide screen that we watch movies on at home. I can see myself reading bugger all books on the train in the future, as I settle down with a film instead.

There are other reasons for doing what everyone else like me will be doing on July 11, queuing up at Carphone Warehouse or wherever to get their hands on an iPhone 3G. However, it seems to me that for every "Oooh, I'm looking forward to that," there's usually a big "but" to balance it up.

There's the iPod aspect to it—goodie, I need a new iPod, baddie, it's only 16GB and I need at least 50GB to get all my tunes on. There's the fact that taking photos is, somehow, loads more fun with an iPhone, but—tsk!—it's still only two megapixels. It's got GPS, which means I will never get lost in Penge ever again. But then again, I've never been to Penge and don't plan on going. (I did once see a signpost with "Penge" written on it, which made my day. Yes, I was a lonely child.)

And what of the applications for the iPhone? It's about time Apple loosened up and let people in on the fun, but none of them are meant for me. I'm not that into playing games—certainly not if I have to fork out ten bucks for Super Monkey Ball. The medical-based applications, Modality and MIMvista will, no doubt, appeal to my bro-in-law, who's a trauma surgeon. Being a squeamish sensationalist, I think I'll wait until I can write a headline for Gizmodo that goes something like, "Surgeon Leaves iPhone in Patient During Hernia Operation." The more advanced the iPhone gets, the less likely it is that I will ever take advantage of all that it can do. Will it be like owning a sports car but never driving it anywhere but to the corner store to buy milk?

Loads of people think that the iPhone 3G dealbreaker was the lack of videoconferencing—although Jesus did come up with a pretty spiffy solution last week. I'm not particularly bothered by that. I've got iChat AV on my MacBook, and I don't feel the need to see everyone I speak to on the phone.

The biggest ruh-roh, however, is the fact that I will be able to read my mail wherever I am. No, I'm not kidding—that's not a good thing. As someone who spends far too long each day on her computer, the idea of getting emails sent to my phone seriously sends the hoodoo spookies up and down my spine.

ULAs have, until now, enjoyed a smartphone-free existence, but a newer cheaper iPhone threatens to dash all of that. I will be connected and contactable 24/7. No more will I be able to tell the office that I was "away from my desk" (translation: having a siesta), that I had to take the dog out (translation: having a siesta) or do some household errands (translation: what the people of Detroit refer to as the wango tango.) No longer will I be able to loaf around on an evening, doing whatever takes my fancy, a bit of Babylonian figurative dancing here, sculpting Lionel Ritchie's head out of last night's mashed potato, knitting a Chewbacca suit for Jesus with Jones the Dog's moulted hair.

I do not want to become one of those people whose hand is always going to the shiny thing in their pocket. Fiddle fiddle, every five minutes, looking at it—For reassurance? Because it validates who they are as a person?—scanning the screen and then typing back some furious reply. Perhaps that's what eight years in Spain does for you, transforms you into someone whose Urgency-ometer must have cracked in the heat, but I worry that the iPhone will bring me ever closer to 24-hour culture, where no one sleeps, where work and leisure melt into one another, and where you are always contactable. I'm sorry, but I just don't want that.

So, what's the conclusion? If I do buy an iPhone—and there are some wonderfully persuasive arguments why I would—then there will be no excuse for me not to become a fully-functioning member of the bloggerati. However, what I will have—and for the spending of precisely nish pounds and nowt pence—will be a phone that I will stay with for the rest of my life. Or at least until Steve Jobs unveils a newer cheaper better (smaller???) one. What should I do?