Turns out the contract rules are much trickier than I'd thought. They are so tricky even AT&T reps violently disagree about the rules. As near as I can tell it didn't matter that I'd paid off the subsidy for my iPhone. I was getting a new iPhone 4 and a new contract, and that ended AT&T's interest in my particular phone.
What seems to be more important was that he didn't have a contract; he'd never had a subsidized phone. So putting his GSM card in my iPhone didn't trigger a mandatory data plan. So far. Grrr!
Thanks to AT&T managed account policies he can't use any data services. When he's in a WiFi setting he gets net access, outside the home he has texting and standalone apps. For very good reasons we've locked out Safari, YouTube and App Installs. He can't purchase music.
His synchronization setup is described in a separate post. We don't use MobileMe (so broken), his Calendar, Contacts and Mail connect via ActiveSync to our Google Apps family domain. I sync selected apps, music and television/movies from our family account. All of the apps, even the games, serve an educational purpose. So he can watch hours of TV, but it's all Blue Ocean documentary. There are good reasons for this.
He loves his iPhone. He's very careful with it, as he was with his prior phone. Obviously things will be trickier when school starts. It's not substantially more costly than many other phones, but it may have more theft appeal.
As a computer, his iPhone has one large advantage over his desktop accounts. On the desktop Apple and Google together have totally broken OS X Parental Controls (MobileMe is the worst). On the iPhone, once you remove Safari and YouTube, you have Wikipanion and and Wolfram Alpha and Google Earth and Public Radio.app and New York Times.app. It's an approach with a future.
- Gordon's Tech: The multi-iPhone family - two approaches
- Gordon's Tech: Gordon’s idiosyncratic revenue-free iPhone 4 and iOS 4 review
- Gordon's Notes: Does anyone know what AT&T's smartphone data plan rules really are?
Update 8/5/10: Turns out the iPhone parental controls are as feeble as their OS X equivalents.