iPhone Review

iPhoneAs I mentioned before, I succumbed to the seduction that is the Apple iPhone. Two coworkers purchased it the day it was released and I promptly began drooling over the device. The beauty of the screen and the ease of the interface lured me to it. I couldn’t help myself and visited the AT&T store the following Saturday.

Of course, my wife wanted one as well, but that meant $500 x 2. Ouch! So we decided that I would get one and if she really liked it and felt she still wanted one, we could get her one later.

I came home and promptly connected it to iTunes to activate. The activation process was painless and within 10-15 minutes (mostly downloading the new version of iTunes) I was up and running with my new iPhone.

That was about 3 weeks ago and so I’ve had plenty of time to try it out. Here’s my evaluation:


Pros (there are lots):

1. The Screen — The screen is amazing. The resolution is similar to that of full-size LCD monitors, so it looks fabulous. The YouTube videos are incredible. And it’s wide-screen!

2. The Interface — Navigation is night and day different from my old Windows Mobile phone. I had little difficulty finding things with the iPhone. Settings were easy to find as well as the applications. Part of the brilliance of the interface is the Apple simplicity. Apple has always avoided extra clutter and followed the KIS (Keep It Simple) mentality. That mentality is epitomized in the iPhone interface. The touch screen is sometimes a little too sensitive, but you quickly get used to it. Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs, hates buttons, so the iPhone is his vision come true.

3. Google Maps — The integrated (on-board) mapping application is quick and seamless. Even on the Edge network, it’s pretty quick when not using the satellite imagery. I use it to find all kinds of numbers and addresses for businesses. A quick search on the Google Maps will usually give me address, phone and a website address. The phone and website are a simple click initiate the call or visit the website.

4. WiFi — The saving grace of the slow Edge network is the WiFi connectivity. Without the WiFi, the iPhone would be unbearably slow for most individuals. I am close to a WiFi hotspot most of my day (home, work, in-laws, friends) and getting the higher speed helps reduce the frustration with the slower Edge network. The only time I am on Edge is while driving and at Church.

5. The Phone Application — The simple keypad for the phone was designed with the user in mind. With my old HTC/Cingular 8125, you really needed to use the stylus to dial on the keypad. Like I want to pull out the stylus anytime I need to dial a number. The iPhone keypad has large buttons and is easy to see and use. I know this seems simple, but it’s vital for a phone to be able to dial easily.

6. Form Factor — The sleek casing and screen are not only cool looking, but they make it so easy to carry around. Most smart phones these days are clunky and have buttons all over. This causes problems when determining where/how you want to carry them.

7. Edge Network — As much as I would rather have the 3G network, being connected to the Internet whenever I need it is invaluable. I never realized what I was missing until I had it.

8. Calendaring/Notes — One of my pet peeves used to be having to carry multiple devices. The typical business/power user carries a phone and a PDA (Palm, etc). I was one of those with multiple devices for a few years. And typically I would simply leave/forget my PDA at work rather than carry it along with the cell phone. It’s nice to have a calendar and notes built into the phone. Yes, there other phones that allow for this, but not with such a simple interface for entering and retrieving data.

Although that’s not the full listing of the things I love about the iPhone, it’s the highlights. Now let’s highlight the things that are frustrating and I hope they change.

Cons:

1. Edge Network — I know this is also listed as #7 above, but that’s because of the fact that I can connect. It’s very frustrating however to be in a location where you know you could be getting 3G speeds, but you are stuck downloading at just over dial-up speeds. Apple had valid reasons for going with Edge over 3G. Mostly because they would be reaching a wider audience because 3G is only deployed in 20 US metro areas (mine being one of them). There are rumors of a 3G enabled phone for Europe/Asia. If that happens, then Apple should also release those version in the US and allow for those within a 3G area to have the faster speeds.

Bejewelled2. No 3rd-party applications — For those switching from a Palm based PDA/Phone to the iPhone, it’s a bit of a culture shock for one major reason — you can’t install 3rd-party applications on the iPhone. That means no solitare or sudoku to keep you up with bloodshot eyes until 1am — at least not until someone builds a web-based version. I understand the reasoning behind the lockout of 3rd-party applications (iPhone stability, etc), but it’s still a little frustrating. That being said, I believe that locking down the gadget has caused a wealth of web development creativity. People are starting to build web-based applications that never would have been created before. I even have a web-based version of Bejewelled bookmarked on my iPhone. That’s an application I never thought I would see in a web-based format.

3. Bluetooth Integration — I have a bluetooth ear piece for making calls while driving. The integration is horrible. Perhaps it’s just my ear piece, but it’s been pretty frustrating. When you receive a call, you would expect it to ring through the ear piece and you should be able to answer using the built-in functionality of the ear piece “answer” button. This doesn’t happen. In fact, when I answer a call, it doesn’t automatically switch to the ear piece for routing the audio. I have to manually select it to do so. Every other phone I’ve used a bluetooth ear piece with has automatically switch audio to it when a call comes in.

4. Voice Dialing — There is none. This was almost a deal breaker for me. I make many calls while on the road and usually to those whom I have voice “tagged.” With my old phone, I press the button on my ear piece, speak the name of the person I want to call, and the phone recognizes the voice tag and dials the number for me. The iPhone has no such functionality. It doesn’t even hint at it. I really hope Apple will add this in a software update, but I have a feeling that I won’t see it until I buy the next version of the iPhone.

5. Price — Apple has once again created an elitist mentality with the iPhone. They’ve done it with the Mac for years. They want their users to feel like they are paying for such good quality products and so they charge a premium for it. In doing so, they create an elite class of “gageteers” who think they are better than others because they are willing to pay the premium for the better product. I, of course, do not fall into that category 😉

6. iTunes Required — I’ve never been a fan of iTunes. As intuitive as Apple usually is, I think they missed the boat with iTunes. The only reason I had it on my machine was to get my Audible.com books onto my iPod (audible.com only works with iTunes when you have an iPod). Otherwise, there are better tools for managing an iPod.

Again, that is not a full listing of problems or concerns, but those are the major issues I see wrong with the iPhone.

Watch the guided tour for additional ohhhs and awwws.

So what are you waiting for? There’s no more lines. Go get yourself one. Everyone’s doing it. Just once won’t hurt >:)

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