iLove My iPhone
21 August 2007
It’s not what the iPhone does, it’s how it does it; or how you do it using the iPhone. That fact, though stated in nearly every review of the iPhone, is hard to understand without personal experience. After three weeks of owning one of these revolutionary devices, I think I’m finally starting to get it. The iPhone is a joy to use. (Since when have you been able to say that about anything you own?)
My first impressions of the iPhone came with a trunk-full of technical knowledge of how the device behaves. I’ll freely admit that before buying it I’d watched the 20-minute walkthrough video, read the manual, and scoured the web for every comprehensive review I could find. I was, for all intents and purposes, obsessed with it.
What I didn’t expect was how good the iPhone actually felt in my hand. The moment I was able to hold an iPhone (not connected to a security cable) was the moment I realized – despite the obvious drawbacks – I had to own one. It’s the perfect size and weight; not too heavy, but enough so that you know to handle it with care.
Then there’s the screen. It goes without saying, but the iPhone’s screen is the best on a personal electronic device, period. It’s clear, bright, and big. Actually, I happen to think that most of the physical appeal of the iPhone can be attributed to the screen itself, and not the form-factor, industrial design or Apple logo on the back. It’s just another cool-looking device … until the screen is activated.
The on-screen, software keyboard takes getting used to, but I got used to it in only a few hours. According to the type test I just took, I average about 45 words per minute (with some errors). I doubt I ever got that fast on my BlackBerry, even though I know I was faster on it than my Treo 650.
Even still, I would love to see a few minor modifications done to the keyboard:
- A “double-space for period” option
- Clearer (or easier) way to deny the auto-completion/correct suggestion (the “x” is sometimes hard to hit)
- More congruent auto-capitalization support
Either one-handed or two, the keyboard is a hit with me. Way to go, Apple.
A smartphone that syncs?
Yes, it’s true. The iPhone does a great job of synchronizing data. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sync To-Do’s or Notes. It seems to be public opinion that Apple will eventually build in support for those, but as of now, Notes are basically useless (why even include it?), and you’ll have to come up with another way of GTD‘ing.
I’ve not had any problems syncing my data or media (800+ songs, 1000+ photos, and 10+ videos/movies worth), but I do wish I wasn’t handcuffed to iTunes to do so. And speaking of being handcuffed, why do I have to use the USB cable every time I want to update my calendar or contacts? It seems to me that data synchronization could easily be done via Bluetooth or over-the-air using .Mac.
It makes calls!
According to Steve Jobs, the killer app is supposed to be making calls. Since I’m not a heavy phone user, it’s hard for me to say whether or not that’s the case. The phone app is really well thought out, though, and hasn’t disappointed at all.
Incoming calls take over the screen (no matter which app you’re in, or what you’re doing). The display shows the caller’s name or number (depending on whether or not you have them in your contacts list), their picture (again, depending on their contact status), and a two buttons; for answering or ignoring the call. Once in an active call, the on-screen controls for placing the call on hold, making another call, looking up a number, entering a number, or placing the phone in speaker-phone mode are big, bold, and clear. You can even return to the home screen and activate another app while still on the call.
Making a call is very simple, but does feel like it takes a few more steps than it should. First, you launch the phone app, then navigate to the desired screen for either Favorites, Recents, Contact List, or the traditional numeric keypad, then tap the name or enter the number. If you select a name in the Contact List, you must also then tap the desired phone number for that person. If I had a greater need to make regular calls, I would probably find the process frustrating, but since I’m just a casual caller it works fine.
AT&T’s signal is mediocre; not great, not horrible. I’ve dropped three calls so far (two the first day). In most areas of Redmond and Bellevue, Washington, I get full signal. Frequently, though, the signal will suddenly drop to zero for 2–3 seconds, then pop back up to full. As for data, speeds on EDGE are just bearable. I just tested (with full signal strength) and got 149.5kbps. I must be getting the “updated” EDGE speeds, though, because I don’t find it as slow as some claim it to be.
In no particular order, here are some additional notes I’ve been compiling, but don’t really need to elaborate:
- Photos look absolutely gorgeous. I start my demos with them; especially because the “pinch” effect always gets an “ooh”.
- The camera confuses me … why such a nice camera, with crummy pictures, and barely any functionality?
- MobileMail can’t save pictures?!
- Standby screen is only semi-useless; it shows the latest, unread text message, clock, and date.
- Weather is awesome (check out the additional info via “Y!” link). Stocks are cool. Where’s the “Scores” app?
- Battery life is good, but I still have to charge nightly.
- iPod is absolutely beautiful – the best part, in fact. The muting feature rocks!
- Wish I could directly subscribe to and download podcasts.
- Scrubbing long podcasts without chapters is just about impossible – but at least the fast forward is good. It gives audible feedback as the track forwards.
- The apps feel somewhat disjointed (in terms of interface), and part of me wonders if Apple didn’t open up the iPhone for third-party development for that very reason – no real base for an SDK if there are no real standards.
The big picture
What Apple’s done with the iPhone can’t be described as anything short of amazing. Nay-sayers who nitpick every quirk and omission are just haters, link-baiting and glamorizing the few negatives. If you take a step back and look at the overall satisfaction among iPhone owners, you cannot deny its success.
I absolutely love my iPhone, and wouldn’t go back to a “regular” mobile phone if you paid me.