October 2, 2009

1014 words 5 mins read

Review: iPhone

I know you’re looking at this title and the first thought that comes to mind is “What the Frack?!” (No Vitriol tag, so I don’t get to swear profusely… so sayeth my editor). I know… I’m normally not one to buy Apple products, I think their operating system is designed for idiots and they generally think they are better than everyone else. Not to mention the “Cult of Apple” which drives me up a freaking wall. Don’t get me wrong, I fanboy companies (See also: Google), but I’ll fully admit when those companies screw up or do something wrong… The Apple Cult? Ha. Everything they do is “perfect”. Makes me want to shove that MacBook up their… yea… anyways. Back to the iPhone.

They announced the new iPod Nanos a while back and they were shiny. I wanted a new iPod and I was about due for an upgrade. $150 wasn’t a bad price either, then I kept looking and realized that A) I’ve wanted an “all in one” device for a while and B) the iPhone (subsidized) was only $50 more. I polled a few people and the answer was “Buy the iPhone”, so I did. I succumbed to the shiny. Now I’ve had it for about 3 weeks, so it is due for a review.

First thing I noticed after using the device for a while: it definitely is NOT a PDA. Why? Because A stands for Assistant, which means some sort of organization and the iPhone is shit as an organizer. Maybe I’m just spoiled by Windows Mobile, but WiMo does a great job as an organizer. You turn on your WiMo phone and you get a home screen with your calendar items for the day, tasks, and email. The iPhone calendar app obviously doesn’t show you anything unless you’re in the application and so far as I know, there is no first party task application.

The second thing I noticed about the iPhone, and I’ll admit is a bit of a paradigm shift for me, is that the iPhone entire experience relies solely on the 3rd party applications. I don’t even want to try and imagine what it was like before apps were allowed on the iPhone. Give me a WiMo phone and I’ll install Google Maps and Skype, but that is about it. Everything I want is either on the device, or accessed from the browser. With the iPhone, it really doesn’t shine until you begin to install applications. In fact, that is what has sold me on keeping the phone so far, the applications. Most of the apps I use are free, though I’ve paid for a few applications (Such as iKana touch, iMech, and Mass Effect Galaxy.

The hardware I’m fairly ambivalent about. The standard phone speaker (not speaker phone) is louder that the AT&T Fuze (thank goodness). The cell reception is about par with most of my recent phones, not great, but not terrible (though I’ve had some issues with data service). The battery life is about a day which, again, is on par with my last few phones. I remember the days of my Motorola StarTac and going a week between recharges. The iPhone battery is good for maybe 2 days if I turned off some of the extras and didn’t play with it as much. At the same time, I’ve already run it down to 5% one day (and that was with rationing at the end), but that’s mainly because I had it on more, to entertain me. The lack of hardware keyboard sucks (after having a QWERTY keyboard on every phone for the last… 3 years +/-), but acceptable. The iPhone does have good spelling/typing error correction for the most part, though I’ve had it correct me a couple times in an effort to drive me up the wall.

I’ll admit that it has a lot of small “nice” factors. While I knew about the fact that when you put the phone to your face, the screen turned off, they also designed the unit to turn back on when removed from face. Odd little feature, but very handy (remember the last time you called ANY company and had to go through their button punching tree). The ability to have large caller ID pictures show up on incoming calls is amusing. The amount of functionality they can force into one button (Press home twice rapidly to get a popup iPod control, press twice normally to get your choice of apps, press once to get home, press twice slowly to get home and back to the 1st home screen). I also like the fact that everything has its volume separately: Headphones, speaker phone, normal speaker.

Overall, am I happy with it?

Well, I tell everyone that I bought an “idiotPhone” (and most seem to get the joke). I’m a little irked at myself for buying it in the first place and I’m not terribly impressed with the first party applications. As stated earlier the third party apps are what is selling me with this device. As with all Apple products it it a slick looking thing (hardware and interface, for the most part). It is speedy to get around (I got the 3GS) and has enough space for my music (and even videos now). For as much as I hate Microsoft, I’ve really liked having Windows Mobile, and I do miss some of the features. I really wish Apple would finish out the Exchange integration for notes and tasks (and include a damn task app).

Would I buy one again? Well I haven’t returned this one (which was very validly an option), so more than likely. I have yet to find any problems with the device that I would call show stoppers. A few annoyances, a few “I wish this were X” and a few “God I hate Apple’s over simplification of EVERYTHING”. All in all, I’m as satisfied with this device as I have been of any recent smart phone. Some of the niceties of iPod integration give it a nice little boost though.