The last entry was about how I caved in, went against my anti-Apple stance and got an iPhone. While I still hold my stance on that most Apple products are crap, I do like this one. After a month of use, I can now have a pretty solid opinion of the phone so this post is intended as a review.
There are two things that really make the iPhone great: the interface, and the apps.
The interface is clean, visually appealing, and very easy to use. The large LED touch screen makes reading the options and navigating through them a breeze. So much so that even my Dad wanted one almost purely for this reason. He was sick of dealing with the tiny, hard to navigate, hard to read menus of the cheaper phones. The interface on the iPhone was a welcome relief for him and he’d probably have one too if he could have gotten Mom to cave. (Ohh well. he can have my phone if the next generation iPhone is worth upgrading to.) The phone is a platform where there are no standards on how an interface should look thus every manufacturer has something different. They all work but, none of them compare to the iPhone. The interface on the iPhone is robust and intuitive, a combination that you just don’t find on most phones. If they sold a version of the phone that didn’t require a data package thus all internet features wouldn’t work without WiFi, I bet they’d easily sell millions purely because of the interface.
While the interface is great, the apps are what really gives the iPhone its power. Everything on the phone, and I mean EVERYTHING, is an app. The iPod software, an app. The clock, an app. The calendar, an app. The camera, an app. Even text, mail, the phonebook, the phone, even the settings themselves are really just apps; they just have access to more
operating system features. With everything on the phone treated as an app, everything is easily accessed from the home screen.
The home screen lists all your apps on pages which can easily be flipped through by simply dragging your finger across the screen. Each page can hold 16 apps and there can be a total of 9 pages allowing for a total of 144 apps. There are also 4 additional slots at the bottom of the screen in the home bar taking the total up to 148. The home bar is simply a place where you would put your most commonly used apps so you don’t need to flip to a specific page to find them. This is a good place for apps like the phone, txt, email, etc. With the ability to hold this many apps on your phone, you can really deck out your phone to do a lot of shit!
While there may be "an app for just about… anything" I’d like to go over the apps that come with the phone and give you my likes and dislikes.
Phone is the app you use to make calls. Duh right?
The interface is split into 5 pages: Favorites, Recent, Contacts, Keypad, and Voicemail. With only 4 physical buttons on the phone, Favorites is the iPhone version of speed dial. You simply select numbers from your contacts to be listed here then all you have to do is tap the contact from your favorites list and the call is placed. With the default configuration of the phone, tapping the home button twice will bring this page up then one more tap of the contact and you make the call. Very Quick.
Recent lists your recent calls in order from newest to oldest. Calls list in black are completed calls while calls listed in red are missed calls. Tapping the contact listed will call the contact while tapping the arrow to the right of the contact will bring up more info about the contact and tell you whether the call was incoming or outgoing. All calls are time stamped so you know when they occurred.
Contacts allows you to scroll/search through your entire contact book for the contact you want to call. Tap the name and the contact details comes up including a thumbnail picture if one was entered. Tap the number in the details you want to call and the call is placed. You can also start a text and add the contact to your favorites from here.
Keypad simply brings up a keypad where you can type in a number manually.
Finally, Voicemail is an easy you use voicemail system that presents to you your voicemail as an email inbox. The voicemails are listed in order, newest to oldest and are labeled with the contact name so you no longer have to listen to the voicemail to determine who it’s from. Tapping the voicemail begins playback and a drag able position indicator makes it a breeze to fast forward/rewind to any point in the message. To delete a voicemail you simply press edit, select the message then hit delete, or slide your finger across the entry then hit delete.
When in a call a set of buttons comes up allowing access to things like the speaker phone, conference calling, the keypad and the contact book. I have to say I’m really impressed with the whole phone interface. I’ve never seen a phone this easy to merge calls and start conference calls with!
Very robust and intuitive phone interface
Visual voicemail is awesome!
Super easy conference calling
Recent calls could use a way to differentiate between incoming and outgoing calls on the list page rather than having to dive into the info page
Recent calls info page doesn’t include call duration
The phone interface on the iPhone is awesome! It’s really easy to use, looks great and makes navigating through large contacts books a breeze. The recent calls interface could use a couple tweaks, but other than that I have no complaints.
Text is for sending and receiving SMS text messages. The main page contains a list of contacts you’ve maintained a record of texts from and two buttons along the top, edit and new. Edit allows you to select and delete a record of texts from the list while new starts a new text message. When you start a new text, an almost email like editor window appears where can select who to send the text to and then another section for the text message. Once you’ve entered the fields, simply tap send and the message gets sent and a new text record for that contact is created on the main page.
While on a lot of phones txts are presented like an email inbox/outbox and every txt is a separate email, on the iPhone the texts between you and that contact are presented in the text record as an instant messenger conversation. When you send something a word bubble appears on screen in green indicating the message is from you. Any response from the other person then appears below that in a word bubble in white indicating it’s from them. Time stamps are inserted into the record at the start of the conversation and anytime there is a break in it longer than a minute or two making it very convenient to go back through the conversation and see who said what when etc. With a text record for the contact in place now, the next time you want to text that contact you can simply select that record from the list on the main page and continue the conversation from wherever it left off.
Instant messenger like interface
Txts are presented as conversations rather than as individual emails
No annoying do you want to save a copy of the sent message prompt
Qwerty keyboard. Forget T9
Text message length appears to be unlimited
Keyboard is portrait mode only so it’s a little narrow.
The iPhone’s text interface looks great and is functional to boot! Firmware 3.0 will fixe the portrait only keyboard at which point there will be nothing to complain about. In short, with txt interfaces like these, it’s no wonder people barely use AIM anymore.
Mail is your one stop shop for accessing all your email. It supports all the major email providers including Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail and even Microsoft Exchange server. Adding a new email address is a snap and simply requires only your email address and password. Mail will get the server settings for you. Mail’s interface starts by listing each account you have entered into the phone. Tapping an account goes to that account’s list of folders including not only the standard Inbox, Sent, Drafts and Trash, but also any folders you may have created for that account on the server. Tapping the folder opens it and presents you with all the messages in it. Tapping the message opens it allowing you to view it, scroll through it, zoom in on it, and view any attachments on it. A tap of the message brings up buttons allowing you to perform the standard forward/reply/delete operations. To go back you simply press the back button that is at the upper left corner of every page. The whole interface is very easy to use and works great!
Works great with all of my email accounts allowing me access to my mail anywhere I go.
Each accounts email is kept separate from the other accounts.
Email is kept on the server so if you view an email on your phone then go and check it on a computer later, it’s still there.
Push notifications for my ATT/Yahoo accounts causes my phone to get the new message and notify me with a buzz as soon as a new email is received rather than having to wait until I either check my email manually or telling the phone to do a periodic check for emails.
Periodic check available for email accounts that do not support push notifications (the rest of the providers).
No way to mark a message as spam like there is on most email providers webmail interface
Portrait only keyboard
Can only attach one picture per message
No copy and paste
The email interface on the iPhone is great! Way better than I was ever expecting. Some people might complain about no unified inbox for all messages but personally I prefer my inboxes for each account remain separate. The first time I loaded my email I was shocked when I saw all of my saved message folders where there. While I had some minor complaints, I can’t complain much since I know all of them except the spam button WILL be address in the new firmware release. Who knows. Maybe a spam button will get added as well.
In short, it’s absolutely great being able to get all my email anywhere, anytime! It’s like having webmail with you 24/7 except there’s no ads!
Contacts is an app for managing your phones contacts book. The main page presents to you a list of all your contacts, a search bar to find a contact quickly, and a plus button in the upper right for creating a new contact. When you click on the contact name, the contact’s details appear. The interface is just like the interface in the contacts section of the phone app except in includes ALL of the contact’s info and allows editing of the info and changing the contacts ringtone. Tapping a number will call it. Tapping an email starts a new email. Tapping an address launches maps and loads the address from which you can then get directions from your current location! It’s just an awesome interface.
While contacts on the iPhone are very robust, probably the best thing about it is that it can be synced with your contacts in Outlook. When I got my new phone I didn’t even bother to copy the contacts from my old phone to the new one. Instead I simply took the phone home and synced it with my Outlook and bam! Everything was in there. Name, number, address, email you name it. If it was in Outlook then it was transferred onto my phone. No manually entering the info on my phone which if you’ve ever done you know can take hours. And that’s phone numbers only! Forget emails and addresses. The ability to sync right out of the box is a blessing.
Robust. Tapping different pieces of info on a contact opens the appropriate app for use of that info
Contact info can contain a little or a lot of information without the interface becoming cluttered
Only fields for which info has been entered are displayed rather than pages of empty fields
Contact info can include a picture which shows up during any calls with the person
Ringtones can be assigned on a person to person basis
Can sync contacts with Outlook as well as other computer address books
The contacts book on the iPhone is simply excellent. It does everything I would want in a contacts interface and more and with the ability to sync, I sure am glad I keep my Outlook contacts up to date.
It’s the real live internet in all its glory as it should be!
Safari doesn’t fuck with the web pages
Images are shown and placed where they should be
Navigation is simple
Rotating the phone sideways puts the page into widescreen landscape mode
Landscape keyboard available for text entry
Zooming in and out to make page readable is very easy
Better then expected performance. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no where near computer web browser fast, but it beats out most portable devices.
No support for flash
Doesn’t remember passwords or seem to save cookies
The first time I used the Safari web browser on the iPhone I was impressed. This is the real internet! There’s no bullshit formatting of the pages by the phone to make pages easier to read and fit the screen only making it harder to navigate them. No, they get displayed as they were meant to. If you can’t read the page, simply zoom in. The whole things just works and it works well. I did have a couple of gripes but, they could always be addressed in future firmware update. To be honest the lack of flash doesn’t surprise me. Flash uses a lot of resources on a PC. Making it work on a much less powerful device like the iPhone. That’d be tricky. It could still happen though. The lack of remembering passwords though, that does surprise me. Fortunately I believe that one will be address in the next firmware update.
In short… this is the real internet everywhere you go. Awesome!
The iPod app is simply everything you’d find in your standard iPod except now it is only an app rather than being the entire system software. I’m not going to go into too much detail here because quite frankly, if you’ve ever owned or used an iPod from the last 2 or 3 years, you know what this is all about.
A full featured music player on my phone without any cut corners. Kickass!
Can close the iPod app and start other apps without stopping the music
Can put the phone in standby without the music stopping
Music fades out and pauses when a call comes in
Easy to navigate interface
Just like all iPods, there is no support for wma files. iTunes has to convert them
Only supports h.264 mpeg 4 video which is not exactly the easiest thing to encode for
Why can’t it be called media player or something? Why does it always have to be i?
While I still prefer my Creative Zen for a portable media player (it’s smaller, lighter, longer battery life and has an SD card slot for expanded storage), the iPod app does work well. Since I have my phone with me all the time anyway, it’s quickly become my main portable player. I do have to give it props in on category though. Thanks to the phone’s large LCD screen, videos on it look great.
The iPhone comes with two apps that recreate the iTunes store and App store right on the phone. You can browse the entire collections of both stores and by logging into your iTunes account, purchase anything you could if you were using iTunes on your computer. With the apps store this is great as there are a ton of free apps so when you’re out somewhere and bored as hell, browsing for and downloading new apps can be a great time killer. It also works just as well for paid content and I do enjoy being able to sample any song from anywhere whenever I want. Purchases made on the phone get downloaded directly to the phone however, unlike with some phones, the content is not stuck there one your phone and will transfer back to you computer the next time you sync. Definitely a good thing.
Entire iTunes/App store library of content available from anywhere
Get new apps on the go
Sample as much music as you want for free
Purchase music on the go if you’re really itching to get that song and hear it now
Downloaded content transfers back to your computer when you sync. No feeling like a sucker for buying media that will forever only ever be on your phone.
Large downloads will require you to connect to Wi-Fi (Too much stress on the network I guess)
The iTunes/App Store on the iPhone does it’s job and does it well. There really isn’t much I can complain about. It does what it’s suppose to do and doesn’t smack you with any gotchas. Not bad.
Maps in short is the iPhone version of Google Maps. When you see it you will instantly recognize the style as it’s exactly the same as it is on the website. Press the little target reticule button at the bottom left of the screen and the map will center on your location. The search bar along the top of the screen allows you to search out anything just like on the website. When you search, pins at the locations of the search results appear on the map. Tap the pin and the name pops up. Tap the right arrow next to the name and more info comes up including addresses, phone #’s, websites, etc, all of which when clicked on will open their respective apps. Very convenient!
Maps also features full directions with estimated travel time just like the Google Maps website. Satellite view is also available as is Google Live traffic which is great because what better platform to have live traffic in than in a portable device?! Finally, one more feature from the website that they maintain is street view. To the left of the name of a pin will be a little picture of a person. Tap it and Maps goes into street view. Drag your finger around the screen and the view moves with it. Awesome!
It’s Google Maps!
Locations returned from search include a lot of useful information
Full route planning
Go to my location button for quickly figuring out where you are
No turn by turn directions with audio prompts as you drive
The Maps app is an excellent reproduction of the Google Maps website for the iPhone. All the features that are on the site are in the app so you really sacrifice nothing. The goto my location button is immensely useful and things like street view, while not entirely necessary, are just plain cool. The directions are good and are just like the ones on the site however, I would have like to have seen the addition of turn by turn directions where the phone will beep and alert you when your next turn is approaching. As I’m sure this is a common complaint, we’ll see if they do about it in the next firmware release. In the meantime, it won’t quite replace your navigation GPS entirely, but it’s close.
The YouTube app is as its name implies, YouTube for your iPhone. The app is fairly basic in the respect that it really only allows you to search and watch YouTube videos. Additional site features like channel subscriptions and posting comments are unavailable. No matter. That fact that you can watch YouTube videos anywhere you go is cool enough.
It’s YouTube anywhere you go. Rather then talking about that video you saw, you can show them.
Can Bookmark your favorite videos
Maintains a history of watched videos so you can easily find and re-watch videos
None of the account features are available like comments or channel subscriptions
It’s YouTube on the go. ‘Nuff said!
Weather is a very simple app giving you quick access to the current conditions and the 5 day forecast. You can enter up to 9 locations with each location being on a separate page. You can flip through the pages using the standard finger drag across the screen.
Really quick access to basic weather information
App loads quickly
Can flip through up to 9 locations quickly
No detailed weather information
If you want basic weather info fast, there is no way quicker than the built-in weather app. If you want more details info however, you’ll need to look elsewhere. The weather channel app is perfect for that.
Stocks is quick access to the current price of your favorite stocks. Simply add the stocks you want to monitor and their name along with the current price shows up in the list. Tap the name of any stock in the list and a price history chart for that stock appears at the bottom of the screen.
Quick access to basic stock information
App Loads fast
For anyone who simply wants to just monitor a stock price at a glance, this app is perfect.
Calculator is just as the name implies, a calculator. Visually it looks good and functionally it performs well. By rotating the phone sideways the calculator switches from a standard calculator to a scientific calculator. Cool Stuff.
Easy to use. No trying to figure out what keypad buttons are mapped to what operator.
Both basic and scientific calculators are available
It’s the best calculator I’ve ever seen on a phone
The Notes app is a simple note pad for your phone. Visually it looks like a pad of legal paper and functionally it works well. You enter your notes on a page and you can have multiple pages. Entering notes is done with the on screen qwerty keyboard making note entering quick and easy. Finally you have the option of emailing your notes making transfer of them to a computer quick and easy.
Works as expected. It’s a place to hold… Notes
Thanks to the large screen, you won’t find yourself constantly scrolling when reading back notes
Qwerty keyboard makes text entry a snap
No landscape keyboard available
While I’m not sure how many people actually use notes on their phones on a regular basis, I do find the app useful for holding a grocery list when I need to go shopping. Once again this app like many others could benefit from a landscape keyboard and once again this issue will be addressed in the next firmware release.
Clock is more then just what the name implies, a clock. After all, the time is displayed at the top of the screen at just about all times anyway so if it was just a clock, it probably wouldn’t get used much. Clock instead actually contains 4 clocks: a world clock, an alarm clock, a stopwatch, and a timer. The world clock allows you to add locations to it so you can see the time elsewhere in the world. Useful if you do a lot of cross time zone business. The alarm clock allows you to set multiple alarms at specific times and uses your ringtones for the alarm sounds. The stopwatch is your basic lap counting stopwatch. Finally the timer is like a kitchen timer. Set the amount of time you want it to countdown and at the end a ringtone alarm will sound.
Looks good, works well, easy to use
App does not have to be open for set alarms to go off
The Clock app contains everything you’d want in a sports wrist watch.
The calendar is where you can keep track of your schedule and important events. It is very similar to the calendars you’ll find in any calendar software on the PC containing Day, Week, and Month views. All the standard properties of a calendar event are included and reminders can be set so the phone will automatically alert you of the coming event, even if the app is closed. The calendar can synchronize with your Outlook calendar making this app more that just a novelty.
Full featured calendar
Ability to have multiple calendars
Easy to use
Easy to read
Syncs with Outlook
Event categories from Outlook do not transfer over
The calendar app is everything you’d expect from a good PC calendar application and is suitable for permanent replacement of your PDA.
The Photos app is where you go to view all the photos on your phone. The main page separates the photos by albums. On every phone there will be at least one album and that is the one containing photos taken with the built in camera. All other albums must be added manually through the iTunes interface. Simply tap on an album to open it and page with picture thumbnails will appear. Tap a thumbnail to view the photo. You can zoom in and out on the photo using the standard multi-touch interface and rotating the phone will put the view into landscape giving you a better view for landscape photos. Flipping through the photos is easy too, just simply drag your finger across the screen. Tapping once on the photo will bring up some buttons to perform operations such as emailing the photo, setting it as the wall paper, or assigning it as the photo for a contact in the phone book.
Easy to use interface
Photos look good on the large screen
No way to organize photos directly on the phone. Must use iTunes.
The Photos app is a simple way to show off your photos on the go.
The Camera app is where you go to take photos using the phone’s built in camera. When you load the app the entire screen becomes a preview window and a snap photo button appears at the bottom of the screen. Using it is simply point and shoot and couldn’t be simpler.
Very easy to use
Large screen makes framing photos a breeze
Convenient for taking contact photos
A lot of lag between hitting the photo button and the the picture actually being taken
While the photo quality is better than most phones, it still sucks. Especially in low light.
A quick and easy way to take photos with your phone.
Settings is not an app in the traditional sense but, is an app none the less. This is simply where you go to change the various settings of your phone. The interface is very easy to use and in general it usually isn’t to hard to find the setting you are looking for.
Quick and easy access to system and app settings
The settings app is probably the most efficient way of changing settings that I’ve ever seen on a phone.
The iPhone as a Whole
Too many to list. Read the rest of the post.
No cut/copy and paste
No built in MMS messaging
Only one picture attachment per email
Landscape keyboard not available in most of the apps
Can only run one app at a time
For most apps, if it is not running, then it has to rely on text messaging to notify you when something happens.
Why the fuck does everything Apple make have to start with i?!
iTunes. I still think it’s the worst application for Windows ever, but you don’t really have a choice.
If I had to put a star rating on the iPhone I’d give it a 5 out of 5. The phone does so much and just does it so well! It does have a few issues, but nothing close to a show stopper. I do still find it ironic that the most advanced phone in the world lacks MMS messaging. It’s also disappointing that if I log into AIM then close the app, the only way I can be notified of a new message is to set it up to send me a text. Fortunately these issues, as well as just about every complaint I have on the list, will be address in the 3.0 firmware update this summer. Once that is released, the phone will be nearly perfect!