I was one of those that had to have the new iPhone, so I waited in line, got sun burnt (I feel like a french fry and look like a lobster), but it was worth it. There have been a lot of things said about it, even on a cool mailing list I’m on (called the Pho List… pho being Vietnamese soup with “stuff” in it) with some really cool people, including the likes of Michael Robertson of MP3.com fame (he also has other sites/businesses that deal with VoIP and digital delivery/storage of music) and other digital luminaries…. We all have opinions about it, but here’s what I think after actually having one and using it for a couple of days….
First, let me preface this by saying that I am a gadget junkie and have had or used pretty much every decent phone out there!
Right off the bat, I have to say that the big deal everyone is making about price, and price over time is blown way out of proportion!!!! I have been a Cingular/AT&T customer forever, so signing up for a new 2 year contract isn’t a big deal for me. And the costs the everyone is talking about over time are virtually the same as they were with my old contract. My minute plan didn’t change, the unlimited data plan that is attached with the iPhone is actually cheaper than it was on my old rate plan, although the unlimited SMS text plan for the iPhone is more expensive than on the old rate plan…. So in the end, my service fees are about the same as they were before my iPhone. People are making a big deal about the thousands of dollars that you are going to spend on the service plan over the 2 year contract… but I was going to have to pay that anyway with a piece of crap phone too :-)!!!
Now, as for the iPhone experience. My first thought was that the GSM SIM card was hard coded into the phone. That was because it comes with one built in and it must be there for activation through the iTunes software. I was corrected about this point by the Pho List very quickly :-). With that resolved/corrected, one of the major reservations I had about it is gone :-)!
The screen is amazing! The touch interface is a thing of beauty!! The syncing is seamless and since it is, my home machine and phone/handheld are more up to date than they have been in years :-)!
Another thing that I have found to be great is the iPod features! I normally don’t use my iPod except when at the gym. It’s a pain to carry so many devices, and this integrates so many…. And since the screen is so large, I am finally using the video features of the iPod. For instance, instead of buying the newspaper this morning at breakfast, I had downloaded and sync’d (automatically remember, ’cause I’m subscribed to it via iTunes) “Meet the Press” and watched it at breakfast. Very cool!!!! I also find my self listening to music as I walk about town. Again, something I didn’t do ’cause of the multiple device issue….
I have become very used to the virtual keyboard and find that I can type faster with one finger than I could on my Treo via thumbing. And now I am practicing thumbing on the virtual keyboard and it’s going well. You have to “learn” to trust the auto spelling, kind of like “using the force”. the auto spelling is far easier to use than T9 or any other such thing on phones for SMS’ing. The dictionary is huge (word wise, not size wise) and it works well. One thing that you can’t do is type while driving, no tactile feel, but that could be considered a good thing I guess as it’s making me safer on the streets :-)!
Email is also a thing of beauty, showing the full thing in it’s original format. The fonts are really legible and not only in mail, but in all the apps. And browsing… GREAT! Look, it’s not your desktop computer, but it’s actually usable, either via wifi (where it really cooks) or via the EDGE network on AT&T (which has been improved I understand… it’s faster than my treo was by far!). It has the horsepower to do what it claims.
Another nice thing about the iPhone is that it’s OS X underneath, so it’s a form of UNIX…. and you know what that means, multi-tasking! So when you open up a web page and it is taking a minute, you can go to mail or SMS and then come back and the page has loaded. You can switch between applications without a worry, and it brings you back to where you were before when you switch back. Again, can I say a thing of beauty!
Other folks have complained about the iPhone being a “closed” system with no third party application development for it. But I would have to disagree. What they are whining about isn’t really that important in my mind. People want instant messaging (IM), they want a VoIP client, they want GPS….
IM can be replaced with SMS, and while it does cost where IM’ing doesn’t… if you get the proper plan, it’s really not noticeable (hey companies gotta make money somewhere, this is a capitalistic society after all), so I don’t think that it’s a deal breaker.
VoIP is also a hot topic since this phone has wifi built in. Folks want to use something like Skype to save on minute charges…. While it doesn’t exist now, it may in the future, but then again, is it really needed? I use Skype, but only for international calls to my developers in India, etc. Here in the US, all calls are covered under my rate plan with no long distance or roaming charges. When I travel, I don’t use the phone that much and know that there is a potential for charges so I’m careful not to rack up a gazillion dollar bill. I don’t see how VoIP could be so important for such a small usage of my time spent talking on the phone, but that’s just me….
GPS is something that would be nice, but it’s not going to happen in this model of iPhone :-(! I could also use an expansion slot for a memory card, but in reality, I haven’t filled up the one that was in my Treo (1Gb), so I don’t think i’ll really worry about filling up the 7+Gb that’s left in the iPhone after the OS.
The thing that I would really like is a “Search” function. I have a lot of contacts and sometimes Forget a name, but know that the company is in there or something like that, and I’d like to be able to search for contacts and events. This is probably the most important feature request I would have.
I’d also like MMS (multimedia messaging service… basically SMS’ing pictures), but again, with a great email client I can live without by just emailing an attachment. It would also be cool if the camera did video, but seeing as if I never used that feature on any of my other phones, it would be cool but I don’t think it’s important.
So in the end, if this is Apple’s form of DRM and a closed/locked system, then call me a convert, I drank the cool-aid. This is definitely the best phone that I have ever used and it’s great things make it’s foibles acceptable if not irrelevant!
I love my iPhone and just wish everyone would stop being “grabby” and want to pick it up and play with it… it’s mine, go get your own :-)!