Its been a few weeks now since I picked up the iPhone 3g and its gotten quite a bit of use. I figured it was time for a followup article to let you all know how it has worked out so far. For the most part, I like it but like most things, there are good points and bad. I will discuss some of each today.
Slick user interface.
Leave it to Apple to design a nice user interface. I love the touch screen. The iPhone uses a capacitance sensitive screen, not pressure sensitive like most other devices. This means no stylus is needed and the items on the screen won’t be activated by items in your pocket. This screen supports multi-touch! This allows you to use more than one finger to achieve a number of tasks like zoom in, out and rotate. Pretty slick! Most of the UI has a very OS X kind of feel to it.
Lots of Apps
There is a large number of applications for the iPhone. Many of them are free and the rest are cheap for the most part. I have most of what I want already. Things like an SSH terminal, FTP, VNC and various other utilities for time tracking etc.
Good network support
Between built-in WiFi and 2g/3g data support, it’s hard to find someplace where I can’t get online with the iPhone. Most apps will automaticly use the best available connection selecting WiFi over cellular data anytime WiFi is available. Just today, I have the iPhone in the car kit cradle on my way to work with the Google map app running. The iPhone was happily downloading the necessary maps over 2g as I was driving along.
Good text input.
The onscreen keyboard seems to work quite well compared to most every other small device I have tried. It’s built-in dictionary catches and fixes most typos on the fly. There have been a few things that it has wanted to correct that were’nt wrong but those have been mostly names of people or places.
Excellent music player.
Well, it is basiclly an iPod with a built in phone. As usual, Apple has done an excellent job with the iPod portion of the iPhone.
As a phone, the iPhone does a great job. Call quality is better than most of my previous phones. It works well even when there is only one bar of signal. AT&T’s visual voicemail is a nice touch. The contact list is very easy to use and maintain. The call log maintains the last 80 incoming, outgoing and missed calls with the missed calls listed in red. Here however is where I will segway into the bad…
The iphone seems to fall short when it comes to some basic cell phone functionality- mostly in the call logs area. The log does not indicate whether a call was incoming or outging unles you check the details for the call. The details do not include call duration. This is a big problem for those of us that bill for phone time. In some cases, if there are multiple calls to/from the same contact in sequence, the log will bunch them together and you lose the ability to tell what was incoming or outgoing. While on a call the iPhone does display the duration but that is lost as soon as you end the call. This hopefully will be addressed in a future firmware update.
…or the lack thereof. The iPhone does support bluetooth headsets and handsfree devices, sort of. Ringtones are not transmitted to the headset so I still need to look at the phone before I answer a call. Its been a long time since I’ve had to do that. Being an iPod, one would think that the iPhone would support stereo bluetooth devices. NOPE! No A2DP support at all. Again – maybe in a future firmware since the rumor is that the hardware will support it. No native voice dialing support. There are third party apps to add this but I haven’t seen any that claim to work with bluetooth headsets. AT&T offers a pay by the month voice dialing service but again, I don’t think it will work with a headset for hands free dialing. Pretty lame for a second generation Apple device.
Battery life seems to be well below par for a cellphone. I haven’t yet run out of juice but I’ve come quite close. It seems that there is barely enough to make it through a full day with moderate usage. I haven’t done a decent study on this yet but can say for sure that I get 1/3 to 1/4 as much life with the iPhone as I did with my last 3 or 4 phones. Even worse – I can’t carry a spare battery since the iPhone’s battery is NOT USER REPLACEABLE!!! I wonder how much it will cost me to get the battery replaced when it comes time to do that.
The iPhone relies on iTunes to sync most everything to/from the phone. I’m a linux user so I have to have a virtual machine running Windows XP to install and run iTunes. This is not a big supprise as most other devices will require Windows or OS X to sync but it is a bit of a pain none the less. iTunes is one of the SLOWEST apps I have seen in recent years. Even on a real Windows machine with relatively fast hardware its slower than death. From what I can see, its not any better on a MAC with OS X either. The connection to the iPhone is USB2 but the data transfer speeds remind me of the 28.8kbps modem days. Er… maybe it was 14.4… There is no excuse for this and it seems to be a very common complaint.
Well, thats all for now. I may post a follow up to this review down the road if I think of something I missed or if Apple comes through with some improvements via firmware updates. Please feel free to comment below if you have anything to add.