If you don’t follow me on Twitter, or my Facebook status then you probably didn’t know that I recently convert to the cult of the iPhone (iPhone Sellout). There were several reasons for this, but the main reasons are:
- iPhone OS 3.0, which brings the iPhone (mostly) up to date on features.
I had been contimplating the jump to the iPhone for a while because I really do think that it is a nifty device, but I couldn’t get over the lack of a physical keyboard. When iPhone OS 3.0 was announced I decided that it was time to make the jump and my original plan had been to wait until June/July when (most likely) there would be a new model released, with upgraded hardware. The reason I decided to make the jump earlier was mainly a cost savings move. If I wait until the new models are out, I will most likely not get the capacity I want at a price I liked and would have had to settle for the current model anyway. Since I’ve done this, Apple will most likely end up release a new 16GB iPhone at $199 (the price of my refurbished 3G model). As you read this, please remember I fall into a group of people commonly referred to as “Power Users” in that I really like to use and customize my devices in a way that increases their ability to help me in my daily life.
And just so you’re warned, this post is lengthy.
Once I got the phone activated and synced with my computer (adding an initial bit of music, contacts, and calendar info) I went to work getting it setup on my home’s wireless network, this process was relatively painless even with my network’s overly crazy secure password. After that was setup, I set up my email accounts; Gmail (personal) and work account (Exchange). This is where I started to really dislike the keyboard. I have some fairly secure email passwords (upper/lowercase, numbers, & special characters) and having to constantly switch around without being able to use a shift key to get corresponding keys (like on a physical keyboard) was time consuming and made the process a little more cumbersome. While this has become, moderately, less of an issue with further use of the touchscreen keyboard, it still feels like I’m typing slower than I’m capable of. Once email was set up though, it comes in just like it should and I’m able to send as well without issue.
Navigation is as simple as people make it look, though the touchscreen can lead to unintended presses and application launching. Especially if you hit the screen in a way you didn’t intend. This carries over into applications. If you are trying to scroll through a list of something and don’t flick your finger correctly, you will end up opening an item which requires extra steps to get back to where you started and continue with what you were doing. This is definitely a flaw that comes from using a touch interface. However, using the phone is a breeze even with this flaw.
Setting the phone’s various options is quite simple. I had the phone to my liking within 10 minutes. While I didn’t have it overly customized it was as much to my liking as you can get for being out of the box only 30-60 minutes. One thing I feel that Apple missed is a way to turn various services (3G, GPS, WiFi, etc) on and off with minimal button presses (this can be solved by JailBreaking the phone and installing SBSettings). Another thing I didn’t like was that with Bluetooth set to ON, it is always in discoverable mode. On my BlackBerry you could turn Bluetooth on without it being in discoverable mode. This allowed you to run Bluetooth without having to worry about someone else connecting to your device.
Overall, my initial impressions were good. I still wasn’t in love with the virtual keyboard, but I saw how I could adapt to it over time.
The First Week
After I got over the initial w00t-ness of having an iPhone, I set about trying to use it in my daily life. The first thing I immediately noticed was the lack of ability to respond to meeting invites that I got from my work email. My work sends out a lot of meeting requests and this was a major flaw in my eyes. If you’re going to have Exchange capabilities then responding to meeting requests sent in the ICS format should have been built in from the start (I know this is one of the features coming in iPhone OS 3.0). For now, I’ll just need to respond to these requests via Outlook (and OWA).
I also started to install applications. Being a huge social network user (especially Twitter & Facebook) I installed TwitterFon and Facebook and set those up. This process was painless. I have to say that Apple really did this whole thing right when it comes to applications. The App Store is easily usable from the phone and installing applications is as simple as clicking install and typing in your iTunes credentials. I’ve installed several useful applications and I am in love with the process as a whole. Way to go Apple.
As the week progressed I got use to the phone more and more. One thing I understand but don’t like is the inability to split exchange functionality between two Exchange accounts. I would have liked to been able to setup my work mail to come through Exchange while setting my contacts and calendar to come through Google’s Exchange settings. Though I understand that you can’t have more than 1 Exchange account at a time on the phone since you can’t even do that in Outlook without multiple profiles. I ended up switching my work email to IMAP so I could get contacts and calendar info from Google. Overall the process was easy, but I really liked the instance delivery of my work emails that I no longer really have.
While the “home screen” interface is nice and the finger flick that allows you to navigate the various pages is fairly quick, I would like the ability to categorize the apps I download in some manner. I would even accept a method that uses the grouping in the App Store itself (ie Facebook would go under a Social Networking category on the iPhone). This categorization functionality could even be off by default so as not confuse non-Power Users. Again, this functionality is available if you JailBreak the device though I haven’t tried it yet. But, moving apps around to at least pseudo organize is fairly simple, if not tedious in some cases.
One feature that I am anxiously awaiting in the new 3.0 operating system is the landscape keyboard for SMS and Email messaging. Having to use the upright keyboard slows my typing down even more than using just the touchscreen keyboard. Supposedly there is a JailBreak application that adds the landscape keyboard to Email and SMS but I have yet to find it.
Overall, I’m happy with my purchase. Even though there might be new hardware come June/July, this is still a nice device. It’s one of the nicer phones I’ve ever owned and it’s an overall joy to use despite some of the flaws mentioned above. No device is perfect and though I’ll get flamed for saying it, the iPhone is not perfect. My BlackBerry wasn’t perfect either but both are solid devices. I don’t think I’ll go back to the BlackBerry anytime soon, even though they too have some real nice devices coming out (ie the new 8900). This device has shown people what they can expect from
their cellphones and consumers are taking note. The iPhone is a smartphone that just about everyone can get into and that to me is what will help drive the cell providers towards becoming nothing more than pipes for our data.