iPhone Review

iPhone 1.1After years of denying myself a cell phone, I finally could no longer forestall the inevitable and decided to give more of my money to Steve Jobs. The end result is my new Apple iPhone which I have come to nickname Athena. In the past 12 months I have had to be on-call for my day job and so I have had to carry some sort of company cell phone. The first was a Microsoft Windows Mobile which I must admit was easy to use, if you have had any experience with Windows at all. The second was a 7100 Blackberry which I found user-unfriendly and annoying to use if you were trying to do anything with it that was not phone related. For example, trying to use BlackBerry Browser or even Opera Mini on it was an exercise in futility. It took forever to type in urls, and when it did display a web page it was hard to look at. Some sites were better than others, but overall I really could not do much with the Internet on the Blackberry.

iPhone 1.1

Since the iPhone 1.1 Update came out the day after I got the phone, I never had a chance to really experience the iPhone at 1.0. That much said, after spending $400 for the phone itself, another $25 on a case, then there is the $36 activation plan, and then the $80 plan, the money quickly adds up and in the end you have what many consider an over-priced phone, (that is until you start looking at other smartphones and find out that the iPhone is not even the most expensive phone out there).

My daily experience is that I leave my iPhone charging overnight (connected to my Powerbook). I use iTunes to eject the iPhone and then physically unplug it from its cable. The iPhone comes with a dock, but if you use a case, it is much easier to just use the connection cable without the dock. I have setup the phone to use an unlock code, so after pressing the home button which is located towards the bottom, you then slide your finger on the bottom of the screen and enter your pass code. The iPhone comes up to your last screen, or the Home screen.

The Home screen has all your applications: Text for text messaging all your friends, Calendar for keeping track of your dates, Photos which holds your saved images (on a Mac, this syncs up with iPhoto), Camera for taking quick pictures, YouTube for watching videos, Stocks for seeing how rich Apple is getting everyday, Maps is straight from Google, Weather, Clock which has a world clock, stop watch, and alarms, Calculator, Notes which lets you jot down quick notes, Settings for all things you need to change or know about your iPhone, and iTunes which is the iTunes Store and not your iPod.

At the bottom of the Home screen there is a dock which has four buttons, which are really the four main uses of the iPhone: Phone for making calls, Mail for email, Safari for web browsing, and iPod for listening and viewing your iTunes collection.

Wow, It’s an iPhone!

While I asked everyone what they thought of the iPhone as a phone, the most I heard was that it was adequate as a phone. There is really nothing spectacular about the iPhones phone features. Where the iPhone really impresses is with Web browsing and the touch interface which allows you to be more productive then other phones. Originally I had settled on three choices for a phone, the Blackberry Pearl, a Samsung Blackjack, or an iPhone. Since I really wanted was a good internet browsing experience, it came down to the Blackjack or iPhone, however in the end I can never resist Apple technology, so I am sure it really was not that hard of a choice after all.

Some of the best things I like doing on the iPhone are adding contacts, connecting to WiFi networks, surfing the Web, and checking my email accounts. The contacts are actually under the Phone section and they sync up with the Address Book in Mac OS X. The iPhone automatically can connect to most open WiFi networks, though I have had problems with networks that require a sign-up page in a browser. For my own secure WPA network, it took a while to get it connected due to my long pre-shared key, but now that it is setup, I enjoy very speedy browsing at home. You can even use your iPhone to scan for wireless networks. For email, I was able to setup GMail very easily and personal domain email takes a bit longer to setup, but works equally well.

Overall with the iPhone, you can stay connected all day long to the Internet, to phone calls, to email. It is almost frighteningly to think about if you believe in conspiracy theories.

Limitations

Given everything that is great about the iPhone, there are some limitations. Namely you are tied to AT&T for two years. You can change your plan at any time without a fee, but plan changes reset your contract, so be aware of this before changing plans! Text Messaging is limited for the cheaper plans, so you might want to upgrade to unlimited messaging. There is no IM client builtin, so you will have to use a web service for instant messaging. Hardware wise, the biggest complaint is the battery, which is not user replaceable. And of course Apple and AT&T have locked the iPhone pretty well from anything that can hurt their business model. If you can live with all these limitations, then the iPhone experience is a pretty amazing one.

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