Apple Computer Inc Informative - Review of the iPhone
I recently took the plunge and got a new iPhone from Apple/AT&T. I had been a loyal T-mobile/Sidekick user for years, but after playing around with an iPhone at the Apple store before the holidays, I decided to go make the leap.
My first impression of the device was extremely positive. The setup process went very smoothly. I just had to download and install their iTunes product. That took about 10 minutes. Once it was installed, I plugged my new iPhone in and it immediately started the setup process. It asked me if I wanted to transfer my old number, and if so, it would take care of canceling my previous service for me. Great! I check yes, please do so and away it went. My phone was up and running within the hour, and my old number was working on my new phone before the next day was done. I never had to make one call to my old provider (T-mobile) regarding cancellation, they took care of everything. A word of caution, if you have a contract with a previous provider, you are still obligated to that contract and may incur penalties if you let AT&T transfer your number and cancel your old account. In my case, I was month-to-month with T-mobile so it did not matter.
Once I was setup, I took a quick tour of the iPhone's delivered features:
1. E-mail: It lets me setup as many e-mail accounts as I like. They can be POP or IMAP, and it even comes pre-configured to handle Google (gmail), Yahoo, Mac and AOL mail. My one gripe about the mail application was that it created separate mail folders for each account. So I had to go into each folder to read the new mail. I would prefer to have one mail folder that I could see ALL my new mail from all my accounts, but perhaps in the next software update.
Another neat feature, it allows you to open up as many web browser sessions as you like simultaneously.
3. It is an iPod: I found the iPod features to be better/easier to use than my previous old iPods. The touch screen navigation make browsing my library of music very quick and easy. My model was the 8GB phone, so I could store a few thousand sounds if I liked. It also has an external speak built-in to the phone, so you can simply lay the phone on your desk and listen away without headphones. Didn't sound great this way, but it works well enough if you are sick of wearing headphones.
4. Phone features: I really like using the headphones that come with it for the phone. But it is also Blue-tooth capable, for those of you that have Blue-tooth head sets. The sound quality was good, and folks I spoke with said I sounded better than my old T-mobile phone. The voice-mail is another very cool feature. It is called "visual voicemail". You can see a list of your messages on the screen and simply touch the one you want to listen to, or delete, etc. Pretty neat feature.
5. Camera: The built-in 1.2MB camera works OK, but nothing great as expected. It is nice for those last minute shots when you forgot a camera. There is no flash, but the low-light capabilities seem to work okay. Pictures can be emailed or assigned to your contacts, etc. Pretty standard stuff.
6. Photo Album: You can sync your iPhone with you photo collection from your PC. Pretty neat to have them with you whenever you want to show off your new puppy or whatever. The photo album application is addicting to use. You can smoothly browse through thumbnails of all your pictures with the brush of your finger on the screen. Very fun and very easy to use. The pictures can be viewed both in portrait or landscape mode by simply rotation the phone.
7. Google Maps: A very handy application if you ever need a map on the road. At first I thought it would only work well if I was connected to a WiFi hotspot, but I found it worked fairly well when I was on the Edge network (non-wifi). I use it all the time to pull up maps, find places to eat, get phone numbers, etc. Works as well as the real Google Maps, if not better.
8. YouTube Videos: You can browse/search YouTube from your phone, and watch any videos you want. It seemed to work best when I am in a WiFi zone, but it worked without Wifi as well, just slower loading. I don't use it that much, but a neat feature none-the-less. Side note: I also noticed I could watch Quicktime videos (ie - Movie previews) on websites that offered them through the Safari web browser.
9. Stock Quotes, Weather, Calendar, Text Messages, Calculator, Notepad, etc: Beyond the core apps above, you also get a slew of more basic/standard apps. I found the Stock/Weather apps to be very easy and quick to use. The others I have not experimented with too much, but they seem easy to use as well.
Moving on to the device itself. The phone itself is a very sleek design. The touch screen is a glossy glass, and the back is a brushed metal color. The widescreen display renders colors and images beautifully. Better than any other PDA I have ever seen.
I was concerned at first about the touch-screen getting full of fingerprints. It turns out I was right. It does get loaded with fingerprints, but you never see them while using the device. Once it hibernates and the screen goes blank you can seem them, but when it is on, oddly, you don't notice them. The screen is glass, so my guess is if I was to drop the phone, it would break more easily than most other phones.
The touch-screen itself is a glimpse of the future. It works amazingly well, and makes navigating the phone a breeze. Though a bit awkward at first to get use to (much like the iPod), once you get the hang of it you might never want to use anything else. The on-screen keyboard takes some getting use to as well, but once you get comfortable with it, becomes fairly useful. Apple has included some pretty smart "auto-correction" software that lets you hack away at the keyboard while it works hard correcting your mistakes on the fly. I found it was about 80% accurate at correcting my mistakes in general, and even better as I grew more comfortable with the keyboard.
It is important to note that the keyboard is only displayed in portrait mode for most of the apps, which is a bit annoying since it makes the keyboard quite small. But luckily they offer the widescreen keyboard when you are in the web browser application, which is much easier to type with.
On to battery life. I was a bit worried on my first day when my iPhone died before I got home from work, lasting less than 12 hours. I quickly realized I had it configured poorly in regards to optimizing the power usage. I turned off the "auto wifi finder", toned down my email update frequency, adjusted how long the device stays on until it hibernates, etc. Next day it went the whole day and only used about 40% of my battery. Huge improvement. Some days when I use it sparingly, the battery won't even drop 10% for the day. Not bad. Other days of heavy usage I can go through a full charge in about 16 hours or less... but that is when my online on my phone browsing the web, watching videos, music... talking, etc.
pretty much all day long.
Phone temperature is another issue to note. If you use it heavily it does get a bit warm, but never uncomfortably warm. The device cools it self through induction with the metal back plate of the phone. So if you carry it in your pocket, be sure to keep the back of the phone facing outwards so it can cool down. It makes sense since you would want the face of the phone to your leg to protect it, etc.
Sorry for such a long review! I just started typing and had a lot to say... I hope I covered most of the features that folks might be interested in learning about. If you have any other questions, leave a comment and I'll be sure to check back and answer them.
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