This is topic The iPhone, One Week On in forum Fun and Games, and Reviews at The Geek Culture Forums.


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Posted by Erbo (Member # 199) on August 23, 2009, 17:12:
 
So, Sabrina and I I have been living with the iPhone 3GS now for a week. And for my part, I can safely say that it's everything I expected, and more.

Let me run through the various aspects of the device...

General: The iPhone seems to spend much of its vaunted CPU power just figuring out what the user wants it to do...which is why using it is so easy and intuitive. The UI also exhibits a great "fit and finish," as if I were watching an intricate mechanical device with tiny brass gears shifting and pieces twirling and sliding on oiled bearings. It's also very "polite" in a lot of respects.

I have an anti-glare screen protector attached to mine, and normally carry it in a leather belt holster from Digital Lifestyle Outfitters. It actually feels more comfortable to carry that way than my old Nokia did in its swivel-clip belt case.

Phone: Around here, in Denver, I don't seem to have any problems with call quality. The user interface for making calls is slick, and the "photo" feature in the contacts list is a nice touch, as the user photo appears as the backdrop when you're in a call with them. Visual Voicemail is a lot nicer to use than old-style voice mail, too. The phone interfaced easily with my Plantronics Bluetooth earpiece, and that works, but the one thing I wish it did is to play the actual ringtone through the earpiece when the phone rings. And, speaking of ringtones, the technique I described for making my own worked perfectly, and I have enough ringtones that most people that call me frequently have a distinct one.

Web browser: Before I got the iPhone, I used to drag out my "work" laptop at home a lot for casual Web surfing in the living room. Since then, I haven't taken out that Thinkpad even once. Mobile Safari is more than sufficient for that kind of casual surfing. The bookmarks syncing with Safari on Windows works just as I'd expect, and, in fact, I've taken to using Safari on Windows more, as I organize bookmarks for use with the iPhone. The only thing it can't do, apparently, is play Flash cartoons (meaning, no Homestar Runner or Foamy the Squirrel) or, indeed, any videos other than YouTube (which means no FAILblog videos, as they use Viddler these days).

E-Mail & Messaging: Interfaces seamlessly with GMail, and my contacts ported over seamlessly from there, too, which is a nice touch, but meant some organization was needed early on to clean up my now-unified contact list. One of the "polite" things it does is, while you're playing the iPod, it fades down your music when it has to play the E-mail or SMS chimes, and then fades it back up. The IM-style SMS interface was instantly understandable, which is a good thing, as I got a text from a friend within 30 minutes or so of getting the iPhone in the first place. [Smile]

iPod: It's an iPod, whaddaya expect? [Big Grin] I found no surprises here, as I'd been using a 3rd-gen Nano for awhile. One surprisingly-polite thing I found was when I was playing the iPod and needed to adjust the ringer volume. When I went to the appropriate control in the Settings page, the iPod faded out and paused while I adjusted the ringer volume, then resumed and faded up afterward. This is the kind of attention to detail that sets the iPhone apart, IMHO.

Camera: Haven't used this much, but I found it easy to use the couple of times I've used it. The camera is far better than the Nokia, if not on par with dedicated digital cameras like my Canon PowerShot.

PDA-type apps: They all work in expected ways. The compass and the map's built-in compass reading are pretty cool, as is just the ability for the map application to find you. I wish there were something on the desktop side for Notes to sync to where I could review info, though.

Third-party apps: I have found replacements for pretty much everything I had on my Fossil Abacus WristPDA, which runs PalmOS. Here are a few examples:

TotalCar (car maintenance & gas mileage tracker) - Gas Cubby

Password Vault (secure password storage) - Passwords

CSpotRun (e-book reader) - PDFReader, and also Amazon's Kindle application

Units (unit converter) - 9-Toolbox (does that, and a bunch of other useful things)

SolFree (solitaire) - SolFree (same company, same app, but the iPhone one makes the Palm one look like a pile of puke)

In addition, I have found a few other apps that work with things I normally do on a PC, such as TweetDeck (Twitter client, syncs up to the Windows and Linux versions of TweetDeck, which is nice), Facebook, Wells Fargo Online, Wikipedia, and Capsuleer (for EVE Online, keeps track of skill training like EVEmon and also displays the latest news headlines).

I was also pleased to see that they have Bookworm for the iPhone, which I previously enjoyed on Xbox Live Arcade. And, if you haven't seen it, go check out PeeMonkey. (Don't ask. Just go look. And thanks(?) to my coworker Joe, also an iPhone user, for that one.)

Summary: This thing is practically straight out of science fiction. It reminds me of the PDAs used in a couple of John Scalzi's novels, although there are some other parallels, and it's the first step to the device that Jeff Duntemann, nearly twenty years ago, called a "jiminy." I'm living in the future...today.

(Yes, you pay a lot to AT&T for the privilege...but I was paying a lot to AT&T already. In fact, due to a billing fuck-up they made when I got Sabrina's original phone, I may wind up paying less than I was, now that that's straightened out.)

This is the fourth cellphone I've ever owned. But it's so far beyond the other three in capability, it might as well be from another universe.

Later, I'll see if I can get some comments from Sabrina on what she thinks of hers.
 
Posted by The Famous Druid (Member # 1769) on August 23, 2009, 17:43:
 
Quote from a friend on Friday night, while showing me her current favourite iphone-app...

quote:
Someone asked me today if I like my iPhone, I said I am embarrassingly fond of my iPhone.

 
Posted by dragonman97 (Member # 780) on August 23, 2009, 21:49:
 
If they ever make an iPhone that wouldn't violate my wallet, I might consider it.

Until then, I'm perfectly happen with my boring phone, and my terribly awesome [free] iPod Touch. [Smile]
 
Posted by Ashitaka (Member # 4924) on August 24, 2009, 03:03:
 
I'll buy one when it can scan for life forms.
 
Posted by spungo (Member # 1089) on August 24, 2009, 10:38:
 
quote:
Originally posted by dragonman97:
If they ever make an iPhone that wouldn't violate my wallet, I might consider it.

Ditto, dude. And up here in the Frozen North they're even more mortgage-your-soul-and-forfeit-your-firstborn expensive. (Err... I think "This Hour has 22 Minutes" did a sketch that suggested as much... one of you Canadee-ans may know it... ) Anyway, yeah, me too -- and that's not just 'cos I'm tighter than a gnat's chuff.
 
Posted by Snaggy (Member # 123) on August 24, 2009, 13:54:
 
Nitro and I are on a family plan from Rogers, for two iPhones we pay a total of $119.73 Canadian, and that includes 6 gigs of data each.

With everything the iPhone brings: apps, camera, (video rocks), GPS, maps, a phone I can actually use and enjoy using, and including tethering now, I would never go back to a "regular" phone.

Never ever ever!
 
Posted by CommanderShroom (Member # 2097) on August 24, 2009, 14:39:
 
I have had this 3g for about a month now. I wish I could say I am that enamored with it.

Pluses
The OS itself is Marvelous. It does work very very well. They have the touch screen at just the right sensitivity.

And playing games and the gmail app work well. As does the built in apps like the youtube and weather tools.

Mobile Safari. damn nice mobile browser. I have no complaints on the mobile version of Safari, it is just the bees knees.

Minuses

I am not a touch screen fan. The move over from my Blackberry has only made me miss a real keyboard. Misspellings have tripled, and my speed with messaging has slowed.

Battery life. My gawd, can this battery go flat any faster?

iTunes. You either love it or hate it, can you guess which camp I am in?

MMS messaging? WTF is so hard about this? Everyone else has it, why not the iPhone?

Final thoughts on the iPhone.

It is a fantastic consumer phone. With one tool I really wish they had, MMS.

It is not a Blackberry killer. At least not for me. It plays harder than it works. I think for a consumer touchscreen phone, you really can't get better. but be careful if you are replacing a work phone.
 
Posted by Ugh, MightyClub (Member # 3112) on August 24, 2009, 19:29:
 
MMS in the States is waiting for AT&T to get off their lazy arses. It's available elsewhere since the 3GS launch.
 
Posted by CommanderShroom (Member # 2097) on August 24, 2009, 19:35:
 
IIRC, I heard the 3gs has MMS everywhere. Still not an acceptable deal. Come on, it took three revisions to add what most bargain bin camera phones do by default?

Like I said, this is just a review on what i have. I personally would still buy a blackberry over an iPhone if I could swing that kind of green.

edit: this is not to say the phone is bad, but there are some little features I consider standard. That said, the iPhone is a fantastic consumer phone. It is both stylish and works well. I am just not much for flash in the cell phone market. So it doesn't appeal to me.

Plus I will go from the office to wrenching on my cars and welding during my off hours. And this is truly where the limitations of a touchscreen phone is the most apparent. Greasy hands do not work well on this or the Samsung eternity I am using. And it irritates me to no end. So for my personal habits and lifestyle, give me some real buttons dammit! [Wink]
 
Posted by Erbo (Member # 199) on August 25, 2009, 11:09:
 
To answer some of the "minuses" from CommanderShroom and others...

I haven't had a lot of problems with the touch screen and typing on the "keyspot window." It's sure faster than trying to key a message using a phone keypad, even with predictive text. And the iPhone has a nice predictive/corrective text feature of its own that helps here, too. Sometimes, selecting text for copy and paste is a bit sticky, but I manage in the end. Yes, it's not a "real" keyboard, and I wouldn't write a novel on it, but it works OK for composing text messages, E-mails, and even short message board postings online.

I have no real gauge of battery life...this early in the iPhone's tenure, I'm hooking it up to sync it pretty much every night, as I load more stuff onto it and get things configured, so it tops off the batteries then.

iTunes isn't perfect, and it's kind of large for my tastes, but it does the job. I'd already been using it with my iPod Nano, and, in fact, the first thing I did was to port the same music playlists I'd been loading to my iPod to the iPhone, which worked as I expected. (I've been expanding its music repertoire gradually, as I think of more songs I'd like to add. I still have around 20 Gb free on the device at this point.)

AT&T says they'll have MMS up and running by the end of summer. Technically, they still have around a month to go (September 21, or thereabouts, is the autumnal equinox, or "first day of fall"). Meantime, I haven't really missed it, as I rarely used it on my old Nokia anyhow.
 
Posted by CommanderShroom (Member # 2097) on August 25, 2009, 12:18:
 
Erbo, I think this is where user expectations come into play. But I did like your viewpoint on the iPhone also.

I use the MMS feature a lot, so being without that feature is a big negative to me. Which again is a personal preference. And since this was a blackberry replacement, I have been retraining myself to use the touch keyboard, which works better than any other I have tried. But best for what (to me, mind you) is a bad lot is not much of a consolation.

iTunes of course many people use it. And many have iPods. I am a hold out from a bygone era. Yes, I have an ancient creative Labs Jukebox. So I was (and still am) a hold off from "The world according to Cuupertino."

Now since I have this always on connection, my battery lasts about 24 hours, at best 36. This means charging is a daily requirement. My blackberry connected to Exchange when new was 48 to 72. So not really stellar battery performance.

I forgot one other item. But this is truly a nitpick. The iPhone cannot run multiple programs at once. We utilize Skype for work here ( for a myriad of reasons I won't dispel right now) So I cannot run Skype and move out of the window without shutting it down. It has cut off a bit of my mobility in that respect. My Blackberry did that with no issues.

Mind you, my case is on the extreme side. So I know that this would not be the be all and end all of any review. Plus reviews are very subjective to the user. In my case (and possibly only mine) these are big negatives.

However, if a person likes iTunes, does not really bother with MMS, and is not a novel writing emailer, it really does do a ton of stuff very well.

A good media player (not one of those crappy SD card ones) back with a very clean OS, and a well calibrated screen. I won't lie, the cell option is not too bad either, though it takes some getting used to. There is a lot to like about this phone.
 
Posted by Erbo (Member # 199) on August 25, 2009, 23:53:
 
I will note that I try to keep the battery drain down in a couple of ways. When I'm away from home or the office, I turn off the Wi-Fi connection. I also only turn on the Bluetooth when I use my earpiece.

Sabrina's comment on the iPhone: "I like it, I love it, I want some more of it!" [Big Grin] She has added more games than I have, such as Life, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, Top Gun, and Uno. Of course, she has more time to fiddle with it than I do...

EDIT: Just to let you know, I typed this post on my iPhone while sitting in my living room with Sabrina watching LOTR:TT. [Smile]
 
Posted by Serenak (Member # 2950) on August 26, 2009, 05:50:
 
I have an iPhone 3G and I love it - but then again I always hated every other phone I had with a passion within a week...

I personally think (for me) it would be pretty hard to add much to the iPhone experience

I love the touch keyboard and I find the predictive/corrective thing very good and usually bang on (btw it improves over time learning the sort of words and abbreviations you use and thus getting better at its job) - in the past I have always turned off the bloody horrid predictive texting/T9 on any phone I had as it constantly got in my way

I have basically never used it as an iPod and currently in fact have exactly no tunes on it at all (due to a synching error on my own part, not the phone's) and really couldn't care less

MMS works fine here on O2 in the UK - yes it took a little while getting here (not sure why really - "keep 'em wanting more" I guess) but I have almost never used that in my life either...

Battery performance is not stellar that is true - I use my iPhone as an alarm clock and so I plug it in every night... that deals with that for me - but yes a better battery life would be nice (you can get one of those cases with an extra battery in it if that really really griefs you... but they are bulky (and not cheap)

Not multitasking - I can see why Apple did that and mostly it isn't an issue... but there are just occasional times when it would be handy especially when you are talking about IM/VOIP type applications. For what it is worth Shroom you may want to take a look at Nimbuzz which is free, multi protocol IM and Skype client and has the option to continue to appear online for a limited period if you have to log out (unfortunately that function applies to everything except Skype though)

Overall I would probably rather give up my laptop than my iPhone... but it isn't for everyone, after all if we all wanted the same thing there would only be one of everything... and little or no progress either
 
Posted by Erbo (Member # 199) on August 26, 2009, 10:52:
 
(And Serenak's sig contains a Marillion lyric...that is all kinds of awesome. You know they just celebrated their 30th anniversary, and their 20th with h as lead singer?)

One thing that I haven't expressed, really, is how lightly your fingers seem to "dance" across the surface of the phone while using it...the interface encourages a light touch. It really feels like using a precision mechanical watch or something of that nature.

And I expect that the iPhone will remain useful longer than other phones, since you can upgrade the OS on it and get at least some of the benefits of newer models. (At least, that's what I've read, from people that have original iPhones and the 3G models.) Probably, Apple will introduce some form of multitasking to later versions of the OS; it would certainly be useful for some apps, like Skype, Streamer, or the Sirius XM app.
 
Posted by Serenak (Member # 2950) on August 27, 2009, 17:10:
 
Hey Erbo - nicely spotted man - never followed them after Fish left, but I saw them several times in the years he was front man (including a very intimate fan club Christmas gig in Aylesbury)

Yes the software updates make the iPhone far more "durable" than the average phone - my 3G now has cut and paste", MMS, landscape mode typing in SMS, and Mail (though I had an App for that anyway), etc etc., that it didn't have before. Sure the 3GS has things the older ones don't (more RAM and a faster processor for 2) but many of the goodies are available to both the iPhone 2G and 3G just by updating to the iPhone OS 3 firmware/software.
 


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