My two-years long period of self-denial is officially over. I have joined the many, the happy many, the owners of an Apple iPhone.
I bought a two-year contract on the Palm Treo 700p just before the first generation iPhone was announced, and as such felt morally locked in to keeping it, even as my technophile daughter Kat acquired an iPhone of her very own. This was hard for me, gentle reader. Exceeding hard.
But the chains were unshackled, just in time for a 3G iPhone that cost half as much as the preceding version (at least in up-front costs, AT&T data services increased 50%) while learning along the way that gifting an expensive smartphone to a young teenager is an exercise in destructive load testing.
I’ve had it about a week now, just long enough to form some initial impressions.
- It’s minimalistically beautiful, slim and fairly light
- Large screen for online content viewing
- Good reception just about everywhere
- Loves looking for free wi-fi, merges well with encrypted networks
- Well executed mix of converged applications (texting, Mobile Me calendar and email synchronicity, a range of very useful, free applications, iPod music on the go).
- Really cool screen manipulation – spreading two fingers increases the size of web pages, email, maps. Very intuitive.
- Google app: Check the mapping function for the closest gas station or best route (considering traffic) and you’re on your way. The GPS functionality rocks. There are a lot of times in a big city when you wonder about the nearest, closest, fastest. Wonder no more.
- Compared to the Treo, the on-screen keyboard (used for texting, email, url entries, etc) takes a little getting used to. Since it’s non-tactile, and I’ve got big thumbs, I spend a fair amount of time hitting backspace for text entries. The auto-correct feature is fairly powerful, but if you miss two or three letters in sequence it gives up the ghost.
- No cut and paste option between apps, or even internally. From Apple’s perspective, this keeps apps from over-taxing the system, but it’s limiting. You could do it with the stylus on a Treo. If you got an email with an address in the Treo, you could cut and paste it to the web browser. In the iPhone, not so much.
- Navigation between apps is a bit of a pain. If you hit the calendar option (or phone push button) on the Treo, you were catapulted where you wanted to go, with only a second click to get you to the actual app (to keep the phone from launching itself off to bankruptcy land in case of pocket bouncing). With the iPhone you hit the recessed “come alive” button, swipe the “I really meant it” bar, see the page you were looking at the last time you were on, hit the come alive button again and navigate to your preferred application. It’s only two steps more than the Treo, but four is twice two. It’d be better, I think, if a come alive actuation and a verification swipe took you the top level, but Apple felt differently. There you are.
- Battery life? Not so much. The Treo would last two to three days. The iPhone shows half power a little more than half way through the day. Maybe it’s the constant usage – much more web browsing and email replying than using the Treo – and maybe it’s the Bluetooth headset (a new Jawbone with noise canceling – highly recommended). But it’s kind of like flying the Hornet: You get used to looking for your next refueling opportunity. I bought a Belkin recharger/transmitter set that works pretty well in the auto-voiture, and carry a USB wire in my bag for laptop replenishment as required.
The complaints seem to outweigh the happiness in terms of words written, but the weight attaches to the iPhone. The iPhone reminds me of all Apple’s hardware compared to the competitor: You make yourself conform to the system with the Treo (or with Windows) and suck it up. With the Apple system you look forward to the opportunity to use the gear.
The only other downside? So many teenagers have it too.
I would have so loved to be an early adopter.