Jason's Blog

iPhone Review, notes

by on Aug.01, 2007, under General

Well, I've had the iPhone for a while now, so I figure it's about time I said a few things regarding what I think of the phone, it's software, interface, etc.  There are some things I love about it, and some things I'm steadily coming to hate.  SO, without further ado, here's a few of those:

First, let me start out with the things I love.  

  • The interface:  GOD IS IT GORGEOUS.  I mean, of all the mobile devices I've ever owned, it is drop dead gorgeous.  The way things zoom, slide, pan, or how opening an application sorta glides into view, it's just amazing to look at.  I love how much attention to detail there is.
  • The internet:  This is the first phone/pda I've ever owned where the internet is actually usable on the device.  My old Treo 650 worked for browsing the net the same way a unicycle works for getting one to and from your job.  It's annoying, often doesn't work very well, if it rains your hosed, and honestly, it's a measure of last resort.  The iPhone is like riding a BMW to work – it's comfortable, smooth, and enjoyable in almost every aspect.
  • The hardware:  The whole thing is solidly built, difficult to damage, scratch resistant, etc. etc. etc.  It has some amazing specs and support for such a small form factor.
  • The weather/clock applications:  I've used a number of different clock applications on PDAs.  Let's just say this is the first set of applications that have wowed me.  I used a program called bigclock or something like that on the Treo, and a number of other applications that are out there to try and do alarms and time tracking.  The clock application is the first of them that seems to work, REALLY well, and does exactly what I want and need.  A simple example – yesterday I needed a reminder to do something later that night.  In the past, I've just given up and created a calendar entry, even though that really wasn't what I wanted, and made me jump through more hoops that I wanted.  I can use the clock to set an alarm for later that evening, doesn't repeat, is easy to setup, can be custom labeled, etc.  ABOUT FRIGGING TIME someone did this as well as Apple did.  The weather widget is very similar in my view – it's the first weather app that I've really enjoyed – it's simple, fast, and gives me the exact information I want.  My only wish now is if I could somehow combine the two a bit, so when an alarm goes off, the weather opens and displays the info, similar to TreoAlarm.  But, we'll see what happens in the future.
  • The iPod:  Simply put, I've had an iPod for years and years and years.  Actually, I've got a 2nd gen 40gb iPod up for sale if anyone's interested (it even had the battery replaced recently).  I've always loved having all my music with me whenever I travel, but it has been a headache to have multiple devices to carry, such as pda, phone, and music player.  I've managed to get down to the Phone with integrated PDA, and a music player.  I think finally, for most purposes, I'll be down to just one device for the majority of times.  Sure, with the limited storage, I can't fit all my music onto the device, but it works more than well enough for a lot of the times where I'm just wandering around.  And, the headphones being compact are relatively easy to bring along (although, still trying to find a case that takes the phones along, protects the phone, and does this in a way that doesn't interfere with my movement or actions.  The case I've got has a holder for the headphones, but snags too often on my clothes).
  • Video Playing: The first time I watched a video on the iPod Video, I thought hey – that's actually not too bad quality and viewability.  Let's just say if you thought the Video iPod was ok, the iPhone will blow you away – it's gorgeous, and actually has an amazing screen, making watching videos (particularly wide screen videos) definitely a doable task.  It's no comparison to a TV, but for times where I'm on the go, or in random places without a laptop (not often I'll admit), this is something that would work more than well enough for me for watching video.  Add to that the YouTube support, and it's one heck of a video player.

Now, those are the big things I love, and they're all great things.  But, there are some major gripes too about this device.  Let me go into just a few of them, and let me also say this – I really do wish I could have waited 6 months to see what software updates were available that might fix some of my issues, but for right now, the iPhone though amazing in many ways, is really a crappy device for most uses, and I'd recommend against getting one, until at least SOME of these issues are fixed.  For an example of other requested changes, take a look at a Macworld article where they talk about some of these.  And, having looked at their annoyances, here's some of mine:

  • The Interface:  Yes, I mentioned this one above, but it's also a major gripe.  I love the interface, but it also can be somewhat buggy at times.
  • The Internet: Yet another plus and minus – no flash, no java, no plugin support, and let me tell yas – trying to go to a page that's a bit on the "heavy" side can be VERY problematic.  i.e. I crash the browser problematic.  The iPhone just doesn't handle large pages very well at all.
  • Crashing the system.  After about a week of use, I noticed that the system was going slower and slower and slower.  To the point where I could get it to answer phone calls or do much of anything with any decent speed.  I eventually had to power the whole thing off and start it up again.  I think this is why they don't want non-apple apps created, due to REALLY poor memory management (I'm guessing memory management, it could be something else, but it's danged annoying).
  • No 3rd party applications.  This annoys me to no end, because frankly, the web browser doesn't work all that great for a lot of things.  Sure, some games run in it, but getting things like SSH, Remote Desktop Connection, or other work applications working is a ROYAL pain.  The web is NOT the most optimal development environment for such things.  There IS a need for custom, thick applications – anyone who says otherwise hasn't tried doing anything that requires graphics.  PARTICULARLY since there's no java plugin, a decent SDK is a major MUST HAVE for this thing to be anything other than a web browser in a small screen.
  • The external connector for audio:  The recessed connector, though great for some things, royally sucks if you're trying to use standard cables.  It's recessed, so most plugs won't go all the way into it, making it very difficult to use a lot of standard headphones, audio connectors, etc. etc.  There ARE adapters, but this is one annoyance that should never have been an annoyance, and just speaks of rather poor thinking in my view.  I can understand why they did it, as it makes the iPhone more aesthetically pleasing but it makes it less pleasing for actual use in real life.
  • Sound levels:  The speaker phone is pretty well useless, honestly.  Connect an external system, you'll have better luck, but oh yeah, external stuff is a pain due to that recessed connector, URGGHhhh.

Overall, the iPhone is a GREAT device.  Don't get me wrong, I love the convergence of devices into one centralized device, as it's a lot less to carry around.  Further, the size and weight are phenomenal, but it's got a ways to go. My only hope at this point is software updates fix a ton of the issues I've seen.  A simple easy one would be a way to customize the thing, even if it was simply a bookmark on the main screen so I could jump to a specific web page (i.e. install a game this way, direct link to other applications, etc.).  Now, it's a waiting game to see if some of my gripes are fixed with future updates. 


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