iPhone Review real world use


Introduction

I currently have 2 phones and an iPod. I have an old fold open qwerty keyboard Nokia for normal phone use and texting and a Blackberry for push email to give me server warnings direct. I am therefore carrying 3 bits of technology around with me all the time and its a little bit of a bind. I used to buy the latest tech as soon as it came out but these days I only buy what I know will actually get used. I was getting fed up of tech not living up to its billing and ended up with drawers full of the stuff that never got used.

I looked at the iPhone for the first time on Saturday and it appears to allow me to combine all three devices into one. I just bought one today (09/12/2007) and this is my experience.

Initial Impression

Opening the box was the usual iPod affair, nice packaging.

I switched it on and it did take what seemed like a while to boot up. It wouldn’t do anything at all until I plugged it into my computer.
Here is where I met my first issue with it. It displayed a message saying “This accessory is not made to work with iPhone”
I had made the fatal mistake of thinking, hey its from apple it will work with my normal iPod docking ports which I have all over the house and in the car and van.
The computer however did recognise the iPhone but iTunes insisted I upgrade to version 7.5.

Whilst waiting for iTunes 7.5 to download I quickly read the small instruction pamphlet to see if it made any mention of it not working with my old iPod accessories and couln’t see anything.
You can tell the documentation was written with the US’s litigious culture in mind though…

Setting up and configuring

After a 63Mb download and install I went about getting the device setup.

The install of the software actually took longer than the download, not sure if this says my internet connection is fast or windows is slow.
And then as a final insult it told me I had to reboot my computer….

As usual, ignoring the instructions I just plowed on without rebooting. I went through the O2 and iTunes registration process and waited, and waited, and waited.

5 minutes later. it was activated.

It then asked if it wanted to sync my contacts. Fantastic that will save me a job I thought.
Wrong. It asked me which email, web browser etc and the only options were IE and Outlook. I use Thunderbird and FireFox.

My first job was to set it syncing my iTunes music library and this was exactly the same as an iPod. totally painless and quick.
Or not as the case may be. I tried a couple of times to sync and it said it was doing it but didn’t. I finally gave in and put the correct iPhone docking port onto my computer using yet another USB port.
I am going to test if the iPods will work using the new iPhone docking port. If so I am going to have to go out and buy a batch of these to replace my iPod ones.

After finding a spare USB port I tried syncing again and yet again it didn’t work. Time for a system reboot. Saved all my work and rebooting now…..

After the reboot I decided to use the original iPod docking port to find out if it was the reboot or the docking port or both that caused the sync problems.

It didn’t work with the old iPod docking port so moved it to the one that it came with. Guess what. That didn’t work either…

After looking around in iTunes I finally found that during the upgrade the sync music tick box had been unticked.. GRRRRR.

So it is now syncing. While this was going on I decided to get the WiFi working. My local network has an encrypted WiFi point so entered the password and it was up and running.
That was very quick and very easy. I ran a test and got to my news sites and they downloaded very quickly.

The browser on the iPhone is pretty good. It shows the full page shrunk down to fit on the screen. you can then use your finger and thumb to enlarge areas you want to view. You do this by holding your thumb and finger together in a pinching position, touch the screen then move your fingers apart. It’s very easy to use.

Once you have the page you want to view you can turn the iPhone on its side (landscape) and it allows you to read the whole article quite easily. My first warm feeling about the device so far.

Loading my contacts

After searching the web and trying a couple of services, such as myFunambol to syncronise my contacts I gave up.
As I don’t want to load Outlook just to manage contacts I am using Windows Address Book. Its a basic app but is works.
I spent 20 minutes typing in all my contacts off my other phone and iTunes uploaded them quickly and easily to the iPhone.

Letting everyone know my new number

I have decided to get a new phone number with this phone as too many people know my old number that I don’t want knowing it.
Quickest way to do this send an SMS to everyone that needs to know. Here came my first big shock.

The iPhone cannot send an SMS to multiple contacts

A feature that is on every phone I have had for at least 5 years if not 10 years. A search of the internet confirmed this.
Ok, not a feature I use often but when you need it you really need it.

I decided to do the trick of forwarding it from my sent item and doing it one by one. NO!!!! Next big shock…

There is no "Sent Items" box

Not only can you not forward an SMS you have already sent you also don’t have a log of who you sent an SMS to and when.

I will literally have to do this one at a time. And type the SMS is each time on that fiddly keyboard.

MMmmm, Just had a thought. I will take the sim card out and put it in my blackberry

Ok, how do you get the SIM card out of the iPhone? Be right back after I check on Google.

Thank god google is easy to use.
http://crave.cnet.com/8301-1_105-9738138-1.html

I didn’t have a single paper clip in the house. I can see this being a problem. The number of times whilst at the pub someones battery has gone flat and after an ask around sim cards have been swapped and that all import phone call to make the excuse to the missus is made. With the iPhone this is not possible. Ok not a huge issue but access to the sim card I feel should not be obstructed just for the sake of it.

Anyway after a hunt round the house for suitable alternative I found that the D string on a guitar works well. Clipped off a 2″ length and sim card came out. 10 minutes later the SMS’s had been sent via the blackberry and the iPhone was back up and running.

Testing it all out

Downloaded a couple of music videos, imported a couple of hi-res pictures from my camera, synced the music, sent an email and generally played around.

The weather feature worked as expected and is very nice. youtube was fast. The built in iTunes is not as good as the full version but is still very useful when out on the road.

The keyboard is not good. as there are no physicaly separate keys it is all too easy to get the wrong character. This is compounded by the next big problem I have.

The keyboard doesn't rotate like the other applications do

When typing in I would rather have a reduced viewing area but a large keypad. So rather than having all the keys squeezed into a 2″ wide bunch. Lay them out in landscape and give them 3″ to breath in.
The don’t need to be any taller but wider is essential I feel.

Lets see what it sounds like now all my tunes are across. Plugged my headphones in and no sound came out just crackles and the music was coming from the built in speaker.
Here lies the next big problem for me and this is probably the worst

You can't use your own headphones

The headphone socket is recessed into the iPhone and even my smallest thinest jack plug won’t get far enough in to make contact. I am forced to use the ear buds that came with it which I absolutely HATE!!!!
I can only use over the ear headphones as the in ear ones give me ear ache and a headache.

Anyway, finally here is my list of plus and minus points about the iPhone. It is now 8pm here and have been using it and playing with it for 10 hours now. I will update this and tidy up spelling and layout later.

Negative Points

  • It tells you it is incompatible with Genuine iPod docking ports but then proceeds to work fine.
  • It doesn’t give you the option of importing your contacts and bookmarks from anything but MS software.
  • An 8GB iPhone only gives you 7.27Gb of free space. So if your iPod is full you will need to clear some off.
  • No way to SMS multiple contacts
  • When you rotate the phone while the qwerty keyboard is up it doesn’t rotate. this would give wider keys for typing and make it easier.
  • No sent box for SMS, you cannot see who/when you sent sms’s to… (GRRRR)
  • not enough memory. Should be at least 16Mb
  • You can’t forward an SMS message
  • No 3G
  • You can’t use your favorite headphones. The headphone socket is recessed so far into the iPhone that no other headphones will fit. Huge NO NO for an audio device.
  • The battery is not user replacable, you have to send it back to apple to replace. So no phone when you are waiting for it? How much are they going to charge for this?
  • O2 service on the iPhone is shaky. I have used Orange since they came out and have only found one black spot on all my travels. My Blackberry is on O2 and I dont have problems with it yet the iPhone does.

Positive Points

  • Nice user interface but has some minor irritations.
  • the software is pretty fast for a mobile device
  • Video playback is impressive.
  • There is a small toggle switch on the side which puts it into silent mode. No more hunting around menus any more.
  • Web browsing is excellent for a mobile device.
  • Integration of youtube, stock market and weather is really well done.

Conclusion

I bought this for for 1 reason to combine my Blackberry, phone/sms device and iPod.

  • It’s a slightly better iPod in some respects but overall I prefer the nano so far
  • As a phone it is not really up to the job missing some basic features that you don’t think are important until they are gone.
  • For internet it is pretty good if you are near a usable WiFi spot, but as it only has Edge and not 3G it’s not fast enough.

On the whole my impression is that they have concentrated on the nice wow features and ignored the basics.

If Apple are going to do an update soon they really need to improve the synchronisation facility, add basic SMS features, allow the qwerty keyboard to rotate in all apps and provide push email services. Fixing these 4 basic areas would make this a knock out device.

On the hardware front they need to release a tiny adapter to allow use of my choice of headphones.

Updates

19/02/2008 12:10
Major points

  • They have released an update and you can now send to multiple recipients
  • The keypad not rotating has become such a pain on SMS that I am going back to a Nokia E70 which I have bought off ebay.
  • I bought a headphone adapter to allow me to use my normal headphones.
  • I regret buying it now, unfortunately I am stuck with an 18 month contract and cannot see any easy way out.
  • To increase the reliability of the phone side keep the WiFi disabled as it appears to interrupt the phone service.
  • Drop out rates on the phone are still higher than on any other phone I have (and I have 4 others)

Should You buy one

  • On balance if you need a device for internet access as a primary requirement don’t get an iPhone
  • If you use SMS heavily don’t get an iPhone.
  • If you need a phone that fits comfortably in your pocket Don’t get one.
  • If you want a device that combines your phone and iPod and the items above are not a concern and you are happy using a belt clip for it then I highly recommend it.

Its a pretty device and the interface is very slick, for practical business use though it is sadly lacking and I won’t be getting another.

09/02/2008 02:00
I have finally given up on it. It misses calls, doesn’t announce incoming text messages and they only appear to come in when I make an outgoing call. I just can’t rely on it.
I just need to find out how much it is going to cost me to get out of my contract with O2 and then sell the damn thing.

I bought a couple of Nokia E70s off ebay and it is brilliant. Does exactly what it says on the tin.




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