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Summary:

One month ago today, I waited on a 3-hour line in Edison, NJ to buy my first iPhone. Shortly thereafter, I posted an entry about switching from the BlackBerry that proved to be quite popular. Thomas Hawk is regretting his iPhone purchase. Do I feel the same way? Nope. Sure, I have my issues with the phone. But it’s still the most fun I’ve ever had with a cell phone, and I’ve been productive using it.

iphonecalendar.jpgOne month ago today, I waited on a 3-hour line in Edison, NJ to buy my first iPhone. Shortly thereafter, I posted an entry about switching from the BlackBerry that proved to be quite popular.

Thomas Hawk is regretting his iPhone purchase. Do I feel the same way?

Nope.

Sure, I have my issues with the phone. But it’s still the most fun I’ve ever had with a cell phone, and I’ve been productive using it.

Audio Quality

This has been a nice surprise. I knew that listening to music would be great on an iPhone. It’s an iPod, after all. I didn’t realize how good phone calls would sound on an iPhone, particularly through the ear buds.

earbudclip.jpgI could never get my Bluetooth headset working well and consistently with the iPhone. Too many screens to navigate to get it turned on/off. On the BlackBerry, it took 2 mindless clicks to activate/deactivate Bluetooth. On the iPhone, it’s at least 4 (Settings -> General – Bluetooth -> on/off) and that gets old fast. So I keep the earbuds plugged in at all times, managing the cord tangles with a Belkin earbud clip. If I want to take a call in the car (bad, I know), I just keep the right earbud in place, as New Jersey law doesn’t require hands-free conversations to be wireless.

Reception

I’m getting a lot of dropped calls. But I can’t say for certain whether it’s more or less than I was experiencing on my BlackBerry. It think it’s just AT&T. I currently live halfway between Philadelphia and New York City, so I rarely have an issue with 3G signal, although the strength varies wildly, often moment-to-moment.

Ease of Use

I’m getting better at two-thumbed typing. Still not nearly as fast as I was on the BlackBerry, but it gets the job done.

I understand that the iPhone’s simplicity is part of the design appeal. It makes a clean, beautiful demo. However, there are some things that could make the device much easier to actually use. I wish I could bookmark settings screens so I don’t have to keep digging for them. I wish there was a way of sorting icons alphabetically, or by most recent use. I currently have 3 full screens of apps and bookmarks, and try as I do to keep them organized by category, that doesn’t always stick. I’m spending too much time scrolling back and forth between screens trying to remember where a certain app icon is.

I wish there were more shortcuts. Double pressing the home button launches iPod controls if the iPod is running, the Favorites screen if it’s not. How about letting us define for ourselves what happens on double press? How about letting us program a favorite app to launch on 3 presses? How about speed dialing? Too many taps to find a contact and call them.

App Store

It takes a great deal of discipline to budget app purchases. Way too easy to click the “buy” button, and those purchases add up quickly.

Some of my favorites that I’m regularly using:

  • I’m reading a lot thanks to eReader. Light fiction is the way to go if I’m reading a few pages at a time while on boring lines. I’m currently enjoying Stephen King’s Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas series.
  • twittelator.jpgMy favorite productivity app is Appigo’s To Do (a bit steep at $9.99) because it syncs beautifully to Remember the Milk. While RTM has a great iPhone interface, with To Do I can add tasks without relying on a connection to the Internet.
  • I’m not a big fan of useless apps, so no bubble wrap or light sabers for me. But I do enjoy some solitaire (Platinum Solitaire for $3.99 is my favorite) when I have some time to kill.
  • Pandora. With only 16GB of space for everything, I don’t bother syncing music from my desktop. Pandora plays just what I like and want to hear, even if I don’t realize I want to hear it until it starts playing.
  • Twittelator. (shown) I’ve tried all the Twitter apps currently available, including Om’s favorite, Twinkle. While I don’t love Twittelator’s tendancy to crash, I prefer its interface (except for the tiny fonts on long tweets) and features to the others.
  • GoContact. Another way to get around the iPhone’s lack of copy/paste. Send contact data to others via SMS or email.
  • Evernote. I wasn’t entirely thrilled with either the desktop or web versions of the clipper/notebook app, but with the iPhone version I can now have information readily accessible no matter where I am. Truly a case of the sum being more than its parts.
  • 1Password. Easy and secure access to all my desktop passwords.

Some disappointments:

  • Salesforce. Currently the app is read-only, which is fine for looking up information but I also need to add records to our Salesforce database. This is not the app to do it. Yet.
  • WordPress. I was hoping to do more with my blogs from the iPhone than post. It’s a good start, just not very useful for me right now. I use Safari for blog management, but it’s awkward.
  • GrandCentral visual voicemail. There is no way to play archived GrandCentral messages on the iPhone.
  • Poor overall shopping experience. If you know exactly what you’re looking for, the app store great. But it’s terrible for browsing. I can listen to a 30 second sample of a song and have all the information I need to make a purchase. I need more when I’m shopping for software. I hope Apple takes all the feedback they’re getting and puts it to good use to improve the experience for both developers and end users.

Battery

I feared this would be a issue, and it was. I have data fetching set to hourly, brightness dialed down, and wifi on request only, yet the best I can get is around 4-6 hours of active use. This includes the time using the phone as an iPod, which is where I often run into problems.

A few weeks ago I was on a business trip to South San Francisco. I unplugged the fully charged phone from my MacBook Pro at around 2 pm and headed to the city to walk around and meet friends for dinner. While on the BART, I read a few chapters in a novel, played some solitaire and checked my email. I listened to podcasts and music while walking around the city and used GPS now and then to make sure I walking in the right direction. I should have paid more attention to the battery than I did. I knew I had to make a phone call from the station to get a ride back to the hotel at the end of the evening, and by 6 pm I was seeing the red low battery indicator. Thankfully, my dinner companion had his MacBook and an iPod sync cable with him, so while we ate, my iPhone was getting precious juice from his computer under the table.

kensington.jpg

For a phone that you use only to make phone calls and send text messages, 4 hours of active usage in between charges is plenty. For a device that is used as often and in as many ways as an iPhone is, the battery charge is never enough.

Nowadays, I charge my phone whenever I’m in my car, that helps. I also carry the Kensington Mini Battery Pack with me in my purse. Fully charged, it gives back about 70% of the iPhone’s battery life. I picked this one over other options such as the Richard Solo device because of its small size. I haven’t had a concern with the battery since that trip to San Francisco.

Conclusion

I bought the iPhone for many reasons, the most significant being the browser. I am not disappointed. Most websites just work with the iPhone, even if navigation can be awkward at times.

As Apple works out some of the software kinks, the experience will only get better.

  1. While I think the iPhone looks dandy and fine, I’m looking into a Nokia N90. The full qwerty keyboard and two screens looks sexy. It’s a bit bulky, but they say it performs great. It’s pricey which scares me the most. A cell phone should never cost more than a 32 inch TV. haha

    Justin Dupre
    http://www.justindupre.com
    Affiliate Marketing with an Attitude

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  2. You provide a pretty negative review of the iPhone. There is much more negative than positive and you criticize the core functions of the phone. Seems to be that your conclusion doesn’t match your experiences and perhaps you’re basing your conclusion on what you are supposed to say rather than what you actually believe.

    Are you really a journalist? You have sacrificed a phone for a gaming device.

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  3. You know how I feel about eReader and the Odd Thomas series but it’s written by Dean Koontz, not Stephen King. The last thing you want to do is get one of the masters of the boogeyman mad at you. :)

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  4. Totally agree on the home button. I don’t understand why Apple didn’t let us customize that. We only have 3 choices, home, phone favs, or ipod…I’m thinking this is something they just haven’t gotten around to?

    As for typing speed, I’m typing faster on the iPhone than on my old Treo. About 35wpm.

    http://www.iphonetypingtest.com

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  5. @James, yikes! I knew that. Thanks. I’ve been getting those two confused for years. Fixed.

    @JP, I’m sorry if you feel my post was overly negative. If you were expecting a positive review to be nothing but glowing praise, it’s just not going to happen. There’s no such thing as a perfect device, at least to me. Always room for improvement. But overall, my iPhone experience has been positive and fun…productive fun, not games.

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  6. “There is much more negative than positive and you criticize the core functions of the phone.” – JP

    JP, please read the intro to the article:

    “Sure, I have my issues with the phone. But it’s still the most fun I’ve ever had with a cell phone, and I’ve been productive using it.”

    That should clearly indicate that Judi finds much more about her iPhone that’s positive vs. negative. In this article, she just happens to point out the things that bother her. She doesn’t point out each and every thing she loves about the device. And your implication that the iPhone is simply a “gaming device” and not a phone shows you know little about the device and certainly have no real experience with it.

    Reading intelligently would help.

    My iPhone is not only the best phone I’ve ever owned, but the best gadget I’ve ever owned. Period. Does it have flaws? Absolutely. Does it completely blow away every other cell phone I’ve ever owned or used, as both a “phone” and an “everything else” device? Absolutely.

    Troll Different.

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  7. Also, another important note. Thomas Hawk isn’t regretting his iPhone purchase in the manner implied (ie he’s not griping about switching to the iPhone from a competing device). He’s regretting upgrading from his original iPhone to the new model. For reasons he explains.

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  8. I have to agree with some of the complications (especially the battery issue). There are definitely a lot of benefits though, and those outweigh the negatives for me at the end of the day.

    Honestly, my biggest frustration? The camera! It’s not a real problem, I was just surprised that it does not contain things like flash and zoom. The GPS could use a little improving too…but I have a feeling both of these things will be fixed by applications or future updates.

    Jake
    NoteScribe: Premier Note Taking Software

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  9. I definitely agree with this post, outside of the dropped calls.. I get better service everywhere. I just switched from Alltel and it’s amazing how much better service I get–sometimes in the oddest of places (out in the middle of the woods in north-east Michigan I had 3 bars).

    Hopefully we’ll see an upgraded version of the WordPress app in the future and also Copy/Paste (2.1!!)

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  10. Judi, have you tried “GrandDialer” for GrandCentral? Allows you to make calls from your GC # :) I love it so far.

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