RandomStringOfWords.com

Jan 2008 22

iPhone, it's not all hype

Randomstrings Review

As some of my close friends know, I have been shopping for a new cellphone for a while now. And those same folks will tell you that not just any phone will do, I very much prefer a "convergence device."

iPhone

A single device that does a bunch of different stuff -- My very own "tri-corder" if you will. I had been using a Sony Ericsson P910a that for the most part I was happy with, but it had some limitations that annoyed me and kept me from really using it to it's full potential. One of the big ones being the lack of Wi-Fi and the need for a stylus. But I get ahead of myself;

I had been seriously looking at a couple different phones to replace the 910.. I pretty much had the list down to two possible contenders; One was the Nokia n95 and the other was Apple's iPhone. It was a close race.. And one the n95 was winning, right up until the Steve Jobs Keynote speech just a couple days ago.

The n95 looks like one heck of a nice device, but upon further review it suffers some of the same issues as the p910.. Firstly, it's clunky. Its difficult to navigate and use the various tools because the interface relies on you using the little button pad which I found to be a royal pain in the ass. And sure it has a very nice camera on it, but I'm buying a phone and convergence device.. not a camera.. but if you go line by line, the device has a lot of very nice features!

The iPhone looked like a nice device to be sure, but I wasn't sold on Apple. I'm not exact what you would call an apple fan -- but I will admit that they make good hardware. It's just I didn't want to be stuck with a device that was completely closed, with no ability to add new software. When Steve Jobs annouced that they were releasing an SDK for the iPhone in his keynote speech the other day, it pretty much won the race for me. Even so the phone does have issues.

Lets compare;

Compare Phones: n95 iPhone p910a
Phone

Nokia N95

Apple iPhone

SE P910a

Required Carrier

Any

AT&T

Any

A lot of people have complained about the fact that the iPhone is basically an AT&T only device. I don't mind simply because I had been using AT&T anyway. For whatever reason, they are the only carrier that we can actually get within a 300 yard circle of my house, and at full bars in my house. Everyone else we get nothing. So this is a non-issue for me.
Weight

4.52 oz (128g)

4.8 oz (136g)

5.47 oz (155g)

Some folks have mentioned that the iPhone is heavy.. bah.. compared to the P910 its light! So again.. this is a non-issue.
Battery Life

Talk: 5 hr Standby: 280 hr (11.7 days)

Talk: 8 hr Standby: 250 hr (10.4 days)

Talk: 13 hr Standby: 400 hr (16.7 days)

These are the "official" numbers as released by the manufacturers and I must admit, I think they are completely bunk. The P910 has a good battery. If you left it sitting on a counter turned on it would take 3 or 4 days to die. Not sure where the 16.7 days number comes from -- infact I think these numbers mean nothing. As it stands I sync my phone every night nearly so its just about always in its little stand on my desk.. so it gets charged every night. If I went on a long trip, I'd likely bring the charger.. And I don't think I've ever needed to make a cell phone call that lasted more than an hour or two.. Any one who says the battery life is too short on a modern device is out of their mind..
Display

240x320

320x480

208x320

The iphone wins this one by a long shot. It's ALL screen by its very design and let me tell ya coming from the little p910 screen to this thing.. Christ, it's HUGE!
Other things:

GPS -- Everyone is gahgah about the fact that the Nokia N95 having a GPS antenna in it and bash the iPhone for not having one. Yet those that have used it in the N95 have repeated stated that it takes forever to get a signal and sometimes doesn't work at all. And while having a GPS locator sounds nifty and all, when was the last time you ACTUALLY NEEDED ONE? Sure.. there was a time when I was in the Army in Korea stuck out in the middle of BFE when a GPS device would have been handy.. other than that, I can't see the use. The iPhone can already give you a very accurate location using google maps, so adding GPS would be nearly pointless. If you need GPS that much, you'd likely get an actual GPS device instead of hoping the one in your n95 was working that day.

Infrared -- Some people have complained that the iPhone doesn't have an infrared antenna.. and I must admit at first I was a little stunned that it didn't. But then I realized, why would it?! My SEp910 has one and in the years that I have carried that phone I have used that IR port, ONCE! And that was just to see if I could. Adding an IR port to the iPhone would have been a waste of space..

MMS -- A huge complaint of a lot of folks is the fact that the iPhone can't do MMS messaging. I don't do MMS much.. I do SMS constantly, but not much MMS. I'm sure with the SDK coming this will get fixed, but even if it doesn't.. I don't mind. Most of my friends don't have phones that can even recieve a MMS, soooo...

FM Radio -- N95 supporters love to point out that the n95 has an FM Radio.. uh.. So? Firstly, how often do you listen to the radio? I personally don't.. Ever. If I want to listen to music I use the built in music playing ability of the device. And had I got the n95 I can assure you I would never turn the radio feature on. I just don't like being pelted by the constant ad's they run on modern FM radio. So this is another non-issue.

Camera -- Oh man.. the n95 people are absolutely drooling over the 5 megapixel camera and use it to cast disparaging remarks at the iPhone. And yes, that's a very nice camera. If you consider that I'm coming from a VGA camera to a 2 megapixel, I'm already taking a huge step up. But most of all, I realize that this is first and foremost a phone, that can take pictures. Not a camera, that has a phone. A 2 megapixel camera is ample for me. I just don't take that many pictures.. Now maybe that will change now that I have something better than the VGA camera.. We shall see. Right now I'm just glad to have anything.

Video Capture -- lots of folks say the iPhone sucks because you can't record video with it. Again.. Phone! Not Video camera. But, since it does have a camera I'm just sure with the SDK coming out someone will invent a video recorder soon enough.

etc.. etc.. etc..

Where the iPhone wins over all other phones, hands down? The interface -- period. The end. The iPhone's interface is so intuitive and simple to use that I really see everyone else following suit. Its a no brainer, and makes the device extremely attractive simply because of it's ease of use. The only thing that really kept me from getting the iPhone previously was the closed proprietary nature of the device and Apple in general. Now with the SDK in the offing, hell I'm sold.

It really is a very very nice device.. I'm shocked at how good it is to be completely honest, and I very much like it. However, in the interest of being fair -- here are my complaints/wishes in no particular order;

  • Phone Volume -- This is my biggest complaint. IT'S NOT LOUD ENOUGH! Even the speaker phone isn't loud enough.. If I'm in a loud airport or in my truck driving, I can't hear the caller. The speaker phone is down right bad. The SE P910 was awesome for this in that, if you turned it all the way up you could hear it across the room while running a jackhammer. heh.. I wish they'd let us turn that volume up higher, you let me worry about my hearing.
  • Greasy screen -- This is something I'm going to have to get used to. But since you do everything with your finger and your touching glass, you end up with a very greasy screen that seems impossible to keep clean. Or even remotely clean. You only really notice it when you hold the phone just right, but when you do -- gah! I'm not gonna touch that!
  • Yahoo Mail is buggy at best -- This is a disconnect between Yahoo and the iPhone. Basically, as a long time yahoo customer I can receive my emails just fine through the phone, but if I try to send it errors out saying "The connection to the outgoing servers "(null)" failed" .. We think its a known issue that they are working on. See, even apple has the occasional bug.. =p (though I'm just sure they'd say it was Yahoo) I'm sure this will get fixed.. too many folks are complaining.
  • iTunes is the devil -- I really don't like having to do everything through the iTunes interface. Infact, I don't much care for iTunes in general. I have had some issues with them in the past, and I don't care for them too much. But what can ya do. I want to be able to drag and drop my files to the iPhone directly without being forced through your interface. Give me access to a directory. Fix likely with the SDK coming.
  • No Copy & Paste function -- I'm a little surprised at the lack of copy and paste.. It's a simple functionality, and it doesn't exist simply because there is no real way to do it via the touch screen. I understand why.. but it would still be nice to have. Maybe a "touch and hold" followed by a second finger "tap" puts you into the edit mode or gives you a hover menu that allows for additional functions? I bet this will get addressed with the SDK.
  • Better USB support -- if I plug the iphone into a computer without iTunes installed, it should act as a harddrive. Period.
  • Saving things to the phone in general -- I realize why its this way, but again I wish I could save an email attachment or dump a file to the device for transport. This will likely come with the SDK.

More as I think of them.

Note I didn't mention the lack of 3G... this is because you don't need it folks.. you usually will have Edge or Wi-Fi.

Comments