iPhone Review

[Update 7/10: just some more feedback since I’ve had it for a bit longer.  See below]

I’ve had mine for exactly 8 hours now, so can’t say that I know it well, or come across any issues, but here’s my feedback so far.

To sum it up — it’s worth all the hype, waiting (I personally didn’t stand in line to get mine), and every penny (remember this has an integrated iPod, and the price of the Nano is half the phone).  This makes all other cell phones and smartphone/PDAs look like toys.  The interface is classic Apple — sleek and intuitive, so you don’t need a master’s in engineering to figure this out.  It’s not clunky or cluttered, and looks cool. It’s got a brilliant display, very large, clear and bright — it can also automatically switch from portrait to landscape just by turning the device.

The speaker is very loud, and the new headphone with microphone/switch allows you to remotely control it without having to touch the phone.  The video is as nice as the video iPod, and the audio is as well.

The size is not as large as you’d expect — it’s extremely slim (in fact, it’s thinner than my old Samsung T-809), and is similar in profile to the 30G iPods.  Along the left side, there is the up/down volume, and the mute button.  On the top is the on/off/sleep/wake button, and the main menu button on the bottom of the display on the front.  The speakers are on the bottom, and the microphone is as well (I think).  The back of the phone you have the camera lens on the upper left, and the Apple logo in the middle.  Unlike the iPods, the rear panel (at least 2/3 of it) is brushed metal, and the bottom third is black plastic.  The headphone jack is on the top, and the most interesting thing that I can’t figure out is what looks like a slot for an SD or SIM card that does not open without some special tool that goes into a small pinhole.  Like all other Apple products, the device is sealed tight, and not meant to be opened.  I’d be very interested to see how they unlock the phone, and allow users to insert their own SIM card, or expand memory.

[The slot is for the SIM card, and can be removed using a paper-clip.  Users are currently in the process of unlocking the phone.  There is already a hack to activate some of the features by utilizing a modified version of iTunes.  The black panel is where the antenna is housed.  Also, the headphone jack will fit smaller 1/8″ jacks (the stock iPod earbuds will fit, but will need an adapter for some others.]

Along with the phone itself, it came with a USB cable, small power adapter (even smaller than ones for the iPod), the new headphone/microphone, and dock (which you don’t have to use to sync/charge).  Everything you need to get it working right out of the box.  It doesn’t come with a case, but I chose to not get one anyway, since I knew it’d just be a matter of time before I drop it.

[The cable is the same as the one you use for the new generation iPods, and completely interchangeable, including the dock.  I also managed to crack/scratch my phone, but when I took it back to Apple, they exchanged it very quickly — after a bit of coercing.  Not sure what that says about the quality of the display, but am very happy with Apple support.]

The activation through iTunes was very straight-forward and took about 5 minutes — there is no need to input any info other than your previous phone number (if you wish to port it), and log in to your .Mac account.  So special key sequences to get your IMEI or any other info is not necessary — it’s all done behind the scenes.  The phone shows up within iTunes like your iPod, but you cannot “drag and drop” items inside, which you can do with your iPod — you must synchronize it by selecting the items you wish to store in your phone.  This is not very intuitive, and can’t figure out why it does not allow you to do this.  I also wondered if the phone shows up as a drive (like the iPod), but it does not, although there is an eject button alongside it in iTunes.  Strange.

[Rumor has it that with the next major update, more features of the phone will be available, including more computer-like functionality.  This will probably coincide with the release of their new OS Leopard.]

Voice calls were crystal clear.  The only problem I had was when I called into my voice-mail system and had to punch in numbers, the screen kept dimming, so had to keep waking it up, which sometimes resulted in an accidental wrong key push.  I did notice that it did seem to wake without an actual screen touch, but need to figure out how/why it did this.

[This is not an issue I found out.  There is a light sensor that dims the display when the phone is held to your head, so when you bring the phone away, it automatically lights up again.  What is a bit awkward is answering calls, which is done by sliding the virtual bar on the main display — same as how you unlock the phone when you wake it up.]

The main screen is simply a 4 X 3 matrix of icons — think Widgets in Mac OSX.  In addition, along the bottom (think Dock), there are 4 additional icons — the main ones, which include Phone, Mail, Safari, and iPod.  You hit the button on the front display to take you to this screen.  It’s obvious as more apps get developed, the 4 X 3 matrix will grow.  There are some very useful software that’s definitely missing right now, ie RSS, Messaging, and document viewer (for the common Office file formats and PDFs).

[All these applications will be available with the next major update.  Currently, all major formats of documents are viewable through Safari.]

One of the neatest applications is the Maps — it’s basically Google maps, and the zoom detail and speed is absolutely amazing.  You can punch in addresses and get directions — same as the web version.  There is also a Youtube app, which is just a front-end to the youtube website.  Even over Edge, the streaming video was surprisingly fast — I’m sure there’s a separate compression format they’re using for the iPhone.  There are other useful apps as well — Weather, Stocks, Calculator, and Calendar.  The SMS also has an interesting interface for the iPhone — multiple exchanges with a user is shown similar to how iChat shows a chat session.

[One thing I didn’t mention about the Maps is the real-time traffic display.  Not sure how real-time it is, since I noticed a few times that it didn’t reflect actual conditions.]

Safari works very well — it shows the normal webpages, not a WAP version.  One thing I have found annoying is that it doesn’t seem to store passwords though.  It renders pages very quickly, and I thought clicking on URLs within pages would be awkward, but it isn’t.  Navigating is very easy with a drag of the finger in whatever direction you wish to view the page.

The virtual QWERTY keyboard works well also — very accurate, and does have a T9-like word completion feature.  To zoom in/out is interesting — you can double-click, or “pinch” in/out.

The iPod app is basically the same features as you have for your iPod — gives you the ability to sync audio/video playlists and individual files, in addition to your iPhoto album/photos.

The other great feature is its mail client, which can be sync’d with the Mail app as well, so if you already have accounts configured, you don’t have to do anything with the phone.  I didn’t, since I use Thunderbird, but it was pretty easy to set that up.  If you already use Mail, Gmail, Yahoo, or AOL, it’s very fast to setup.

Another feature is WiFI (802.11b/g), which I believe takes precedence over EDGE if it’s turned on.  To configure it was very straight-forward, and once it finds a signal, you can configure the usual IP settings.

[One thing I noticed is that it didn’t seem to default to EDGE if the WiFI wasn’t available.]

Finally, one of the painful things is always transferring over your phone book from your old phone to your new one.  For me, it was a piece of cake.  The T-809 has an option to send its entire contact list via Bluetooth as VCFs, so I sent it all to my MacBook.  Then I imported them all into Address Book, which can be sync’d with the iPhone — took 2 minutes.  Also, the iPhone paired very easily with my car, and also my computer, but it wouldn’t see my other phone for some reason.

A few things I haven’t discovered yet — how to upload files, such as ringtones or how long the battery lasts or takes to charge.  I also haven’t taken pictures, but it’s got a 2 Megapixel camera, so the quality should be pretty good.

[There are hacks for this now, but like I mentioned earlier, a full file manager and access to the phone as a drive will be available soon.  The camera takes excellent photos, especially in low light conditions.  One thing missing is a zoom and flash and video.  The battery life is very good — lasts an entire day without recharging with “normal” use.  Charge time is relatively fast as well.]

A word of advice — if you like gadgets, I would highly suggest you don’t go and demo this at the store, or you’ll be walking out with something that you really didn’t need.  But it’s soooo cool!

[Overall, I’m still pleased with the phone, and think that once the SDK is available and third-party/open source apps are available, it will even be more useful.]



  1. I love gadgets too but did not get in line for this one. I loved your review and am totally jealous that you have one. Have fun with it and maybe I can check it out when I see you again.=) Take care!

  2. I love gadgets too but did not get in line for this one. I loved your review and am totally jealous that you have one. Have fun with it and maybe I can check it out when I see you again.=) Take care!

  3. I love gadgets too but did not get in line for this one. I loved your review and am totally jealous that you have one. Have fun with it and maybe I can check it out when I see you again.=) Take care!

  4. I have heard the hype and wondered if it was that cool. I am excited about it and sad I don’t have one – yet.

  5. I have heard the hype and wondered if it was that cool. I am excited about it and sad I don’t have one – yet.

  6. I have heard the hype and wondered if it was that cool. I am excited about it and sad I don’t have one – yet.

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