iPhone 3G: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
After over two weeks of using the iPhone 3G, I can fairly say I have become familiar with this mobile device to share some insights on how it fares as a primary mobile phone.
First let me say that Apple has revolutionized the way we use our mobile phones. Before that, we are used to a lot of great phones that do a ton of tricks but often fail us when it’s time to connect to the net. In a way, I regard the iPhone 3G primarily as an internet device and media player that has the cute feature allowing you to make calls and send SMS.
That being said, if you are a heavy SMS user, then the iPhone is not for you. That’s because you will have to unlearn everything you know about text-typing all these years — and that is a hard thing to do for most phone users. So if you belong to that crowd, you can stop here and move on to the next page.
However, if you are open to trying out a new interface, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the intuitive touch screen of the iPhone.
The Killer Feature: iPhone App Store
With the new iPhone 2.0 software and the recent introduction of the iPhone App Store, extending the features of your iPhone 3G becomes almost limitless. Thousands of applications and games were developed and available for free or a fee (as low as $0.99 each). The wealth of games found in the iPhone via the App Store makes gaming on the mobile phone like the second coming of Snakes on the Nokia phone over a decade ago.
- The real estate is in the screen and you get 3.5″ of that. The large and crisp display is what makes internet surfing and watching videos enjoyable on the iPhone.
- The built-in Safari browser that allows zooming in and out of objects and webpages is a great feature that almost mimics the full browsing experience (minus Flash & Java apps).
- Full-featured connectivity — WiFi 802.11 b/g, Bluetooth, 3G and GPS. You can’t ask for anything more.
- Push and Fetch Data allows you to set the phone to receive email and other data from the server (MobileMe) as well as a fetch options (in intervals of 15 mins, 30 mins,hourly or manually) for other emails that do not support the Push function.
- Ample storage for photos, videos and music the new iPhone 3G comes in 8GB and 16GB.
- Synchronized email, contacts and calendar management. Works best with a MobileMe account.
- It’s a battery hog. You can easily drain it up in a single day with all the music, video, WiFi and 3G use. My average is one and a half days so I charge it up almost every day. Always bring your chargers with you.
- It’s close to impossible text-typing with a single hand. I think 90+% of all iPhone owners use both hands when text-typing. You need full concentration and all eyes to use it (unlike the regular phone keypads where people can type without even looking).
- Does not support Flash and Java reliant websites and there are tons of websites that heavily use them.
- Comes with a hefty price.
- Predictive text input is a nice feature. It’s available on almost all phones. Problem is, you can’t turn it off on the iPhone so if you’re texting in a different language, it will suck big time.
- No built-in copy & paste function. Them Nokia phones have it, why not the iPhone?
- Unlike what Steve Jobs said in his announcement, the iPhone 3G is not any thinner than the old iPhone. The curvy design of the back panel gives that illusion but it’s actually thicker.
- The built-in speakers ain’t that loud enough and they’re placed at the bottom end of the iPhone. It works but it’s just regular speakers.
- The 2MP camera takes decent pictures but there’s no flash or autofocus function. You can’t use this on low light.
- In iPod mode, the iPhone makes it a little hard to navigate between songs as controls are done via touchscreen. That means you need to unlock the iPhone from sleep mode everytime you want to skip or move on to the next song. There should be some physical button to do this simple job (just like the regular iPods) but I think a shake control using the accelerometer should do the trick. Apple tried to solve this by using the headphone as the physical control using single or double clicks to navigate songs forward.
- Smudge magnet. Makes you wanna wipe the screen every other minute.
Less of a Phone, More of an Internet Device
Let me say that again — the iPhone 3G is more of an internet device rather than a phone. I use it more to surf the net or play some casual games than to make calls or SMS people.
It took Apple, a new player in the mobile market, to change how the rest of the old players in the industry move forward in innovating mobile devices. Without the iPhone, we would not have seen the likes of Samsung Instinct, Omnia i900, HTC Touch Diamond, LG Dare and Sony-Ericsson Xperia this early.