Apple iPhone User Review

by Reads (101,334)

It all began in January, the MacWorld 2007 Keynote that would change the cell phone industry from here on out. Steve Jobs gave the impression that Apple would be rolling out three products, a phone, Internet device, and an iPod. He repeated himself, not once, but twice. Most of the Keynote attendees caught on after he said it once, that indeed this device would be all in one. The crowd up roared when Steve finally said it himself: iPhone.

Apple iPhone

From that day on out, many people were amazed with this product. The world wanted more details, rather than just a phone sitting in a glass case heavily guarded. As months went by, little by little details started to emerging, the most being about 2 weeks from launch all the way up to the day before the launch, as these preview videos, press releases, and the usual what not.

What Day Is It? It’s iDay!

Thousands of people knew what they had to do today. “Get. iPhone.” People already started camping out on Tuesday at the Fifth Avenue Apple store in New York. Many were also calling in their local stores checking the status of the lines. I called my AT&T store around 1 PM, and asked the employee, “Are there any lines for the iPhone yet?” He peeked around the corner, and tells me, “Ohhh, there is about 25 people or so in line already, is that all I can help you with?” This store is just a small little store in a strip mall. It is at the corner of a extremely busy intersection, but still, 25 people? I drove by the store around 7 AM and already saw that one guy was waiting in line with his laptop, which is what sparked people to start coming I assume. 2:30 roles around I decide that I should head down there to wait in line.

I must say this was a great experience. The people in line were very nice and talkative; one guy even bought me a drink while I held his spot in line so he could get me something. AT&T was passing out free water all day, but I was surprised when they started offering us free pizza and pop. I passed, but still, good job AT&T and Apple for doing this, as I confirmed they did this at many stores.

6 PM roles around, and the people on the east coast are already playing with their iPhones while us Centrals’ are about to get our phone. They were only allowing a handful of people in the store at a time, probably three at the most. A employee comes out and tells us that stock is running low, and everyone in the line just pauses and feels a bit of anger. A few minutes later they announce the 8 GB’s have run out, so a few people get out of line.

It was finally my turn! I was so excited, all I was hoping was that they wouldn’t break the news to me that they had run out of 4 GB’s (which by the way, was all I needed). When I walked in, I was greeted, and shook hands with the employees. They were also offering demos, which did hold up the line a great deal. They broke the news to me at the checkout that I was getting the last iPhone as well, which made me feel unbelievably lucky, as camping out for 4 hours was worth it. Not to mention about 50 people were behind me still.

As I paid and finished, I walked out the door, and this time the “greeter guy” actually shook my hand and gave me a pat on the back, saying “Good Luck”. Parking was limited so I had to park a few blocks away, but as I walked to my car, people were yelling at me from their cars and on the sidewalk. I heard a lot of “Whoa, you got a iPhone!” and “You’re so lucky!” Now, time to hurry home.

Overall, I was extremely pleased with what I call as “iDay”, and if I could do it all over, I would. AT&T / Apple planned this perfectly.

Unboxing

iPhone Unboxing   iPhone Unboxing
iPhone Box
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  Box Contents
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The time has finally come, the moment I have been waiting to happen for months. Apple, like its every other product, packaged the iPhone in a nice little compact box. Opening up the box, there it is, the iPhone right on top. The minute I saw it in my own hands, it looked so small and classy, which was a good thing.

A plastic piece separated the iPhone from the area below that held the cradle, wall charger, USB connector, headphones, and informational booklets. The iPhone was covered in strong plastic material, as well as a plastic film protecting the face of the phone.

Activation

Activation for me was extremely easy. It wasn’t the same for a handful of other people though, as they couldn’t get their iPhones to activate. Some issues were happening when people were switching wireless service to AT&T, and the main other issue was the whole system going too slow and not working at all, nothing unusual though when thousands of iPhones are trying to be activated once. If this is holding you from making a purchase now, don’t let that be a issue as this was just a launch issue, and the high demand all at once to get this activated. Although your brand new shiny toy is completely useless unless activated.

Activation was just as the Activation & Sync Video from Apple’s web site said it would be. No surprises, and it was extremely quick when the process does work. Overall it took under 10 minutes to activate my iPhone, and once activation was completed, I was ready to go.

Syncing

Syncing is just like an iPod would sync. The iPhone automatically syncs your contacts, calendars, and mail accounts. It also will sync your Bookmarks from Internet Explorer or Safari; sorry no Firefox option. Syncing is easy, and that is really all there is to it.

Design

Words can’t describe the looks of the iPhone. If you’re looking for the best looking device (and not to mention the bragging rights) I would put this phone on the top of your list.

There is only one button on the front of the iPhone, and that’s the “Home” button. Pressing this button will bring you to home screen, from whatever you are doing. Once you go back the application you were at, it will be right where you left it.

Front View   Top View   Back View
Front View
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  Top View
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  Rear View
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There are also Up/Down/Mute buttons on the left side of the iPhone, and at the top is the headphone jack, SIM tray, and sleep / wake button.

The silver trim around the iPhone hits the spot. The back and the sides are really smooth, so there really is no “grip” on the phone unless you are holding it in your hands. No, the Apple on the back of the iPhone is not a mirror.

Durability

PC World did a iPhone stress test which can be found here.

I haven’t dropped my iPhone, and I hope that I won’t anytime soon, but this video gives you a general idea of how durable this phone really is. I was surprised with the results nonetheless, and as they said, I can sleep better at night rest assured that my precious iPhone can withstand some tough love.

Screen

iPhone Screen   iPhone Screen
Application Launcher
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  Screen Saver
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This is what makes it the iPhone. The screen is flat out awesome.

It comes out of the box at 50% bright, but can easily be changed to 100% bright in the settings, and boy, is this thing bright. It also has a sensor in the top of the iPhone above the screen that will automatically change brightness in certain lighting conditions. I was impressed when I took this outside, and in direct sunlight, you can still see everything you can as if you were indoors.

Although with a touch screen, you expect smudges on the screen, and yes, Apple still hasn’t figured out to make a smudge less phone (maybe in the next decade…?) but in the mean time, it does smudge, and it isn’t noticeable as much if you are looking at it directly, but if you are in a bright environment, or looking at it from the sides, it’s there. Apple gives you a cloth though that wipes it off pretty well.

Pictures and movies couldn’t get any clearer. I watched a movie for about an hour on my iPhone, and it was enjoyable. Pictures are also nice and clear. No complaints here.

Keyboard

Apple wanted to make sure that it got the point out to the public in its videos that the keyboard would easy to use, and also easier than any other smartphone out today. For me, I adapted to typing on the iPhone quickly, although everyone is different.

Using the two thumb method when the iPhone is vertical is the best way to get used to typing on the iPhone. The keyboard does not rotate horizontally when text messaging, only in Safari. Typing does take practice, and don’t worry if you aren’t speedy the first few days.

Apple claims that this keyboard is a “smart keyboard” and will detect what letters you meant to press if you hit the incorrect key when typing a word. For the most part, it is smart.

I have had my iPhone for 3 days now, and from using it a lot over the weekend, I have adapted to the keyboard already. Everyone is different, but most of the time when I mess up on typing, it is either when I hit the keys that are on the edge of the phone like Q, A, P, and L, as well as I hit the spacebar and backspace every now and then on accident when I meant to hit a key close by.

The dictionary is also helpful… most times that is. I sometimes say words that aren’t in the English dictionary. Lets take the word “Hola” for example. If I was typing, I would type out “Hola”, but “Hold” would come as the correct word, so I would hit space when I was done typing, and it would auto correct me, but I actually need to tap the suggested word for it to ignore it. The iPhone dictionary also does not correct words when you type out ‘U” or “Ur”, and I’m sure there is more.

Overall, the keyboard is great, and it gets the job done quick and easily once you get used to it.

Phone

Phone quality is good. I’ve asked many people and talked to someone who has a iPhone as well to see how good I sound, and the microphone is right on par. When the iPhone is 3 feet away from my mouth, I still can be heard well and clear.

I’m not impressed with the speakerphone, though. There is only one speaker on the iPhone, which is on the bottom left. The bottom right is the microphone. A few people were confused about this as they thought they had a defective unit. Nope, just one built in speaker. With only one speaker, I must admit that it isn’t as loud either. It’s defiantly hearable, but not as loud as a RAZR/KRZR speakerphone I’m used to.

iPhone Dialer
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Making a call isn’t exactly a short step process if your iPhone has been in sleep mode. To make a call from sleep mode, you need to:

  1. Press the wake button
  2. Slide the unlock button
  3. Press the Home button if you previously were in another application, if not, skip this
  4. Press the Phone icon
  5. If needed, press the Contacts button. There are Favorites, Recents, and Keypad buttons as well.
  6. Press the name of the contact you want to call
  7. Hit their number

Sure this sounds like a lot of work, but it only took me about 4 seconds to do.

When in a call, on the screen it gives you the options of: Mute, Keypad, Speaker, Add Call, Hold, Contacts, and of course End Call at the bottom of the screen. There is also a censor at the top of the iPhone that senses when the phone is put up to your ear, so the screen turns off, avoiding any buttons to be accidentally pressed during a call. Pretty cool I must admit.

Overall, the Phone on the iPhone is good. Not bad, but not great. Biggest complaint would be the speaker.

Mail

iTunes automatically synchronizes your email accounts straight to the iPhone. I had no problems sending and receiving email. You can also easily change your email accounts, add another account, and other various settings in the settings area.

Deleting emails is just like deleting a text message on the iPhone. All you do is just swipe your finger across the email to the right, and a Delete option pops up; to cancel it, just tap anywhere on the iPhone.

Sending an email just requires you to enter a email address manually or get it from one of your contacts. Then just type the message and it is as easy as that. Sending is quick, as I received the email I sent to my laptop within a minute, both on Wi-Fi and EDGE connections.

If you get a lot of spam mail, there is no other way (currently) to delete email at a mass, so you have to delete each one at a time. Other than that, Mail on the iPhone is easy to read, and overall is great. Only complaint so far is not being able to delete more than 1 email at once.

Safari

This is the main reason why I bought this phone.

There were only two things that I was worried about with the iPhone: How much the data plan would cost and how fast it would be. AT&T offered different iPhone minute plans that included data, but there was also the option to have the iPhone data plan added on to our current plans.

For unlimited data, and 200 texts, it was only $20 more a month. I find this to be worth the value entirely, as AT&T also turned the switch for the better EDGE network ($50,000,000 upgrade) the night before the iPhone was released (users were seeing a big boost in speed that night). Many people complained about the iPhone not having 3G (a lot faster network compared to the 2.5G EDGE network). Apple stood by its decision as 3G would use too much battery life, and wasn’t worth it.

I’m very pleased with EDGE in my area. I’m located in the Chicago suburbs, and surfing speeds are of course not as fast as Wi-Fi, but it is good enough for me.

Here are timings for a few popular web sites:
(Note: My router was 15 feet away from my iPhone, on a Comcast cable connection)

Web Site Wi-Fi EDGE
google.com 2 sec 7 sec
myspace.com 5 sec 14 sec
msn.com 4 sec 12 sec
nytimes.com 4 sec 12 sec
brighthand.com 5 sec 13 sec

 

Browsing web sites is very easy. Of course you can’t read a web page when it’s fully zoomed out, but it is as easy as double tapping the screen, or pinching to some in on a particular spot.

When you need to input data, they keyboard automatically pops up. You can also rotate the phone horizontally and browse sites that way, and be able to still use the keyboard (you can’t when sending text messages). I’d like to note that when the keyboard is popped up, if you rotate the phone, the web page and keyboard will not rotate, the keyboard needs to be closed out before rotating.

There is also a tab feature in Safari for the iPhone. If you tap that button, the current window gets smaller, and it slides over to a new page, which allows you to browse as many different web pages as you want.

There are also a Add Bookmark, fresh, back, forward, and bookmark buttons.

I would like to note that my iPhone froze while using Google maps through www.google.com rather than the built in app. This happened only once, and never again. I had to reset the phone by holding the sleep/wake button, but nothing new to expect in version 1.0 software. Other than that crash, there have been no other crashes or even slow downs were the iPhone would be laggish. None.

Overall, I believe browsing the Web on the iPhone is great.

iPod

The iPod on the iPhone is awesome. I love flicking through my music, and when turned horizontally, the cover flow is cool. Just like Steve Jobs said himself, you can touch your music.

When you press the iPod on the screen, it brings you to the iPod app, which allows you to browse music in different ways. These ways are: Playlists, Artists, Songs, Videos, and a More button. The More button gives you the option of Albums, Audiobooks, Compilations, Composers, Genres, and Podcasts. There is also Edit button that allows you to choose what four buttons you want at the bottom of the iPod app.

Again, as I described in the Phone part of the review, playing music over the speaker isn’t great. It’s hearable, but if you turn the volume all the way up, most music is fuzzy and tinny, but remember, this is a iPod, not a digital boom box.

Listening to the iPod through headphones, though, is a quite different experience. Music quality is flat out awesome.

Album Art
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The album art on the iPhone is extremely clear and crisp. When playing a song, if you rotate the iPhone horizontally, cover flow appears. It’s nice and smooth, with no delays no matter how fast you speed through your albums. By tapping the album, it flips, and brings up all the songs of that particular album.

If the iPhone goes idle, it will still play music, and when you wake the iPhone, on the “Slide to unlock” page, it shows the album art and the name of the song playing right there.

I would also like to note that the headphone jack for the iPhone is different, so don’t just expect to use just any pair of headphones, although you can simply buy a cheap adapter to make the standard headphones work. The standard headphones feature a pause / play button as well as a microphone right in the headset.

If you get a call while listening to a song, the music fades out, and you can answer the call. If you decline the call, or when you are done talking, the music fades back in from where you left off.

Overall, the iPod on the iPhone is great. Something you would expect from a normal iPod, but with a lot of extra cool features added.

Other Applications

Texting
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Texting — Texting on the iPhone – Fun. If you text a lot, you will have a great time using the iPhone.

The text main application brings you to a page of all the different conversations you have had. To delete a conversation, you delete it just like you would a email, just swipe your finger across it to the right, and tap delete.

When you open that conversation, it shows it as bubbles. Your chat is in green bubble, and the person you are talking with is in a white bubble. It also shows the date and time of each text in the conversation. At the top of the conversation, it also gives you the option to call the person, or look at the contact info of the person.

Only thing I don’t like about texting is that I can’t type horizontally. This would probably make the conversation window smaller, but still. Other than that, texting on the iPhone is quick and easy.

Calendar — The calendar icon on the home screen shows the date and the day of the week right on the icon.

When you open up the calendar app, it brings you to a calendar. From here, you can either choose to view Month, Day, or List. List shows the different things you scheduled to do in the iPhone all in one master list.

Adding events is easy. Just click the + button at the top of the app, and gives you the window to enter different things in. It lets you put in: Time, Location, a Starting and End time, the option to Repeat this event, Alert, and a Notes area that lets you add Notes for the certain event.

I haven’t used the calendar myself much yet, but from just messing around with it, it simply gets the job done.

Photos — When you click the Photos’ app on the iPhone, it brings up the Photo Album page. Here is where you can view the different albums of pictures that were synced from your computer. (Each picture file = Album). Pictures you take on the iPhone shows under a “Camera Roll” Album. You can also view every single picture on the iPhone you have in the “Photo Library” album. When you tap one of the albums, the pictures show up. Each album shows four pictures wide.

To view a picture, you simply tap the picture once. If you tap the picture once, it brings up options. These options include: Return to the Photo Library, More Options (a square with an arrow going out of it), a backward button, a play button (for a slideshow), and a forward button.

Of course, we can’t forget all the different ways to interact with your pictures. To zoom in, you can either double tap or put your index and thumb together on the screen, and spread your fingers out. To zoom out, you double tap again, or you take your index and thumb and bring them together. To go to the next picture, you can just flick from the right to the left. To go backward, just flick left to right. You can also rotate the iPhone, and the pictures will rotate as well showing in their proper ratio.

You can tap the more button when viewing a picture, and a window pops up giving you the option to either: Use As Wallpaper, Email Photo, or Assign to Contact.

Camera — The camera on the iPhone is decent. Remember this isn’t a digital camera as well, but it mostly gets the job done.

Pictures at night are bad. Taking a picture of something of moving is bad. There is no zoom or flash. The best pictures are taken in a bright environment.

Camera
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When taking a picture on the iPhone, the display screen shows up on the whole screen, and there are only two buttons while taking a picture. One is to take a picture, and the other button is to view the pictures you have taken with the iPhone. For a cell phone camera though, this camera is great. Other than that, I would consider it decent.

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YouTube — YouTube on the iPhone is “sweeeeet”. Seriously. Video quality on Wi-Fi is awesome. Some user have noticed that video on EDGE isn’t as good quality, but it still decent.

All YouTube videos should be converted over to work on the iPhone by this fall. As of now, YouTube has all of the popular videos compatible with the iPhone, as well as a bunch of others, so there should be something of interest to you to watch on the iPhone for the time being.

YouTube gives you the option to view Featured videos, Most Viewed, Bookmarks, Search, and a More button that gives you the option to watch the Most Recent added, Top Rated, and the History of videos you have watched. To watch a video, you just tap it. Then pops up the video pages that gives the description, add date, category, and tags. You also have the option to share the video, and it also gives you related videos. YouTube on the iPhone is great entertainment.

Maps — The maps feature on the iPhone was another reason why I really wanted the iPhone. The iPhone gives you the option to either view the map as a road map or satellite image. Zooming is the same as if you were to look at a picture.

The iPhone also gives you the option to get driving directions, and real time traffic.

No GPS on the iPhone though. Some have mixed feelings about this. I’m sure many people would have liked to have GPS built in, but what can you do about it. Maybe a device that plugs into the iPhone giving it GPS capabilities someday… But Apple did implement a feature when you enter in directions, just simply hit the next area, and it gives you what way to turn on what road, as well as the distance. On the map, it shows a purple circle of the next intersection you need to turn at.

Stocks & Weather — Both standard widgets, nothing really new here.

Clock — The clock app lets you view World Time, set an Alarm, Stopwatch, and a Timer. All 4 features are extremely easy to use.

Calculator — Coming from Apple, you would kind of expect to have a better looking app. The calculator app is just basic of basic.

Notes — Same with the notes, it’s very basic. In my opinion it’s kind of cheesy, but what could you want. The note background is just like a notepad, and the font is also custom too. There is the ability to email the note directly from the app with the press of a button.

Size Comparisons

Here’s some shots of the iPhone to give you a feel for how big it is. The other phone is a Motorola KRZR.

iPhone Screen   iPhone Screen
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iPhone Screen   iPhone Screen
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Battery Life

I tested the battery life over the weekend, and Apple’s statistics are right on par.

 

Conclusion

The iPhone is an amazing smartphone. After all the hype it lived up to what it expected to be. It’s a good phone, great Internet device, and great iPod. Some may hate all the hype this phone gets, but it is well deserved.

If you are thinking about getting an iPhone, get one. It’s well worth the money. The iPhone also has the capabilities to run apps us users can make ourselves. The down side is we need to have our own web site/server to do so, but I expect to see a lot of different cool apps to start popping up soon.

Pros

  • Touch Screen
  • Sleek / Sexy Device – Can Catch Anyone’s Eye
  • iPhone Data Plan is Only $20 Extra a Month for Unlimited Data / 200 Text
  • Very Easy To Use
  • Built In Sensors That Make Using the iPhone Easier

Cons

  • Can’t Be Used as a Modem for a Laptop – Yet
  • Only Available Through AT&T Currently
  • Battery Isn’t Replaceable
  • No Flash / Java – Yet
  • No GPS


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