I thought I would take a moment to write my thoughts about the iPhone 3G. I longed, even pined, for a iPhone for more than a year, until my family’s contract with Verizon expired. That very same day the contract ended, we were in the AT&T store, purchasing iPhones for my wife and I.
I was looking forward to the perfect “convergent” device…that would encompass my iPod, cell phone, PDA (which I didn’t have any more, but missed), and camera. Ultimately, there is no such thing as a “perfect” item, but I have to admit that the iPhone 3G comes close, and gets closer all the time.
I think the way that I’ll approach this is to use that same old paradigm as the Clint Eastwood movie, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”
The Good (or the Great):
- Cell Service with AT&T has been very good. My only dropped calls have been from callers on the “other side” of the line.
- Full internet connectivity has been incredible…particularly at school where my wi–fi doesn’t allow my e-mail client (on iPhone or computer) to access g-mail…so thank goodness for 3G, which allows me to get e-mail all day long. The only bad part is that the e-mail client won’t just abandon the wi–fi connection when it doesn’t work, so I have to manually exit the wi–fi network. This only happens at school with an aggressive firewall at play.
- Apps. Lots of fun, lots of productivity, and more coming. I’m working on my apps, and I hope to have some time while my wife’s family is in town to work on them some more.
- Calendar. I know Blackberry may have a more “robust” service, but we’ve been able to set up calendars for home, my work, and my wife’s work, and there has been far less confusion about who is busy when.
- Camera. My Mom and Dad live 300 miles away, so when the kids do something worth taking a photo of, we can quickly send a picture and keep them in the loop.
- Battery life. I know some 3G owners complain about this, but we have chargers available in our cars, at home, and and work. We recharge whenever it is convenient, and that’s been good. I’m used to a Verizon RAZR that needed to be recharged daily, even with a new battery and no use…as well as PDAs that seemed to have a shorter battery life, even though I could carry spare batteries.
- Updates. Apple keeps making the iPhone experience better. I love the changes in OS 2.2, which allows for the direct downloading of podcasts, such as ESPN’s PTI, which I love. I don’t get to sync my iPhone every day, so it is great to be able to download a half-hour podcast on the run. In addition, Apple significantly reduced the amount of time needed to sync to a computer (particularly the back-up). Good work.
- No SD/mini-SD slot. You don’t need them, and syncing is fast enough not to need it.
- The developers. They seem to be good people, and when I’ve had an idea for an application (such as a bug fix or a feature request), most have taken the time to get back to me…some have actually adopted my suggestions and put them into play. That’s good customer service. When is the last time a PC software author took my feedback into consideration (even when it was offered)? Never?
The Bad (or the okay)
- Web Browser: The iPhone’s Safari is the best mobile version of the Internet…I’ve read enough reviews (even on competitor sites) to know this is true. But the lack of Flash integration is frustrating. My stepson (who has a 2G Touch) plays Club Penguin, which is Flash-based. I want to enter Coke Rewards, but don’t want to text, but that also is Flash-based. I think Flash SHOULD be integrated with mobile Safari…let users decide whether to turn it on or off.
- Storage. 16GB is adequate for most purposes, and if I need my whole music library (which would fit on an iPod classic), I have my Macbook. But 32GB would be nice to carry a few more movies (converted with Handbrake, resulting in files between 600 MB and 1.3 GB.), particularly my 10 favorites, and new movies as I upload them.
- SMS plans. We bought 200 messages each, at the premium of $5 per person, per month. We can go unlimited for $20 a month. Really, AT&T, we’re already paying $30 per person, per month for data…can’t you just throw this in as part of the fee, or give us a bargain on the SMS fees? We all know they don’t cost you anything. Sure, we’d use them more. That’s the point.
- Camera. Although it’s great to have, just as all the reviews say, it’s only 2MB, and doesn’t do a great job indoors.
- Resets. I was used to resetting daily (or multiple times a day) on a Dell Pocket PC (X5, X30, and X50v models). With my iPhone, I reset whenever I install a new app (i.e. turn off and turn on again), or when 3G stops working, or when a program crashes hard (not often).
The Ugly (or the Bad)
- Web Browser: Again, lack of Flash. Much needed.
- No cut and paste. Some people say that they don’t need it, I find myself wishing for it all the time, or to use it to quickly delete text as well (such as in a forwarded e-mail).
- Programs. I want four programs. Lego Starwars. Hot Hoops (a Pocket PC game). A Microsoft Office Suite. You can work around some things, such as writing yourself an e-mail or using a program like Evernote, but they are work-arounds nonetheless. And I want a music writing program (e.g. Finale Notepad).
- No video recording. You can do it with a “jail-broken” iPhone, but I don’t want to do that. Put in a video recording app.
- “One program at one time.” Apple’s worked it out so that you can only run a program and listen to music in the background…you can’t run two programs at once. I wish there was a way to do this, because a couple of neat apps, such as step trackers, can’t run when the device is “blacked out,” or when another program is running. Either make an imbedded step tracker that runs quietly all day as a stock program, or allow specific programs (with fair warning) the ability to run in the background all the time.