I really wanted to hate this thing. When Steve Jobs first announced the iPhone at MacWorld 2007, I thought it was absolutely silly to have no buttons on a phone. And the fact that the system was so closed and there is no removeable media wasn’t helping anything either. So later that year when it came time to buy a new phone, I went with the AT&T Tilt, a Windows Mobile phone with a slideout QWERTY keyboard and GPS made by HTC. It’s a really great phone. I tweaked the hell out of it–I won’t go into details–but at the end of the day, Windows Mobile is slow, ugly, and slow. It needs a complete overhaul. I got sick of how cumbersome the software was to use and started looking at Google’s Android, but even a few months after the first phone, the T-Mobile G1, has been released, I think it still needs about another year worth of work before it is really ready for primetime.
About that same time, I was playing around with my friend’s iPhone a bit. I found that on my very first try, I could type out a message almost as fast and just as accurately as I could on the QWERTY keyboard on my Tilt. I had a series of other things I thought would be problems with the iPhone, but this was the biggest and it turned out to be a non-issue. Then I started looking through the AppStore, there’s an application for everything! I also realized that even though my Tilt had a microSDHC slot, I never swapped out the card or needed extra space so this wasn’t an issue either. At this point, with the overall slickness of the user interface which is a complete departure from any other smartphone I’ve ever used, I was sold. Very sold.
So a few weeks later, I picked one up for myself and after using it for a month, I can easily say that this is the single best electronic device I have ever used. It’s actually not even a close call. I can do pretty much anything you can imagine with this thing, a lot more than you can do with any other smartphone other there. It’s incredible really.
I generally like things to not be dumbed down for me, but the slickness of the user interface and overall snapiness make it such a joy to use that I don’t even miss some of the more advanced things that Apple likes to hide from its users. And when I do, I can usually get to them via a jailbreak application. So far, I have found very little that I couldn’t pull off with my Tilt if I wanted, but this just does it many levels better and faster. In comparison, the only thing that I don’t have on my iPhone that I had on my Tilt is voice based navigation, but I’m pretty convinced that this will be coming soon through the AppStore.
Even the minor details that Apple added in are wonderful. For example, the screen. The auto-adjusting of brightness based on ambient light is amazing. On my Tilt, I had to map a button to be able to easily adjust how bright the screen was. I had to use it all day long. Since I got the iPhone, I haven’t had to adjust it once. When I’m laying in bed at night, it’s perfect, doesn’t hurt my eyes at all. When I’m in the office, perfect. Outside in direct light, perfect.
Seriously, this thing is always in my hand. I use it constantly. Battery life has been bit of a complaint for a lot of people, but I find no trouble getting through a full day with a lot of usage and I think it could be possible to get through an entire weekend on a single charge just by turning off 3G and wifi and being mindful of data and GPS usage. Really it’s about the same, if not slightly better than, my Tilt.
There are a few minor complaints that I have with it, but they really are minor. Lack of a flash for the camera, lack of video recording, lack of any ability to do any photo album management on the phone itself, and the fact that multitasking is not available for third party apps. Most of my other complaints that I would have had, includind lack of copy and paste, have been fixed simply by jailbreaking the phone.
I think my biggest problem with it now is actually that I’ve gotten completely addicted to the AppStore. I’m constantly looking for new apps to install and mess around with. I think I’ve downloaded like sixty or so of them so far.
I actually don’t use it at as a music player much. I stick with my three year old iPod for everything but the gym. So the iPhone is only loaded up with maybe 20 or 30 albums to get me through my workouts. However, if they could put out an iPhone with as much or more storage than my iPod (60GB), I’d be all over it. However, when I do use it as a music player, I find that I absolutely hate coverflow. I think it’s really annoying to go through more than just a handful of albums that way. And most of my music doesn’t have artwork with it so it kind of defeats the purpose.
I feel like a complete nerdy fanboy for liking this thing the way that I do, but Apple really outdid themselves. I know it’s been two years since it was first announced so I’m a little late, but I can’t get over how obsessed I have become with this thing.
Here are my favorite apps so far:
- Twitterfon – Great free Twitter app
- eWallet – Stores and encrypts passwords and all kinds of personal information
- Bankarama – Basically just a simple way to keep track of expenses and the money in your bank account
- Guitar Toolkit – Tuner, metronome, chord finder and more
- iMapMyFitness – A nice little interface for mapmyrun.com. Includes GPS tracking for when you’re running outside and can upload your run right to your account
- Toodledo – Interface for toodledo.com, an excellent todo list site
- Now Playing – Great app for getting movie showtimes, reviews, and information and managing your Netflix queue
I have a ton more that I use everyday, but these apps really stand out as being insanely useful. I also was able to set up FTP, MySQL, and text-editing very easily so that if I need to quickly troubleshoot a bug in the software that I develop and manage for my radio station, I’m ready to go. It’s actually a lot easier than it was with my Tilt.