iPhone 3G: My review

iPhone 3G

Two weeks ago, my wife got me the iPhone 3G for my birthday. It was definitely a surprise, as I didn’t know she took off Friday to head to Durham to get one. Plus, I was totally unaware the phone was being released on July 11 … just hadn’t followed it (even though I am very much a gadget nerd).
Aside from dropping a breaking the phone (which I will go into later) a few days after getting it, it’s been terrific. Below is my review of some of the bells and whistles that come with probably the most hyped phone since, well, the first iPhone.

Is it a good phone?I suppose the first thing a phone should do is, well, act like a phone.
What I liked about my Treo was its easy-to-edit contacts list and ease of making a call. I was worried a little that the iPhone — with all of its neatness and gadgetry — would fall short when it comes to making a call.
I had no reason to worry.
I’m learning each day that this phone is all about convenience. Everything’s touch screen, but on the main screen, the phone icon is conveniently located at the bottom left .. next to the only button the phone has. Click that green icon and it takes you to your contacts list, which is super easy to scroll. If you need to dial a number, the keypad is easy to bring up. And one of the newer (and neater) additions is the voicemail list, which allows you to see who left you voicemails and allows you to skip the ones you don’t want to listen to (you know which ones those are).
Perhaps the most convenient part of the phone is the “favorites” list. There are 2 or 3 people I call often — my wife and my reporters. So instead of having to touch the phone icon, scroll through my list to find them, then touch their names and number to dial, all I have to do is double click the bottom button (no matter which program I’m using on the phone), and my favorites pop up.
Simple as that. And quite convenient.

The Internet/E-mail
When I got my Treo, I wondered how I ever lived without it. I’m by no means an “important” guy, but my job means I have a lot of events to juggle, a lot of contacts to know and a lot of e-mail to look at. Having a phone that lets you hold all that in your hand is now a must for me (at least so I think).
After having a little trouble syncing up my work e-mail to my phone (I think I was doing it wrong), I’ve successfully made the transition, and the email works much better than on the Treo (where if I had a big file or e-mail, it would truncate it, forcing me to click a button and wait for the rest of the e-mail to download).
On the iPhone, the e-mail is quick and the files I have to download are almost as fast as my work computer. Case in point — I had a front page PDF e-mailed to me the other day, and whereas on the Treo, it wouldn’t open or it would take forever, it popped up within seconds on the iPhone … plus I could zoom in on the file and actually read the letters.
The Internet is like the advertise, except maybe not “blazing” fast like they say. Safari does take a little time to download, but once a page is up, the ease of navigation (zooming, scrolling, double clicking) is great.
Having the ability to watch YouTube videos is fun (not really necessary), and I’ve already watched several or heard Quicktime clips (mostly listening to MP3 files of our radio show). The clips come up quickly too.

Mapping/GPS
Probably the coolest part of the phone so far.
Yesterday, my wife and I were driving to Raleigh and while we really didn’t NEED the GPS, I clicked on it watched the little blue dot drive up U.S. 1 as we approached the city.
On our way, back, we hit some traffic near the Crabtree Mall exit … so I clicked the “traffic” icon (which works in most big cities) to see how long the traffic would be backed up. The usually gray road turned red for the next two miles (it was green going the other way, and sure enough, traffic was moving well).
So we were in bumper-to-bumper traffic for the next two miles (a little past the Hillsborough exit) and once our little blue dot hit the end of the red traffic line … we suddenly started moving.
Now how in the world my phone knew exactly when the traffic was getting light, I will never know and I probably don’t want to know. Really, I don’t want to know.
But it worked, and I was giddy about it for some reason.
Long story not as long … the mapping is awesome.

The APP store
One of the cool functions of the phone is the APP (applications) store, where I’ve dowloaded things I need — and AP Mobile News alert that brings up the top headlines in the nation and state — the things I definitely could use — a program that records short conversations and puts it down in writing for you, a WordPress program that allows me to blog anywhere (scary) and a restaurant chooser that comes complete with reviews — … and several things I have no reason to have but like — a program that makes lightsaber noises when you move your phone, a few games, a cowbell program that makes the lovely cowbell sound when you tap your phone.
And all of that has been free. Sure, there are tons of games and programs you can buy, but I’m happy with the free stuff right now, and it has made the phone all the more enjoyable.

The touchscreen
Except for the time I freaking broke my iPhone’s screen and had to get it replaced (it cost too much to replace too, Apple) … the touch screen has been the biggest suprise for me.
I liked typing on the Treo, but I will admit the type pad was too tiny.
The touch screen typing is a little tough to get used to (I made a lot of mistakes at first), but you do get used to it, and before you know it, you’re typing pretty fast on the thing. It automatically corrects obvious mistakes (and frustratingly changes all my “its” to “it’s” even when I don’t want it to) and a cool function allows you to write on a note pad (I’ve written a whole editorial on it already) and directly e-mail that to yourself or somebody else with the simple click of a button.
The screen is great, and I hope I don’t ever have to go back a phone with those soon-to-be-obsolete little buttons.

Everything else

I haven’t gone into the iPod (which has a lot of storage space), the camera (one minor flaw is the lack of a video camera) or the ability to listen to radio stations in other states … and all that is great. My only complaint with the phone is it was too easy to break. I’ve since bought a small protective case for it, and I’ve started laying it down on its own pillow on my desk (kidding).
All in all, a great great product that lives up to the hype. And the price reduction makes it affordable for anybody who uses their phone like I do — for pretty much everything.

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2 thoughts on “iPhone 3G: My review

  1. Sounds very cool, but based on your experience and mine with other similar gadgets, I think I’ll give this a year or three to see how those touch-screens hold up.

    It took a while for two-way pagers, then blackberry, and Treo type phones to get those micro keypads right and to hold up as well, so it will be interesting to see how Apple and other manufacturers update the product design/materials for durability.

    As was mentioned on the radio show yesterday: ‘….phones get dropped’ after all 🙂

    But it sounds like a very cool device. I was never quite sold on two-way pagers, blackberries, or even the Treo(past champ of PDA type phones)… even though many lauded them. They just weren’t quite ‘there’ yet in seamlessly providing all the advertised services such as web-browsing, email, and just being a good phone. But this new iPhone sounds like it is much closer, if not just right.

    Although I have to be honest that I’m a bit of a Luddite when it comes to phones. I don’t like chatting on phones, texting, and never was too excited about always ‘being found’ with pagers and mobile phones as they grew in popularity. Maybe that came from being ‘on call’ 24/7 for way too many years! *laugh*

    Thanks for the review. And yes, kudos to Jennifer for going the extra mile(literally!) for the nice birthday surprise 🙂

    Al

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