Controversial iPhone works for me

Posted 7/20/2008 by Will Bryan in Labels: , , , ,
Despite all of the internet hate and the logistical nightmares of last week's release, on Friday I landed an iPhone as an early birthday present from myself to me.

I opened the box with as much trepidation as excitement after reading the horror stories about people dropping it and scratching it on the first day. I was also a little nervous about the signal strength since AT&T has always been behind the curve in that department and the model iPhones in the store only had one the AT&T store!

But thankfully, I was able to make my first call walking out the door and did not drop the device before I got over to Best Buy to buy some protection (remember kids, always use protection).

I was looking forward to setting up the various data applications like the native email that delivers my Gmail straight to the phone. I wrongly assumed that this application would also send my Gcontacts straight to the phone's address book. I was wrong. Instead my address book was a mishmash of names and numbers from my old phone's sim card that were truly confusing because I used first and last name for some contacts and just one name for others. Some contacts were missing while other long-deleted numbers like "Hotel" (from some hotel in NJ that I stayed at in 2005) popped up.

I later found that one can sync your Gcontacts to the address book but that you have to buy the MobileMe subscription service which is only worth it if you have a high volume Outlook email account with tons of contacts and a dynamic calendar (my calendar mostly consists of: work starts at there. And try not to spend any money this weekend).

Another minor issue that I immediately encountered was that the iPhone doesn't flip orientations for SMS. While you can flip it horizontally on the Safari mode for more ease in typing in addresses, you have to type with a compressed keyboard on SMS. Not being able to save pictures from the internet or copy and paste was also a little annoying, but didn't put me back too badly.

I like the new iTunes function where one can take certain songs, select a fifteen second clip and make it into a Ringtone for the iPhone. I'm sure there are all sorts of ways to hack into this system and get free ringtones on there, but I'll play it close to the belt for now. And since my ringtone is the theme song from The Departed ("I'm Shipping Up To Boston" by Dropkick Murphys), I'm not complaining.

As far as the iPod is concerned, I really like the display of the huge album artwork while a song is playing (I've been using an iPod nano for the past year, can you blame me?). I'm not such a fan of the huge print of the song titles in the lists, especially since it doesn't say who the artist is. I have several songs with the same title and you have to test drive it to see if it's the one you want, where as the iPod nano had the artist in fine print next to the song title. But I do like the ability to play music through the speakerphone. Obviously the sound quality isn't great, but it's a quick fix if you aren't near speakers and still want to have more than one person listen to your music.

So far the phone part has been a little bit of a letdown. There are so many things going on in the touch screen that you often accidently call somebody, and then when you are on the phone the mic doesn't pick up too well while the speaker is not too loud. I still haven't used the earphones with the built-in mic so the jury is still out on that method of dialing. Although, I will say that it is truly cool to the skip to the next song just by double-clicking the speaker on the earphones when you use them that way.

The most underrated feature of the iPhone 3G has to be the App Store...and it's already gotten a ton of press. I absolutely love the ability to download wide-ranging applications from a free song identifier tool (I know Verizon Vcast has it, but I think you might have to pay extra), to countless numbers of personal organizers to online Poker and even a tool that turns your iPhone into a lightsaber. With updates and new products coming all the time, this feature makes my phone a little bit less likely to be outdated by next summer (which is good since I signed a two-year contract). The store is the best mini-example of the power of a free market as applications are submitted for a 10 dollar purchase price that people realize is too one buys it and a better and a cheaper version is out the next month. This, combined with the reviews for each product make the store like a huge iPhone community.

So if you are in the market for a new phone, I highly recommend the new and improved iPhone. And if you do get one, be careful if you see wibryan in your online poker game. I never bluff.

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