Unless you’re a volunteer for the European Space Agency’s simulated mission to Mars and have been completely unaware of the world around you, you know that Apple released their first cell phone, the iPhone, last Friday.
I was impressed by the commercials and the videos on the iPhone website. The visual voicemail feature is very cool by allowing you to view a list of voicemails, similar to a list of e-mails, on your iPhone’s screen. No more pressing 7 to delete or 9 to save! The integrated Google Maps applet looked sweet as well, even though there is no .
With all that and more, I decided to spend part of my July 4th holiday at the Apple Store at The Domain in Austin to play with one.
After playing with it for just shy of an hour, I conclude that I do not want one. Let’s run down a few reasons why not.
- To dial a phone number, it appears you have to make two “clicks”. From the home screen, click Phone. Then click Dialpad. Only then can you dial a phone number as usual. While the phone is becoming more and more a multifunctional device and being able to make a call is only one of the features, I think a shortcut on the home screen directly to the dialpad is needed.
- The touch screen is not designed for my fingers. I have smaller hands than most guys and I could not type on the iPhone to save my life. After an hour of trying, I could get through the word “Austin” with only one typo. Could I imagine typing a text message or an e-mail or anything else on this device? No. At least with other phones, there is tactile feedback to let the user know how far off their fingers are from the correct key. In this case, I really did not know what I was doing wrong.
- While I had read complaints about the AT&T EDGE network, which is slower than the latest 3G cellular networks—a reduced feature Apple blamed on wanting to conserve battery life—the saving point of the iPhone was the ability to connect to a WiFi network. While using the Apple Store’s WiFi network, data services were still subpar. In some cases, the Maps never loaded or website images remain blank. Even on the Apple website, which is very graphics driven, all I saw was a black background for the first 30 seconds. Perhaps this is par for the course on mobile data services, WiFi or not, but compared to the commercials, it was very disappointing.
- Looking up items on the Map applet was difficult. In some cases, when little pushpins gave me the location of the local HEB grocery store, I was unable to click on the pushpins to learn more information about a particular location. When I made a search for Apple Store, suddenly I could click on any of the pushpins to learn more about that location. I tried multiple times without result. A saving point, however, is the driving directions feature. Each screen will display that particular driving action with a nice transition.
- The sensor alerting the software which way the iPhone was oriented seemed to only work if you held your phone up completely straight. At the 45 degree angle that I usually use my phones at, the sensor seemed confused and did not respond to my orientation shifts.
I did make a call on the little thing and well, that did go through successfully with normal quality.
In short, I think Apple did a great job with this device and it will raise the bar for cellular phones in the United States, however, I’ll wait for the third or forth generation before adding it to my wishlist.