I only have to wait one more day (if I'm lucky) to get my hands on the new iPhone. I am not above waiting in lines for the latest gadget and if ever there was a line for me to get in, this would be it.
There has been more excitement and anticipation about the iPhone than any gadget in recent memory and I should know - I've plunked down my own money for more of these than any sane man should. Just in the past six months, I bought my 7th iPod, a Sansa Connect, a WiFi bunny, an iLuv portable DVD and video iPod player, portable rechargeable Podz speakers, an Apple TV, an EVDO express card for my Mac, and the HD-DVD player add-on for my XBOX 360!
While I will most certainly document, in a future article here, my own first impressions and feedback on the iPhone I wanted to take some time up front to share what makes this particular phone so interesting to me. You will find plenty of reviews out on the Net for sure, but I was inspired to write this because I haven't seen some of this talked about so far!
Syncs natively with Mac
This is the big one for me and I'm surprised that more of my Mac friends are keying in on this. I know Mac types like me are a different breed but one thing you can't deny is that most Mac owners *love* their Macs. I think it is safe to assume that all Mac owners own a mobile phone. What blows me away is that Apple is going to introduce a powerful (and expensive, I know) mobile phone that will work natively with your favorite computer.
Having struggled for many years with many phones trying to connect and synchronize information between my Apple laptop and my mobile, I can tell you that this will be the best part of owning an iPhone. I won't have to go another 10 months waiting for one of the few clever software companies to step up to the next generation smartphone operating system so that I can transfer data back and forth with my Mac (did that come across as bitter?)
I know that Windows computer owners are not feeling this pain - I get that. But the bottom line is, if you have/love your Mac, owning an iPhone will fulfill a dream that has been elusive for far too long.
First usable mobile web browser
I have tried a half-dozen "smartphones" and even not-so-smart phones that all offer some primitive form of web browsing. All of them up to this point have sucked. Seriously. There is noone out there that is going to convince me that mobile web browsing comes close to the desktop experience. And so, the second big attraction for me is that the iPhone will take a huge step forward in that direction.
I'm not implying that we will have reached nirvana, but its hard not to see vast improvements in how web pages are rendered in the iPhone's browser - especially with the clever zoom feature that accurately (I hope!) drills down on a particular section of the page that has the information you actually want to read. And I want to emphasize that last part. I don't expect to casually browse the Internet on any mobile phone; instead, I would simply like to revisit familiar pages that have key information on them, like movie theater listings. For me, in almost every case, I don't care about the entire page, I only want to zoom in on a relatively small section that has the details I need. The demos that I've seen so far would seem to indicate that the iPhone has tried to optimize for those exact scenarios.
Convergence - music and phone on one device
This is not a novel concept anymore but its remarkable how many attempts to do this in the past have not really succeeded. Even if you dismiss the early Motorola/Apple experiment that went very bad, there haven't been any shining examples of real convergence yet between these two, increasingly omnipresent handheld devices. I am not going to proclaim Apple to be an innovator in this particular category but it wouldn't surprise me to hear loud proclamations in the coming weeks/months that with this particular pairing of phone and MP3 player, Apple was the first to get it right.
For me, its a no-brainer. I will always have my phone with me, that's been the case for years now. As long as music playback doesn't over drain the phone's battery life, I can only see this is as a huge benefit to me as I can start to make more room on the belt for clipping on other gadgets.
Taking off the rosy glasses
I'm a big Apple fan (I admit it), but I buy and use consumer electronic products from many other companies too, and I'd like to think that I can point out flaws and downsides as well as the next geek... even when they come from Jobs-land. Here is a not so short list of potential problems I am expecting to have with the iPhone:
- On-screen keyboard - despite all the clever tricks they are touting, I have always had more success with hardware keyboards and prefer them.
- Battery life - I've never been happy with phone battery life, especially on smartphones which can be really handy for keeping up with email. The only comfort I've had in the past has been in buying additional batteries to swap in when on the go which isn't an option here.
- Speed of data network - having stepped up to EVDO more than a year and a half ago, I can't believe I'm going to drop back down in terms of speed. Truthfully, I wouldn't expect the frustration of a slow data network to extend much beyond web browsing, all other activities should be OK.
- AT&T service - I still believe one of the best moves I made 5 years ago was leaving AT&T and moving to Sprint. I haven't had a major complaint about providers since then. This will be the hardest part of becoming an iPhone owner and it really doesn't seem to match with Apple's own high-quality reputation. My expectations are very low for the "new" AT&T.
There are many, smaller gripes I could make but I would have a similar list for any other phone on the market, I'm sure. There are probably other cool features that are going to compensate too, but I'll explore those in the upcoming review.