Tuesday, July 29, 2008

An iPhone as my Phone


I was heavily leaning towards purchasing a Blackberry for a long time. However, I sold my soul to Apple and now have an iPhone what is now about a weeks. I have held off on posting my impressions so that I could have some experience with the product. I have even had the opportunity to use it on the Edge network when I went on vacation with my Family.

First off, I went for the iPhone for the email and web browsing experience. While Blackberry has the iPhone beat hands down on the email experience, I am not a heavy email user. While I am probably above average, I consume far more email than I type. For business users composing emails the Blackberry is a superior device in typing email. The iPhone really shines from a web browsing experience. While it still lacks the support of Flash, which makes many websites unusable, it is a wonderful browsing experience. The ability to tap the screen to zoom into elements makes it very easy to navigate websites not designed for the portable environment.

However, my experience hasn't been all positive. First off, the sync is almost unusable. The backup process takes several minutes. I can't help but compare my experience with my Zune to my iPhone. While there isn't much of a feature overlap, I can not see myself abandoning the Zune. I use my Zune almost exclusively as a podcatcher. First off, the Zune interface is far easier to use than iTunes for watching content on the computer. I've used both for months and this is just my hard learned opinion. Additionally, the amount of time it takes to sync the Zune is very short compared to the iPhone. This means I can get fresh podcasts onto my device quickly.

As an example, I attempted to add a podcast to my iPhone just for the experience of using it, but I was having trouble forcing the new content to sync to the iPhone even though the settings were correctly configured. It ended up taking a reboot and then a few more attempts connecting and disconnecting the cord before it would transfer. I have never had trouble syncing content to my Zune. As another example I edited a video for work and wanted to put it on my iPhone, after struggling to transfer it into iTunes for several minutes I simply copied it to my Videos folder on the computer that syncs my Zune. Before I could even pull up the Zune software it was already copied to the portable device. Even though it could be argued that I wasn't using iTunes correctly or something else was wrong, the experience was flawless for the Zune and frustrating for the iPhone. To boil it down, Microsoft has Apple defeated in the area of syncing.

Moving on to the other major part of the iPhone: Applications! I will admit this was one of the things that set the 3G iPhone apart from the first generation iPhone. Having the ability to access a large collection of applications, with many of them free is a big value added. This was also another check in the Apple category over purchasing a RIM device. Buying into the platform that has a lot of excitement and momentum behind it played heavily in my decision. This is amplified by the fact that many of the Web 2.0 type sites I use and enjoy have jumped on the iPhone bandwagon.

It goes without saying that the battery life of the iPhone 3G isn't very stellar. It lasts about a day. I will admit that it does take some effort to charge every day where with my old SLVR required me to charge every 2-3 days based on how much I used it. I've learned the iPhone's battery life is very dependent on use and I haven't fallen down far past the new gadget phase.

The iPhone has a GPS but it can't even compare to a TomTom or other brand GPS device. I have a very low end TomTom and use it when I'm driving. It automatically corrects, gives turn by turn directions, and identifies points of interest nearby very quickly. The iPhone is simply a location aware device. While future updates may more the iPhone closer to a GPS device it still will be hard pressed to replace dedicated GPS devices just as it currently found a way to replace my GPS. In the end I'm not carrying any more or any fewer gadgets with me.

Another problem is the fact that some applications crash, far too often (AKA: ever). It has only been third part applications that have triggered the long reboots. Along the same lines, it takes forever for the phone to reboot! I will probably elaborate in more detail about my experience in another post. So far the phone hasn't locked up without automatically rebooting. Additionally, it appears that the crashes revolve around applications that use the GPS functionality. Even though I've had the phone for about a week, I still only have my first impressions. I would like to list out some of the applications I use but I'm still developing habits.

Right now, my biggest take away is that I will probably not be using my iPhone to listen to my podcasts. The Zune is just a better experience for me. The iPhone is amazing at email and web browsing, and that was the main reason I purchased one.