One Year with the iPhone

I’m short by about a month, but who is counting.  iHave (har har) the iPhone 3G which is the second generation iPhone.  So far, I have been reasonably satisfied with AT&T’s coverage finding only a few places where it either is not great or does not work.  But those places don’t matter.

I can’t say I’m a huge “iPhone Application” person, and I use it for phone calls, email, some web surfing, limited music, and odd amusement (like tetris…).

Of course, I need to passingly gripe that Linux hackers haven’t found a way to talk to the iPhone yet.  I can’t even get it to be recognized by a Windows VM running under Linux.  Boo!  But I have my work machine which runs Windows, therefore iTunes, and all can be as well as it can be.  I want to note, for those who might misunderstand, that I don’t hold this as a fault of the phone.  The protocol of talking to the phone is pretty clearly proprietary and Apple is at their discretion about sharing it — they choose not to, and that’s their business.  Thus far, Linux hackers have been able to keep up with the iPod protocol changes, but there is something special about the iPhone that hasn’t been figured out yet.  This digression shall now detour back to the main topic…

As a phone, it has been okay though better than any I have had in the past.  The only significantly missing feature is voice dialing which is now in the iPhone 3GS.  I find the controls to be reasonably easy to use when driving, so even though doing so is “bad driving”, it isn’t like groping around with a flip-phone or similar.  Perhaps my only complaint is the big red “End Call” button which I so often mistake for “mute”.  I suppose that is muting after a fashion…

As an email device, it has been pretty darn good, especially with the 3.x version of the iPhone OS.  The addition of being able to rotate the screen on any screen, and highlight, copy, cut, and paste text is absolutely great.  I like the full screen view, with the virtual keyboard popping up only if I’m composing a message; furthermore, being able to rotate the screen makes composing messages much better than before.

As a web browser, it is tolerable.  I think the slow speed is more a product of the graphics and script heavy sites that are built now.

As a music player, I find the quality to be better than my iPod.  I like the cover browser, so that easily entertains me when I look for music.  I recently upgraded the radio in my car and specifically chose one that works with the iPhone and the union of the two is pretty nice.

I haven’t really dug into any apps that have revolutionized my life.  So I have little to say there.

At this point, given all that, I have to wonder if keeping it past my contract (another year) is worth the expense.  While the service is for business, the cost of it still offends me.  As a device it is decent, but AT&T is making it quite pricey to make it worth the cost.

This is the kind of thing Apple does really well, in my opinion.  The iPod was a revolution in portable MP3 players, and I think their advances, particularly with the iPod Touch, have been leaps ahead of everyone else.  The iPhone set the bar for what a smart phone really should be, and everyone else is playing catchup.  I believe others will catchup, so it will be very interesting to see what is on the market next year.  Of course… it will also be very interesting to see what kind of extortion the cell phone companies will be asking for the privilege of Internet access via a smart phone.


About John

I write about technology interests, cooking, and my own writing (sci-fi and fantasy... sometimes both). I try to keep things light, but sometimes I get side-tracked on an issue that I feel strongly about. No offense is meant, I'm just like any other person who feels strongly about something when I write. View all posts by John

3 responses to “One Year with the iPhone

  • jhimm

    Since the phone runs, essentially, OS X (although I think it is the equivalent to a WinCE kind of thing so it fits on the phone) it isn’t too surprising that it is a lot harder to connect with Windows or Linux. I also don’t wonder if AT&T didn’t force them to keep it locked up tight since there is so much desire/demand to be able to use the phone on other networks. I know Apple did -not- want to go with AT&T for the iPhone because their 3G network is -terrible- compared to Verizon’s, but the latter wouldn’t play ball on pricing and whatnot (I hope someone got fired for screwing up those negotiations), so Apple may be under pressure to keep security very high (much like iTunes at first when the RIAA was convinced that the iPod was basically a pocket pirating machine).

    I wouldn’t be surprised if that same lousy 3G AT&T network isn’t responsible for some of your slow browsing.

    I agree, the pricing is obscene, which is why I don’t have one. A friend once did a cost per megabyte of using his and it was mind bogglingly expensive.

    I am secretly hoping the Google phone is able to really compete head to head soon and is on a better network. I’ve been off contract for almost two years now and plan to stay that way until the right next-gen phone choice becomes clear.

    • John

      I also get slow browsing over my LAN using wireless. When I hit a site that is optimized for mobile devices, the difference is outstanding. But something like Netflix is very slow.

      Google and Palm are my points of optimism for the smart phone future. Apple set the bar with the iPhone, but I hope someone else makes it more affordable both in device cost as well as plan cost. The latter will obviously require a bit more competition among the service providers to give them reason to lower their costs.

      I think I can safely say that if it weren’t for the company, I wouldn’t have one. I don’t think I’d have a smartphone at all.

      • jhimm

        I certainly don’t -need- a smart phone. I barely want one except perhaps to record appointments at the time I make them instead of carrying appointment cards home, and possibly to have the “yelp” app so I can review a place while I’m still there. But there’s no way I’m paying anything close to $100 a month for that.

        And yes, non-mobile optimized websites are horrid on a mobile device. You may want to look for an app for any site that doesn’t offer a mobile site. There’s a yelp app, for example, which bypasses the need for a mobile website. Things like that.

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