Thursday, July 17, 2008

One Week

One week - almost. That's how long it took me to realize that Maddox is right.

This time last week I was plotting how I could sneak into line to get one of those new iPhones. No it's not because I'm some Apply fanboy or some moron that can't do basic math (I'm not paying for the phone or the service). It's because my company is excited about what we might be able to do with the Apps store and the iPhone SDK. Trust me, it's really cool. That's all I can say right now.

I knew we needed at least a couple of these things (iPhones) and I didn't want to get stuck without them. The app we want to do is awesome and I wanted to get to work on it. That meant I was getting an iPhone. I had two choices:

1) Carry two phones
2) Port my number to our AT&T corporate plan and cancel T-Mobile

I wasn't going to carry two phones. A guy I work with carries at least two and it seems like a hassle. I HATE hassle. So it looks like I was going to port my number to AT&T and leave T-Mobile.

I'll skip the next part. We all know what happened here. Quick summary:

- In line at 7:45am
- Out of store by 10:30am (16GB white)
- Phone activated by 3:30pm

Let's just say I couldn't believe the activation problems. I guess Apple and AT&T were too busy marketing the hell out of this thing to remember to buy more servers or upgrade their network. Unbelievable.

Now that I've had the iPhone 3G for almost a week, here's what I've learned. Looking around the web, everyone already knows this:

- The camera sucks. Stills are grainy and often blurry. It can't do video at all. The Motorola RAZR could do video - five years ago. Today any free phone with a service plan can do video.

- Battery life sucks. For the first time in years, I actually worry about my cell phone battery.

- I don't care what anyone says, the keyboard sucks. It does ok considering there are no buttons but Apple needs to learn when they're wrong. They were wrong with the first gen, and they still are. It is not usable for any real work. I almost got to the point where I started sending incomprehensible teenage TXT: "OMG! WHR R U? LOL!".

Obvious so far. Here's where people might start to disagree with me...

What really surprises me about the iPhone is how little Apple got right. The following things also suck:

- The phone. There is a delay when picking up a new call and audio quality still sucks, regardless of method - ear buds, bluetooth, ear piece.

- No MMS for txt. Plain text SMS like it's 1999.

- Bluetooth. It's borderline useless. No profiles other than headset and A2DP (so I hear). Wow, I'm so glad my company paid so much for such a crippled device.

- The iPod. I don't HOW they screwed this one up... With just under 1,000 songs, the iPod software freezes the entire phone for a few seconds upon startup. Navigating around the various functions shows more of the same behavior - random freezes. The audio quality is horrible. HORRIBLE. Regardless of EQ settings or type of music, audio sounds weak and distorted. Don't ask me how that's possible at the same time, it just is. Any application of volume shows clipping and distortion, regardless of source material. The rotate function will drive you crazy. Listen to a song. Toss the iPhone in your pocket at any angle. When you pull it out the screen will be rotated horizontally in some kind of artist/album/song selection menu that scrolls around. Yes, it's very pretty but functionally, it's crap. Just like the rest of this device. God forbid you need to get out of this travesty and back to the somewhat functional vertically oriented interface. Good luck.

- Just like the iPod app, Contacts takes at least 3-5 seconds to start - EVERY TIME. I don't have that many contacts - just under 300 (297). I can't wait for a few seconds every time I need to interact with that database. I just can't.

- The calendar. This thing might work for you if all you have to do is set a reminder for the slumber party at your BFFs house this weekend. After all, you're a 13 old girl and that's all you have to worry about. That's obviously Apple's target market, and they NAILED it. Let's see - scroll wheels for setting dates and times are superfluous eye candy (more of the same from Apple). The alarm for events is useless. First of all, because it isn't persistent. It doesn't require you to acknowledge anything and rarely repeats. Secondly, it provides fixed options for notification before an event. I know I live 22 minutes away from a meeting. I want to set an alarm for 22 minutes. Too bad. I have an iPhone. Apple knows 13 year old girls don't need that and probably couldn't figure that interface out anyway. Setting schedules for recurring events - daily, weekly, etc. What if I want an event M-F, and another event M, W, F. How about another Saturday and Sunday. These recurring events are not supported. I have to create a new event for each day. Absolute crap. If I depended on this to make it to meetings and conference calls I'd be out of a job soon.

- The interface. I know I'm not the average user. I work (and play) in a command line environment all day and have for years. That means I'm used to having somewhat of an intimate connection with my devices. I type commands, hit enter, and it does what it is told. The man-machine communication is there. It's like driving a BMW. You really almost do feel one with the machine. I don't think I've ever felt so disconnected from a machine like I do with the iPhone. I never got the sense that I was really controlling this thing. From the keyboard to the excessive scrolling, rotating, blinking and other useless eye candy, to the lack of configurable options in everything I've come to the conclusion that I can't interface with this thing.

- Rotate. Make rotate system wide or don't support it at all. Very few apps actually support rotate. Again, I don't know what Apple was thinking here.

I've got plenty more but I'm done complaining for now. I came from a Nokia E-70. Let me tell you why this phone is awesome:

- Real keyboard. I can smoke ANYONE typing on this thing. Seriously, try me. Did I mention it also has a full phone keypad?

- Full bluetooth. Transfer files, push contacts, tether to your laptop. ANYTHING you want. It's even the little things... For instance - Symbian supports "profiles". Profiles allow you to configure just about any alert or setting on the device. You store them in profiles and can change carious settings with a single button. Think of memory seats in your car. It's basically that for phone settings. Anyway, Symbian supports automatically changing the profile based on which bluetooth device it's connected with. Basically, I used this to change the settings on my phone once it was connected to my car. I can never feel vibrate in my car for some reason. I can hear the tones I've assigned to this profile. I don't need to think about it. Get in the car, settings change on the phone. Get out, and they revert back to what they were before. Brilliant.

- PIM functions (Contacts, Calendar) have never done me wrong in over a year of ownership.

- MMS. Good MMS too.

- Awesome camera. 2MP, complete with night mode and video.

- 3G, 802.11g wifi, SIP.

- Real battery. Expandable storage.

Did I mention this phone is over two years old?

I'm serious about the iPhone being a play toy for teenagers. Why do you think it comes with Youtube? Once you're done playing Light Saber get a real phone - Blackberry or something running Symbian. That's it and that's why my iPhone SIM is in my E-70 and my iPhone is sitting on the table where I dump all of my junk mail when I walk in the door.

Seriously, if I didn't need this for my project I'd prop it up somewhere and unload some buckshot on it. Or maybe I'd give it to my friend Jason. He teaches middle school after all. Maybe he can sell it to one of his students and get this thing where it belongs.

This is the ONLY time you will find any profanity on this blog. Get an iPhone, and you'll see how justified it is:

The iPhone is a piece of shit, and so is your face.

Maddox, you are the man!


Unknown said...

Im happy with my brand new N95 and didnt know about that.

This IS the phone. SIP, 802.11G, 5Mp camera on the back, 3G camera on the front, mp3, GPS, FM radio, long time battery, stereo speakers, removable storage media.

See ya Three Shots!


Anonymous said...

It's like driving an *80s* BMW.

You aren't familiar with iDrive, are you? :-)

Unknown said...

Haha, I'm actually *very* familiar with iDrive. I just traded in my 2004 745Li and I loved iDrive. I *swear* it was designed for me. I loved it, certainly much more than the touch screen crap my new Jaguar has. As bad as the Jaguar touch screen is it's still better than Mercedes COMMAND and the touch screens used by Cadillac and Lexus. Audi's MMI is pretty nice, I have to admit...

If the BMW dealer in Sarasota was better I would have a 750Li (or maybe an M5) right now!

But what I was really talking about was the driving experience - steering, handling, braking, acceleration, etc. I still love BMW for that but this new Jaguar does pretty well too.