User Review: iPhone 3G – Over to the darkside…

My close friends will know of my relationship with Apple. I have programmed them on and off since the Apple II, created Hyperstacks on Mac OS4 – the first ECG Tutorial I wrote was in Hyperstack and effectively predated web pages. I have a Mac Mini. However, as a techie, I have problems conceptually with the Apple OS – it hides too much and the functionality which so many describe as intuitive, isn’t. I’m not necessarily a wholly PC-addict either, as I use Linux extensively in Ubuntu and Centros flavours. I just want human-computer interfaces to work, and there are times when I find myself screaming at the damn machine as it sits there, Oh so cooly designed, but not actually that much use.

So, when the time came for a mobile phone update, I was preparing to upgrade to another Blackberry. My Curve 8320 has been very good, and has revolutionised my mobile use: contacts, emails and messages where ever I am. However, it has not been without its frustrations: a useless browser, poor music and video features and a user interface which has only marginally improved over the years.

So, much to most people’s surprise, I upgraded to an iPhone.

The iPhone decision was influenced by playing with someone’s for some time at a party on Saturday (thanks, Andrew) and hearing his honest and informed opinions which I knew was not based on him being an Apple Junky and reading an excellent article comparing functionality between iPhone and my beloved Blackberry.

http://www.infoworld.com/d/mobilize/deathmatch-rematch-blackberry-versus-iphone-30-843?page=0,0&source=fssr

In terms of business functionality, and the power of the browser, the iPhone wins out and despite some niggles, I have spent a good few first days with it. I have been able to dive straight in and get on with my work. Integration with Google (Mail, Diary, Contacts etc) via Exchange Server has been a dream, and worked straight away. The touchscreen has taken me less time to get used to than I expected, and I am very impressed with the corrective typing, which seems to take my hamfisted fingers and make real words out of them.

The camera produces results like this:

which isn’t that bad. It is an iPod, so I had to load iTunes on my laptop. I have an (ahem) large collection of MP3s and it took sometime to integrate that with the network, not entirely successfully, and I havn’t bought anything from iTunes yet. Maybe I should use the Mac Mini for this. Very little cover art has come across.

So, as a fairly serious user of mobile technology, I have been quite impressed with it. I can view (but not edit) Word and Excel 2003 Documents. I never really ever edited a document on the move. Tethering (using the iPhone as a modem for a laptop, which costs extra) may prove to be an issue in the future, but that will become apparent later.

I am very happy with the iPhone package even if I lost my unlimited texts, unlimited data package. I estimate that I will have the right level of texts (500 a month) and data (750Mb a month) for my normal use, but I have had to sacrifice the Blesséd Daily Texts, which I know many people have benefited from in the past. Sorry.

The only real problem is conceptual. Apple are these days no longer hippies riding the wave of Open Source: they are digital rights Nazis who screw their systems down to closed hardware (hey, you can’t even change the battery) and limited software. There is the ability to Jailbreak the iPhone, and I reckon I will have done that within a week or so, as I become frustrated by what Apple let me do. Apple these days are the antithesis of Open Source.

Expect another user review in a few weeks, but for now: it’s a good phone. Oh, and it oh so cool!