A review, if you’re not “iPhoned out”

Written by: Adam Christianson

Categories: Reviews

Okay, I’m just about all iPhoned out. I know many of you are sick of it. Sorry for all the jazz…I’m posting this here mostly because I think many were expecting some sort of review from me. DONT READ IT if you don’t care about the iPhone. ;-)

A little more (EDIT- actually a LOT more) on the phone itself: A friend grabbed mine from me at midnight and wouldn’t let go of it for an hour last night! The interface is intuitive enough that he only had to ask me once or twice how to walk through the features.


Setup was too damn easy. I’d planned on a couple of hours setting it up, getting contacts synced and all that, even though I knew it was just iTunes easy. It took 5 minutes to walk through the setup, a few more to get the activation email, and a few minutes for my contacts, calendars and music to sync into the phone. Almost boring! LOL I had no problems with activation like I see some are complaining about on the news.

Video playback

Video playback is fantastic looking. Sync’d videos from iTunes are great looking. YouTube videos are smooth, you can tell it’s heavily compressed video…but it looks better on iPhone than on the computer.

Web surfing

Yep, on EDGE it is less-than-peppy, only time will tell if this is an annoyance or not. My friend last night said it was slow – but I reminded him he’s never surfed on a mobile device and while it was slower than he’s used to, he’s comparing cable broadband to cellular…never going to be the same experience. Personally, I think it’s slower than my Treo on Verizon, make that noticeably slower, but it is so much easier to use and so much better to look at – repeat that – it is so much easier to use and so much better to look at that it’s worth the wait. As the novelty of the real web on the thing wears off, I may be less forgiving.


Visual email is totally cool. I think how it works is that copies of voice messages left are pushed to your phone and stored locally, so they just appear as sound files you can pick or choose from in any order to listen to, play back, pause, whatever with the media player type controls. Well done and very useful. No need to listen to a sales pitch voicemail to get through to a friend’s call.

Sound quality

Sound quality as an iPod is stunning! And loud! At just half volume it’s very strong, I think on full volume I could damage my eardrums.

Sound quality as a phone is good, as good as any mobile phone I’ve owned including the Treo and Razr. Sound volume on Speakerphone is very disappointing…at max volume it’s not loud…I don’t think you’ll be using the speakerphone in the car. I’m a big speakerphone user, so this is a hard hit for me. Holding it up to the ear, still could use a volume boost, though I used to work on jet fighter aircraft, and I do have some slight hearing loss; your mileage may vary here. Using the supplied headphones is a whole different story. Just like the iPod function, it’s a very strong loud signal. A+ there. Also, I bought one of those Jabra Jawbone bluetooth noise canceling earset things. Wow…that’s a well-fitted, very good sounding bluetooth headset. GET ONE!


Very very very intuitive. And it only takes a few minutes to get used to it. My friend last night was in the settings playing with ringtones (Editor’s note: Built-in ones only, at the moment no customer ringtones on the iPhone) and wallpapers with no guidance from me…this same friend on his LG flip phone took several days to remember how to get into his settings and change a ringtone.


AWESOME. Really. As I’m writing this, I just thought of a tip on how to think of using it. Just imagine your index finger is a mouse pointer. You select things by tapping with your finger…just like you click with the mouse button your finger. You get other actions if you double tap your mouse button/pointer…same with the iPhone interface – just double tap the screen to zoom in or zoom out. You move things around the screen with the mouse by tapping and holding the mouse button on the item and then dragging it around. Exact same thing on the iPhone.

Photo albums

Look good, well organized…can really zoom in deeply…they’re full resolution pictures.


The Stocks, Weather, Clock, Calculator, and Sticky Notes applications are all just “widgets” from OS X…if you have a Mac, you will recognize all of these applications from the Dashboard. They look, feel, and configure the same.

Looks great, all the normal views (day, month, list). Much nicer than on a Treo or Blackberry – mostly due to the big screen on the thing. Sync’d perfectly with my desktop.

It’s good. I’ve got a dozen different accounts on my desktop. They all sync’d automatically to the device, and are listed on the screen. Yahoo was supposed to be “push” but I can’t even get IMAP to work on my Yahoo accounts. In fairness to the iPhone on that issue, I get flaky imap access to them on my laptop as well. Gmail pop and AOL imap work flawlessly, though. And of course .MAC email imap works perfectly.

2 megapixels. Acceptable for a cellphone. Nokia’s 5 megapixel sets the bar higher, though. The camera takes good pictures, but with virtual buttons on the screen…taking a self portrait was difficult. I had to guess where the button is. Self portraits weren’t in mind apparently, though, as there’s no mirror (ala the Treo) or video screen on the camera side to see what the viewfinder is.

There is none. Big disappointment for me. I’d made a little hobby of video recording interesting people in public. I guess my voyeurism habit will be broken now. ;-)

SMS Text Messaging
Works well. Looks identical to iChat on a Mac computer. No picture messaging built in, but pictures work as an attachment to emails. This will be annoying for many until they get used to email rather than picture messages.

Virtual keyboard

This is going to be the biggest complaint about the thing I am sure. It will take getting used to. It’s not as bad as I’ve heard some say, and it will never be more than one-finger typing. With the Treo keyboard I could two-thumb type pretty quickly…but the Treo doesn’t predict and correct your text like the iPhone. It will be interesting to see in a few weeks how speed typing a message competes. Without real keys, I can see trying to type on this while driving will be impossibly dangerous. Considering that typing while driving (c’mon, you’ve all done it) is so dangerous in the first place, I’m going to try to think of this as a positive (even though it sucks).

Battery life

Between my friend and I playing with the phone with a dozen phone calls, an hour of web browsing/testing, some music playing, several videos played and generally putting the phone through its paces, we used about half the battery’s indicated charge. Too soon to tell for every day use, but battery life looks like it will be okay, but not stellar if I do a lot of video or web surfing. Keep in mind, all smartphones pretty much need to be charged daily unless you’re a very light user of the things. Only time will tell on this one.

Medical features

Touching the iPhone cured my arthritis, improved my vision, regrew my hair and generally restored my youth . LOL. Just kidding, even though it made me feel like a kid again waiting for one all week. Does that count as restoring my youth?

Final thoughts

So, to sum it up. Is this the Jesus Phone? Nope. Is it a major revolution…nope. Is it the first skirmish in what will be a major revolution…definitely. Lots of innovation here in interface and design. If you’re not a technophile, you may not appreciate some of the features, but this is a big step forward unlike any we’ve seen yet in a cellphone.

Holding out for version 2 might still be a good idea…it will be better. Holding out for lower prices…don’t hold your breath. Apple’s top of the line product will always be this price level…it will have more features and better performance, but it will always be $600. When the new ones come out, maybe the old ones will be marked down, but at that point, will you want the older model. Maybe someday, ala the iPod nano model and really dumbed down version will come out, but that might be a few years in the making.

Re: the actual buying experience

Apple did a very good job of handling the mob at the Northridge, CA Apple Store I was at. They were handing out water or coffee to the people in line. When they opened, they let 20 people in at a time, and only people who were looking to buy the iPhone. They had about 10 employees just working registers for iPhone sales and another dozen guiding the line and selling accessories…you snaked through a line around all the computer stuff, with two employees just holding one for you to touch while in line, you got directed to a register…bought your phone(s) only and paid. Then you were free to browse the rest of the store for accessories or other products. There was an assumption (accurate of course) in that setup that if you were there, you were buying, because unlike normal Apple play-with-it-all-you-want, you were buying this thing pretty much sight-unseen. Sooo, I’d have been smarter to just go several hours later and probably just walk in and make it a five minute affair as many have reported they did wen going in the latter half of the evening last night, but, I’d have had a far less interesting afternoon, less story to tell, and I wouldn’t have met the interesting people I did – a college kid studying to be a minister, a classic car collector, a website developer, an autobody shop owner, and I got “the digits” from an attractive latina ;-) – part of the fun in all this was buying into the hype and acting out on it. And hey, if Steve Wozniak and Spike Lee stood in line for one, who am I to not be part of the crowd.

There are 7 comments on A review, if you’re not “iPhoned out”:

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  1. Steve | Jul 02 2007 - 03:11

    Can I port all of my contacts and downloaded ringtones from my phone to the new iphone though? A very cool phone though.

  2. Ray McDonald | Jul 02 2007 - 05:28


    I love your show and your coverage of this has been great! I was lucky enough to get some “personal time” with a display iPhone at the local AT&T store in Alexandria, VA yesterday and it REALLY, REALLY made me want one, but I want to put money aside, and make sure the bugs are all worked out before I decide to take the leap. I’m already an AT&T customer, so it won’t be too traumatic. The only problem with my experience was that the EDGE network coverage in the store was pretty bad (as it seems to be in ALL of DC). But, from what I was able to see, the web browsing experience will be GREAT with WiFi. Does ANYONE know if the iPhone can display Japanese text? I didn’t get a chance to test the feature or hit a Japanese web page. It would be a “nice to have” option for me since I speak Japanese and have a lot of friends in Japan. The EDDGE network wouldn’t hit a site when I tried.

    Anyway, thanks for your GREAT show…I listen all the time, and I turned to you first for coverage on the iPhone–well, second after the Apple web site! (Sorry). :) Thanks again and all the best. Ray

  3. Joseph | Jul 02 2007 - 07:30

    It would be nice if the EDGE worked at all. I was down most of the day!

  4. crayola | Jul 03 2007 - 09:37

    well i really want an iPhone but can’t afford one now. i did test it out at my local apple store and ooh, it’s schweeeet!! though the internet connection was very sluggish. do they use EDGE at the apple stores or their own wifi network?


  5. R | Jul 06 2007 - 06:47


  6. AJ Strong | Jul 09 2007 - 01:34

    A couple issues with the iPhone… anyone have a fix?

    Issue 1 – Media syncing – With my standard iPod, I can drag over any TV shows, music, or photos I want. With the iPhone, you have to sync playlists for music. You can’t just throw on individual songs, shows, or photos. I have every episode of Studio 60, but I can’t add the first 3 episodes, which are my faves. I can only add the last 1, 3, 5, or 10 episodes. That kinda sucks.

    Issue 2 – Text Messaging – The one thing my old Razr could do that the iPhone can’t is broadcast text messaging. Sometimes, I need to send out the same text message to 12 people. With my Razr, I would create the message and then simply add the people I wanted it to go to. Unfortunately, this can’t be done on the iPhone.

    Issue 3 – Sports Widget – On the home screen of the iPhone, you get a weather, stocks, and maps widget. How is it that there is no sports to get you instant access to sports scores?

  7. Tim | Jul 11 2007 - 05:10

    There are several things I would like on the phone, there is however one I think is essential. Maybe I just don’t know how to use it. What is the default sim card code. On all my other phones it has either been 1234, 0000 or some other published number. Well no one seems to know and I have already gone through one sim card. On the bright side the AT&T folks were very supported and replaced my sim card ( they were the ones who finally irreversibly locked it). The other way to lock the phone, locks it every time it sleeps. The sim card locks the phone only when it it is completely turned off.