Tuesday, September 30, 2008


My poor friend Brad... he keeps asking for an update on the iPhone, and I keep ignoring him. Well, I'm not ignoring you man, I just keep getting distracted, or waiting for the latest updates so I can check them out before offering up the latest opinion...

It's been a little while now since I got the phone, Probably close to two months now, since I think it's time to pay my phone bill again. I searched around forever for a new phone, changing my opinion every week on what I wanted. I was in the enviable spot of being out of my contract, so thought about just buying an unlocked phone and running with it. Mostly since then I wouldn't have been limited to buying whatever silly phones were being offered in the American markets. But regardless of what I looked at, I kept coming back to the iPhone despite my quibbles. I previously had a Motorola SLVR, which I really liked. It's super small, has a decent music player using iTunes, and lots of functionality. Just a small screen, a horrible camera, and was starting to get old after two years of use.

There's been a million reviews on the phone, so I'll just give my personal impressions. Overall, it's pretty sweet. I worried about the ability to be connected to the interwebs, 24hrs a day, and I was correct. It is an issue. But I've been doing pretty well with just ignoring it when I'm on overload, or realize that I need to just step away from the phone. Pretty sweet that it will switch automatically to WiFi when you are in range of an available network. Using it on the Wireless-N network at home, it is relatively quick.

It's amazing how the new body of the phone is actually larger than the previous one, but the rounded shape makes a HUGE difference in the perceived size. It disappears in your pocket, and feels smaller in your hand. I really hate "phone condoms", though the finish seems to hold up fairly well. The back shows some scuffing, but the screen seems to be very durable. And I love the touch-screen... they are so much more intuitive, to me, than fumbling around with buttons and arrow keys. The touch screen on my camera has been one of my favorite features, and it's even more useful on a device like this.

Really, the best part of the phone is the App Store. It's so easy to fully customize your phone with just the applications that you want. There are thousands to choose from, and no shortage of free ones. You can ridiculously fun and useless applications like the light saber application, which turns your phone into a light saber, complete with matching sounds that work off the accelerometer of the phone... so sword fights with your friends take on a whole new level of authenticity.

A lot of the apps are pointless, they simply provide what amounts to a "shortcut" through your internet browser. Why crowd up your phone, when you can just go through the browser? I really like my Showtimes app though. I don't go to the movies that often, but you can find show times, from theaters near your current location, based off the GPS! You can even buy tickets now (though I'm not convinced of the security of making purchases and stuff through the phone) but even cooler, you can watch full-length previews of the movies, directly from the app.

There are only two apps that I've come across so far that I was willing to drop some coin on. First was StarMap;

The kid in the video is a total dork... but the video give you a good breakdown of the way the app works. Basically an interactive star map, on your phone. Plus, it uses your current GPS location, in it's calculations, to give you the most accurate view of the sky. Also uses the accelerometer, so that as you move it with your view, it updates to what you should see in the sky. I've used it while using my telescope, and it sure beats trying to spin around my paper star map.

The other app that I paid money for, is X-Plane 9.0. This one I think, really shows off some of what the iPhone is capable of. It's a basic, yet rather cool, flight simulator, on your iPhone! It even uses the accelerometer so you have tilty-control for your yoke.

It's really pretty impressive for a game that's running on your phone. There could be some graphics such as buildings and such, and the views could move around a bit easier, but overall, it's pretty solid. It didn't take too long to get the hang of either.

As for stupid stuff - it's really irritating that you can't use MP3s as ringtones. Which brings up all the issues I have with iTunes. It really is far from my favorite music player, and has an incredible number of complications and restrictions. Even to use a song as a ringtone, you (officially) first have to buy the song through iTunes, then you have to pay AGAIN to be able to only slightly customize it using their lame editing software, turning it into a ringtone. Thank jeebus for work-arounds... It also comes with a ridiculously lame camera. 2mp in this day and age is silly, and in two years when my contract is up, it will be downright prehistoric. Luckily I mostly just use the camera to capture images of goons that I see out in public. But still... no motion picture capture either!? As cool as the applications from the App Store can be, it's annoying that the firmware is designed so that none of the applications can run in the background. So anytime you use one of the primary phone functions, you need to drop out of the application you are using. Annoying. That means my high-score run at Pong, is eliminated if someone calls me in the middle of the game. And still, no copy/paste... that's just stupid.

But again, overall, it really is a pretty impressive device. I hate lots of things about Apple, but the phone is admittedly very nice. It has some issues, but then no device is perfect. It's not the best phone out there, but I think it's totally up to the individual to figure out what's "best" for them.

Sorry for the boring post, but I guess you can just blame Brad!


Brad said...

He does have my e-mail....so he could have just e-mailed me...so don't go getting mad at me. You should check out the Poker game...worth the $5.

I am Brian said...

It's always your fault Brad... Come on,you're married, you know that!

Yesterday Jesse put me onto Mote-M, tower defense game for the iPhone, and only 99% of one dollar! That should pretty much ruin any productivity for today...

Brad said...

Yeah...I really need to not have games on my phone. It has been a little slow at work the last couple of days and I have found myself playing far too much. When are you guys heading West?