iBrokeDownAndGotOne

Even though I said I wouldn’t, I broke down and got an iPhone today. I was highly satisfied with Verizon’s service and especially their coverage. In fact, I still use their service for my V640 ExpressCard. However, I came to loath and despise my PDA/cell phone, HTC’s XV6700 (aka “the brick”).

Friends and family grew into the habit of automatically calling my wife’s cell phone whenever they needed to talk to me.

Shortly after the iPhone was released to the wild, I got 10 minutes of face time with one at the local Apple store. It was enough time to realize that the iPhone is an impressive piece of technology; especially for a 1.0 product. That’s when the seed was planted. I eventually asked myself:  Why am I putting up with this useless, technological brick which is perpetually connected to its cradle? Verizon doesn’t have any other phone I’m interested in, and my 2–year contract with them expired last April. Switching carriers won’t be that bad. I can surly put up with less coverage.

It’s all about the UX

Apple really has done an excellent job at providing a great user experience (UX). The experience starts with purchasing the product.

It’s a typical Saturday at my local Apple store. It’s overcrowded as usual. There’s around 20 people waiting in line. One of the nearby employees notices me and asks if I need any assistance. I ask him where can I get an iPhone. Does someone need to go in the back to get one for me? He introduces me to another nearby employee with a wireless, handheld POS device. He rings me up in less than 5 minutes. Existing the store, the hint of a smirk emerges on my face as I passe the 20 or so people still in line.

Activating the iPhone is equally as painless. No pushy salesperson trying to pressure you into buying accessories or crap you do not want. No documents in triplicate to sign. You activate your new iPhone from the comfort of your own home using iTunes. I had heard of some people having difficulty transferring their existing phone number; but it went smoothly for me, since I knew my existing account number and password. It took less than 10 minutes to activate. One issue I did experience:  iTunes running on Vista could not contact the iTunes store for activation. Luckily, it could contact the store and active from my Mac Book Pro. Hmm… In any case, after it was activated, I re–connected it to my Vista box and it sync’ed just fine.

Room for improvements

Even though the iPhone is far better than anything out there, there’s always room for improvements.

The outside

One of the first things that I noticed on the outside, after holding the device, is a sharp hard edge where the polished surface frame joins with the mostly aluminum body. It’s not really a big deal, however in the future they could deburr the edge. Or create a recessed, inner bevel on the body to make sure the frame sits flush.

The inside

Inside the OS, there are a few issues too. For one, why do I have to click the phone icon and then the contacts icon to get to a contact? Why isn’t there just a contacts icon on the home screen? [Update:  In software update 1.1.1 you can now dbl–click the home button to bring you to your contacts.] Also, why do I have to view an e–mail in order to delete it? I don’t want to view spam in order to delete it. I should be able to delete it from the list of messages without having to view it first.

The iPhone has an embedded accelerometer, and a few apps like Safari or iTunes support landscape mode when you turn it sideways. It’s too bad that all of the apps do not support this. Although we may see this in a distant future release, when Mac OS finally gets true resolution independence. With resolution independence support, Apple could make better use of available screen space too. For example, there are several screens where there is a lot of empty space. Instead of this empty space, they could make the items dynamically fill up the entire space. This would make the items easier to click or select.

The carrier coverage / bandwidth

I already knew second–hand that Cingular has really bad coverage. Especially in my area where deed restrictions prevent cell phone towers. Their coverage was so bad, I switched my wife to Verizon a year or so ago. Today, their coverage is the same. I cannot get a signal at home, inside the neighborhood Publix, or restaurants. Oh well, I can only hope that their coverage will improve. Or maybe someday Verizon will get a second chance at the iPhone and I’ll switch back.

This generation of the iPhone only supports the antiquated (and slow) GSM networks. Thankfully, you can use a Wi–Fi connection if one is available. Future models of the iPhone will undoubtedly support the more modern 3G networks. This doesn’t bother me though. I don’t really plan on doing any heavy web browsing on my iPhone. If I’m out and have my laptop with me, I still have Verizon’s V640 ExpressCard for speedy browsing.

Ringtones

Apple has come under fire for its ringtone policy. You can only purchase ringtones on iTunes. Right now there a limited number of songs which are available as a ringtone. And even if you previously purchased the song, you are forced to pay an additional 99¢ for the 7 seconds ringtone. Any unauthorized ringtones created by 3rd–party tools were made invalid.

This has made many die–hard Apple fanbois livid. I agree in principal that it’s a strong–arm, bully tactic. But do I care about spending another 99¢? No. Do I wish I could use any of my existing media to create ringtones? Sure I do, but I’m not up–in–arms about it.

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