Owning an iPhone – pros and cons

Ok, time for an admission: I now, honestly, own an iPhone.

Like my friend Big H told me, when I said I was thinking about getting one:

After all you’ve written and bitched about it, surely you can’t get one? Right?

So now, when I have one, I think it no more than fair to write about what I think and revisit my previous criticism.

The Good

The parts which stand out with the iPhone.

User interface

First of all, what pushed me over is the fantastic and consistent interface! It is oh-so-pretty, cool and well-working that, to be honest, I was sure no cell phone/device would ever be able to offer me something like this. Before I’ve only been testing other people’s iPhones but now when I have my own, I’ve had extensive experience using it – honestly, I find it hard just putting the phone down. :-)

App Store

The simplicity and usefulness of App Store is what really makes the iPhone come alive. There are some truly great apps making it a lot easier to retrieve information, interact with some web site/service or just plain enjoying yourself.

Integration

I constantly use Gmail and Google Calendar, and it works great in conjunction with an iPhone. Not sure about you, but I wouldn’t recommend wasting your money on MobileMe.

3G and GPS

One of the things that makes anything Internet-dependent so nice to use is the 3 G connection – I can imagine that the experience would’ve been a lot less pleasant on previous models with EDGE. And, paired with the GPS, the map services, find commuting options from where you are at the moment-apps etc gives you a lot of interesting alternatives and real-life integration.

The screen and hardware design

Naturally, as any Apple product, it looks great, feels fantastic to hold and has an amazing screen! The screen seems, so far, not to be sensitive about getting scratches, and size-wise, it actually fits in a pant pocket with its sleek design.

The Bad

Generally, my opinions in iPhone letdowns still stand.

The camera

It’s such a shame that it has such a lousy camera, especially with some fantastic apps to make it as easy as possible to take a picture and instantly share it with the world (in this respect, SmugMug is a great example with their own official app, while Flickr once again fails to deliver a proper official uploader).

Subscription

I ranted a bit about mandatory subscriptions, and it is still one of the most annoying things. Some countries you can just buy an unlocked iPhone, no hassle – in others, you will have to subscribe to the most overpriced (and generally, suckiest) mobile subscriptions for the very least a year and a half.

This is effectively killing off the corporate market since they already have established pricing plans with other providers, and everyone else just have to sell their soul to an operator they want just to get an iPhone.

While I’m sure Apple gains a few more dollars out of this co-operation with the operator in each country, the bad-will and lost sales surely must be worse. I’m proud to say that my iPhone is imported from another European country, and also mostly paid for by my employer, so in the end I had to pay about US$ 185 for it – mind you, this is with free data traffic and no contract binding or anything.

App Store, and lack of installing freedom

While App Store is overall fantastic and very easy to use, every application have to follow ridiculously strict Apple guidelines. The problem here is that some great software, not that uncommonly better than Apple’s own apps, is restricted. Then you need to first jailbreak your iPhone and then hack your iPhone with Cydia to be able to install whatever you want (also read How to Use Cydia: A Walkthrough).

The result of installing Cydia is that it breaks your warranty, meaning you need to restore your iPhone to factory settings before you leave it to service. Another downside is that apps will run in the background constantly, which might make your iPhone a bit slower to operate. The upside, of course, is installing freedom.

Apple seriously have to loosen up with App Store, or offer people a proper way to install applications not condoned by Apple…

Various missing features

Minor things that should’ve just been implemented, like:

  • Copy and paste (duh)
  • Forwarding of SMS message
  • Deleting single SMS message and not entire thread
  • MMS support
  • Video recording
  • Being able to just simply choose your own ringtones (you can, however, do this manually, as written in Howto: Make your own custom Ringtones for iPhone 2.0 (3G))

The Ugly

What annoys me the most at the moment is iTunes synchronizing limitations.

iTunes

Apparently, for some DRM-type, completely misguided “Everyone-will-spread-content-EVERYWHERE”-fear, you can only synchronize your iPhone with one iTunes library. What, you say? Yes, it’s just that bad. Meaning, if you have content on your work computer and your home computer, it can only be synched if it’s not of the same sort. I.e. I can sync, for instance, my calendar from one iTunes and my apps from another.

And what really really gets to me here is that even if I have automatic synchronizing turned off, with only manual transfers, it’s impossible to drag and drop a music or video file to my iPhone if any other iTunes library has ever transfered the same sort of content. This sucks ass!

However, if you’re the more adventurous type, as Martin Andersson pointed out to me, you can edit your iTunes library manually, as described in How to sync an iPhone with two (or more) Computers.

Conclusion

Let me say that due to the shortcomings and tie-ins I’ve been whining about before and here, I truly and honestly wanted to get another brand with equivalent features. However, the no less than marvelous interface in the iPhone and extending options and application quality offered through App Store, I just have to confess that there’s no other player in the market currently being able to match this.

I even considered getting a tiny “regular” mobile phone and iPod Touch instead of an iPhone with its stupendous subscription requirements, but practically everyone advised me not to, that I should get the iPhone instead. I followed their line of thinking, and now I’m really glad I did – I constantly use services over 3G wherever I am, and it’s one of the best things altogether!

Obsession

This last part is about making a confession: seeing all people with their cool iPhones, I was jealous, and soon it became an obsession to own an iPhone. It’s so damn pretty, and why would I settle with less than anyone else? :-)

In the end it was all about coming to terms with the current iPhone shortcomings, and focus on the good parts. At the end of the day, instead of getting annoyed or bothered when using my cell phone, I now get happy and just want to use it more, More, MORE!

And ain’t that exactly the feeling a device should give to you? :-)

Posted in Apple/Mac,Google,iPhone,Reviews/tests,Technology |

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