25 Days With An iPhone - InformationWeek
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06:17 PM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner

25 Days With An iPhone

Like our reviewer John Welch, I've been living with the iPhone since it first came out, so I was very eager to read his in-depth review of the device "Review: Two Weeks With An iPhone," which was a follow-up to my earlier iPhone review, written after living with the device for just one weekend.

Like our reviewer John Welch, I've been living with the iPhone since it first came out, so I was very eager to read his in-depth review of the device "Review: Two Weeks With An iPhone," which was a follow-up to my earlier iPhone review, written after living with the device for just one weekend.

I certainly wasn't disappointed by John's review; he did a terrific job. Here are some of the highlights of his review, with my $0.02:

Syncing with Exchange and Lotus Notes is limited. If that's a deal-breaker for you, don't get an iPhone.

Apple's decision to block third-party application development is a wise one. Third-party applications make smartphones more prone to crashing. I've seen that myself in my Palm Treo 650; John has used a greater variety of smartphones than I and has seen more of it.

John says that Apple must support third-party application development at some point soon, but it should take the time to do it right and make sure third-party applications don't diminish from the stability of the device. I agree.

That said, there's one application I sorely miss from my Treo: SplashID, an encrypted database for storing user IDs and passwords. It runs on the Mac and Windows on the desktop, and synchronizes with a variety of smartphones, including Palm devices, Pocket PCs, and BlackBerrys. Using SplashID, I can access my passwords easily and store them securely on the desktop or in a pocket-sized device.

He got great service from AT&T. Lots of people are complaining about AT&T,, but not John. He had difficult conditions, trying to activate an iPhone using AT&T service in Kansas City, and transferring over an out-of-state number from another wireless carrier. AT&T came through for him.

My own activation process was simpler. I created a new phone number, with a new account. I didn't have any problems; it took about two minutes. I did it at home over iTunes.

The on-screen keyboard works well. I've been finding that, too. I was skeptical when I took the iPhone out of its box -- I had gotten used to using thumb keyboards on Palm devices -- but you do get accustomed to using the on-screen keyboard and quite skilled at it.

The iPhone keyboard makes a slight clicking sound when you enter a key. Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to find I was going fast enough to make the iPhone sound like a Geiger counter in a '60s sci-fi TV show.

The browser just works. I've found that to be true, too. It doesn't work on every site, but it does work on most of the sites on the Internet. It doesn't support Flash, but I haven't found that to be a problem.

E-mail. John loves the built-in iPhone e-mail app. I don't use it myself -- I use Gmail for my personal mail, and I access it through the Web interface on the iPhone. I don't pick up my corporate e-mail on the iPhone at all.

Yeah, the Edge wireless speed is slower than Wi-Fi, but it's not a big deal.* John says: "I will say that some of the ways people describe Edge make me think they're flashing back to a Commodore PET and a 300-baud modem. It's not zippy, but it's not that slow." Heh. He's right. Edge isn't zippy, but it's usable.

It's a great phone. The sound quality is good, and it stays connected.

Synchronization. Synchronization is so good I didn't notice how good it was. You drop the iPhone in the cradle and it just syncs. Leave it in the cradle, and, if you make a change on the desktop, it's automatically propagated to the iPhone. You don't have to remember to sync, it just syncs.

That's a great feature. With the Treo, I had to remember to sync. The iPhone means I have one less thing to have to remember.

He loves the clock application. That made me chuckle, because it's such a silly little thing -- and I feel the same way.

You don't need a smartphone to have a pocket timer -- you can buy one for $5 at Wal-Mart. Still, I've always found a countdown timer to be one of my most-used features on a smartphone, and the iPhone has a great one. You set it using a representation of a barrel dial, and it makes a pleasant clicking sound as you change the settings. I'm using it to time cooking my lunch as I write this.

Greasy fingers. Apparently, there's a lot of kvetching on the intertubes about the iPhone being susceptible to dirt when using the device with dirty fingers. John points out that this is no different from other smartphones, especially those with thumb keyboards, which have delicate mechanisms that are subject to getting fouled up by crud.

What John doesn't say is: Wash your hands, you slob. It wouldn't kill you to run some soap and water over your mitts every once in a while.

I've only just scratched the surface of John's comprehensive iPhone review; take a look at everything he has to say.

Have you been living with the iPhone awhile? What do you think of it now that the novelty has worn off?

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