Apple iPhone 2G

YES! I got one.... the piece de resistance of mobile phones at the moment. Luckily a friend was in the US for work and offered to bring me back one, initially I wasn't too excited by the idea but after playing with one in the flesh I was hooked and needed one at any cost. My iPhone soon arrived, new in box, completely sealed straight from the Apple store, now all I had to do was work out exactly how to use it off the AT&T network and on OPTUS here in Australia. After a bit of dicking around, I was directed, to an incredible site - This site is truly amazing, it simply walks you through identifying what firmware you have on your phone and then what to do, luckily for me I had firmware version 1.1.1, which meant all I had to do was key in some key combinations, then direct the wifi to my home network and point the built-in Safari browser to the above site, after about 20 minutes.. Voila! I was on.

Right... where to start?... Let's talk about what this is meant to be... a phone. First impressions of the phone features are that they are pretty basic, the dialing pad takes up pretty much the whole screen and has big buttons for each number, which is great, lately phones have been getting smaller and smaller, which of course means the keypad get smaller, particularly when the screen is given the priority. There's a favourites section for numbers you dial frequently which is a simple and very handy feature, and the contacts, now I couldn't actually get it to sync with iTunes for contacts, which didn't worry me too much as I had no contacts in iTunes, so I had to enter 100+ contacts manually, however I had a lot of fun doing that on the on screen keyboard, well a reasonable amount of fun. One of the coolest features on the iPhone is the scrolling, when you touch the screen and move your finger down the list scrolls beautifully, but give your finger a flick and the scrolling pace adjust accordingly, it's really amazing and you'll no doubt be playing with this for a few hours, the faster you flick the faster the scrolling.

One thing that has bugged me about other phones and is an issue with the iPhone is the lack of ability to simply assign an MP3 to a ringtone, I find this particularly astonishing in this case as the iPhone is also an iPod which will potentially have hundreds of songs stored on the device, this coupled with the fact that it's entering a market where pretty much every phone device can have an mp3 as a ringtone is quite poor in my opinion. Of course, with a recent update from Apple, you can purchase ringtones from the iTunes store for USD$1, which I think is pretty stupid as I think you'd either already own the song, or want to purchase the whole song and chop it up yourself to use, something that iTunes should be enabled to do for less computer savvy users. I should also add there are 'hacks' out there on the net that will allow you to set an MP3 as a ringtone however the exact method changes with what firmware you have, I have yet to find a solution that I can use.

The SMS feature on the phone is brilliant too, the keyboard that pops up to type on, which is common for all text entry into the iPhone, is excellent, even with largish fingers I was able to get 95% accuracy typing reasonably quick, and of course the predictive text will fix up that 95% to about 99%, but that's not the best thing, that's the actual SMS display. On every other phone I've had your SMS's are stored as individual messages, so even if you have 6 messages from one person they are listed as seperate entries, and to see your reply, you have to go to your sent folder, and hope that it's even there. Not on the iPhone, SMS's are stored by person, when you press on the person's name the entire SMS history with them. including your replies is conventiently displayed for you to easily read, its extremely useful and easily cleared by pressing 'clear'. I love it and everyone I show it to loves it. Now despite the SMS feature of the phone being so cool with it's display and very usable on-screen keyboard, on draw back, and I think it's quite significant is that you are unable to send a single SMS to multiple recipients at the same time, pretty ordinary.

Moving on the from the phone there's a few applications that come standard on the iPhone out of the box, a simple but excellent one is the world weather, you can setup different cities that can be scrolled through, each displayed with a five day, very cool graphic forecast. The Youtube application is just what you would do with the browser however it's a dedicated application, if you're a big You Tube'r then you'll love it, the stocks app is great too, you can list your favourite stocks and get updates via your wifi, same way the weather updates.

Battery life seemed quite good, however I really can't comment too much here as I haven't had the chance to really give it a good run without being able to charge it everywhere, as the dock at the bottom of the iPhone is the same as the last generation iPods I have a speaker dock at the office which charges, I have iPod kits in two of my cars that charge it and of course a heaps of the little iPod USB cables.

One of my favourite apps is Google maps, its basically Google Earth just on the iPhone, but this is where you really get to marvel at the technology packed into the iPhone screen. Zooming in and out of the maps is done via a pinch motion with two fingers, and it really is crazy to watch and do yourself, this is where people really get amazed with the phone and in particular screen. This really cool, two touch screen thingy also works for browsing the web, you can start up safari, browse to a site then pinch the screen to get in closer to a particular part of the page, you can also tap parts of the screen to zoom in as well, and of course tap links.

This brings me to the next really cool feature, a screen that automatically adjusts orientation according to how it's held, as you can see above, the screen is flipping from potrait to landscape as I rotate the phone, very cool and works with the browser, maps, pictures, most things you'd expect except video. Now we can move onto the iPod features of the phone, I love the new interface, it's way better than the previous one and thank God we don't have to deal with that click wheel anymore, I could never move just one song with that thing. Bluetooth on the iPhone works, kinda, I mean I can pair it to headsets and such, I can see other phones and computers but I can't quite work out how to send files and stuff with it, it's not a biggie for me but I can imagine it being a problem for those that use it, for me so long as the BT works with headsets thats all I'm worried about.

The songs, artists, favourties, and everything else is browsable with the flick touch too, it's a pleasure to use and you start to wonder how you managed with the previous interface, particularly managing thousands of songs, one thing that's slightly annoying is that video will always play in landscape mode, so, if for whatever reason, you want to watch it in portrait mode you're outta luck, maybe they'll change this with an update, I mean what's the harm in giving people the option?

Yet another thing that really pleased me with the iPhone, the connection at the bottom is the same as the ones for the last generation iPods, so all the accessories I have for them will work with this, as you can see it plugs straight into my car, which is really cool and despite the warning message coming up saying it wasn't made for the iPhone, the kit works perfectly.

What I really love about the iPhone in car is when I'm crusing along listening to tunes, and a call comes through, the music fades, pauses, then the call starts ringing, now unfortunately, it doesn't route the call through the car's speakers, but I have it paired to my BlueAnt handsfree carkit, so I can take the call, hang up and the iPhone automatically fades the music back in, no more missed calls coz of doof doof! Again, everyone loves this.

I'm really pleased with my iPhone and really have no complaints, I will say though that occasionally the touch screen doesn't seem to register my touches, although it's not very often, and the functionality coupled with the coolness of it really outweighs this. It's so good, I am seriously considering a Macbook for my next notebook, although I'm slightly put off with Apple and the control freaks it seems they are.

Very high 'wank' value, for the moment MP3 ringtones not being standard, simple and free
Great scratch resistance, multipoint touchscreen Multiple SMS sending not possible
Heaps of third party applications, with more to come Having to 'hack' the phone just to use it
Same dock as last generation iPods Dorky Apple locking the phone down so hard
Simple, easy to use phone
Posted 19.11.2007

A few things have changed since I've done the review, so I thought an update was only fair.

I've updated the firmware to version 1.1.4 and all seems the same too me, apart from the switch from vertical to horizontal view as you change the iPhone's orientation seeming more sluggish. Unfortunately the bluetooth connectivity hasn't been addressed, I can still only pair to headsets, however google maps seems to have been updated... whoopdeedo. One major plus is now we can send SMS's to multiple ppl, about time.

Fortunately, no thanks to Apple, but to the efforts of many dedicated people putting in hours without monetary compensation I have managed to configure the iPhone to have custom ringtones and SMS tones, yes, it's a huge priority. I've also installed a few cool apps like the Nintendo ROM emulator a few other games, and lots of funky stuff. Apparently with the next firmware update we'll be able to sync the iPhone with exchange email and pretty much make it function like a traditional PDA with Activesync. Not sure whether I'll bother with that though.

All in all, not alot has changed and with more and more people have the iPhone it's losing the 'coolness' factor quickly, and now with a 16GB version out, there'll soon be better ones out there than mine >.<

Posted 24.03.2008

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