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iPhone: a user review

August 8, 2007

The iPhone is several months away from the Indian shores, officially. Yet the wait has begun. The dilemma is, should we get one from the “unofficial” market or wait for Apple to launch. Either way, many mobile owners are withholding purchase. Is the product worth the wait? We asked Ritika Samant, a US-based undergrad who bought iPhone on the day of its launch, to share her experience of this 4-in-1 wonder device.

iPhone, the mobile phone

The phone in the iPhone was simpler to get used to than I had thought. The contact list—which syncs with your computer—and recently dialled numbers are easy to find, but the lack of actual buttons often forced me to navigate through several touch buttons just to redial a number. Voice quality is average, but I have yet to experience static background noise or worse, the dreaded dropped call.

The iPhone threads SMSes together (just like Gmail organises e-mails), making it easy to see the whole conversation together. So no more juggling between inbox and the outbox to check on a conversation. This is useful when making evening plans with someone, for example. The “visual voicemail” feature is impressive. It lists your messages and allows you listen to voicemails as often and in any order that you wish.

iPhone, the iPod

Apple claims iPhone is the best iPod they’ve ever created, and I agree.The touch screen controls literally bring music to your fingertips. One tap and you are on. An exciting feature is Cover Flow.Turn the screen by 90 degrees and your music library is displayed by the album cover. It's like browsing—or flicking—through your music albums, something we rarely do in the digital age of music.The feature, however, works only for songs bought from iTunes. The famous wheel of the previous iPods is gone, but I don't really miss it.

The white earphones, by now a hallmark of iPod, have two additions. A tiny button that pauses music on one tap and skips the track when pressed twice. There is also a microphone embedded on the button, so that you can take a call even when listening to music. I found the feature especially useful when exercising or when the phone was buried in my purse, so I didn’t have to dig to find it in order to answer a call or change the track.

iPhone, the camera

I am click-happy. So it is some experience to see clear pictures in rich colours displayed on the bright 3.5-inch screen. The 2-megapixel camera has no flash or video mode. Although it’s easy to e-mail a photo,multimedia messages cannot be sent with the iPhone. Pictures—whether taken with the camera phone or uploaded from PC—are fun to browse through and show off to your friends when on the go, as albums can be flipped through with your finger as if turning pages of a book.

Slideshow mode can also be initiated. Thanks to the iPhone’s accelerometer, it can be tilted horizontally to view pictures taken in landscape mode.When I plug in the iPhone to my Apple computer, I am asked whether I'd like to import the pictures onto my computer, a useful way to permanently store.

iPhone, the web browser

iPhone is a full-fledged Internet access device. The Safari web browser on the iPhone doesn’t display a watered-down version of the Internet, which is often the case with net browsers on smart phones. Web pages are fully displayed, with the fonts and images shrunk to fit the screen. Double-tapping or pinching on a section of the screen automatically enlarges the selected area of the webpage.

The iPhone’s accelerometer is also useful to enlarge text, images and the keyboard.When in Wi-Fi range, the Internet can be surprisingly fast, but with the EDGE network that comes with the phone connection (also used in India, pending advent of 3G) it is considerably slower. One downside of the otherwise brilliant net browser: it doesn’t support Adobe Flash technology—as yet. Also, you can open, but not edit,Word, Excel, PowerPoint or pdf files.

iPhone, the experience

Sure, there are other smart phones available with some comparable capabilities, but none can accomplish the style and elegance of Apple.The interactive screen is amazing—you can pinch and unpinch to adjust the zoom, scroll, flick, type and tap all with your fingertips. It’s remarkably scratch resistant too. The iPhone seems to have a brain of its own—it can sense when the handset is near the ear and its screen sensors automatically hibernate only to be activated once the phone is away.

In a Wi-Fi range, the Net connection is not only faster, but consumes less battery too. The battery life is decent, considering I can wait a day or two before charging, despite talking on the phone, listening to music, having it routinely check e-mail, and using Google Maps to look up directions (with traffic conditions) throughout the day. But Apple overstates the battery strength. What more can I ask? Perhaps a larger memory (8GB is huge compared to other smart phones, but measly compared to the video iPod), video recording capabilities and 3G support.


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