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r3v.com

iPhone, five days later

r3v

This won't be an in depth review, since I think there's enough of those out there. In that area, I highly recommend Engadget's very in-depth iPhone review. They claim that it's "the only review of it you're going to need" and I think they are almost right.

I'd add that John Gruber's iPhone First Impressions post over at the awesome DaringFireball blog is a great supplement. (Arguably, Mr Gruber is an Apple fan and an outspoken one at that. However, do not be mistaken. There's no blind faith and he's far from an uncritical apologist. All those qualities together make him my favorite Mac blogger.)

So, anyways, here goes:

THE WAIT

I lined up at an AT&T store a little after 16:00 on Friday. Ahead of me in line was a group of rather funny employees from a competing cell carrier who were all buying phones for themselves. Behind me, after the blonde lady in her workout clothes, was a fellow employee (who I didn't know) and a friend of his. His friend, an outspoken girl that looked a bit like a porn star (but not in a bad way), turned out to be an ex-employee. (She was only there to hang out with her friend, but after a couple hour passed, was ready to buy a phone. She was also asking all passers-by for $500. She was cute enough to cause a couple of men to pause. No takers though.)

The line was a fairly fun, social experience. Some chatter was about the iPhone, but a lot of it was not. We saw nearly a half a dozen accidents on Steven's Creek Blvd. (The parking lot exit where the line was has a big ol' blind spot and people are trying to get across three lanes of traffic to a turn lane.) It wasn't long before we were guessing at how many people in the line were going to become casualties.

Several times AT&T store employees would come out and count the people in line. Well, they might have been pretending. More on that in a minute.

The heat and pavement was made slightly more bearable by a Starbuck employee who came around from the other side of the building to take orders. (Vitamin-water ftw.) We also amused ourselves by telling people that, "yes, indeed, this is the line for Panda Express."

Some people are really gullible. Of course, other people stand in line to buy a $600 cellphone, so who am I to judge?

I was #51 in line, according to porn-star-girl. AT&T sold out of 8 gig phones around #40 in line. They ran out of 4 gigs at around #46. Obviously a ton of folks bought two. AT&T tried to convince folks to stay around, stand in line, and order them. There were about 30-35 people behind me.

All in all, AT&T handled the line VERY poorly. They were massively slow in processing each person and they couldn't keep track of how many phones they had or how many people were in line. A lot of people waited around for nothing. Some basic math skills could have been prevented that.

Oddly enough, I still had fun.

It didn't hurt that I picked up a phone the next morning at the Valley Fair Apple store.

PURCHASE

So, I called the Apple Store before heading down. I had heard a rumor via twitter that some of the bigger stores had phones, but I wanted to make sure. I was reassured my trip wouldn't be in vain, so I hopped in the car and headed to my least favorite mall.

There was a line, but it was constantly moving. I waited only about five minutes and I was at the counter being handed my iPhone bag. AT&T: -1, Apple: +1. Go fig, eh?

ACTIVATION

Being able to buy a phone, take it home, plug it in and activate yourself is a thing of beauty. It's somewhere between genius and no-fuckin-duh. Of course, that's the zone that Apple generally nails..

There are horror stories out there about activation problems, but mine only took minutes. Of course, I was already a Cingular customer. I think most of the worst-case scenarios involve transferring a number from another carrier.

THE PHONE ALREADY

Intuitive user interface. It's no surprise to people who are familiar with Apple products that Apple puts a lot of effort into UI. How you interact with an Apple product is of the utmost importance to the design process. Cellphones have had notoriously BAD UIs and I couldn't be happier that Apple has stepped up to address this and, more important than anything else, raise the damned bar.

So, I'm going to stop right here for a second and explain my perspective. I've been jealous of smartphone users ever since I stopped carrying my Palm. However, every one I've ever picked up seemed clunky and poorly designed. (The sole exception was the Sidekick, which I thought was very cool. I loved it's hardware design, but I still was unimpressed with the software.) So, arguably, this phone is aimed at me.

The phone is a pleasure to use. Making calls, is simple and ideal. Visual voicemail is a dream come true. No, I'm not kidding. I've always hated the way voicemail works and VVM is what I've always wanted, without actually realizing it.

Typing on the virtual keyboard does take some getting used to, but not because of the lack of a tactile keyboard in my case. Since I wasn't moving from a smartphone, I don't have that to miss. What I had to get used to was letting the predictive corrections do their thing. The software expects you to make types and if you just relax and stop trying to outsmart it, it works wonderfully.

Obi-wan Kenobi had the best advice for typing on the iPhone: "Use the Force, Luke. Let go, Luke. Luke, trust me." You know, if Luke had an iPhone during the Death Star trench run.

Flickr on iPhoneThe Calendar app is awesome. Email is great, but only with non-spam compromised accounts, since there's no filtering and no junk detection. Web browsing is smooth. The zoom in and out is very well implemented, and when you zoom in on a picture or block of text, it automatically zooms in just the right amount to cause it to fill the screen. I do suggest, however, bookmarking the URLs to the mobile versions of your favorite sites though. EDGE, while not as horrid as many had made it out to be (at least not in my area), is no pleasure. It's plenty fast for something like Mobile Yelp though.

My balcony as seen by iPhoneThe camera is what I'd expect out of a cameraphone. It's simple and acceptable. (Way better than my old RAZR.) 2 mega-pixel and no settings. If your subject is well lighted and not moving too much, the picture will be fine. There are two ways to get pics off the phone. Email and syncing with your computer. The former strips the EXIF data and sends out a VGA (640x480) version of your pic.

Using it as an iPod (i.e. looking at photos, watching videos and playing music) is a joy. The interface works as well in real use as it does in the commercials. People are not exaggerating when they call it the best iPod ever.

I wish it had a true IM client. Meebo has updated their site to work with the iPhone, though. That will work for now.

I also think it would have been cool to have a to-do list function for the notepad, but I also like having online todos like RememberTheMilk and TadaList. (RTM has a mobile version and Tadalist released an iPhone specific version, they both work well, but Tadalist feels better.)

For the first time ever, I love my cellphone.

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