Don’t we just love the irony... here I am in Denver to cover Microsoft’s annual Worldwide Partner Conference (Yes, WPC for short), and wouldn’t you know it my first post from here is about the iPhone.
I had the pleasure of having a good play with Apple’s much-hyped, much-anticipated and much-maligned iPhone, at a local Apple store on Monday - thus becoming probably the first NZ tech journo to have manhandled one these puppies.
Therefore it would be rude not to share my impressions... first off - I like it, I really do (Stop your ”fanboy” braying, Birkeland). It is sleek, it feels great to hold and OMG the multi-touch screen is brilliant.
It lets you do super cool things like literary flick through album covers and photos - it actually makes you feel like you’re flipping through an actual photo album (remember them - those paper-based books we used to keep photographic prints in?). Not only that, but you can also zoom in photos and webpages by either double tapping on the spot you want to see close-up or by dragging your finger in opposite diagonal directions across the screen - a motion similar to when you flick a moth off your TV.
Most of the familiar iPod controls are still the same, except instead of the scroll wheel, you just make upward or downward flicks on the screen depending on which direction you are searching.
Long-time iPhone users will struggle with this at first as they’ll naturally try and scroll across the screen in curricular motions of the thumb, as you do with the iPod scroll wheel.
Another great feature on the iPhone is an external volume control, which the iPod lacked to its detriment, but like the iPod it has a 3.5 mm stereo headphone minijack. This means you toss the included headphones out for a better pair.
As far as using the iPhone as a phone, the large screen size and large number keys on the phone interface make dialling a diddle. Searching the contact book is also a breeze with the touch capability and large display.
However, text messaging is a bit clunky. Seasoned texters will find it hard to adapt to the QWERTY keyboard for messaging after being so accustomed to the more natural alphabetic keypads of most mobile phones. Also the predictive text seems tricky - I couldn’t quite figure out how to select the suggested words while writing a message. The screen area devoted to enter message text is also relatively small.
The touch keyboard will also take some getting used for emailing as it does not make enough use of available screen real estate and the keys are quite small - unlike the number keys.
Meanwhile streaming YouTube videos and surfing the web was seamless in the Apple store, so was emailing a photo taken with the onboard, passable, 2MP camera (see image below). But this experience will be less positive in New Zealand due to our non-ubiquitous wifi access and slower mobile internet speeds.
So, would I buy one if could use it in Kiwiland?
In its current form, the iPhone is neither a great media player nor a great phone/mobile emailing device.
Despite the great looks, which not everyone likes with at least one fellow Kiwi attendant at the Microsoft conference calling it ”effeminate”, and the superb controls for controlling music, video and photo playback, the iPhone just does not have enough storage to make a great iPod replacement. If you’re paying US$499 or $599, you want much more storage than 4 and 8Gb respectively.
And as a phone it is OK for making calls, but the email and text messaging interfaces need some work.
Having said that, if money was no object, I’d definitely get one - not only for the bling factor and bragging rights, but for the reasons raised in my previous post.