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First-Generation iPhone Review

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating
User Rating 4 Star Rating (2 Reviews)

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Apple's iPhone

The iPhone

The Good
Beautiful interface
Terrific integration on phone and with computer
Excellent Internet and iPod features
Near-revolutionary device

The Bad
Battery life needs improvement
EDGE network is slowish
Some program crashes
Incompatible with many headphones
AT&T customer service is lacking
High price

Models
8 GB

The Price
US$399

From its announcement in January to its release in June, Apple's iPhone has been a constant source of conversation, speculation, and writing. So, by the time June 29 – the iPhone’s release date – came, the expectations were practically crushing.

The iPhone Does Many Things - And Does Them Well

It says a lot about how good the iPhone is that the device isn’t a disappointment. In fact, more than just not disappointing, the iPhone is, more or less, a joy to use.

By now, you probably know the basics of the iPhone: it combines a cell phone with very good call quality, an iPod with some lovely new interface options, a well-integrated PDA, and Internet device that offers web browsing, email, and web application support.

And it does these things remarkably well. Each feature of the iPhone – from phone to iPod, from email to calendar — is, at worst, very good. Some of the features are excellent. Still, it’s not perfect. Battery life and network speed need improvement, among other things. Still, the good far outweighs the bad.

The iPhone's Beauty is in its Details

The iPhone is packed with the small, smart touches that creates raving fans.

  • When listening to music and a call comes in, the music fades out and the ringer fades in. A simple click of the headphones’ attached mic answers the call. End the call by clicking the mic again and the music fades back in from where it left off.
  • The multitouch interface in the web browser allows users to zoom in on items by tapping the screen with two fingers and then pulling in opposite directions. This is spectacular and well implemented. I believe the iPhone is the first major consumer application of multitouch; we should see a lot more of it in the future.
  • The SMS text messaging feature shows your conversation in the form of an instant messaging session, making it easy to keep track of what’s being said.
  • The iPhone automatically switches screen orientation from portrait to landscape when you rotate the device.
  • When you put the phone up to your head to make a call, the screen shuts off. When you take it away to end the call, the screen lights up again.
  • Three-way calls can be initiated with just a few button clicks, offering the simplest three-way calling feature I’ve seen.

But it’s more than the nice touches that make the iPhone so good. The ability to sync with your calendar, address book, and bookmarks, as well as music and videos, comes close to making the iPhone a laptop replacement — all that’s needed is a full-sized external keyboard (the onscreen keyboard is good and only takes a few days of practice to achieve proficiency) and better battery life.

The iPhone's Shortcomings: Battery Life and A Slow Network

Battery life is one of the chief areas that needs improvement in future versions of the iPhone. Because its uses battery-draining technologies like WiFi and Bluetooth pretty heavily, battery life takes a big hit when those features are enabled. You can conserve battery by turning them off, though that removes some connectivity options.

If you do turn WiFi off, the phone can still connect to the Internet, but this reveals another area in which the iPhone could be improved. This version of the iPhone uses AT&T’s EDGE network, which is slower than competing cellphone data networks (if a WiFi network is available, the iPhone defaults to the faster option. EDGE is used when there is no available WiFi). Though AT&T has boosted the speed of EDGE to speeds approximating a fast dial-up connection, future versions of the phone are likely to use the much faster 3G network.

There are only two other flaws that I found with the iPhone that bear mentioning. First, programs crash more often than they should, especially the Safari web browser. This is annoying, but also shows the intelligence built into the device. Program crashes don’t crash the phone – you’re just returned to the home screen and can go right back to what you were doing. Also, since program stability can be improved with software updates, this issue figures to be addressed soon.

Difficult Headphone Jacks and High Prices

The more annoying issue is that of the iPhone’s headphone jack. The jack is recessed deeply into the device, making it inaccessible to most headphones, despite the headphone jack being standard. This means that headphones you’ve been using with your iPod won’t work with the iPhone without an adaptor. Apple’s included earbuds don’t have this issue, of course, but the decision to make third-party headphones not work without adaptors is frustrating.

As it is to be expected with any first-generation Apple product, the iPhone’s price is high enough to put it out of reach for some consumers. Those will prices will come down eventually (but probably not substantially – the top-of-the-line iPod has only come down about $150 in five years; its feature set and capacity have increased substantially instead). Wider adoption of the iPhone is likely to be determined, at least in part, by price.

Despite these flaws, the iPhone has pushed the mobile phone/wireless Internet device space forward by leaps and bounds. From the first encounter with the iPhone’s beautiful, high-resolution display (which frequently leaves people speechless – it looks that good) to in-depth use over many days, the iPhone is a great advance. And though it has issues that need to be fixed in future models, we may well look back at the iPhone someday as a major milestone in the history of technology.

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 4 out of 5
iPhone 3GS, Member iPhone.lover

Everybody knows that, whether you hate or love Apple Inc., you have to admit, they are generations ahead of anyone of mobile phone tech. That's one thing in many. It's skipped ahead of the 1st generation iPhone with minor mistakes considering Safari web browser, it's [iPhone 1st Generation.]pretty slow and, glitchy. Now, I have provided some technical specifications, if your with me. Any of those who are afraid of the device fitting in your pocket, fear no more, the iPhone is pretty pocket-friendley. Well, here are the so-called 'tech-specs' Size and weight1 Height: 4.5 inches (115.5 mm) Width: 2.4 inches (62.1 mm) Depth: 0.48 inch (12.3 mm) Weight: 4.8 ounces (135 grams) It is black and curved, unlike the new iPhone 4, which is a bit ""boxy"". But battery/talk wise, it has a Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery Charging via USB to computer system or power adapter Your Talk time is: Up to 12 hours on 2G Up to 5 hours on 3G Standby time: Up to 300 hours Internet use: Up to 5 hours on 3G Up to 9 hours on Wi-Fi Video playback: Up to 10 hours Audio playback: Up to 30 hours Now, this celluar phone has shown some MAJOR improvment from it's previous iPhone 1st generation, if you know what I mean. But I appluod Apple and it's jaw-dropping acoplishments. I personally, am a huge Apple fan. And this is-for me-like a Yankee fan coming across a Micky Mantle autographed baseball. If you foolow sports, that is. I am highly suprised at the Apps. They are very useful for diffrent kind of uses. Like different music, cooking, student,etc. apps. Some my friends find ridicoulus like the Glee app and the HomeWorks light conrol. He says ""Apple is making people fat and lazy by making that app. Why can't the dopes get up and just turn off the light?"" Anyways useful apps inclube helpful ones for-likeme- music fans. Such as the ""Pandora Radio"" and such. The Beat-Maker, RjDj, and the GuitarToolKit. I find that intresting and extremley entertaining for music-lovers. Now, I would like to introduce you to the channels. The Multi-Tasking is much better than most mobile phones. It allows you to run 3rd party apps and switch between them whenever you whish. Or recive a phone call and play a game at the same time. The Folders, however, are good, and allow you to easily organize your apps and access your personal favs whenever you like. The iBooks are wonderful and are so very helpful to big readers like me. I often get frusterated with books and their text size because I have glasses and not reading glasses. All of my friends are disscussing great books, and meanwhile, I'm struggling to read them because of the text size. But, the iPhone allows me to easily change the text size. I'm often annoyed of reading in bad light. But then comes the iPhone and I can simply change the book's lighting with a quick tap of my fingers. I'm a computer geek and am always on the web and my email. My home phone is annoying because when I need to call someone quick, I have to dial their whole number. The iPhone, though simpily allows me to call 5x faster than before. With a easy few taps of my fingers, I can call anyone at my finger tips. I will now give you aq short breifing about the rest of the features, because there are so many. I'll start off with Safari. My brother is always on the computer. Usally on things like games. But, when I want to search something-anything- of course, he won't let me on. But with Safari, I can easily search what I want without begging my brother to get off fo 2 seconds. Mail A unified inbox and other new features make Mail more powerful than ever. Safari The most advanced web browser on a mobile phone. Search a wide vararity of websites and information. iPod Play music and watch video in vivid color that will blow your mind. Camera A 3-megapixel autofocus camera for capturing friends, family and a whole lot more. View in the Gallery and zoom in or out of the picture you took. Video Recording Shoot and share VGA-quality video right on iPhone 3GS then quickly send it to YouTube, FaceBook and/or Twitter and etc. Photos View photos by Albums, Events, Faces, and Places. Like the Folders, except with pictures. Voice Control Place a call or play a song using just your voice. Messages Send messages with text, video, photos, and more. Which is a lot more than some average mobile phone. Maps + Compass Find locations, get directions, and orient yourself on the map. not much you can say on this one, it is what it is. Keyboard The smart keyboard helps you type quickly and accurately. Unlike other keyboards with tough keys that make it difficult for you to type outh that text or search. Search Find what you’re looking for across your iPhone or the web. Instead of using Safari for those annoying search engines that bring you to useless websites. App Store Discover hundreds of thousands of apps that let you do even more. This is so awesome, it blows you mind! iTunes Store Shop the world’s largest digital entertainment store. Buy things like apps, music (of course) and much more. And don't forget, some are free with your 'package' a.k.a iPhone. Accessibility iPhone 3GS comes standard with a wide range of accessibility features. Which is nice for school, work, or even entertainment. Cut, Copy, and Paste Cut, copy, and paste words and photos, even between applications. this is helpful becuse I need to sometimes get study notes for school or emails and documents. Voice Memos I can easily capture and share audio recordings on the go. Because, as I said, I'm a coputer geek and I can't survive without that stuff. Now, for my closing, I have accessories. (Courtusey of Apple :) ) Accessories Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and MicEngineered for extreme clarity and audio accuracy, these headphones let you hear musical details you’ve been missing. MobileMe Subscription With a MobileMe subscription, your email, calendar, and contacts stay up to date on your iPhone and your computer — automatically. Lose your iPhone? MobileMe can help you find it and protect your privacy with Find My iPhone. Apple Earphones with Remote and MicThese earbud headphones have convenient buttons that let you adjust volume and control music and video playback. Apple USB Power Adapter Use this ultracompact USB-based adapter to charge your iPhone whenever it’s not connected to a computer.

14 out of 22 people found this helpful.

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