First Impressions Of The Apple iPhone 3GS 32GB
This is it – we have jumped off the springboard with a firm bounce and are currently flying through the air with our new Apple iPhone 3GS 32GB (the white version). Actually the phone belongs to my other half as her contract was up – she quite liked my HTC Hero but decided (with a bit of encouragement) upon an Apple iPhone 3GS.
However, when I’m out and about I am going to try and prise it out of her fingers from time to time.
We had to think long and hard about which phone to add to our collection and we spent quite a bit of time looking around at the various options and specifications. We seem to be rounded out with a nice collection of phones just now including Palm Pre, HTC Hero, BlackBerry 8820, Nokia N95 8GB, and now the iPhone 3GS. I recently got some hands-on time with the teensy tiny Android based Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro which just might have pipped the iPhone to it – but it’s not available just yet (the sliding keyboard did it for me). The Nokia N900 was also a contender but I just couldn’t get my hands on one to take a look at.
Anyway, back to the Apple iPhone 3GS.
Initial impressions are that it feels somewhere between the HTC Hero and the Palm Pre in both use and style.
In the hand if feels physically very solid and heavier than the other two devices and the manufacturing materials make it feel like a more engineered device.
The back is quite slippy which is a minor problem, both in the hand and, when it’s left laying around on things.
One of the nice things about the Hero is the slightly textured back which keeps it in place most of the time. Several times already the iPhone has slipped out of a pocket so a cover or case is almost necessary to protect against potential drops.
Under average conditions, the battery lasts just under a day putting it in the same camp as the Palm Pre – which means we’re likely to get a dock for it – that’s two additional purchases planned – the device complementary purchase adventures have started in earnest! We are also talking about getting a bedside dock – none of these things were factored in as part of the initial cost!
It took a while to figure out how to get our contacts off the old Nokia N95 8GB. There were a few ways of doing it but the most convenient way we found was to Sync the Nokia contacts with Googlemail, then sync the iPhone with Googlemail. This has added benefits as we have been meaning to use a shared Google calendar for some time and this has driven us to get on with it – if only we could share Google Contacts too.
The initial applications loaded on the device are a bit thin, and include the usual suspects of Messages, Calendar, Photos, Camera, YouTube, Stocks, Maps, Weather, Voice Memos, Notes, Clock, Calculator, Compass, Contacts, Mail, Phone, Web Browser (Safari). Settings, iTunes, Appstore, and iPod applications are also on the phone. That said the App Store has a bunch of free and paid applications to get us going, the Top 25 lists are particularly useful (it would be handy to be able to download say the Top 25 free applications as a pack).
In use, coming to the iPhone as new, the device doesn’t feel as intuitive to us as we might have expected. Simple tasks are not immediately obvious – for example when a music track is playing we can touch the play icon at the top of the screen on the Hero and access the track to pause it or stop it. On the iPhone we seem to have to launch the iPod application even though the play icon is present at the top of the home screen (this could just be our new-ness of course!). There are a number of other areas we are having trouble with – although, again, this could simply be because the device is new to us.
- We also haven’t figured out how to hide the onscreen keyboard – sometimes it gets in the way severely reducing the amount of information we can see (for example on the messaging screen).
- We couldn’t find a way to disable the onscreen touch pad.
- The virtual keyboard seems to try and be a little too clever and changes its layout depending on what you’re doing. Sometimes you can quickly get the “period” and “at” symbol other times you have to press another key to access them. It can get confusing.
- We couldn’t find a way of setting a regularly changing wallpaper using the photo roll – you seem to have to set it manually every time.
- We wanted to share our Google Calendar including our Shared calendars onto the phone, we initially setup a Google connection then found that we have to actually us the Microsoft Exchange option (and only one Microsoft Exchange account can be configured) – so it’s shared Google Calendars or connecting to the office.
- We haven’t figured out how to put a bigger clock on the home screen similar to the one on the Hero.
- When the kids are playing with the device it seems a bit too easy for them to kick off calls to random people in our address book.
- “Back” navigation seems inconsistent – sometimes there is a breadcrumb trail at the top of the screen, other times not (especially on downloaded Apps). The center button takes you right back to the homepage.
- Installing an application from the App Store takes you right out of the App Store and onto the home widget page. Going back into the App Store does take you back to where you were but it seems odd you can’t queue up applications for installation.
All in all first impressions are that it’s a nice device – not earth shattering by today’s standards but nice all the same.
We are currently looking through the App Store for interesting and productive applications (and fun applications – my other half already bought Bejeweled 2) and we will include occasional interesting applications in the blog.