Brief thoughts on the iPhone

I don’t usually do opinion pieces here, but today is sort of a notable day. Here are my general thoughts on the iPhone.

  • it is small and light
  • the virtual keyboard thing is a pain in the ass. i’m sure it gets better the more you get used to it, and the auto-correction works well, but it never types the letter you are aiming for. it really slows you down. the keys need to be wider. also, the virtual keyboard gets in the way. for instance, when accessing my gmail, i had to type in a captcha code to sign in, but the keyboard obscured so much screen real estate, i couldn’t see the captcha text and the text field at the same time. it also sets the visual focus wherever you are typing, so you can’t look at the captcha while typing blindly. i had to memorize the sequence, then scroll down and type it in.
  • interface is not as dead simple as you would expect. for instance, in the web browser, i couldn’t figure out how to go to a new page! turns out the address bar is pinned to the top of the page, instead of the top of the browser window. SO YOU HAVE TO SCROLL UP on a PAGE to find the address bar. Really poor decision there, and very uncharacteristic of Apple. the apple store employee who i asked about this was puzzled by it and couldn’t immediately figure out how it worked.
  • it’s a little slower than you would hope. for example, when you pan-and-scan a pdf document, the screen redraw takes a second or two. that said, the ability to open up and zoom in and out of a pdf or other attachment is nice.
  • the interface across applications is not consistent. forward/back work differently in safari, the notepad, and itunes.

finally: because it is still a closed system, you sit there using it for 15 minutes or so, fooling around with safari, the camera, email, and itunes, and then you realize that you have done everything you can do with it. the words that went through my head were, “Well, I guess that’s it.” In the end, it’s just a cool phone.

i don’t think i am going to get one. it seems to me that any Nokia Series 60 (aka “N Series”) phone does nearly everything that the iPhone does, with the exception of the touch-screen interface, The Nokias have these advantages that are valuable to me:

  • GPS (N95 only)
  • unlocked; no contract
  • multimedia messaging, which was inexplicably left off the iPhone
  • 3G data
  • open architecture, so you can install third-party applications
  • way better camera (zeiss lens 5MP vs. run-of-the-mill 2MP)
  • video recording (inexplicably left off the iphone; N95 does 480p)

sure, the Nokia interface isn’t as slick, but it is still very well designed, and probably more efficient for the most common operations (calling people, texting, sending someone a picture).

the one caveat for me here is that the iPhone OS X certainly has 1000x more potential than the Series 60/Symbian OS, so if/when Apple opens it up, it will blow away the Nokias and everything else.

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