Richard’s 74-year-old mother came over for an iced tea today. She was kind enough to let me play with her iPhone. Here are some impressions…
This might be a better iPod than an iPod. Unlike the iPod, the iPhone has a dedicated volume control on the left. Unlike the iPod, you can’t get stuck in a mode where you have no control over the volume.
The contacts list syncs street addresses as well as phone numbers, vaulting the iPhone over 95+ percent of phones sold in the U.S.
Downloading Web pages via the AT&T data connection is excruciatingly slow. It took about 2 minutes to bring in http://philip.greenspun.com with both photos. Turning on WiFi solves this problem, but it is not easy to turn WiFi on (for relief from AT&T’s sluggish network) or off (so you don’t drain the battery). You’d expect there to be another switch on the side or a shortcut, but there isn’t. You wade down into some menus and look at a list of available networks. It is at least as complex as turning on WiFi on a standard Windows XP machine, but you’re using your thumbs instead of mouse.
According to a Web forum, the iPhone will not work with the Gmail mobile Java client. Either you need to use the Web browser or access Gmail via POP in the standard iPhone email client (taking us back to the 1960s, before conversations were grouped).
Typing did not work very well for me.
The owner thought that the speakerphone quality was so bad that she was intending to return the phone and try another. She was satisfied with the sound/voice quality when holding the phone to her ear.
Typing on the touch screen wasn’t quite as difficult as I thought it would be, but it was still much more difficult than using a thumb keyboard as on a Treo or Blackberry. You cannot touch type, but must look at the screen constantly to see what letters the iPhone is guessing your fat thumbs are over.
Verdict: A nice device and maybe better than the Windows-based phones, but probably not as functional as the original Treo 180 (flip phone introduced early in 2002; thumb keyboard; PalmOS).