A simple Google search turns up hundreds of iPhone 3G reviews. The reviews will start with unboxing and go into the setup and running of the iPhone and they will exhaustively describe every single feature. I won’t go into the realm of applications, either. There are quite a few out there (as well as a nice list). This review will be different. I will point out the built-in features of iPhone that I believe to be most useful. If you have read detailed iPhone reviews before or if you have or have used an iPhone before, none of this may seem like news to you. Click each photo to see it enlarged.
Let me begin by introducing the home screen. By pressing the button on the front of the iPhone (the Home button), the iPhone will automatically return to the home screen; no matter what you are doing.
There are multiple pages to the home screen. See the white dot near the bottom and the grayed out one? That means that I’m on the first page of two. The four buttons below that are always on the page, no matter which page you are on, but you aren’t limited to keeping Phone, Mail, Safari, and iPod on there. If you never use Safari, you can touch and hold on it and then drag another application to the bar (Maps, for example).
Now the Maps application is always on the bottom of the home screen.
Next, I’ll show the features about Safari that make it stand apart from all other mobile phone internet applications. Safari is able to show an entire page at once, whereas many mobile phone internet applications show a 100%-zoomed version of the internet. Other internet applications make you feel like you’re navigating a maze. With Safari, all of this has changed. Safari renders the whole page as you would see it on your PC. Here is my blog:
Now, I can use the multitouch screen to zoom in and see the details of the page. It so happens that my blog is easily displayed in portrait mode, but some other sites are not. Icanhascheezburger.com is one of these. To view the webpage in landscape mode (for those wider webpages), I simply rotate the iPhone and hold it sideways. The page automatically rotates.
This is definitely one of my favorite features of the iPhone. As always, you can zoom in and out as far as you wish. Once again, you can rotate the phone back to the ‘normal’ (portrtait) position to see more of the vertical page.
Safari also suppots tabs. In the picture above, I have 2 tabs open. Safari even supports the latest versions of Microsoft’s PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, and Word documents. The same zoom concepts and tilt concepts apply to all of these formats. Here is a landscape Excel spreadsheet (namely, an overview of my schedule):
And here is a zoomed in segment of my schedule:
Also note that the iPhone works with everyone. A right-handed person is likely to tilt the iPhone a different way than a left-handed person does. The iPhone will turn itself around to orient to any way that you hold it (except upside-down, but who holds a phone upside-down anyways?).
Another one of my favorite features of the iPhone is the built-in Mail application. It supports Microsoft Exchange servers, mobileMe mail, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, AOL mail, or any IMAP or POP3 account. Personally, I have two accounts that I check routinely. I have my iPhone set up to automatically check for mail every 30 minutes, so that I always have my email with me wherever I go. Eventually, push email will be implemented for certain accounts, so the iPhone receives mail the instant that it arrives. Here is the home screen of one of my email accounts:
Not a whole lot to see here except the folders that I have. When I click on Inbox, I get previews of messages (the preview size is adjustable) and I can easily reply to, forward, or delete messages. The Mail application also works with the landscape mode of the phone, enabling you to view emails in a horizontal mode. If you receive a picture in your E-mail, you can tap and hold on the picture and it will ask you if you wish to save the picture. You can also view certain types of attachments (including the ones listed above). The Mail application is probably my most used application.
Now that I have gone over the larger applications, I would like to finish up this post with two more smaller applications: Weather and Stocks. The weather application is great because it shows a full 7-day forecast on one page. Most phones, if they have a weather application, only show 3 or 5 days at a time. The Weather application can also store and update weather for multiple cities.
With all of these features, the iPhone is certainly the best phone on the market. Even with Android-based phones coming out, Apple’s iPhone still outruns them by miles. I am thoroughly enjoying the iPhone and I hope to post in the future about the great applications that you can purchase or download for free through the App store.
Oh and I almost forgot: Pressing the Sleep button and the Home button simultaneously makes the screen flash white and a little camera sound emit from the speaker (it takes a screenshot).
I may have almost forgotten the screenshot feature, but I really did forget one of the best iPhone 3G features: GPS. A little dot moves around on the screen as I move. It also has the ability to give directions based on my current location. This saves me from having to look around frantically for a street sign before I pass the turn.
Until next time,
Clete R. Blackwell II