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Given the rather briefness of the other iPhone reviews on Ciao, and given I've actually GOT one, I thought I'd do a proper review prior to the iPhone being launched in the UK.
Apple have been making computers since the 1970's and were the first people to launch what we now call a home computer with the Apple II microcomputer in 1977. Since then, they have been at the front of design and innovation, despite having a few failures along the way, such as the Apple Newton in the 1990's. Apple have recently had two turnarounds, the first being the launch of the iMac in 1998 (basically a portable TV size computer with screen, but with funky colours and all in one design) and the other in 2001 when Apple launched the iPod... The rest, as they say, is history!
During late 2006, rumours were common that Apple were to launch a phone of some description, and these rumours were put to bed on the 29th June 2007 when Apple announced the iPhone. It was initially launched with a 4GB and 8GB memory, but was also launched into some confusion. The trademark iPhone actually belonged to Cisco. Whilst the details of the settlement were never announced, Cisco allowed Apple to use the term iPhone, which in these days of litagation, could have spelt trouble for the iPhone's launch. It was in London of September 2007 that Apple announced that the iPhone was to be launched in the UK on the 9th of November 2007, along with Germany and France. It would be launched in the UK with O2, Germany with T-Mobile and France with Orange. Various commentators have speculated that O2 could be giving 40% of their revenue from each iPhone customer to Apple, which is horrendous!
The price in the US is around $400 (or around £210) and the launch price in the UK will be £279
So, the iPhone.....
The iPhones comes in what is quite a small black box, which in itself is beautifully designed. It slides open slowly, given the vacuum created and reveals the iPhone at the top of the box. To protect the iPhone, Apple have even lined the inside of parts of the box with felt! Taking the iPhone out, you are then presented with a small plastic tray, a smaller box with a brief user guide, and then the very small charger, USB lead, Desktop stand and small headset.
Before you even turn it on, the iphone looks beautiful. It's sleek, black and cromed with only 4 buttons (sleep, home, volume and mute). It's surprisingly heavy, but in that well built type feel. The back is of a brushed metal type appearance with the apple logo. What spoils it somewhat is the small black plastic part of the back, which, in my case, creaks a little. I know that they had to position
Pictures of Apple iPhone 8GB
Picture taken with the camer at Mt Ranier and Mt St Helens
the attennas for bluetooth, GSM and WiFi somewhere!
Turning it on:
When you first turn the iPhone on, which is done so by pressing the sleep button, you are presented with the regular Apple logo. iPod owners will recognise this instantly. As with everything else Apple, less is more, so the Apple logo just sits there instead of being all flashly like Nokias and Sony Ericssons. Very quickly the iPhone the presents that you have to activate the iPhone with iTunes and sign up with AT&T with a contract etc. As I haven't done this, and as I don't want to go against the rules of the website, lets say I'm using my iPhone with AT&T (instead of unlocking it and activating it via other means!).
Everything is done with your fingers on the screen, and in some situations, even more than one finger can be used! You can flick items to scroll them!
The main menu:
This is where things differ from the iPod: The interface is revolutionary! This interface will also be used in the Apple iTouch, the next generation of iPod. The main menu follows Apple's ethos of simplicity. Each icon is large and very easy to read on the bright screen. Each icon is around 1cm diagonally, has a simple logo and with text underneath. However, just from the pictures, it's easy to see what each icon is. The main menu has the following icons:
∑ Google Maps
Along the bottom of the screen are 4 icons: Phone, Mail, Safari, and iPod.
Clicking each icon results in the icon enlarging quickly to show the application, which is reversed when you click the home button. What will surprise most is how quick the iPhone responds. Each application's interface is simple, intuitive and easy to understand.
Clicking the SMS icon results in an unusual view for most. It shows a list of contacts / phone numbers, with a preview of the last message sent / received underneath. You don't have multiple messages for each contact displayed which is the biggest difference. Clicking on a contact then opens the message thread and shows both sent / received messages. You can either clear the conversation or reply to a message. You can also call and bring up the contact info. Going back to the main SMS window shows a new message button and an edit button for deleting messages. Don't bother with this edit button. Deleting a thread is as easy as running your finger from left to right over a contacts thread.... This brings up the delete button which clears that thread!
This syncronises with iCal on the Mac and Outlook on XP. Again, very simple design and still very useful
This is a great device for showing photos. Clicking on the photo icon results in your different photo albums being shown. Clicking on an album then shows the photos in that album. Clicking on a photo shows it. Double quick when a photo is being shown zooms in and double clicking again zooms out. Alternatively, you can pinch an image to zoom or out do the reverse of a pinch to zoom in. Beautiful. However, turn the iphone on it's side, and it rotates the image!
The camera is very simple and has only two buttons. One to take a photo and the other to take you to where you can view your photos that you've taken (effectively the Photo application). The iPhone has a 2 mega pixel camera, but, it has to be said, in these days, that's a bit feeble and the image quality isn't fantastic. It's not bad, and I've included a photo below taken from a recent flight.
This application is only really usable over wifi else you'd be waiting forever for videos to download. You have five options for youtube when the application opens: Featured, Most Viewed, Bookmarks, Search and More. Firstly, as with the Apple TV, don't expect all youtube videos to be available. Secondly, the bookmarks are only local bookmarked videos, and it doesn't sync with your youtube account online. I hope they fix this soon. What you should expect, however, is very good quality videos. As I write, I have bad jet lag, and have been watching Red Dwarf and Top Gear whilst trying to sleep in bed! The option 'More' Takes you to Most recent, top rated and history, and edit, which allows you to change which icons appear on the main youtube menu bar.
The stocks application allows you to view various US stocks. I' haven't worked out how to view non US stocks. However, the application is very simple to use, with graphs and adding / deleting stocks very simple. It also updates very quickly with the minimum of data transfer.
As many of you have probably used Google Maps, I won't spend long on this. However, it gives you good driving directions, and allows you to pinch, etc to zoom in and out. Again, you can use this over GSM if you have a good 'eat all you can' data tariff, but the best experience is over wifi. One neat trick is that whilst you are typing in an address, it looks through your contacts in case you have it in there!
This application is similar to the dashboard application on Mac OS X. It gives you a 5 day forecast for most places around the world
Completely different to all (with the exception of the iTouch) iPods you've ever used! When first launching the iPod application, you are presented with 5 icons: Playlists, Artists, Songs, Videos and More. More gives you Albums, Audiobooks, Complilations, Composers, Genres and Podcasts. Pressing edit allows you to drop these onto the main menu bar just like the youtube application.
Music: When playing music, you have forward / back buttons, pause, a slider for volume, back one menu level and an option to toggle between album cover and track listing. Again, turning the iPhone on it's side presents you with cover flow, that allows you to flick through differnt albums. Very cool! The quality of the music through the supplied ear phones isn't bad.
You are presented with a list of TV shows, movies and music videos. Watching one instantly turns into landscape mode. Whilst watching a movie, you can tap the screen to bring up various features, such as back / forward, pause, a slider bar for going to the right spot in the movie and a small zoom in /out feature. The quality is excellent, with very fluid motion between frames. The screen is bright enough for watching in most situations....
You can configure several mail accounts on the device at once. Navigating through the mail is easy, and it's relatively easy to set up. It also has full support for imap folders, the first portable device I've used to do so.
This isn't a small, naff web browser on a device. It's a fully featured web browser which presents the pages perfectly. You can double tap to zoom in and out and pinch the screen to zoom in and out also.
Locking the device:
There is a screen lock that automativally turns the screen off quickly preserving battery life. You can also press the sleep button which does the same. To unlock the device, press the button, then slide your finger across the screen. Easy, huh?
Clicking on the phone icon gives you Faves, recents, Contacts, keypad and voicemail. I was unable to test the voicemail due to not being signed up with AT&T. Selecting a contact is easy enough and you can either flick through the contacts or select a letter by the side to jump straight to them. The quality of the voice was good enough and I've had no bad reports from friends so far.
The iPhone also has Bluetooth but doesn't support Bluetooth Stereo yet.
There's a whole lot more that I could write about this, but I wanted to cover the main features. You can have a look at all the specifications at www.apple.com/iphone . I'll sum up by listing it's good and bad points:
Beautiful, easy to use, well built, fantastic internet applications, decent battery life (two days with limited use), fantastic for watching videos / listening to music
No MMS (although you do have email), no 3G, although EDGE isn't bad if you are on the right network, 8GB isn't a lot os storage, no custom ringtunes unless you pay for them and there are very few headphones that will fit the iPhone as it has a recessed socket