Perhaps the most important device of the 21st century, the iPhone, by Apple Inc., delivers both form and function in one small package. After years of rumors and speculation, the phone is now earning Apple and AT&T some serious cash and giving users, or fan-boys as they are sometimes called, eternal gadget bliss. Some customers, however, aren’t so pleased.
The iPhone, touted sometimes as “Jesus Phone,” is still as prolific as its debut 4 months ago. It has been hacked, unlocked, and now patched. The applications are limitless. The biggest complaints of the phone are:
1. AT&T – Once you buy it, you’re trapped with AT&T as the sole carrier of the iPhone.
2. No MMS support – What phone, in this day and age, doesn’t include the popular MMS protocol to send images to other phones? Answer: The iPhone.
3. Price Tag – “OMFG” Can you justify spending $600 for the iPhone? After a few short months, the iPhone’s price tag drops to $399. Ouch, early adopters.
Each application of the iPhone is amazing. You simply can’t compare it to other phones on the market, though a lot of people try. The phone itself isn’t bad. Everything is touch-screen, so it takes a little getting used to, but the five modes within the phone feature work flawless. You have your favorite contacts, recent calls, contact list, the key pad to dial numbers, and visual voicemail. It’s a new way to make and receive calls. The phone even gives you as much Caller ID information as possible from numbers not listed in your contacts.
Having mail is important to a lot of people. With the iPhone, you have a real email client, similar to a Blackberry or other smart phone device. What’s different is the fact that it actually looks like an email client on your MacBook. PC users might not understand this point, but the simplicity of the Mail program is perfect for emailing “on-the-go.” Buyer beware though, the email program does have to use the painfully slow AT&T Edge network. This means if you’re loading a lot of messages, be prepared to wait minutes to download all of your messages. Web applications like G-mail are also frustrating because every email sent from the phone must also be retrieved after sending. Your best bet is to IMAP an email address.
Having the Internet at your fingertips is probably what makes the iPhone the most advanced mobile device ever. The power of having a Safari web browser is amazing, but the problem with Safari it’s slower and less powerful than its big brother counter parts, Internet Explorer and Firefox. Also, currently you can’t run Java or Flash yet, which makes it impressive visually, but as watered down as other mobile browsers in terms of functionality.
The built-in iPod is what you’d expect from Apple’s iPhone. It’s simple and easy to navigate. There is cover flow view which lets you flip through cover art to find the album you want to listen to, and a segregated video play list which lets you watch movies on the run.
“Third party apps” are a great thing on the iPhone. These web applications bring extra functionality to an already amazing device. At first, there were few, but as time passed, and as popularity grew, the iPhone became a booming business for third party web apps. The downside, they’re web apps.
The real power behind the iPhone is the unlockable features. You can unlock, hack, and crack your iPhone to add real 3rd party applications. Buyer beware, any form of modification will definitely void any warranty on the iPhone. Some users have “bricked” their iPhones by unlocking the phone for use with other carriers as well. Obviously these procedures are highly risky and should not be attempted by anyone unless their willing to blow their $400 dollars on a slim paper weight. Some of the 3rd party applications allow you to customize your iPhone with different graphics and icons. Some allow you to record voice notes and triangulate your position using wi-fi and cellular tower signals. Needless to say there are many benefits to hacking your phone.
Many customers have complained that Apple has gone too far in protecting their iPhone from the wrong hands and some iPhones have been permanently disabled due to illegal unlocking of the phone. Those who had the knowledge and sense to repair the lock were able to avoid this iPhone “brick” and remaining in wonderful gadget bliss.
Apple recently announced legal 3rd party applications in the coming months, with a development kit in February 2008. This time next year, expect to find open source applications, costly iPhone software and possible downloadable games.
The iPhone lives up to its hype, but could do more to please the masses. Those looking for a new, fun smart phone, look to iPhone in the coming months as prices drop and software becomes readily available. Only the die-hard fans should invest in the iPhone as it is now.