Last week, I told you I'd let you know if waiting 13 hours in line for an iPhone was worth it.
Yes. Oui. Affirmative. Si. Uh huh. Yup. Ja. You betcha by golly. D'UH!
Is wicked cool still an in expression? If it is, iPhone is the most wicked cool mobile device ever. There are many smartphones that perform similar functions, but none wrap them up in a bundle that's not only stupidly simple to use, but the damn thing is downright addictive. iPhone's 3.5-inch touchscreen is almost as responsive as touching things in the real world, and behind it is the cleanest interface you've ever seen on a handheld. More observations after the jump.
THE ESSENTIALS: APPLE IPHONE
WHO WANTS THISMusic listeners, mobile Web surfers and YouTube addicts who need to make and receive phone calls and send the occasional e-mail.
WHYIt's got iPod nano capacity — with a 3.5-inch touchscreen. It's great for music listening, Web surfing and video watching; not so good for text entry.
WHAT'S COOLEverything. Slim minimalist design. 3.5-inch touchscreen. Uncanny interface. Psychic screen. Wi-Fi. Full Mac OS X and Safari Web browser. Direct YouTube access. Google Earth. Having one.
WHAT'S LAMENo 3G HSDPA connectivity. Onscreen keypad not as accurate as a real thumbpad. No expandable memory. Nonstandard 3.5mm headphone jack.
FINAL MARK: AThe coolest device in recent memory. Many of its minor flaws will be fixed with software and firmware updates. Even its major flaws are overwhelmed by its innovation and pure fun factor.
PRICE: $500 (4 GB) $600 (8 GB)Check out Apple's website for details.
The finger movements — tapping, dragging, flicking and pinching — that you need to control most functions are as elegant as chopsticks and far easier to master. For instance, a finger flick of a list of contacts will start it rolling, then it gradually slows and stops as if you've physically spun a real wheel. Most of iPhone's touchscreen fluid responsiveness is downright spooky.
iPhone also seems psychic. iPhone knows when its being swung up to your ear to take a call and turns off the touchscreen so you don't accidentally activate an application. When you bring the iPhone away from your face, the screen wakes up so you can tap the "end call" button. Like I said, spooky.
Apple has essentially shrunk down a Mac to pocket size. All its apps are nearly desktop equivalents — the full Safari Web browser (sans Flash, though), HTML e-mail (POP3, AOL, Gmail, Yahoo! mail), address book and calendar syncable with Outlook, Entourage and Mac's Mail and iCal programs — made even more functional thanks to the large screen. Added to these standard smartphone operations are 12 Widgets, including a direct link to YouTube, customizable weather and stock quotes, and Google Maps with a zoomable satellite view of any spot on the planet with an instant conversion to a corresponding road map.
Perhaps iPhone's most useful and innovative feature is the visual voicemail. Instead of slogging through a series of calls, all your voicemails are listed like email. Just tap on the message you want to listen to.
Even the iPhone's media functions — music, video and photo viewing — are improved over its iPod cousins. Flicking through your library on the larger screen or tapping on a letter on small vertical alphabet on the right side of the screen makes finding individual tracks quick and easy. Behind a song's album cover art is a list of tracks by that or similar artists that you can jump to. Turn the iPhone from portrait to landscape and you get scrollable album covers to find different music; Web pages, images and video re-orient themselves and fill the widescreen.
Speaking of images and video, iPhone's glass screen makes all them look high-def. As phone, however, earpiece and ringtone volume are merely adequate, but far less "can you hear me now" when you use earphones.
iPhone's 8 hours of talk time is nearly twice as much as any other cell. You also get 6 hours of Web surfing, 7 hours of video watching and 24 hours of music listening. With normal usage, you likely will only have to recharge every couple of days.
And what's with the recessed 3.5mm headphone jack? Only iPhone-compatible jacks will fit in the damn thing. You'll have to buy an adapter to use your higher-end phones.
For Web surfing on the go, AT&T thankfully juiced up its sluggish EDGE network. But iPhone's Wi-Fi is still three to five times faster, if you can get EDGE, which is not always the sure thing it ought to be. EDGE is adequate, though, for most e-mail.
iPhone's 2-megapixel camera takes surprisingly sharp, bright pictures and the 3.5-inch viewscreen is larger than that on any standard digital camera. But there's no flash, zoom or video.
Then there's the keypad dilemma. You get two: one widescreen for entering Web URLs and a thinner version that appears vertically on the phone when you're using email and text messaging. Apple's excellent predictive text helps, but you'll still make plenty of boo-boos, and numbers and symbols are on a second screen (including the apostrophe, comma and period. Cripes!). A widescreen keypad for e-mail and SMS would be a vast improvement.
Finally, there's battery life. Apple says iPhone's lithium cell is good for about 300 to 400 charges, which maybe gets you a year to 18 months. But you can't swap out the battery, and iPhone's warranty is just one year. Circle a date just shy of a year from your purchase to make sure you don't have to pay Apple to replace the battery.