Ever since the Steve Job’s keynote at MacWorld in January I knew that I had to have an iPhone. A few days after the keynote, I decided that I didn’t really want the phone part of the iPhone, I simply wanted a nice Apple PDA-like device, a (big) step up from the Newton if you may. Over the next 6 months I wanted and didn’t want the iPhone. About 2-3 weeks before the iPhone was release I really wanted one, especially with the iPhone demo at WWDC and the videos Apple slowly let out in the week leading up to the iPhone’s release. The videos pretty much sealed the deal for me.

My original plan was to just order the phone online since the closest Apple Store is about 160 miles from here, that and I would avoid lines and crowds. At exactly 9pm I logged onto the Apple Store website to place my order. The website was moving very slowly, I assume because millions of people were accessing it at that moment. I then saw that it would be anywhere from 2-4 weeks to ship and at first I just let it be, but after reading countless blog articles on Engadget TUAW on launch night, and other various Apple sites I knew I couldn’t wait.

The next day my girlfriend and I drove down to Salem, New Hampshire and went to the Apple Store. We were greeted by some very friendly Apple employees and within 5 minutes we were paying for the iPhones. The funny thing is when we got to the store and saw the display model iPhone, Emilie decided it was so cool that she had to have one too! I purchased an 8GB model and Emilie got a 4GB. Within 5 minutes we had our iPhones and were back on the road.

We got home around 6PM and proceeded to activate our iPhones. While I have read a lot of reports about activation issues, Emilie and I had it pretty easy. Our phones activated within a couple minutes! I added some photos, music and movies right away…

So 2 days later, and I am highly impressed and extremely attached to my iPhone. Pre-iPhone release everyone had been complaining about the speeds of the EDGE network although it seems as if AT&T has upgraded the network and people are getting much faster speeds (100k-200k). I did a speed test and it hit 100-120k which is great! It’s slow enough through that I wouldn’t use this to surf the web all the time. Sending/receiving email is fine and it’s great for when there’s no WiFi. It’s great for when you don’t have access to WiFi.

SMS: SMS messaging isn’t something I do often but it’s great that it’s there. I personally would have preferred iChat but SMS is great because usually people always have their phones on them, they’re not always sitting in-front of a computer. I love how it looks like an iChat message with the chat bubbles!

Calendar: The calendar in iPhone is nice, there are 3 different views, list, day and month. I find myself using the list view most often. I do like how you can add in events right on the phone. Unfortunately when you sync them back to your computer it’ll just drop them into one calendar. The calendar on your iPhone is essentially one giant calendar, there’s no separate Work, Home, Chores, School, etc… For example if I set up a meeting for work, it’ll drop it into my Home calendar and not my Work calendar which kind of stinks. I am hoping that “issue” is fixed but for the time I just move them to the appropriate calendar after I sync. I just find it odd since the normal iPod supports multiple calendars. Another issue with the calendar application is that it does not sync To-Dos. I just started using this feature in iCal so not being able to use them on my iPhone is a big issue. I have a simple work-around but I’ll talk about that in a bit. Overall the calendar application is great and mostly works for my purposes.

Photos: I rarely used the photos feature on my iPod, but that’s mostly because my iPod screen is scratched and the screen is small. The iPhone is a completely different story. The screen is bright and full of vibrant colors. I loaded 3-4 photo albums I had made in iPhoto into my iPhone and the whole “pinch and squeeze” is awesome. It definitely got a lot of ooohs and aaahs here at the office. The photo application works just as it does in the Apple videos. It’s so smooth. You can also email photos (one at a time) but as usual Apple made it integrated and easy to do. The iPhone also makes an album for pictures you take with the camera.

Camera: The iPhone comes with a 2 mega-pixel camera which is more then enough for me. I am not one for taking photos with any phone, I usually whip out my Canon SD250 or if I have my Digital Rebel XT I’ll use that. The iPhone actually takes decent photos for a little camera phone, definitely something I’d use on a spur of the moment occasion. Something that would make me use it more would be to include some of the Photobooth effects. As I mentioned before, you can find an album of iPhone-taken photos right in the pictures application.

YouTube: YouTube has to be one of the most entertaining and fun applications on the iPhone. I found myself using it while Emilie was food shopping. There were a few times when she told me too look up while I was walking in order to avoid taking out the display of Cheez-Its. While Apple and YouTube have not converted their entire library of videos there are plenty that have been. On WiFi the video loads up almost instantly, on EDGE it did take a bit longer. While this isn’t a productive feature it’s something that’s fun and makes the iPhone a lot of fun.

Stocks: Stocks are something that I’m not into that much, I don’t have any, but lately I’ve been watching various stocks, I like seeing them go up and down (more up then down) so it’s a neat little application, but I don’t see myself using it to often.

Maps: I just barely used the Maps application. Morgan and I looked up his house and on WiFi it loaded up almost instantly, I haven’t tried it on EDGE yet. Again the whole “pinch and squeeze” was absolutely amazing to use on an application like this. I think this will be a lot better to use instead of my MacBook when going on trips.

Weather: The weather application is essentially the same as the weather widget you find in all OS X Tiger installations. I did find it a bit hard to hit the little “i” so I could add a location, but other then that, it’s a great little application. It’s nice that you have multiple location and with the flick of a finger you can scroll through them all.

Clock: I haven’t used the clock application yet, mostly because when you turn the iPhone on it’ll display the time and it’ll also display in the top of the screen. I would think anyone who cares about the time in other parts of the world would be a fan of this, I just haven’t found a use for it yet. It does also feature an alarm clock, a stop watch and a timer. I do see myself using the alarm clock at some point.

Calculator: The calculator hasn’t come in handy yet, but I think at some point it will, whether it be figuring out a tip at a restaurant or figuring out how much money I have left (if anything) after buying the iPhone.

Notes: Notes are something I couldn’t wait to use. I’m always thinking up good ideas, or remembering things I need to do, so instead of forgetting about it I can just jot it down! I also use it to manage my “on-the-go” to-dos. When I get home I then put them into iCal. Obviously not a great solution so I am hoping that Apple adds to-dos into the calendar application. Some people have been complaining about the font Apple is using in Notes, but I don’t mind it at all.

Settings: The settings button on the iPhone is filled with lots of options. Here you can turn Airplane and WiFi on or off. The WiFi section also lets you input a password for secure networks, and you can also choose which network you want to connect to. The Usage section displays information about how much you’ve used your iPhone and how much data you’ve sent and received over EDGE. You can also change your ringtone, set the wallpaper and access various iPod, Mail, Safari and phone settings. Hopefully later today I can try out the VPN capabilities of the device because it sounds very cool (and secure)!

The Phone: So how about the phone part of iPhone? I’ve only made a few calls, but it works great. I’ve set up a couple favorites which sort of doubles as my speed dial. I can’t wait till someone actually calls me while I am listening to music. The visual voicemail works just as advertised. You can skip around and listen to whatever message you want to.

Mail: One application that I was really looking forward to was Mail. I finally can do my emails on the go. I’ve been sending and receiving tons of email already. I’ve sent pictures to a few friends, replied to them, all while in the car (I wasn’t driving) or at the store or while I was waiting for a sandwich. It’s great! I also sent myself a PDF eBook which I was reading in bed. I use an IMAP account and it works great. I’ve been hearing good things about the Yahoo Push mail too. You can delete messages and even move them into folders which is great.

Safari: Surfing the web from iPhone is surprisingly good. When you’re on a WiFi network it’s nice and fast but EDGE is a bit slow. I wouldn’t do any heavy surfing but for checking a website it’s nice to have. It’s to bad Apple didn’t include the ability to view flash or java, but I haven’t been missing that feature yet. The “pinch and squeeze” method is also used for Safari and works wonderfully. I enjoy the fact that I can access all my bookmarks that I have in my desktop copy of Safari.

The iPod: The iPod in iPhone is just like you see it in the iPhone videos. Cover Flow mode only works for music which disappointed me a little, I hope they enable for the video section also. It does work very well though and flipping through the album covers works quite well. Just tap an album to get a listing of songs, tap on a song and it’ll start playing. Videos looks great on the screen and you can easily skip through the movie if you’re looking for a specific part. I’ve been able to fit 4 movies and 8 episodes of a TV show and about 400 songs onto my iPhone and I still have 1GB of space left over. When I get my un-listened podcasts down to a decent size I’ll start putting some podcasts on there.

The Keyboard: Some people thought that the virtual keyboard on the iPhone would be terrible, the big issue being that there was no tactile feedback. I’ve never really used a Treo or any cellphone with an actual keypad, so I think a lot of these people had used something like that and had gotten used to having some sort of tactile feedback. The reviews I’ve read about the keyboard have been almost nothing but good. I too am impressed with the keyboard, and am getting used to how it works. I still hit P instead of O sometimes, but the spell checker usually fixes 95% of my mistakes so I can have a whole email typed out in a matter of seconds.

Random Tidbits: The iPhone screen as I mentioned is absolutely gorgeous. There are special mechanisms inside the iPhone can tell when you have it in a landscape or portrait mode. Unfortunately if you hold the iPhone parallel to the floor and try to change the mode it doesn’t seem to work, you need to be hold the phone at an almost 90 angle to the floor. The modes only seem to work in Safari and iPod. I find that I can type faster with the widescreen mode keyboard (because it’s larger and the keys are bit further apart) then the portrait sized keyboard. It would be nice to be able to have a widescreen mode for notes and email as well.

Something I noticed that needs to be fixed right away is when I was typing in a message in Safari, I needed to fix something so I used the magnifying glass to move my “cursor” to the word I wanted to fix. I fixed the word but I couldn’t get back down to the second line of my message. There’s no arrow keys on the keypad and I couldn’t get the magnifying glass to move down. I ended up canceling the message and starting all over.

For a first run product I am extremely pleased with the Apple iPhone. There are some obvious issues that need to be fixed and maybe some new applications that should be added (iChat, a terminal…). It’s unfortunate that some people are having activation issues (up-to 48 hours, ouch) but I am glad our iPhones only took several minutes. It would be nice if EDGE was a bit faster, but I can deal with it’s speed now, at least it has WiFi! I don’t really think of the iPhone as a phone, it’s a really cool gadget that just happens to make phone calls. If you haven’t gotten to use an iPhone yet, head over to your local Apple or AT&T store and just try it out, chances are you might just happen to walk out of the store with one. I can only imagine and look forward to what the second version will be like!

Being that I’m the only person at Small Dog to have an iPhone they’re all quite pretty envious! It’s definitely made its rounds though and has recieved lots of good comments. Apple has created a great device.

Check out the 5th Ave Apple Store on iPhone Day!


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