Hey did you hear? Apple came out with a mobile phone. Of course you heard—the only way you could’ve avoided the iPhone hype machine was to move to Antarctica, shut yourself in an igloo, and avoid all contact with other humans. But in case you’ve just crept out of your ice house, the iPhone is Apple’s new gadget that combines a mobile phone, iPod, and Internet access into one handy bundle that fits in your pocket.
As a mobile phone, the iPhone is quite capable. Audio is clear and loud enough not to be drowned out by an arriving subway or boos at a Yankees game. Visual Voicemail is awesome, letting you pick and choose which voicemail messages you want to hear without listening to any tedious instructions. And after a couple of months, we have yet to experience one dropped call. But how can a phone this expensive not have voice-activated calling? Custom ringtones aren’t available either, unless you decide to use a hack from the Internet.
It’s also Apple’s best iPod yet. There’s no click wheel, but the iPod interface is just as easy to use, if not easier. Cover Flow, which uses album art to sort songs, is a fun way to sift through your music. The audio is iPod-esque—good midrange and midtone without bass that doesn’t drop heavy. The stunning 3.5-inch LCD makes it possible to enjoy a full-length movie without squinting.
The iPhone’s abilities as an Internet device may be the deal breaker. The problem is the EDGE data connectivity—to say EDGE sucks is putting it lightly. Even Steve Jobs was reported as saying that he prefers the faster 3G technology, but 3G is extremely power hungry and not as widely available as EDGE. Regardless, it’s a treat to see full web pages on a mobile device, instead of stripped-down WAP versions, despite the fact that you can’t view sites that rely on the ubiquitous Flash plugin.
The iPhone is far from the savior of mobile phones—third-party developers are restricted to simple AJAX web apps, firmware hacks are wiped out after each update, and the fixed battery has sparked litigation. But there’s also the innovative multitouch touchscreen and sensible interface, the no-nonsense syncing and activating through iTunes, and the tough-as nails screen and case (our test iPhone remains scratchless). If you’ve waited this long, you might as well keep waiting—iPhone 2.0 is bound to be what the iPhone should’ve been in the first place.
Note: When this issue went to press, Apple had not yet announced its SDK.
The Apples in Stereo
Great call quality; Visual Voicemail; gorgeous multitouch touchscreen; best iPod ever.