My Phone? An iPhone.

I know I said that I’d wait a week to write a review of my iPhone, but I can’t wait that long! I will attempt to write this review with my “fanboy-ism” aside, but that may prove to be difficult. In any event, here we go.

Initial Thoughts
In pure Apple fashion, the packaging is brilliant. It mimics the iPod packaging style with silver embossed Apple logos, the word “iPhone”, and the size within a square all set on a solid black background. On the top/front of the box, there’s a picture of the iPhone itself. Inside is the iPhone first set in a plastic holder. Underneath is the instruction booklet, polishing cloth, headphones, USB cable, and the dock.

Activation was quick, simple, and painless. I was an existing AT&T customer, so I chose to keep my current voice plan and add on the $20 iPhone data plan. The activation process took at most seven or eight minutes.

The four main features of the iPhone are Phone, Mail, Safari, and iPod.

First and foremost is the Phone. I get great reception with AT&T in Lubbock and Dallas – the two places I use my phone 99% of the time. iPhone’s Phone is quite simple and easy to use. You can designate a favorite numbers list; this is in essence the iPhone’s speed dialing. Other reviews point out that there’s no speed dialing or voice activated dialing. I personally don’t like voice activated dialing. My only complain with the Phone is in the recent calls list. There’s an “All” list and a “Missed” list. It would be nice if that were expanded into “All”, “Missed”, “Dialed”, and “Received”. Most cell phones have that, and it would be easy for Apple to implement via a software update.

I was most skeptical about Mail as that was one of the major aspects for me, and it just so happened that many of the reviews I’d read said that Mail was basically unusable. I’m happy to report that Mail is very usable. I’m an email junkie, and IMAP is a necessity for any email junkie that uses multiple computers. IMAP on iPhone Mail works as it should. All folders are there, and navigation is very fluid. Unlike OS X Mail, iPhone Mail does not use the “one Inbox for all accounts” rule. I’m actually okay with that; in fact, I like it better that way. I don’t use multiple email accounts right now, so this is a non-issue for me. There is a 200 message per folder limitation, but that too doesn’t affect me. My only real complaint with Mail is the lack of junk mail filtering/processng. My guess is that junk mail filtering/processing would increase the application’s footprint too much. So if that’s the trade-off, I’m all for it. Some people seem disgruntled that it takes two finger presses to delete an email. Again, this doesn’t bother me. I’ve deleted far too many emails mistakenly on my laptops.

Like Steve Jobs said during his January keynote, the iPhone has the real Internet. He was right about that! I’ve had an easy time browsing ESPN, Google Reader Mobile, CNN, and other sites. So far, the only website I’ve had difficulty using is my company’s Microsoft Exchange Outlook Web Access. I don’t know if it’s irony or not at work here, but I haven’t found a fix yet. A couple issues with Safari: no saving username/password combination and no form history.

The iPhone’s iPod is perfect: cover flow is beautiful on the screen, sound quality is great. I don’t have one complaint about iPod.

Other Applications
SMS Texting: Simple and easy. I don’t understand why MMS wasn’t built-in, and I can understand why some people complain about it. If I were a betting man, I’d put money on Apple adding this capability in a software update.

Calendar: Again, simple and easy. Great syncing with iCal. You can only select one calendar to add new events to, which I too don’t understand. Hopefully Apple will address this as well.

Photos: Photos look gorgeous on the iPhone’s display. I’m not a regular user of iPhoto, so I’m not really in a position to say much more than that.

Weather: I love this widget! You can specify multiple locations to have easy access to current weather information.

There are other applications, but I really haven’t used them much yet.

Overall Impression and Thoughts

Apple has done so many things right with the iPhone. The virtual keyboard definitely takes some getting used to, but it’s very usable – even for me and my fat fingers. The fact that it “only” supports AT&T’s Edge network is a non-issue as there are few places I’ll use my iPhone where there isn’t WiFi. And since I just mentioned it, WiFi completes this device. I couldn’t imagine using the iPhone without WiFi capability.

Without trying to sound like just another Apple fanboy (which I unashamedly am), I truly believe that the Apple iPhone will change the cell phone industry forever. The iPhone will force other manufacturers to up the ante on the quality of their products. What makes Apple Apple is their attention to quality, but most importantly, the user experience and interface. It’s obvious you’re using something made by Apple. Apple puts so much time and energy into perfecting the user experience. Many companies concentrate on the appearance of their product but forget about the interface. Case in point: Motorola’s RAZR. It’s a great, high-quality phone. But the Motorola software interface leaves something to be desired. It’s very confusing and complicated whereas iPhone’s interface is simplistic and fun.

Hopefully I haven’t been too biased. The iPhone is an impressive smartphone, but there are some shortcomings as I’ve outlined above. I don’t see the business world adopting the iPhone until there’s BlackBerry-style Microsoft Exchange support. Rumors say that’s coming, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Also, the lack of an instant messaging application baffles me. I’m sure it will be added via a software update, and hopefully it will include both AIM and Yahoo IM.

To summarize my overall impression of the iPhone in two words: undeniably amazing.

A Nice Surprise

I went to San Antonio on business for a few days. Every summer, my company attends the Texas Bandmasters, Texas Choral Directors, and Texas Orchestra Directors conventions. For the past five years, I’ve simply gone down for our booth setup and flown back on the first day of the convention. It works out fairly well; I don’t mind going to down to do setup. In fact, it’s actually fun to an extent. This year we actually setup our entire exhibit in a record four hours; we were done at 11:30 am!

Monica picked me up at the airport yesterday and had an absolutely wonderful surprise for me at home. I walked by the mantle (where it was sitting) without even seeing it. I went into the bedroom, threw my bags down on the floor and got changed. Monica was laying on the bed, and I start to head out into the living room when I look up and see an orange and white AT&T bag.

And I knew it could only be one thing.. my iPhone!

I’ve been using it for about half a day now, and I’m blown away by it. I’ll be writing up an initial review in about a week.

I have the sweetest wife. 🙂

A Cell Phone Freak’s History

I was daydreaming about my upcoming iPhone purchase the other day and it really got me thinking about my cell phone history. Unsurprisingly, I’ve had quite a few cell phones.

sonycmh888.gifMy first cell phone was a Sony CM-H888 on the old AT&T Wireless I believe. I got that phone my junior year in high school. It was an analog phone; digital wasn’t widespread at that time. Wireless plans back then were expensive and didn’t contain many minutes, so I had pretty stern instructions from my parents to only use it for emergencies. If I went over on my minutes, it came out of my pocket. I still remember that phone number, but won’t repeat it here out of respect for its current owner (if there is one).

nokia6162.jpgMy next phone I got was a Nokia 6162. This one was on the old AT&T Wireless. I got this phone for Christmas of my freshman year at Tech if I remember correctly. Digital technology had become more mainstream, but AT&T Wireless didn’t service Lubbock digitally at that time. I loved this phone and it definitely served me well for a couple years.. until..

Nate and I were in Florida visiting Kim and her then-boyfriend now-husband Ryan over spring break. The night before we left, my truck was broken into and my cell phone, 300+ CDs, CB radio, and Minidisk player were stolen.
Upon my return to Lubbock, I decided to get a Lubbock phone number since that’s where I lived. AT&T Wireless still didn’t have digital service in Lubbock, and with that meant no caller ID. So I decided to give Sprint PCS a try since their plans were cheaper than Southwestern Bell’s. Both providers offered digital service in Lubbock, so that was already a step up for me. I went with the Nokia 6185 since I had fallen in love with my old Nokia. The phone was great; too bad I can’t say the same for the service. Sprint PCS’s coverage area is horrendous. They target major highway areas; traveling between Lubbock and Dallas meant very little coverage. That rather defeated one of the purposes of having a cell phone, so luckily Sprint took back the phone and canceled my plan.

nokia6161.jpgnokia3360.jpgSince I still wanted digital service, I went with Southwestern Bell and the Nokia 6161. That Nokia was very similar to my stolen 6162. It lasted for about a year and a half; it suddenly died on me and it couldn’t be fixed. Continuing my Nokia habit, I chose the Nokia 3360 based on its size. It was the most compact phone I’d owned. That phone allowed user-changeable color faceplates, and I loved that. This phone didn’t last very long though; I think the faceplate customization actually impacted the lifetime. I could be wrong though, but I think it did.

motorolav60.jpgBy now flip phones had become the rage, and Nokia took the stance to not jump on the flip phone bandwagon (which incidentally lasted until roughly 2005). Because of that, my Nokia streak ended. I had heard great reviews and comments about Motorola phones. After all, Motorola was responsible for starting the flip phone craze with their infamous Star-Trac phone. By now, Southwestern Bell Wireless had been spun off into Cingular; I went with the Motorola v60t. After using only Nokia’s phones for the past years, switching to a Motorola phone had a learning curve with different menus and such. This phone was exceptional; far better than any of the Nokias I’d owned over the years.

samsunga460.jpgAround this time, a buddy of mine gave me a Samsung A460 to be used on Sprint’s network. It just so happened that I had been given a company cell phone for work and my company uses Sprint. So I switched out the company-owned phone for the Samsung. The phone had great ringtones but suffered from Sprint’s crappy coverage area. At some point, my company made some cost-cutting decisions and cut back on the number of people who had corporate cell phones. I had my corporate phone taken away, so I no longer needed to use the Samsung.

motorolat720.jpgI began to notice that the antenna on the Motorola v60t was loose and breaking. Instead of replacing the antenna, naturally I bought a new phone. I liked the Motorola phone so much that I decided to go with another one: the Motorola T720. I absolutely loved this phone. Front caller ID display, great Motorola quality, etc. The antenna was more of a bud-style so therefore I wasn’t concerned it would suffer the same fate as my v60t. This phone lasted quite a while; I believe this is the longest-lasting phone I have ever owned.

motorolarazr.jpgSticking with Motorola, my next and current cell phone is the Motorola RAZR. I have absolutely loved this phone. It’s thin, high quality, and doesn’t have an external antenna. I bought this phone in December 2005 and will stop using it next month (August 2007). By far, the RAZR is the favorite phone that I’ve owned so far.sidekick3.jpg

In July 2006, I purchased a second cell phone but only used it for data service: a Sidekick 3 on T-Mobile. I loved having the SK3 at Tech basketball games and while traveling. Being able to check email and browse the web anywhere within T-Mobile’s coverage area was extremely convenient. However, it became annoying and inconvenient carrying two devices. My opinion changed from wanting a cell phone that was only a cell phone to wanting a cell phone/PDA/smartphone. I decided that I would upgrade to a smartphone when my Cingular/AT&T account was available for an upgrade. I sold my SK3 on eBay and was leaning towards the Samsung Blackjack running, gasp, Windows Mobile. But..

iphone.jpgIn January 2007 Apple finally announced, after two years of speculation and rumors, the iPhone. I watched Steve Jobs’ keynote and instantaneously knew that I had found my smartphone. It has email, Internet, phone, calendar, address book, and iPod – all in one device. It syncs with iTunes. It’s Apple quality, Apple design, Apple experience. I am extremely excited about this upcoming purchase and will naturally post a review once I get it.

So there it is – my entire cell phone history. This has got to be the longest blog post I’ve ever made, and it’s on a random, meaningless topic. Oh well. I doubt anyone will even make it this far, and that’s okay. It was fun going back down memory lane.