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iHype Part V: Three Weeks Later

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Most geeks admit to having an absolute fascination with their new technology toys when first obtaining them. It’s almost the equivalent of a new husband or wife. Like most marriages, once the “newness” wears off, you start to see problems you originally hadn’t thought of.

The iPhone was the most hyped up technological device since the color television set. People, including myself, sat in long lines for hours waiting to get our hands on a device that was supposed to revolutionize the cell phone industry.

The iPhone certainly had its promising features: an actual (not dumbed down) Internet browser; visual voicemail; the ability to play high quality music and videos; plus a futuristic touch interface. After using this device for nearly three weeks, I can safely say that my idea to call this series of articles iHype was right on the spot, since this device, indeed, is more hype than substance.

I know all the Apple fanboys are getting ready to hunt and shoot me down, especially since my initial review of this device was positive. But have they, like me, driven from one side of the country to the other with this phone? I made the long drive from Southern California to Northern New Jersey in the past week and can confirm that there were several areas that the iPhone did not work in: many parts of New Mexico; various areas around Oklahoma City; parts of Southern Missouri; and the service (including data) in Northern New Jersey has been very inconsistent.

I kept my Sprint account just in case something like this went wrong. I had to use my Sprint phone during the times the iPhone wouldn’t work. I didn’t notice any outages in the Sprint service, but there were several places (especially in small, rural areas) where I wasn’t able to get their EVDO high speed service. However, I was at least able to make a phone call whenever I needed to. 

The best thing that the iPhone had going for it was its Safari Internet browser. When I was in an area with higher speed Edge service (which still isn’t much faster than dial-up), this was a great pleasure to use. Making the pages go up or down with the roll of my index finger and zooming in or out on the pages by pinching two of my fingers on the screen was a great experience.

Even though AT&T increased the speed of their Edge service in many areas, I found the speeds in most areas that I used the phone to be very sluggish. In the middle of Ridgewood, New Jersey, it took almost thirty seconds to display the Blogcritics.org website. That may have been fast four years ago, but with 3G wireless speeds taking off, this is way too slow.

The Wi-Fi on the iPhone works well, but I don’t like to pay extra money for Wi-Fi access when I’m not home. The worst thing the iPhone had going for it, in terms of business use, was its touch-screen keyboard. Apple claimed that once you get used to this, it works even better than a thumboard. I can definitely confirm that this statement is completely misleading, unless you have a small child’s fingers.

While my tapping (as well as the tapping of others I talked to) became more accurate over time, it is still inconvenient. I’ve become so frustrated writing emails that I decided that it’s not worth the pain caused by the iPhone to write any more. It has been even worse opening my emails that have Word attachments since the iPhone doesn’t have software to edit Microsoft Word documents.

Perhaps I’m being a little unkind to Apple and AT&T, since this is a first generation device. The first generation iPod had some problems that were corrected in future generations. However, this is a $600 device that was hyped up like no other. Because it has been more than 15 days since I purchased the device, it is too late to return. If I cancel my AT&T service, I just have an 8 GB iPod with Wi-Fi features. This doesn’t make the device completely useless as the portable media features on this are excellent.

The $600 I spent on this device was probably the biggest waste of money since purchasing the first generation Treo. Palm eventually got the Treo right, and I hope Apple can do the same with the iPhone.

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About Daryl D

  • GregM

    Not having an actual keyboard was enough for me not to get the iphone along with the $600 price tag. I think it’ll be a couple generations before the iphone catches up to Palm’s Treo’s. I heart my 755p. I waited a few more generations before upgrading from the 650.

  • AndrewB

    i don’t think you should review the iPhone, giving a bad wrap if the issue is not with the phone but the network service.
    There is not one bad feature you have listed with the phone except the price, all you have written was that you could not get coverage through the State … well that tells me it’s an AT&T problem not a flaw of the phone!
    The only other issue you have talked about is that the keys are too small to type, well I don’t see the keys on your Treo much bigger, maybe an upside down pen might help you with that!
    There is no Word document software for the iPhone … oh my, maybe that’s not a flaw of the phone as such but the lack of software for Apple products, especially Microsoft products.

    People like you should not be reviewers.
    It sounds to me you like to whinge more than reviewing a product sticking to hard objective facts!