Letting go of the Trumpets: A Week with the iPhone

In discussing the iPhone with Dan Benjamin a couple of days ago, at one point I mentioned it was “like someone assembled the finest orchestra the world, but decided to leave out the trumpets”.

Given such an orchestra, one can come away with either of the following reactions:

a) “Wow, what an absolutely fantastic orchestra.”

b) “Uhhh, where are the trumpets?”

With apologies to trumpet players around the world, I find myself decidedly in camp A — sometimes appreciative of what Apple has left out of the iPhone and sometimes frustrated by it, but never losing sight of what a great device this is and what it will become in the months to follow.

A lot has been said already about the jesusphone so who knows how much of this article will be interesting, but it’s a cathartic post for me, having waited several years for this device to become a reality. I first wrote about the iPhone almost exactly three years ago at a time when most of the world thought Apple would never get into the phone business. It’s interesting to see how opinions have changed since then from “why would they ever” to “why would they ever NOT” get into this market.

iDay in Seattle

In the week leading up to iDay, my friends and I all began hatching our strategies for procuring a device as early as possible. I talked to friends at AT&T and friends at Apple, scoping out the best possible locations to queue up, but in the end, my strategy was simple: send Intern Rob down to the closest Apple Store at 10:30am to hold a place in line until 6pm.

Upon dropping him off at the University Village Apple Store, I parked for a few minutes and said hi to the Blue Flavor homies who had been there since 7am and the 43 Things guys who were right behind Rob in line. Tom and Brian ended up getting their picture on the front page of the Seattle Times and a blurb in an AP story too… nice.

After about a half hour of group Apple claqueing, I found myself not wanting to leave the line. Before I knew it, it was 1pm. Then I thought, what the hell, I’m staying until 6! What was a totally unnecessary 8 hour wait became a voluntary march towards release.

The already inspiring environment was made even more pleasant by Apple employees coming out with bottled water and merchants from nearby shops distributing truffles, pastries, and all sorts of other sustenance to the crowd.

We even spotted Fake Steve Jobs in line, as seen in this photo of FSJ and Intern Rob:

As I waited in line with Intern Rob, knowing I could pick up four of these phones, I really never once thought of turning a profit (unlike this moron from Dallas). Instead, I called up Gruber, Om, Rex and a few other lovers of fine technology on their cell phones to make sure they were taken care of.

Pathetically, Verizon hired an advertising truck to drive back and forth around the Apple Store for an hour or so as well (pictured below). I’m not sure what the thought there was, and I can’t think of a worse audience to try and sell your service to than a crowd of people willing to walk barefoot and blindfolded into the treacherous arms of AT&T.

At about 6:30pm, we finally got our iPhones and headed to the Ram Bar & Grill next door for a Jager shot, some bar food, and some hot iPhone activation action. I have to say that my first experience with AT&T (no doubt via Apple’s oversight in the process) was flawless. My phone was activated and ported in less than 5 minutes. Unbelievable, and no pesky humans to talk to the whole time.

I feel terrible for poor Khoi, PhotoMatt, and countless others who endured hours or days of time waiting for their accounts to kick in. I might have thrown myself off a cliff had I been denied instant gratification.

The Review

First and foremost, it’s important to keep in mind that the iPhone is not only at hardware version 1.0 but software version 1.0. The original plan was to launch the iPhone and Leopard simultaneously so there’s no doubt there is a bit of functionality that didn’t make the cut because of the delay in Leopard. Ever wonder why there’s an empty row on the iPhone’s main menu towards the bottom of the screen? I’m sure we’ll see four new buttons there shortly.

Every software upgrade on this phone is going to be like a Christmas present… and I expect several of them before Christmas even comes around. I expect one bug fix upgrade within several weeks and then one nice feature upgrade alongside Leopard, for starters.

Hardware

The iPhone is quite simply the perfect sized device. Any bigger and it would be too bulky. Any smaller and it would be too hard to use. Any thicker and it would be too heavy. Any thinner and it would be too delicate.

It feels so good in your hand that it’s hard to fathom buying a protective case for it. I’m also glad Apple went with a matte finish a la the iPod Nano instead of a shiny backing a la the iPod Video. This phone does not seem to scratch quite as easily as I feared it would.

The screen on the iPhone is the only screen I’ve ever seen in my life that I’d describe as amazing. Every time a new type of LCD comes out, its manufacturer tends to describe it as “groundbreaking” or “brilliant” or some other hyperbolic adjective. Brightness is brightness… not a huge deal to me. But this is the only screen I’ve ever seen where I can read 5 point type without even squinting. It is just so sharp.

Another cool thing about the casing is that if you hold the iPhone correctly in bright sunlight, you can shine the reflective Apple logo onto a wall like the Batman symbol. I played around with this for about 20 minutes on the seatback in front of me on a recent plane ride. The person next to me didn’t get it.

I only have a few complaints in the hardware department. The decision to recess the earphone jack is careless at best and suspicious at worst (Update: or perhaps just overprotective… you’d think they could at least throw in an adapter piece for $600). Many people have invested over $100 in their earphones and because Apple has recessed its jack, none of them will fit. Kottke has a tip on how to jimmy rig your existing headphones with an X-Acto knife, but c’mon, really, Apple?

The speakerphone also seems a bit weak to me, but nothing terrible. Aside from that, the only other suggestions I have are to recess the screen a millimeter or two below the bezel to protect it and to add some easy, tactile way to tell which side of the phone is “up” without looking.

Interface

Like everything else Apple has done since the beginning of time, the true innovation in this device is its interface. It’s the reason why it’s so sexy and also the reason why countless other devices that will pop up over the next year or two will look exactly like it, but feel nothing like it.

There was quite a lot of concern pre-launch about the keyboardless input capabilities of this device, but the reviewers are right: it’s extremely easy to get used to. Mossberg said it took him 5 days to start typing as fast as he did on his Treo. It took me about one and a half and I’m coming from a Treo as well. I only have one complaint about the keyboard and that’s that I would shrink the space bar and put the period and comma alongside it, but after reading Pogue’s very useful trick today, that’s barely an issue anymore.

The iPhone’s applications never seem to “quit”, which I quite like. I hate phones that bury functions more than one level deep (I’m looking at you, Nokia) and it’s just such a relief to have almost everything I’d ever need to do right on that main menu and available on a moment’s notice.

Couple of nitpicks: When you press the main button — to check the time, for instance — you should be able to press it again to shut the screen down instead of having to feel your way up to the lock button on top of the screen. Also, you should be given the option of displaying more information on the “locked” screen, like upcoming events or unread items maybe.

The only huge issue I have with the general interface right now is the lack of select/cut/copy/paste functionality, and maybe just a general lack of a contextual menu where it is frequently needed. Apple has exercised great restraint in keeping the iPhone’s interface simple, but the simple addition of a contextual menu with such options would really round out the experience. My suggestion would be adding these two gestures:

  • “Cuticle”-select: The iPhone can detect how much of your finger is actually touching the screen so how about if you ever want to select text, you just run your fingernail across it to precisely select it.
  • Smudge: When you see an item you want to do something with (like selected text for instance), you make the same motion you’d make if you were getting fingerprinted at the local police station, twisting slightly (or so I’ve heard). A contextual menu would then pop up asking you if you wanted to cut, copy, paste, save, email, etc.

I mentioned to Dan that I could use some sort of limited file system access on the phone and my guess is that that may be coming with the Leopard upgrade. I don’t even really need anything more than just a simple “shuttle” folder to throw stuff in.

Applications

Everybody’s split on what their favorite applications are. For me, it’s Phone, Text, Mail, and Safari. Phone is great because it’s so damned easy to use. Text is great because the notification and conversation interfaces are so sharp. Mail is great because it provides true IMAP syncing across multiple accounts and doesn’t bug me every single time a message comes in. That said, the fact that I can’t “smudge”-click on the cc field to turn it into a bcc field shows how early on we are in the life of the Mail application.

As for Safari, it’s obviously the most unbelievable mobile web browser in the world and I love love love it, but it’s also made me more convinced about something I already knew: I really don’t need a whole lot of things on “the mobile web”. Having Mobile Safari there in a pinch is really great, but the only data-related things I need to do on a mobile phone very often are maps, driving directions, yellow pages, and maybe a couple of other things… all of which seem to be better suited for actual applications like the built in Maps app. Maybe I’m atypical… I don’t know. I just know that I don’t need a whole lot from the “mobile web”, and based on that, the iPhone gives me more than enough.

Visual voicemail is pretty cool, but it doesn’t change my life. One thing I think I’ve noticed that I haven’t seen reported yet is that the iPhone seems to pull your messages down locally to the phone. Never seen that before. On the bright side, you can scrub through messages, and instead of worrying about pressing 7 or anything like that, you just hit the “delete” button. On the down side, the messages sound very compressed and degraded to me.

The Social Factor

I have to say, I am almost embarassed to take this thing out of my pocket. You take it out at a bar and people swarm around. You take it out at an airport and other travelers stop their Blackberrying to gawk. Guys. Girls. Pretty much everyone who has seen a commercial (which is everyone). This effect won’t last forever, thankfully, but it’s a testament to how Apple has once again — actually, no — for the first time ever — captured the mainstream world’s attention with a product introduction. The Macintosh never did that. Neither did the iPod. This is a first.

Customization

Much like the lack of cut/copy/paste and file system goodies, the lack of full customization on the iPhone is another example of “omitting the trumpets”. Thankfully, however, Apple has seen to it that what I do have available to me is quite good. Want to change the font? Well you can’t but at least it’s Helvetica. Want to change the ringtones? Well you can’t, but at least they are all tasteful, unlike every other phone on the market. Want to change the interface? Well you can’t but at least it’s nicer than anything you could come up with. Apple’s very good at substituting their own taste for yours… but thankfully since they have such impeccable taste, it’s usually not a problem.

The iPhone’s lack of full customization and hacking opportunities is lost on all but the few percent of us who really need such things. We’ll get more options eventually, but you have to admire Apple’s restraint in producing an initial device that is so simple from a UI perspective that it’s hard NOT to know how to use it. This thing is 100 times the device my Treo ever was, but while the Treo ships with a huge manual, the iPhone has none. No manual! I wonder if that was a design requirement.

The Wishlist

With all that is great about this device, following is a list of what I’d like to see, most of which I’m sure is already on its way:

  • Select/Cut/Copy/Paste functionality
  • Contextual menu functionality
  • Wifi syncing
  • Ability to build native apps via simple Dashboard-style authoring
  • Removable battery
  • Limited file system access and use as a removable drive
  • GPS or cell-tower powered location awareness
  • More apps (e.g. SMS) which work in landscape mode
  • Ability to use as a remote for iTunes on a computer in another room via Wifi
  • Faster data speeds from AT&T… EDGE is so sloooooow

I’m sure there are a few more, but as you can see, it’s not a huge list. At the end of the day, your mobile phone doesn’t need to do a million things. It just needs to do about 5 or 10 things really, really well. The iPhone, in this very first rev, is already about 80% of the way there.

It’s exciting enough that the iPhone is selling so well initially, but what’s even more amazing is that the vector Apple is on after only one release is so far ahead of where Motorola, Nokia, and Samsung are after several hundred. Is there any doubt that if this thing cost $150, it would be the most widely used device of all time?

The good news for Apple is that financial success doesn’t require either of the previous conditions to be met. The better news, however, is that in two or three years — when they are met — Apple will have completed the greatest turnaround the technology and even business world has ever seen. I’ve followed the saga almost my entire life and I can still hardly believe it.

Like this entry? You can follow me on Twitter here, subscribe via email here, or get the RSS feed if that's how you roll.

56 Responses:

  1. Kevin C says:

    Nice review.

    This requirement is possible now, with a bit of fiddling:
    “Ability to use as a remote for iTunes on a computer in another room via Wifi”

    http://www.engadget.com/2005/12/13/how-to-control-itunes-from-any-web-browser/

    There’s other things like that out there for OSX. I’m sure customizing it so it works well with the iPhone wouldn’t be a problem .

  2. The “social factor” is already getting the best of me. I was out with a couple friends the day after iDay and, after showing them my phone, they told me to keep it hidden in my pocket.

    I don’t mind the huge amount of attention the phone brings – after all, it was expected – but I do feel bad for my friends who get to stand idly by and watch as a bunch of people rush me to see the device.

  3. Christian says:

    “I might have thrown myself off a cliff had I been denied instant gratification.”

    See, this is why I like reading your weblog. You post great stuff, but you don’t take things quite as seriously as many other people in the weblogging upper echelon. To read many other reviews, you’d think some people (especially those whose phones didn’t activate quickly) were actually contemplating the cliff.

    I also appreciate that you kept a perspective that most people have already forgotten: that jaw-dropping amazement that first came when the iPhone debuted at MWSF. I don’t have an iPhone, but I played with one at the Apple Store, and I was thrilled to see that it is every bit as exciting as I expected. Too many people have already moved into griping about the shortcomings. I guess some people are never completely happy.

  4. Marcus says:

    I wonder how new features entering the iPhone rings with the Sarbanes-Oxley act? Will people have to pay a fee, like the 802.11g-upgrade, or will they magically pop up?

  5. Very good review, and it basically echoes my feelings on the device.

    I only have two complaints about the iPhone: the idiotic headphone jack thing, and the lack of to-do syncing (although I suspect this is one of the Leopard features that got omitted). Two complaints ain’t bad.

    Yes, I have items on my wishlist (GPS, Instant Messaging, 3G, etc.), but I wouldn’t dare complain about these things because I’ve known they were missing for six months.

    But the headphone jack thing is just plain stupid, and the to-do thing was a surprise to me. So, two complaints. Otherwise, it’s heavenly.

  6. Ruben says:

    Belkin sells an $11 adapter for the headphone jack. Sucks that a pair of Shure earphones got the knife, but I guess impulse can’t be helped.

  7. Carl Hancock says:

    One feature i’d like to see is the ability to send a text message to multiple people by selecting multiple contacts. I had this ability on my cheapo Motorola and it was quite handy for sending out notifications to friends, etc.

    The headphone jack thing is also an annoyance for me. It’s annoying to have to purchase an “add-on” to use my headphones that use a standard headphone jack. It was probably the single dumbest thing they did from a basic hardware perspective with this device.

  8. Michel says:

    Good review, Mike.

    I don’t have an iPhone (yet?) but where I live, it won’t be available for another 6 months at least… so now wonder…

    I still use a phone which uses just the GSM network for calls (900/1800 MHz) and to send SMS messages under 160 plain text symbols…

    …and I am still happy with it. I guess, I’m simply weird, but this is how things are for me… I don’t lack any other features, for now. And for making photos, I have my digital camera, and for work, I have my Intel Pentium 4 HT computer…

    :-D

  9. I’m definitely going to be pissed off that I can’t use my comfy Bose headphones with my iPhone the next time I’m on an airplane. But right now I’m (shockingly) liking the included Apple headset well enough.

    Marcus: Apple announced that they’re accounting for iPhone revenue on a subscription basis — basically they’re saying that an iPhone purchase includes not just the finished goods of the hardware and initial OS package, but also any and all software updates (including feature additions) for a period of time after purchase (two years, I think). It’s the same thing they’re doing with Apple TV, precisely to avoid stuff like the 802.11n updater debacle.

  10. You can’t use a ringtone that did not come with the phone? You cant send text messages to multiple recipients at once? WHAT A PIECE OF GARBAGE! Apple couldn’t pay me to use it…

  11. Bone says:

    Everyone is complaining about the headphone jack.

    This is understandable, but to pass it off as careless seems silly in such glowing reviews of the thoughtfulness that went into the device.

    Here is why it was carefully considered and designed:

    Take your iPod an plug any headphone in the jack. Now put a wee bit of lateral force on the sheath of the plug – not too much! So many ipods are ruined because people want to leave the headphones plugged in and throw them in a bag or they have it in their back pocket when they sit. There goes another contact bent out of useable position and an unhappy (though neglectful) iPod owner.

    Enter iPhone. A new device that – in order to use every single function with headphones plugged in – those headphones must have a microphone. Remember we bought it because it is a phone, right? Hence what good are standard headphones going to be except when you are on a plane and can’t use the phone function.

    Imagine I have my Bose Triport headphones on and a call comes in. I would need to take the phone out of my pocket unplug the jack, take off my headphones and put the phone to my ear. Just to take a call? No thanks.

    What I see here is that Apple made a couple important considerations. One – full functionality requires new headphones that include a mic. With this situation they can improve upon the design and hence the integrity of the connection as any integrated headset will be a new design.

    Two – Knowing full well that users will demand high quality headphones with integrated mics, this will be an opportunity for those companies to finally address the designs of the sheaths on the plugs.

    Seriously, how can Apple, for all these years, make tiny, narrow plugs while companies like Bose, Shure, and Sony (some Sony headphones have smaller plug sheaths) have to make these wonky, thick, sometimes angled sheaths on the plugs?

    Thanks to Apple for protecting my purchase. While traveling, I will gladly carry my other headphones with an adapter of some kind when I will not be able to use the phone.

    - Bone

  12. Great review! I agree with the copy/paste need. The only other thing I’m really missing is being able to receive pics through text messages. Not many of my friends realize they can send to an email address from their phone so I’m stuck with the awful “Go to viewmymessage.com” text everytime. It only gets worse when I can’t copy and paste the message ID into Safari to check it out straight from the phone.

  13. Tyler says:

    Mike,

    How is the overall coverage for you?

    - Tyler

  14. iPhone Remote

    (Formerly called “telekinesis”.)

  15. Oh — as for my gripes:

    When looking at contacts — if you touch an address, you’re taken directly to the maps app.

    Then, there’s no way to go “back” to the contact you were looking at without going back to the home screen, to the phone app, to the contacts tab and then to the contact.

    Also, I tend to accidentally “touch” things a lot, this results in a a few accidental calls or application launches.

    Now that I’m on my second iPhone — I’m really happy with the battery, though Calvin still sounds less than enthusiastic — if content.

  16. Kyle says:

    Great review! I wasn’t considering getting one of these cause I’m quite content with the phone I’ve got, but I’m interested to see one in person now.

    I wonder how the lack of customization is going to translate to the “myspace generation” that prides itself on customizing everything they own? I think it was a good choice by Apple, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

  17. Jon Mark Hancock says:

    Consider that the headphone jack may be buried like it is for electrical compatibility issues, and to require you to use a compatible adapter- it’s carrying a stereo signal, plus mic signal, which is different from standard iPod/music connections, and different (to my knowledge) from standard phone connections like my old (as of now) Blackberry.

    I need an adapter to use my Bose or Audio Technica noise cancelling phones, but since I can carry an iPod in the headphone case anyway, it’s not really any big deal.

    In the grand scheme of things, as the supporting ecosystem ramps up, these are all nits.

    Anyway, this is the first phone I’ve ever gotten excited about pre-release, and it lives up to expectations in all regards- not perfect, but the closest you can find for now. And with a clear upgrade path.

  18. Reed says:

    Marcus – Because Apple gets a share of the monthly fees, they can update the iPhone without having the charge the customer anything extra.

    Mike re:iTunes – I saw something called Telekinesis posted on Daring Fireball. You can use it to control iTunes from Safari on your iPhone.

    Here’s a link: http://code.google.com/p/telekinesis/

  19. Great overview of the new toy, Mike. I waited about 5 hours in line in Santa Clara for mine and it was well worth it, even if I could’ve walked into the Apple Store at 9PM that night and walked out with one 5 minutes later.

    On your note about the new visual voicemail (which I think is fantastic over any other voicemail system by the way), have you had any trouble changing your voicemail greeting? Once I set a custom greeting, I can’t seem to rerecord it or delete it. I hope it’s a problem with AT&T, but I suspect it might be an iPhone issue.

  20. icruise says:

    “The already inspiring environment was made even more pleasant by Apple employees coming out with bottled water and merchants from nearby shops distributing truffles, pastries, and all sorts of other sustenance to the crowd.”

    Truffles and pastries! At my local AT&T store, we felt lucky not to get spit on by the employees! OK, that’s an exaggeration, and they did hand out water to some people in line, but I certainly never felt welcome. That feeling didn’t improve when they refused to tell the people who had been waiting in line for hours whether they had enough phones for everybody in line. (They didn’t — not even close.) If we had an Apple Store anywhere nearby, I wouldn’t have even considered using AT&T.

  21. Ilias says:

    I wonder if the recessed jack was designed this way to protect it from breaking internally, when the iPhone is in your pocket with the earphones mounted. My first iPod (2G) sustained such damage (the soldering of the housing of the jack broke off inside resulting in complete loss of sound) from the lateral pressure afflicted on the jack when inside my pocket.

  22. Vince says:

    It would be nice to have a slot for SD or Micro SD

  23. I love the trick to use punctuation in one step, that’s awesome.

    I agree that the recessed headphone jack is just plain terrible. I’ve got some serious shaving to do on my Bose QC3s. :(

    I have to disagree with you about the ringtones though, they’re garbage and I wish I could use the mp3s I already have on my iPhone.

  24. Travis says:

    Marcus:

    I wonder how new features entering the iPhone rings with the Sarbanes-Oxley act? Will people have to pay a fee, like the 802.11g-upgrade, or will they magically pop up?

    They’ll just magically pop up (after a sync with iTunes, of course).

    http://daringfireball.net/linked/2007/april#wed-25-macalope_call

  25. Jason Gleman says:

    Maybe it is just me… but I can’t see being too upset that I can’t use songs as ringtones.

    First, in a crowded place, I wouldn’t have to hear other people’s crap taste in music if all phones only had rings and not songs.

    Second, if I am listening to music, it would probably be better to have the song fade out into a ring sound, rather than another song. If I was not paying attention maybe I wouldn’t notice and would just think another song came on.

    Third, my phone is almost always on vibrate (so, you know, other people don’t have to hear my crap taste in music), I don’t think a ring tone would help to much there anyway.

  26. Hani AlYousif says:

    Do you know how jealous we are over here in the UK? I’m trying not to read any more but just can’t help myself. As we say here, You Lucky Buggers!

  27. Olen Anderson says:

    I think a recessed screen would be a terrible idea. One thing I hated the most about my Treo was how hard it was to clean the screen, espeically the edges and corners. Hell the corners never got really clean. Thanks to the iPhone’s flat surface, it’s super easy to make the whole device fingerprint-free.

  28. Kendall says:

    On customization – the iPhone is a device, that you customize through the content you load on it – from songs to video to bookmarks.

    On the jack: I didn’t like it at first either but had read about it before, and had purchased the Belkin adapter with the phone (a few, one for the car and one for headphones). At first I thought this was silly but reading the comment here about the jack being recessed to protect it, I am in total agreement – I have a 1st gen iPod, with the edge of the jack connector is cracked and the connection itself was starting to get a bit flakey.

    On the recessed screen: I too agree the screen should stay flush as-is, the screen appears to be the aspect of the iPhone least able to be harmed by casual contact with sharp and pointy objects! The screen is protecting that shiny bevel, if you ask me…

    I have to agree that I would love to see wireless sync, and the ability to use the phone as a portable hard drive (even if just one directory for transporting files).

  29. @Marcus

    Apple has actually stated that they will be accounting for iPhone revenue over the full two years of the service contract. That’ll leave them fully compliant with SOX, since they won’t be taking full accounting for the iPhone at time of sale.

  30. I really don’t need a whole lot of things on “the mobile web”

    That’s been my instinct as well. I don’t travel much, so I probably don’t see the benefits like maybe commuters would. But I do general web browsing when I’m foraging for information. I don’t think that’s something many people do on the move. Focused tasks, like directions, are as you say better served by a nice focused mobile app.

    I hadn’t thought about the recessed headphone jack being protective. I’m not convinced, as I’ve never seen any other device with a recessed headphone jack, but maybe none of them sold 100 million and got as used as much as iPods.

    I wonder how the lack of customization is going to translate to the “myspace generation” that prides itself on customizing everything they own?

    The MySpace generation can’t afford the iPhone. iPhone is for preppy Facebook users :)

  31. Matthew R says:

    I’ve waited so long for an iPod with wireless connectivity. You know, so you can finally send those songs/pics/videos to your friends instantly.

    But the iPhone has no bluetooth file transfer. Unbelievable. Apple. You. Must. Put. This. In. An. Update. Must.

  32. Max says:

    I think I’m going to throw up.

    That was the most biased review of a product I’ve ever read. It was like reading George W Bush’s review of the Iraq war.

    That being said, I played with the iProduct at the store and thought it was pretty slick. Slick enough to plunk down $600 and add to the bullshit Apple hype? Hell no. Although my dad’s birthday is coming up and he’s drank a 55 gallon drum of the Apple Koolaid, so maybe I’ll get him one for his birthday. He’ll probably shit his Apple underwear.

  33. The one thing I have yet to hear is whether you can use the keyboard in landscape. After reading so many reviews, pre-iDay, that complained, or speculated, about difficulty typing, it seemed like such an obvious adjustment but no one has mentioned anything.

  34. Renaud says:

    iPhone Remote Allows you to access your Mac and use your iPhone as an iTunes remote among other fun things like stream your AAC files.

    And I want an AIM/iChat app, the ability to use your songs as ringtones without the cost that I have been hearing about, cut & paste, delete email quicker, a back button/function when one app send you to another, and camera zoom.

  35. Worldboy says:

    Nice review, it gives a feel for the experience of the product, not just a feature list. I wouldn’t buy an iPhone in Australia without 3G capability but it should have that in 2008 when it’s released here. I use an iMate on Telstra’s NextG network which is OK, but I hate Windows Mobile it spoils a reasonably good device. Looking forward to a 3G iPhone!

    I’m most surprised at the performance – that 667MHz ARM chip must be good, in fact the thing seems to have the processing power of a something like a G4 Titanium PowerBook from 2001. How much system memory does it use in normal operation I wonder? Say 128MB or 256MB? Then it probably would be as fast as the TiBook! So in 5 years it should have the power of the current MacBook Pro…

  36. Aric says:

    SBO: I believe that Apple doesn’t need to worry about the SBO provisions about adding new features because they have chosen to take the revenue over the full 2 year contract for each phone.

    Tapping an address to go to maps: You _can_ go back to the addressbook entry. Simply tap LIST and then click the small arrow next to the contact info.

    It would be a shame to put the iPhone in a case: I do wish the metal sides were coated with something to make them less slippery, though. A good screen protector is a must, though (in my book). Boxwave has excellent ones and no, it doesn’t affect tapping, but it does make it more resistant to oils and dirt as well as scratches.

    I really like my iPhone and can’t wait to see what the future will bring.

  37. I agree that this device is simply beautiful from both a software and hardware perspective. It seems as though everyone will have their list of ‘wants’ for a phone, and many of them will be very different. Some are legitimate – some are just wishes (same is true for software develpment – which you know).

    I think that is why I love this phone so much. As you mentioned, Apple has released a first version product that is amazing. Yes, they have imposed their UI/Design on us (but when haven’t they? iPod, iMac, the list goes on).

    It will be interesting to see what comes out with the updates, but for now I am more than satisfied.

    Excellent review and write up…

  38. Sean S says:

    I think I’m going to throw up. [...] That was the most biased review of a product I’ve ever read.

    Are you serious?

    No, really. Are you serious?

  39. I’m sure he’s serious. Review Nausea is a debilitating condition affecting thousands of people worldwide. The iPhone launch hasn’t been kind to these poor people.

  40. Max says:

    Well I’m only half serious, for example:

    “…Apple will have completed the greatest turnaround the technology and even business world has ever seen.”

    “…you can shine the reflective Apple logo onto a wall like the Batman symbol.”

    That being said, I know Mike, and he’s a great guy, but on the Apple Religious Fanatic Scale, he’s a 12. They should hire him to work at trade shows. “Check this out! It’s like the Batman symbol! Here, give me your fingernail so I can show you the perfect touch screen. Have you ever felt anything like that? The answer is no you haven’t.”

    :)

  41. I’d forgotten the Batman symbol thing. Is anyone else imagining Phil Schiller dressed up as Robin right now?

    No?

  42. Leo Baghdassarian says:

    Time to update #3 on your Ten Things ?
    ;-)

  43. Jeff says:

    Good review!

    I am a huge Apple fan, but can’t see plunking down the $$ for a cell phone. I opted to sign up to get one from one of the freebie websites instead.

    I find it funny how people consider ringtones a big plus…. all I need is a simple ring or vibrate. Don’t need to kick off a dance party in the middle of the supermarket when someone is calling.

    Max – where can I find some of that Apple Kool-Aid?

  44. Max says:

    Don’t you mean iKool-Aid?

    http://cache.gizmodo.com/gadgets/images/iProduct.gif

  45. dan says:

    Here’s a brief chronology of my experience with my iPhone:

    Saturday: Buy iPhone

    Monday: Activate iPhone

    Tuesday: Show iPhone to friends at work. iPhone gets dropped from three feet to a hardwood floor. iPhone breaks.

    Tuesday afternoon: Take iPhone to Apple store. Apple genius tells me there is nothing he can do except sell me a new iPhone. Fellow geniuses concur.

    Tuesday Night: Successfully void my AT&T contract. Console myself by remembering that I have made more than $499 in Apple stock and go to bed happy.

  46. I glad you guys are testing it out before I get mine. By the time I can justify getting one it should be perfect.

    Too bad dan. I thought the iPhone was unbreakable. Maybe the next version.

  47. Jeff says:

    Doh!

  48. Jeff says:

    Sorry… forgot to post link:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=eNzyVIhnnDU

    They put an Iphone in a blender.

  49. Mike,

    I apologize if someone already posted this (I haven’t had time to read all of the comments), but it seems as though Tom Dickson is also enjoying his iPhone: Will It Blend iPhone Edition

  50. If only I had read the comment right before me…

  51. jason says:

    how do you rerecord your voicemail greeting?

  52. Aric says:

    Tap Phone, tap Voicemail, tap Greeting, tap Custom, Tap Record.

    Note the first time you access Voicemail it should walk you through the process of setting up your voicemail options, including the greeting. My directions only apply after you’ve done it the first time.

  53. Eli says:

    @Max, including post #40:

    Now I’m going to be sick. Did your mummy bottle feed you on vinegar?

    Mike is expressing the same delight I’ve seen over and over from people who have selected and purchased an expensive product that turns out to be(nearly) as good as they had hoped. I’ve never heard it called fanaticism to agree with a product’s design. That’s why I buy things. Because I like the way they’re made. It’s called product research. Do I have to hate everything I own now?

    It’s not cultish to agree with Mike’s statement about an industry turnaround. As a casual cell phone user, I find all current phone UIs to be atrocious. It’s heartening to know that a phone with an excellent UI has the whip hand. I look forward to it’s influence trickling down.

  54. Jeff says:

    As much as I hate to post this to add fuel for Iphone haters:

    Apple Iphone Exploited
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M26sur1YAL4

    Just a warning to all Iphone owners

  55. [...] A Week With the iPhone – A review by [...]

  56. [...] Davidson wrote an excellent post on the pros and cons of the iPhone but those con’s are careless and should have been included. Some are going to be, but [...]

Shared
Humanity's deep future:

A group of researchers at the Future of Humanity Institute talk about where our race may be going and how artificial intelligence could save or kill us all.

Steve Jobs speaks about the future at the International Design Conference in 1983:

31 years later, it’s safe to say this is one of the most prescient speeches about technology ever delivered. Jobs covers wireless networking, tablets, Google StreetView, Siri, and the App Store (among other things) many years before their proliferation. A fantastic listen.

How to travel around the world for a year:

Great advice for when you finally find the time.

LiveSurface:

A fantastic app for prototyping your design work onto real world objects like billboards, book covers, and coffee cups. This seems like just as great of a tool for people learning design as it does for experts.

50 problems in 50 days:

One man’s attempt to solve 50 problems in 50 days using only great design. Some good startup ideas in here…

How to Do Philosophy:

If you’ve ever suspected that most classical philosophy is a colossal waste of time, Paul Graham tells you why you’re probably right.

TIME: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us:

Stephen Brill follows the money to uncover the pinnacle of corruption that is the U.S. Health Care system. A must-read article if there ever was one.

DIY Dot Org:

A beautifully designed site full of fun and challenging DIY projects. I could spend months on here.

The Steve Jobs Video Archive:

A collection of over 250 Steve Jobs videos in biographical order

Self-portraits from an artist under the influence of 48 different psychoactive drug combos.

Water Wigs are pretty amazing.

David Pogue proposes to his girlfriend by creating a fake movie trailer about them and then getting a theater to play it before a real movie. Beautiful and totally awesome.

Jonah Peretti's letter to BuzzFeed’s employees:

If you’re wondering what a excellent blueprint for a modern media company looks like, look no further than Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti’s latest email to his employees. In it, Peretti explains a lot of his company’s virtues, the most important being a relentless focus on always providing what’s best for the user. Vox Media (operators of The Verge) is the only other company I can think of which approaches this level of reform and execution.

The Covers Project:

I love this so much: a cross-referenceable database of cover songs, searchable by song or artist. Slowed down, acoustic covers — no matter the song — are so enjoyable to me that I wish it was a requirement to play one at every show. If you like them as much as I do, make sure to check out M. Ward’s Let’s Dance or Sun Kil Moon’s entire album of Modest Mouse covers.

“More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary. I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.”
- Tim Kreider’s denunciation of the cult of busyness is excellent. (via jimray)