I was in line at 9:00a.m. in the morning on launch day. At 6p.m. I was 5th into the store and first to leave with one, and my device was online by 6:35p.m. The wait was worth something as an experience in and of itself; I met some cool people and had a good time. As it turns out, it was not even necessary to be there that early; everyone in line at 6:00p.m. got one (over 50 people at least), although the whole city did sell out on the first day.
My initial thoughts are perfectly in sync with my previously published opinions on the device. Here’s what I said over a month ago:
My point, which I feel is Apple’s direct strategy with this device, is that you can actually blow away the market without playing the features game. The concept being that it’s possible to actually win with fewer features as long as you do each of them *extremely* well.
…and that’s precisely what I think they have done. For the masses it comes down to user experience, and iPhone simply dominates in this arena. The core functions of phone, media player, and Internet device are done in such a superior way (with caveats) that the thing simply plows right through people’s doubts when they handle one.
I’ve showed some people mine while looking for a case today and caused at least a few orgasms. Most notable, however are the reactions from those who had already decided not to get one. I’ve had a few people tell me that they weren’t getting one due to the cost, and then after seeing what it could do (and holding one) they immediately began planning how to get one. Their minds were instantly changed. Among those who’ve I’ve seen get blown away by the device are Sprint and Verizon reps and the owner of multiple Helio stores in the area.
It’s just that compelling.
For those curious about the keyboard issue — my experience seems to mirror those of most reviewers. It seems precarious at first, but if you just attempt to type at your normal speed you’ll be rewarded by the intelligence of the software. I heard this and never even messed with the single finger approach; I just went ahead and pretended I was already comfortable. One thing I notice is that (for me, at least) entering special characters, numbers, etc. is far harder on the iPhone than regular keyboards, while just writing regular text is quite fast (possibly superior). In fact, I think I’m already as fast or faster on it than on my Blackberry (but with more chance for abysmal failure).
Ok. I wanted to set the tone as positive before doing this next part so this isn’t confused as an iPhone-bashing post. Now on to the real content of the post — the downsides. These are shown in order of severity.
- I can’t create a sound profile like I can on the Blackberry so that phone calls will be audible while all other sound events are silent. This is very important for me when I sleep, as I’d like to be able to receive calls when traveling while not being awoken for email alerts.
- Making calls takes too many steps. I understand why, and I don’t think it’s going to bother me much long-term, but it sucks that the simplicity of the interface had to lead to more steps. I’m not saying it was a poor decision — I don’t think it was — but I’d like to see an improvement here, somehow.
- EDGE sucks. My area evidently has not seen the speed bumps yet that others saw on launch day (many are seeing 200Kbps on EDGE now), and my tests have yielded around 100Kbps. Sprint and Verizon make that look silly with speeds of over 400Kbps. Again, I understand, but it still sucks really bad. WiFi is nice, but it’s not nearly as ubiquitous as many would like to pretend.
- I said before I was worried about the battery. Well, I still am. I had a full charge at 8:00a.m; it’s now 8:00p.m. — and my battery looks to be very close to producing a warning (probably around 20%). Granted, I’ve been basically showing off intensive features all day, as well as messing with the thing myself, but still. I think I could do the same with my Blackberry and still eat only half a charge — if that. I just don’t see myself being comfortable going two full days on a single charge — which is my standard for a good battery. If I can’t be confident about two days, then I have to charge every day. And that’s NOT a good battery — I don’t care how many hours of talk-time someone gets in a lab. So, we’ll see how it goes after things calm down. Update: the device died at 10:00p.m., so that’s 14 off-and-on hours of assorted types of use. I think that’s bad news. I should have gotten two days out of that charge.
So — as a summary — I think the device (surprisingly) met the hype. It’s truly sick. But there are clear issues that need to be addressed either in software updates or version 2 of the device. In a single sentence: the device is so impressive that I barely notice the negatives. We’ll see how I feel as time goes on.: