iPhone 3G: Real-World Use

I've now had my iPhone 3G for four days, and I've had a chance to use it in some real-world scenarios.

Apps

The App Store is, unequivocally, the most important feature of iPhone OS 2.0. Exchange support is nice, yes, and there are lots of little tweaks. But the App Store is what makes the iPhone attractive to me, more of a computer instead of a silly smartphone. I've been using a few apps pretty solidly for the past few days: Twitterific (a Twitter client), Exposure (a Flickr client), and the official Facebook client. All of these are well-written, and leverage the iPhone's interface and featureset. Twitterific is particularly enjoyable to use (although I'm not sure if I'm entirely sold on the concept of microblogging yet). As time goes on, I can see myself using these apps even more, and there are a few apps that I'm still waiting for (for example, where's my blogger client? The post interface is pretty terrible in the browser).

iPod

I haven't really been a big user of iPods per se. It's true, I do have an iPod Color. But it has rockbox on it, and mostly serves to keep me from listening to the engines on plane rides. The iPhone is the first iPod that I've actually wanted to use as such. The sound is pretty good (using 256 kbit/s AAC files), and the interface is nice. I'm not sure if I'll be able to use mobile players where I can't pause by pressing on the headphone cable again.

Dr. Horrible

Where the iPhone really shines, though, is as a portable video player. Dr. Horrible is a comedy-musical-superhero webshow written by Joss Whedon, and it's available from iTunes. Watching it on my iPhone has been a joy -- quality is immensely better than through Hulu, and the iPhone's screen really shines for this sort of use.

Incidentally, "Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" is a really funny little show. It apparently will consist of 3 ~15 minute acts, and so far seems to have a lot of the wacky humor that I'd associate with Joss Whedon. That, and Nathan Fillon.

3G and GPS

As I mentioned in my previous iPhone 3G post, 3G reception in my dorm (and workplace) is pretty shoddy. This isn't really a problem, because I've got Wifi of on sort or another all over campus (and even at the Starbucks across the street). Off-campus, it's another story. 3G reception in Claremont is pretty good, and data is noticably faster than over EDGE. However, I did not notice a significant improvement in call quality over 3G than 2.5G, which might be important considering the power demands associated with 3G technologies.

One of the other things that I didn't get to test before was GPS. As expected, going outside made the GPS signal pop right up. It's actually sort of neat -- we start with a location circle whose diameter is about a mile, then it zooms in and the circle's diameter goes to about 200 feet, then the GPS signal kicks in, and the circle turns into a dot at my exact position. I guess it was sort of fun to watch my dot-self walking down the line-street equivalent of the street that my real self was walking down. I certainly don't see Google Maps + iPhone GPS replacing standalone GPS units (the requirement of network service for map data is a deal-killer alone), but it's a nice improvement of my previous way of navigating (print out a Google Maps map before I left). It also sucks up battery even faster than the 3G, so make sure to bring a car charger when you're off on your great adventure with your iPhone 3G.

More on the Hardware

So far, the iPhone itself is holding up very well. It's a veritable fingerprint magnet, but no scratches, despite being in my pocket with some change and such. The battery life is also fairly impressive -- a couple of days of medium use, and it's still at more than half charged.

Well, I suppose that's about it for my review today. Ciao.


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