Thursday, June 25, 2009

iPhone 3GS Impressions

So I just got an iPhone 3GS. There are already lots of reviews of it out there, so I'll try to make my impressions about non-obvious things ... or at least use the word "fuck" more than other reviewers.

Bad things:

  • Why the fuck can't I sync my calendar and contacts (or music, if I really wanted to) over Bluetooth or WiFi? Plugging stuff in is so 2007.
  • Why the fuck can't anything bigger than 10MB be downloaded directly from the iPhone?
  • Why the fuck isn't there a play/pause button on the outside of the phone? I don't want to take the whole phone out and press 2 different buttons just to pause the music for a second. There's external volume control, and a perfect amount of space between + and - to put a pause button, which would duplicate the little remote on the headphone.
  • Speaking of which, why the fuck do the headphones suck so bad? The little remote / microphone on them is genius, especially when combined with voice control. It makes accomplishing any tasks that don't require a screen - like listening to music or making calls - easy to do without whipping out the whole phone. But the only way to get this functionality is to use the included headphones, which have just horrible sound quality. It's like someone barfed all over my music collection. This, and the lack of external control, makes it pretty useless as an iPod.
  • Also making sure it won't replace the iPod is the limited storage capacity. Maybe I'm just being nitpicky now, but I really really wish there was just one device that would do everything. All it would take is to make an iPhone with 160GB or so of storage. I know it would be expensive and/or heavy. I don't care. I'd pay for it if it existed.
Good things:
  • The novelty of being able to browse the web, email, Twitter, Facebook, etc., from a phone will take a long time to wear off. This is truly the stuff of science fiction. For fuck's sake people, we're able to access the recorded thoughts of millions of other people, and transmit our own thoughts, from anywhere we go. Almost any work of art, music, or literature created throughout history can be accessed at any time with a few taps and flicks of the finger. Just years ago that would have seemed like magic.
  • The compass usually works fine, and combining it with Google maps makes real life like a video game with a little map in the corner of the screen. I'm really looking forward to what sorts of applications can be created that use the magnetometer (and given my own research on geomagnetism, I hope there's one that simply measures the strength of local magnetic fields).
  • Typing on the iPhone is easier than I thought it would be. Even without physical buttons, I can type much faster than I ever could on my old phone.
  • Tethering is incredible. Without even taking the phone out of my pocket, I can use my laptop with full internet access almost anywhere. Useful given that most coffee shops around here still don't have free WiFi...or for getting work done under a tree in Victoria Park.
  • Voice control actually works! As I listened to music through the headphones that came with it, I wondered to myself, "hey, myself, I wonder if holding down the headphone button will activate voice control just like holding down the home button on the phone?" So I tried it, and voila, it gave me the little "talk to me" beep. "Play songs by Little Boots?" I mumbled to the air uncertainly. And sure enough, my iPhone said to me in a pleasant female voice: "Playing songs by Little Boots." I loved the phone before, in the abstract sense that one loves a beautiful piece of technology. Now I love it in the sense that it's something I can have conversations with.
  • There is no such thing as down time any more. I can catch up on email or Twitter, or even work on my novel, while waiting for the bus, or in line for coffee, or whenever. Or I could blog while taking a dump! HI!


Anonymous said...

Now I want to get the new iPhone... but like you said the simple fact that you need to take the phone out just to pause music and u have to listen to music with shitty headphones suck. think maybe you can use tape and other adhesive aparatus to attach the ipod behind your iphone?

Anonymous said...

I have my calendar synching (via wifi) with Google Calendar which, in turn, synchs with my desktop calendar. I was already doing the last two steps, but adding the third was no problem.

shine said...

I think I'm kind of in love with your iPhone. Which means I'm cheating on my iPhone. But I love it too and I think it will understand.

I would never ever blog while taking a dump. Never. (She doth protest too much?)

Anonymous said...

ya, google calendar and contacts sync no problem on my touch.

As for tethering, do you have to have it plugged in to the laptop for it to work, or does it do it over bluetooth?

Phronk said...

Lainy: Hehe, that'd be one way to do it. I'm hoping that in September they announce a mindblowing new iPod. They'll have to, or else people will just use their iPhones to play music (despite the flaws).

Karolijn & Kevin: Do you sync with Gcal right on the device? How? I've had problems syncing Gcal with iCal even on my desktop (having to create all new calendars and such was difficult and it didn't seem reliable), so I just stick with iCal now.

Kevin: It works over Bluetooth. Don't even have to take the phone out; just connect with the computer and it works right from your pocket. Very cool.

Shine: I'm sure your iPhone is very nice too. We should have a play date and let our iPhones hang out.

EVILFLU said...

I think I have a weird accent or something because my iPhone doesn't understand any of the crap I tell it to do. It's so frustrating. I'll say like "Play New Kids on the Block" and it will play "Beyonce" only it will say playing "Beyon-see".

I still sort of love my new iPhone...even though it is a twin of my old one (except for all the new cool features!)

Harry said...

First off, you're lucky because you don't have AT&T and that Rogers seems to do one thing that's cool -- allow tethering. Was that something that came with the service plan?

Yes, the headphones do sound like crap. What do you expect? They were free and came with the phone. However, Apple has give you the ability to "love it in the sense that it's something I can have conversations with". Isn't it up to every other company out there to create a better headphone, and not necessarily Apple? They stuff a tiny robot that answers your voice commands into a handheld computer with the capability of instant worldwide communication, and yet people complain. *sigh*

Secondly, did you get the 32GB version? We've had this discussion a few times before, but 32GB isn't enough for you? Its basically like having a low-end 5th generation iPod Video (had to Wikipedia that one).

Oh, I know you didn't want to repeat what other reviewers had already said, but I would like to hear your thoughts on battery life. With the 3g, we jailbreakers tether through WiFi and it severely eats up battery. Do you plug your phone directly into your computer to access tethering? If so, does it charge it at the same time?

Does Rogers give you MMS as well?

[wrapping up] Like karolijn said, use Google's Mobile Sync (with Push) for contacts and calendars. Makes life easier.

Oh, and bummer you can't jailbreak (yet).

Dead Robot said...

Why the fuck isn't there a play/pause button on the outside of the phone?

If you double click the big round Home button the iPod controls come up - sleep or not. The only screen this won't call up the iPod controls is when you're on the home screen, otherwise it goes to your contacts.

I've gone out and replaced the earbuds with SHURE cell phone ear buds. They're bulky but the sound is night and day. But now I'm eyeing the Motorola bluetooth headset. Wireless and full control baby (except maybe that robot voice telling you what you're listening to - dunno, havent asked an Apple guy yet)!

And finally, flash storage is still pretty expensive. I'd love a 160G iPhone too but I'm not about to pay $1200 for it. I'll get a 13" MacBook Pro first.

Phronk said...

Evilflu: Are you saying the exact words it's looking for? Like, I think you have to say "play songs by [artist]" (and "play music by [artist]" won't work).

Harry: Yeah AT&T seems like a nightmare. I liked how the crowd laughed out loud when it was announced that MMS wasn't available yet.

I dunno if I'd call the headphones free, and I think it's okay to wish for more out of one aspect (sound quality) and praise other aspects (the magical talking robot) at the same time. I do hope other companies make headphones that do both, but it would have been nice if Apple got it right.

I got the 16GB because I know I'll have to get an iPod anyway. 32GB is not nearly enough for me; I have nearly 80GB of music alone (not including video and podcasts). My personality just needs a lot of storage; I like that, when I'm listening to a random playlist, and hear an artist I want to play more of, I can go to my full music collection and pull out a full album by them.

Battery life seems good. I've been using it nearly constantly for the last few days, and it's never failed to last the day. I've heard anecdotally that tethering uses less battery than browsing on the device, but I haven't done it for extended periods of time myself. It does charge if you have it plugged in and tether, but it works over Bluetooth too.

I haven't tried MMS but I think Rogers has it.

Dunno if I'll jailbreak. Seems like most of the missing features that jailbreak added (video, tethering) are now there. We'll see if anything better is available though.

DR: I know about the double-click, but it still requires getting the phone out of your pocket to pause (unless you memorize the location of the pause button, but that's risky).

I have some great Sennheiser headphones (which broke just after getting the iPhone, which was kinda lucky in a way?) ... but man, wireless with full control and good sound quality would be amazing.

Yeah I dunno about $1200. But I'd gladly put up with the bulk of an old-school hard drive for the extra storage.

shine said...

@Dead Robot: You are kind of my hero. I didn't know about this double clicky thing. I wonder what other tricks I'm missing. Also which Motorola Bluetooth Headset? I want.

Phronk, play dates please. My iPhone is slower than yours, though, so yours will have to play nice.

Dale said...

Your iPhone is a sexy motherfucker and so will mine be once it shows up. I made the mistake of ordering it and now it's on backorder - yay! Eff eff eff!

Anonymous said...

I thought you were going to *do* impressions of the iPhone 3GS. This was way better.