Living with the iPhone

I’ve now had my 3G iPhone for just over a month. It has become my constant companion, even though my use of it as a phone is relatively light. I’m one of those people that has to have a phone handy, a habit I picked up from a decade of being deeply involved in the operation of an online service that had to be running 24×7.

The Good
I’ve found that nearly every day I’m using more and more features on the phone. I use the Notes feature like crazy now, jotting down shopping lists and thoughts. The e-mail capability on the iPhone is wonderful. I’ve adapted to the keyboard pretty well, though I’m using only my right index finger to do all the work. I wouldn’t want to write a blog entry with it but quickly responding to e-mails and text messages are a piece of cake.

Browsing the web on an iPhone is fantastic, especially with a Wi-Fi connection. It will render virtually any Flash-less site and do it accurately. Some of the more complex sites can take a little while to render, especially if it’s a site that has a lot of deeply nested tables, graphics and dynamic HTML. The zooming and panning within the browser are outstanding.

Text messaging with the iPhone works great, adopting the iChat bubble model from the Mac. I now am much more inclined to carry on a text message conversation with my friends and especially my kids. I’ve never been a big fan of text messaging, mainly because I can carry on a conversation much more quickly and get what I need done. That said, I find myself texting a lot more often now.

The phone call quality for me has been very good, especially when I’m using the ear buds that come with the iPhone. I was able to sync the iPhone up to my car’s bluetooth system very easily and the call quality is very good there.

Speaking of syncing things up, the Address Book and iCal integration are also great and something I’m looking forward to my wife taking advantage of when I switch her over to a MacBook later this month.

The photo catalog on the iPhone is excellent and compliments my iPhoto collection nicely. Since I have the 16GB white iPhone I have plenty of space and put quite a few of the photos from my regular cameras into the iPhone. It’s nice to sit down with people and share the photos I’ve taken recently.

The Bad
I’ve had a couple of times now that my iPhone becomes very slow, almost unresponsive at times. This was especially true when I would jump into Contacts to look someone up. Fortunately the last update from Apple cleared up most of that, though at times I’ve found it can still be a bit sluggish in Contacts or Safari. Since I never really shut the phone down I’ve found that if I do that every once in a while it does help.

My 3G connection has been excellent in my home area of Northern VA, 4-5 bars most of the time, though even with a solid connection 3G can be pretty slow at times and for data is occasionally unresponsive. Just last week we have a pretty decent outage on the data side. Most of these problems appear to be an issue with AT&T, not the iPhone. I’m not letting Apple off the hook though since AT&T is the only carrier Apple is supporting. Given the high cost of the account to have an iPhone both of these companies need to get their act together.

The battery life on my iPhone seemed great at first, though it has dropped a bit since I started keeping Bluetooth on all the time. Whereas before I could go two days between charges with fairly heavy use I now pretty much have to recharge the phone every day even with light usage. Since I don’t travel all that much anymore this isn’t really an issue so I haven’t had to look into a battery extender like the Mophie yet.

The Add-ons
Though in the past I always had a holster/belt clip for my phone, I find myself simply stashing the iPhone in my pocket. I did purchase a protective case for my phone, a black Incipio dermaSHOT, which provides a nice layer of protection against nicks and accidental drops. The Incipio case is perfect for me; thin enough that it doesn’t impact my ability to keep it in my pants pocket while walking around. On the bright side it’s just tacky enough to allow me to place the iPhone on the flat, wooden surface of my car’s center console and not have slide off as soon as I make a turn. On the downside that tacky surface is a great lint collector so sometimes I pull my iPhone out of my pocket and it’s looks like a little grey rectangular teddy bear.

I have only picked up one game for the iPhone: HoldEm, a Texas Holdem poker game. This little $4.99 game from Apple is simply fantastic. The game does a nice job of simulating players, with some being aggressive at times and occasionally trying to bluff their way out of a bad hand. If you are at all into poker and have an iPhone this is an excellent buy for $5.

I also downloaded the free version of Twitterific, which gives me quick access to my Twitter account. I’m still experimenting with Twitter but am warming up to it pretty quickly. You can see my Twitter account here. I love that I can pump in a quick post from pretty much anywhere, like this morning while at a rest stop during my morning bike ride.

Based on the feedback of several people here I did grab the iPhone version of the NetNewsWire reader and it is pretty good. It will keep my news reader in sync though the NewsGator account I have, making it nice for keeping up on the latest stories while I’m out and about.

I’ve found several other application for the iPhone though none that really jumped out as worth writing about. One of the readers of this blog is working on an iPhone application that he let me take an early look at and I’m really looking forward to seeing that released. The early version I saw was excellent and I’m looking forward to talking about it when it’s available.

Overall I’m really pleased that I got the iPhone for both me and my wife. It’s an imperfect device to be sure, though considering all of the things it does really well the good far outweighs the bad. I ask my wife pretty regularly if she likes her iPhone and her response is still the same:

"I love it"