As followers of my Twitterings will know, I have finally given in and bought myself the new iPhone 3G. I had been thinking of purchasing a smartphone for a little while now, although it was the Blackberry Storm that I was giving more serious consideration (mainly because it was on the same network that I was already on). However, after reading a lot of negative reviews of the Storm (especially when it was compared to the iPhone), I decided that probably wasn’t worth the outlay. It was only after having a play around on a neighbour’s iPhone and seeing what it could do, that I gave it serious consideration (that and the new price plans that were on offer). With a baby on the way, I knew it was now or never (when will I be able to afford things like this again!?), so I took the plunge and signed up for the contract (something I never thought I would do!). I have to say, I have not regretted it one bit. It really is an amazing piece of equipment and has quickly become my favourite gadget (beating even my beloved e-book reader).
Of course the first thing that strikes you with the iPhone is the interface. The touch screen is really quite amazing, as is the accelerometer (the mechanism that detects the orientation of the phone and adjust the display accordingly). However, the 3G model has a number of new features. Firstly, and most obviously, it has the addition of 3G technology which enables faster data speeds. It also had the addition of assisted GPS, enabling the phone to pinpoint your exact location. This can be used in conjunction with a number of applications. For example, with ‘Location Services’ switched on in the Settings menu, you can access Google maps and at the press of a button the phone will highlight your location. Using the search bar above the map, you can search for anything you fancy. Enter the word ‘cafe’ and it will search for all the cafes in the area, highlight them with a red pin and provide a link to contact information (including phone number, address and website). Not only does it locate your search terms, it can also give you directions to your chosen destination, giving you distances and times by foot, car or bus (including the time of the next bus!). Should you be on the move when you have requested directions, it will act as a sat-nav and follow your progress in real-time (and pretty accurate it is too). A pretty nifty little tool.
There are a whole host of other functions on the phone, including the ability to play films (I recently purchased Tropic Thunder which came with a digital copy, and was promptly transferred), view photos, watch YouTube clips and sync the phone’s calender with Outlook. There are also a host of other functions that are available from the App Store, a fantastic innovation that allows developers to create software that utilise the iPhone’s unique control system. I have already downloaded a number of applications (some free, some at a small fee), including:
- Facebook– Obviously links the phone to your Facebook account
- Twitterfon – Probably the best of the Twitter based applications available
- Last.fm– Links to your last.fm account and enables you to stream music from your last.fm playlists
- Flixster – Works with the location function to locate local cinemas, display listing, watch trailers and, depending on the cinema, book tickets
- Feeds– Links to Google Reader account to display RSS feeds
- Google Earth– Google’a amazing application for the iPhone.
Of these, only Feeds required a small payment (£1.75), the rest were totally free.
So far, I have been totally blown away by what the iPhone has to offer. A number of the applications are truly superb and it has been a very worthwhile purchase. The only real drawback so far has been the battery life. For the first week I was charging fairly regularly (almost daily in fact). But I have a feeling this was more down to the fact that I was using it a lot to get used to what it could do, rather than the fact that it runs out absurdly quickly. I have since discovered a number of ways to minimise battery wastage, and I have certainly noticed an increase in battery life between charges (there are a whole load of tips here). So all in all, the phone is pretty impressive and I certainly haven’t regretted giving in and signing a contract. It will be interesting to see what other new applications will be developed in the near future. For now, the iPhone has merely scratched the surface of what is possible. Who knows what may emerge when they dig a little deeper.