The Want Not Review: Apple iPhone

By Mir
March 26, 2008
Category Product Talk

So after the big deal on iPhones from the other day, alert reader Kristine came back this week and said:

Ok, Mir, we need a big fat review of your iPhone. What do you love? What do you hate? What do you wish it did better? Is it worth waiting for the next release?? Can’t wait to hear!!

And to Kristine I say: Sorry, I’d love to tell you all about my iPhone, but I am far too busy making out with it to discuss it right now.

Only joking, of course. Right now my daughter is busy making out with it, so I can talk for a few minutes….

The short story, of course, is that I love it with a fervor that borders on the unholy. It’s the greatest toy I’ve ever had, and the killer deal I got on it wasn’t anything to sneeze at, either.

Oh, did you want more information than that? Oooookay.

The good: the connectivity is amazing. It’s much faster than anything I was able to do with my old phone. Whether that’s the iPhone itself or AT&T doing better than Verizon, I couldn’t tell you. The iPhone will hook into open wireless networks, when possible, which is very cool and doubtless part of the speed.

Everything seems much more straightforward than my old phone; true to Apple form, it’s very intuitive, and nothing requires a million clicks to accomplish.

The fact that you can turn the phone on its side when browsing the web and the browser will automatically rotate and stretch out makes me weak in the knees. It supports multiple browser windows at once (and an easy way to toggle between them), which is also very slick. Zooming in and out on the browsing takes a little practice but is very simple once you get the hang of it.

You can use Google Maps to get turn-by-turn directions, which is particularly lovely for someone as directionally-challenged as myself.

The interface for the contacts list is much easier to navigate than any other phone I’ve ever had, although I do occasionally think I’m just going to look at a contact and dial them, instead. Oops! Still learning.

The bad: The camera on the iPhone is garbage, but I’ve yet to see a cell phone that takes a decent picture, so that’s not a big deal.

I’m having trouble adjusting to holding a smooth, flat bar up to my ear for phone calls; sometimes I don’t align my ear just right over the speaker, and then I wonder why I can’t hear very well. (It’s possible I’m just too uncool for an iPhone….)

A small, deeply geeky part of me sort of wishes you cold use a stylus on the screen rather than your fingertip—it takes a while to gain any sort of speed with what feels like a big, unwieldy fingertip.

In its current incarnation, there is no way to copy, cut or paste test within the iPhone. A big part of the reason I sprung for the iPhone is so that I could do some work in a pinch if I had time but no computer, and for Want Not in particular I tend to do a lot of cutting and pasting when I’m posting deal links. I hear that the next upgrade will allow for this functionality, though.

The bottom line: Would I buy it again? In a heartbeat. I’m not someone who would’ve paid $400 for one, by any stretch of the imagination. But for $249 I feel it’s a good value with a lot of functionality. I’m not even using a lot of what it can do, yet. (For example, I have a separate iPod, so I have yet to use it as an mp3 player.) The hype exists for a reason, and the reason is that it’s incredibly cool.


  1. Thanks for the review but I’m curious about the bad camera part. I have Dooce’s husband Jon/Blurb as a flickr contact and cannot believe some of the photos that he posts are taken with his iphone. I’ve also seen other photos on flickr taken with it and am blown away.

  2. I’ve taken some really great pictures with my iPhone too, could it be better? Absolutely. Does it take a while to get a handle on not taking blurry pictures, sure. But “garbage”? Nah.

  3. Question: if you have no intention of working from it, or fun is it? Other than Google Maps, do you casually surf on it? Or watch movies? Or listen to music?

    I’ve seen an iPhone, and while the UI is to drool over, I can’t imagine using the iPhone in place of my computer for the internet or my TV for movies. The screen is still too small for viewing for any length of time. I can see an iPhone being useful if you are take mass transit to and from work or otherwise spend a lot of time waiting and don’t want to lug around a laptop. I have a 5 minute drive to work, so I can’t see spending an extra $20 a month for an iPhone plan.

    Is there something I’m overlooking in the iPhone’s usefulness besides it’s pretty? My W810i is a good small phone that plays music, so I’m good, but I’m still curious about the iPhone.

  4. My husband got me an iPhone for Christmas, and it’s better than a pair of diamond earrings. I bought the exercise jacket and use the iPod function for running thru my neighborhood, meaning that I’ve got a phone just a click away if I need it, or if my kids need me. (The special iPhone ear buds have a cool toggle switch so, with just the touch of a button, you can answer the phone while listening to your tunes.)

    I definitely surf the web using the included Safari platform. As a full-time student, I do my daily round of blogs (like Want Not and Woulda Coulda Shoulda) in between classes. It means that I can also access all sorts of info right when I need it. For example, if I’m in the bookstore and can’t find an employee to help me remember the author of that book I really want to read, I can just Google the book and find it in the store by myself.

    The camera works just fine for me – I take pictures of my microbiology lab results all the time so I can include them in my reports without having to lug my Nikon to class.

    The syncing with my Outlook…oh, the synching with my Outlook…a thing of beauty. I have everyone’s appointments and due dates in there, along with alerts, so I never miss or double-book an appointment again.

    My only complaint is the lack of an Apple-supported list function, a-la-Franklin-Covey. I understand that there are web-based apps out there I can use, but I’d like something I can manage right there on the phone that will then sync with my computer (preferably Outlook). But I’m willing to bet that an upgrade for this will be just around the corner.

    Sorry to take up so much real estate with my comment, but I consider my iPhone my third child, I love it so much – a child who will do what I ask it to do the first time…

  5. not sure about others, but here is what I love about my iphone….

    -I can check (and respond) my e-mail at any time, anywhere…even places where I don’t get wireless internet I can still receive and send e-mails (helpful since I work from home and on the road can still interface) must be magic…

    -I DO use the internet function alot…at first it seems quite small text, however by double tapping on the screen it enlarges

    -it fully synced to my mac, so when I first got the phone, since you can’t just swap sim cards, I just plugged into my mac and it downloaded my contacts for me (and if I enter into my phone…will update in my computer once plugged in)–it also syncs everythingelse–my itunes, ical, etc

    – I have an ipod that I only use when I run since I can plug headphones into my iphone or it can come over the speakers of the phone–I’ve even used it in the kitchen while cooking 🙂

    – I now text alot more since it is so easy…love how it pops up a virtual keyboard to use just by tapping on the screen…although with my chubby fingers sometimes I do long for a stylus.

    -this is totally not a necessary function in life, but I do like being able to look at utube and being able to check the weather of my favorite cities with one touch or slide of the finger–also nice that you can use vertically or horizontally…. oh I could just go on and on…

    And I personally thought the plan only being $20 more was a bargain…before I didn’t have unlimited texting, e-mail, and internet usage…now I do…

  6. Saucygrrl: Maybe “garbage” is too strong of a word, but keep in mind that you’re talking to someone married to a photographer, so my standards for equipment may be snobbishly high.

    Mark: I do work on it, actually. It wouldn’t be my first choice, obviously, but I am out and about with the kids an awful lot and even responding to a couple of emails while waiting for practice to let out cuts down on time that I have to work once I’m back in the office. My daughter and I had a little outing this weekend and sat in the bagel shop watching YouTube videos on it together, which was fun but certainly not what I’d buy it for. 😉

    In terms of being worth the extra money, I’d say to do an apples-to-apples comparison you have to compare it to something like a Blackberry, not just a phone that plays music. I was able to surf the web (though the handling of pages was abysmal) and check my email from my old phone, but this blows that away. I assume a Blackberry would be similar in functionality (and price), this is just way more fun.

  7. My favorite feature is the driving directions, with Live Traffic! Too much fun.

  8. Thanks for the input. Easier texting is a plus, and the ability to look up things while in store would be nice as well, like price-comparison. I doubt I’d use it when I have a computer available (which is almost always), but it would be handy when shopping, or down at the lake…hmmm…

  9. nursing moms need this phone?!?! I know it sound crazy, but until I got myPhone, I had very few free minutes to surf the Internet, check mail, post to flikr and such. My laptop was always out of my reach or right wihin the reach of little grabby fingers. (-I actually had my “k” key ripped off by the boy) Now I surf, post, and reply silently tapping away on my virtual keyboard.

    As for the camera, 600 pictures later….. Most good, but I can’t go wrong with such a handsome subject- see for yourself.

  10. I totally pink puffy heart my iPhone!! Dear hubby got it for me for Valentines day. 🙂 Gotta love that man! [esp. since it was such a surprise–we have never exchanged gifts for the V holiday].

    I use it for my second job and find it very handy when I’m out an about w/ the kids. Love that it syncs with my Mac!


  11. Thanks for all the reviews! Now, I know you aren’t looking for one, Mir, but if you *happen* to stumble across such a great deal again, please be sure to direct us all that way!! 🙂

  12. i have a Nokia N75 and it does just about everything the iPhone does, but at a fraction of the price. ummmm, like it was free when a new phone line to our plan. it does not have a keyboard, which is considerably slower. however, i am getting rather quick with it. oh, it takes wicked good pix…..even with my dreadful photo skills. i got it because i wanted an mp3 player in my phone and a calendar that would sync with outlook. the sync is mega sweet. it even syncs my task list from outlook. i set up some tasks w/ alarms so it will remind me, out loud, to do something. a nifty little feature that i discovered by accident is the “name tags.” the phone rings and announces who is calling me if their name is listed in my address book. very handy when i am driving. i don’t have to take my eyes off the road to know who is calling me.
    the iPhone intrigues me. but i think i’ll wait until the next generation comes out. hopefully there will be more functionality and fewer bugs.
    thanks for the very informative post

  13. I pink puffy heart my iPhone too! My sister, the best in the whole wide world, gave me one for Christmas. Her being childless has it’s advantages! 😉 Mine takes pretty good pics outside. Inside their not much to brag about.

  14. I love to listen to the MacBreak Weekly podcast. They talk about the iphone just about every week. Scott Bourne, who also hosts the Apple Phone Show, said two weeks ago that the problems you are having (like no cut and paste feature) will be fixed in the next update, most likely in June. Scott has an inside source at AT&T so he usually has good info. It’s a great podcast. You might want to check it out.

  15. Bought myself the iPhone for my birthday last Sept. 21st and life simply hasn’t been the same since. I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I’ve never been a materialistic person but now, well, I just don’t know what to say because that little shiny piece of gadgetry gets treated as if I pert near gave birth to it. Seriously. I’m over 6 months into ownership and still find myself holding on to it in public places like it was my toddler for cripe sake. The only features it’s missing IMO are nuking a hot pocket and two little tiny hands popping out of it to perform a neck massage. What would I change/improve you ask? Perhaps the text messaging—I think a stylus would be awesome as I’m just not into the ‘suggestive text’ thing brought on by my bulky thumb size and impatience. Ironically though, the text messaging ‘problem’ is the very reason my daughters DON’T like my phone, making them not want to use it! THANK YOU, iPHONE GODS! Perhaps they too had covetous teenagers and can fully understand……
    P.S. I think the camera is awesome compared to other cell phone cameras, IMHO 🙂

  16. I never thought I would like my iphone as much as I do. My favorite part these days is that I can take a picture and instantly email it to anyone instantly. I like that I go open google maps and it will find where I am then I can search for starbucks and it will show me where the closest one is to my current location. I love that it syncs with my mac apps like address book and calendar. I can check my email anywhere, anytime.
    My last phone was just a phone, my iphone is so much more.

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