iPhone Buying Guide: Should I Buy An iPhone? Part II

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Part I covered the “extra” features of the iPhone – most not revolutionary and not even evolutionary but here’s a strange concept to them apparently for cell phone manufacturers and mobile service providers … something really, really radical …

A concept strange to them …

EASY TO USE.

What a strange concept.

Anyone can throw 100 features into a room but if the lights are off – what’s the point? How can you actually use them if you can’t find or see them?

That’s where the iPhone is different.

Yes, it’s fashionable and yes, it’s got lots of hype but the bottom line is you can LITERALLY access 20 of its features with ONE tap or TWO. There’s no complicated menu sequence to memorize … as noted in Part 1 of our post – straight from the Moto manual:

“Moto instructions for using “Quick Dial.” Go to TOOLS menu, select DIALING SERVICES, Select QUICK DIAL …”

Gee, imagine how many steps are required for something you don’t want to do so quickly?

In Part 1, we covered all the ONE tap features listed n the top portion of the phone and ALL fine or great, amazing features and reasons you’d want an iPhone but now comes the meat of the argument …

THE PHONE

Yes, most cell phones are relatively easy to use as cell phones and this is one area where a plain cell phone actually beats the iPhone because if you want to dial a number from the keypad, it does take two taps to bring up the keypad but more on that later.

When you TAP on the Phone icon, you get the “phone” section which is a large screen with small icons at the bottom – in order, FAVORITES, RECENTS, CONTACTS, KEYPAD & VOICEMAIL.

Again, features many if not all phones offer but once you drill down a bit, again, the iPhone is hard to beat.

FAVORITES is pretty obvious. In CONTACTS, you click on those phone numbers you want to readily access and call often – your FAVORITES …

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Then TAP once to make a call. You can also access FAVORITES by pressing the “home” button on the front panel twice.

The RECENTS is pretty self explanatory – you can scroll through to return or to call again – both SEND & RECEIVE recent calls are together because really, does it matter if you want access to the number whether you called them or they called you?

CONTACTS is also straightforward in one sense but again, smooth and easy to use in another much deeper sense.

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I never did find sync software that would transparently and smoothly sync and track your contact info from phone to computer UNTIL NOW … so you only have to enter in names & contact info once – already a HUGE timesaver – and it syncs both ways with your ADDRESS BOOK app … iPhone syncs with the address book you already use on your computer — Address Book or Entourage on a Mac, or Outlook or Outlook Express on a PC. If you keep your contacts on the web using Yahoo! Address Book, iPhone can sync with them, too.

What’s even better is if you are on a phone call with them, put them on the speaker phone and you can tap CONTACTS, look up their name and start entering notes at the bottom of their contact page … again, possible with lots of other phones but how do you reach the notes screen without cutting them off?

The KEYPAD … again, not a major thing but who would not want a keypad this large so there is no mistaking when number you have tapped on?

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And unlike some phones where the DELETE key deletes the entire freakin’ number so you have to start over, DELETE only deletes the last number you tapped on.

The last icon in PHONE is for VISUAL VOICEMAIL.

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That’s right, instead of trying to remember if #7 slows the message playback or erases it or if #6 is save and #1 is to hear it again, it’s ALL right in front of you and best of ALL – look over all your messages – each one is on a separate line. If you see the 1st and 3rd message is the work idiot, you can ignore it and just listen to message #2 by taping on the messages you want to hear. See the slider at the bottom – miss a phone number or want to hear a portion again, just finger slide the bar and forth to hear one portion again and again – no more listening to an ENTIRE message AGAIN just to hear the phone number 3 minutes into a 4-minute v-mail. BRILLIANT!

Yes, that’s right – just hear the portion of the voicemail you want again and again by using the slider.

And ONLY listen to the messages you want to.

A couple of other great things about the phone portion …

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After you dial or TAP on a name/number, you will get this screen – switch to SPEAKERPHONE?, just TAP once on SPEAKER – on my Moto phone, SPEAKER alternated with a CAMERA (why? NO IDEA!) or the PDA phone that required three menus to get to SPEAKER phone. If you need the keypad back to punch in numbers, just tap KEYPAD and you get that back … If you need to conference or add other callers, I have NEVER seen another cell phone that allowed you to link up with ONE tap. And as noted, you can tap on CONTACTS to access his/her page and add info.

Again, the simplest wins – large keypad, easy access to most frequent numbers, listen to only the voicemail messages you want to and you can access EVERY phone feature with ONE or at most TWO taps. EVERY FEATURE!

MAIL

Once you get MAIL setup, it’s easy … the smoothness of your setup depends on what emails you want to access – this is the ONE area that Apple sort of feel down upon. This was our post a while back on getting setup – if you run into problems, you can read it to see if it’s useful.

Once you are up & running – then it could not be easier. Tap MAIL and it begins to search your mailbox(es). On EDGE, it’s slower than WiFi but that’s to be expected.

You can view old Excel spreadsheets, Word Docs and PDF’s – they look just as they should.

Sending email is easy. Tap on the ADDRESS BAR to bring up CONTACTS. Then tap out your words and hit SEND.

SAFARI/INTERNET

Again, hard to believe but you can surf to 90% of sites without it seemingly very different than your normal web surfing experience. You don’t get FLASH objects so you lose a tons of ads and of course, game sites don’t usually work but beyond that, you’re not losing a whole lot. If you’re wondering why Flash might be missing and why you might/should not really miss it – here is our take on the issue.

web.jpg web2.jpg

And sure, surfing the net on EDGE is slightly faster than old dial-up but what are your alternatives? When you’re sitting at Gate 23, waiting at the DMV or on a commute train – would you rather sit there or surf the internet (and/or check your mail/stocks/weather/etc …)? Waiting 20 seconds for a page to draw at home or at the office is infuriating but when you have an hour to wait at the doctor’s – what’s an extra 20 seconds when the alternative is the pamphlet on “internet addiction?”

And of course, the cool scroll, pinch and screen rotation are all available here. And for some who cannot access company mail via MAIL, you can access your company’s webmail via a browser.

I also found it to be a nice shopping guide – there was a long line at a store and I was debating if the DVD was really worth it – I checked Amazon’s price and decided it was worth getting in line. Nice. I can even keep tabs on sports games and scores in progress – though Yahoo’s Game Channel is flash so it’s not 100% interactive …

If you don’t normally use SAFARI, you can import bookmarks into SAFARI and then configure them as you like – then the iPhone will sync your bookmarks from SAFARI. Of course, when you are on the iPhone, you can save new bookmarks and it will sync with SAFARI when you open iTunes.

IPOD

And of course, it’s a fully functional iPod with Video Capability. I think most everyone knows what’s what here but if you need a video demo, Apple’s demos will show off its features better than any words I can write.

The COVER FLOW feature is very cool but the video is amazing – while it would be nice if the movie store offered more choices but the TV choices are pretty nice (missing some NBC shows now though). Of course, you can always convert your own DVD’s – our HOW TO GUIDE.

FEATURE SUMMARY

So, yes alot of phones promise you hundreds of features from voice activation to 5-MP phone to a music store but the bottom line – how much time do you have to learn to use it? The iPhone does NOT have the longest list of features but EVERYTHING is literally ONE tap or ONE tap and a finger flick away – the iPhone is the first Apple product in a long, long time that actually includes a manual but you almost don’t need it because everything is clearly labeled … You want to look at your PHOTOS, it’s not 20 items down a tiny phone screen marked MULTIMEDIA and then a sub-menu called PICTURES, it’s simply labeled PHOTOS.

And just because you are doing one thing does not mean you can’t do another thing – you want listen to music and check the weather … you can make a call and type notes. (There is one downside to an EDGE connection versus if you’re connected on WiFi, you cannot surf the net while talking on the phone).

Most cell phone ads look great on TV – but in reality, everything is hidden away in tiny obscure menu choices or even the large screen cell phones like this new LG …

lg.jpg

(By the icons on the right, it looks like it’s in ‘phone mode,’ and on the left is a web’n’walk button (presuming for surfing) but then underneath the phone icon is a web browser – for surfing the web when you are not walking?)

The iPhone is like the iPod – it is NOT NEEDLESSLY complicated.

If you want features and you don’t want to spend 10-hundred hours learning how to get full use of your Phone-PDA-DAP? Then buy an iPhone if your time, and your brain memory capacity is money.

It’s as simple as that.

When you just look at a checklist of an iPhone and discount the touchscreen, the iPhone checklist is not overwhelming to its competition but its strength is its simplicity …

It is NOT … “Moto instructions for using “Quick Dial.” Go to TOOLS menu, select DIALING SERVICES, Select QUICK DIAL …”

It is simply a cell phone, PDA, iPod, Internet, Email capable device all rolled into one object that’s easy to use throughout. ONE tap is usually all you need to access about 15 features.

If this is worth $399 to you, great – the iPhone is perfect for you.

If you are really only interested in talking to others, then any cell phone will do you.

(Yes, the Blackberry’s are nice for corporate email but really, just only for that – and presumably your company will pay for one).

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE

There are a couple key and MAJOR points that a lot of people skirt over.

SOFTWARE UPGRADES!

Because the iPhone is not a normal cell phone, they can actually ADD and IMPROVE features with upgrades as they have done so recently – adding functionality to certain buttons and allowing more customization and adding the iTunes WiFi Store … so instead of being locked in, they can add and change things around at no additional cost.

ITUNES

First, you do not have to hand over your personal info and SSN to some guy in a kiosk – you activate your iPhone on iTunes in the comfort of your own home so even if something goes awry, you are at home. This includes porting over an old number – remember to turn off your old phone while this is going on.

Then iTunes will not only sync your music & video purchases & library, calendar, photos AND address book, it keeps track for you so as long as you sync regularly, it BACKS EVERYTHING UP including all your iPhone settings, photos your took, notes and bookmarks – does your cell phone do that now? Sure, if you buy an SIM copier and if you remember to save to the SIM card and not “save to phone.” How much is that worth to you? That even if lose your iPhone or a Mack truck drives over it – when you plug the new phone in – you can tell iTunes that this is now the “new iPhone” and it will sync and copy everything to this new phone. You can literally CLONE your phone in 10-15 minutes! Does your phone give you that choice now?

This leads me to the next part …

REAL ANSWERS AT THE APPLE STORES

There are very few if any manufacturers who sell you something and have hundreds of stores across the country (and eventually the world) available to answer ANY and ALL YOUR QUESTIONS. Sure, there’s the 800 number to call and you can buy the 800 service AppleCare – but during your warranty period and even after, there is a TRAINED employee you can walk right up to – who can answer your questions and in my case, actually resolve a problem by REPLACING MY PHONE – free. Does your kiosk do that? Can you imagine an employee at a kiosk who will replace your broken Moto phone? The glass cube Apple store is even open 24 hours! How re-assuring is it to know that you can always walk into a store and they will take responsibility* for THEIR product instead of just claiming it’s the other company or the retailer who you should be talking to.

* Yes, if you try and hack your cell phone by dropping solder on the circuit board or mess with OS, you are on your own.

FINAL SUMMARY

No, the iPhone is not 100% perfect for 100% of the people but then what is – are there a few things that could be improved upon, sure. And yea, AT&T’s network is not the best but hey, I can’t get a decent pastrami sandwich in the SF Bay Area so that’s life … better to have an iPhone on an average network than still being on a 2-year contract on a slightly better network with a middling cell phone.

The iPhone is NOT for everyone. It will cost you a few dollars more upfront but if you want to have productive downtime by checking your email, surfing the net or checking out bits of info – then the iPhone is brilliant. If you want a phone/PDA/DAP where all the features are actually useful and at worst, two taps away instead of buried under 6 sub-menus using words that make no sense – then the iPhone is your only choice.

Sure, some people would like you to believe because it’s attractive and it’s coveted by people that it’s superficial – the iPhone is many things but it’s not superficial. It’s simply the best phone/PDA/iPod productivity tool. This post is not about whether it should be opened for hacking or your problems with AT&T – that’s not what this post is about. This is just a guideline as to why you might want to get an iPhone. NOT everyone needs one but if you have needs or interests like we’ve outlined in the two posts, you should get one.

And you can see 1-minute video demos of each feature live in action at the iPhone section of the Apple website here. Just choose the topics on your left.

(If you want a phone to hack, here are 12 from WIRED).

This is in German but it shows you how surfing on the iPhone is so much better than surfing on Nokia’s browser …

You can also check out this cool site to play with the iPhone ONLINE!

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5 Comments

Filed under Apple, Computing, Gadgets, Internet, iPhone, Marketing, Media, mobile, Music, Retail

5 responses to “iPhone Buying Guide: Should I Buy An iPhone? Part II

  1. Pingback: mobile phone service » iPhone Buying Guide: Should I Buy An iPhone? Part II

  2. daviddennis

    I make under one phone call a day and send about zero SMS messages a day, but iPhone is still worth every penny of its price for its smooth connections with the web and email.

    The one thing you didn’t cover in your review is that the iPhone is seriously fun to use and play around with. It’s like a combination of a serious gadget and a toy.

    This kind of play appeal is tough to describe but definitely make the iPhone a very puzzling device to Blackberry users and others who say that functionality is everything.

    D

  3. I’m considering between the iPhone and the iPod Touch. It’s a significant price difference for me as I don’t leave in the US and people who import the iPhone usually sell it at an extravagant price.

    (METROXING: If you can pick up one in the states or have a relative buy you one – the big difference (not counting any hacking you add to it) is that every feature on the iPod version works fine … and all the iPhone features that normally can be used under WiFi (Mail, Safari, most buttons, etc …) can be used on the iPhone EXCEPT making calls and using visual voicemail. You can decide if the extra non-phone features of the iPhone are worth it to you … and hopefully a contract will be signed for your area).

  4. scott47

    I guess it probably is easy to use. I’m just still not sold on it. Its expensive and I don’t need all those features in a phone =/. Plus, as easy as they can prove it to be, I still just can’t believe it. Does anyone know how long the battery lasts?

  5. MANDAR PATEL

    I AM IMPRESSED BY THE FEATURES.THINKING SEROUSLY TO BUY.

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