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First look: Hands-on with the iPhone

Just how good is the Apple iPhone?

Does it live up to the hype? Of course it doesn't - it couldn't possibly. As David Platt, a computer science professor at Harvard University, remarked to Reuters: "God himself could not design a device that could live up to all the hype."

But, when you separate the wheat from the chaff, fact from fiction, hope from hype, it turns out the iPhone really is an amazing product given all that it’s required to do. Here are five things I noticed after using the phone last week:

Screen idol

The iPhone offers an amazing resolution, with a clear, bright screen, and organic-looking buttons and an interface with all kinds of visual cues to let you know what you can and can't do. For example, when viewing photos, you scroll with a finger flick to the left and right. But what happens when you try to scroll up and down? If nothing happened, you'd think there was something wrong. So instead, Apple has made it so the image moves up a couple of centimetres but ‘bounces’ quickly back down. In other words, it lets you know the phone recognised your action but also shows you the action cannot be done. Also, the ‘finger pinch’ action for zooming in on things will make you smile the first few times you do it.

Video to (finally) go

I have always said that I can't be bothered watching videos on my iPod video - at 2.5in, the screen is just too small. But now that the iPhone offers a 3.5in screen that offers widescreen viewing? I will happily leave my laptop in the overhead bin on long flights and watch movies and TV shows on the iPhone. They look that good.

Living on the EDGE

For me, the most important feature of the iPhone is the web browsing - and that's where a lot of people will be disappointed.

AT&T's EDGE network is as slow as everyone says it is - going to even the simplest web page takes minutes. But if you are on a Wi-Fi network, things are relatively speedy.

Make no mistake, even if Apple claims the experience is not a ‘watered down version’ of the internet, it most certainly is. There are a lot of things we take for granted, internet wise, that the iPhone can't do and, if those things are important to you, this may not be the browsing experience you are looking for.

So you're not going to throw away your laptop in favour of browsing on the iPhone. But you will use the web features for quick information hits while you're in an airport, stuck on a bus, in class, and so forth. It is fun, easy, and organic.

Syncing sensation

I was disappointed to learn that the iPhone will not wirelessly sync with your Mac but syncing is still fairly easy. As with your iPod, just connecting your iPhone begins the simple process.

Picture this

Apple has next to no information regarding the features of the iPhone's camera - and for good reason. It's ‘just’ a 2-megapixel camera phone with all the limitations of any other camera phone - it has no flash, no zoom and, while the entire screen becomes the viewfinder (making pictures look great), it does a poor job of capturing motion or images in low-light conditions.

Final impression

Is the iPhone revolutionary? Apple says so, and it is - if you think a mobile phone, web browser and iPod all combined are revolutionary.

But it goes further than that. A lot of people believe the iPhone is another platform for Apple. In that regard, it will be a revolution for Apple and open a whole other market for the company.

The iPhone is not the ‘Perfect Device’. But it is a cool piece of technology that does a lot of things surprisingly well. And, for those of you waiting for ‘Version 2.0’, it will only get better.

See also

Hackers could unlock iPhone today

The iPhone killers: best products of 2007

iTunes update adds iPhone support

iPhone software aids Amazon shoppers

Tackling the iPhone mob

 

www.macworld.com


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