I went to the Apple store late in the day today to have a play with the infamous iPhone. I think Apple really nailed the product release, but I’m not convinced by the product itself.
As you’d expect, Apple also nailed the in-store presentation with at least 12 demo units available to play with (and this was one of the smaller Apple stores).
The iPhone really is beautifully designed, very pretty, feels nicely substantive and has a great screen. The UI seems pretty good and intuitive. I tip my hat to Apple for failing to cave in to button-creep — it is a marvel of "almost no buttons" design, and I don’t just mean the lack of a keyboard. I love my Sony Ericsson phones, but the number of buttons is out of control…
For certain functions, the multi-touch stuff works like a charm. Panning and zooming in and out on Google Maps for example.
It is probably the best portable Photo/Video/MP3 playing device I’ve seen. Period. Seriously.
But… And it is a HUGE but. As a phone, I was wholly unimpressed. The text "keyboard" is fine, but there’s no equivalent of T9 or any other kind of predictive text (as far as I could see) so you ALWAYS have to type out words in full. That kills SMS for me (and probably puts a dent in email practicality too).
Dialing numbers was slightly odd too — I think because the buttons are so large in comparison to any other phone you might have used in the last 10 years… Think of your Grandma’s first big-button non-rotary phone (God I feel old saying that) and you’re in the right place scale-wise. I had more trouble dialing with fat fingers than I had spelling words.
When I think of how I use my phone, a great deal of it involves pressing buttons without looking at them e.g. pressing speed-dial for voicemail or other numbers, quick text replies, accessing web mail or email etc. Having no keys totally kills this. Furthermore, you really can ONLY use the iPhone with two hands. There is just no way to type without a keypad on a device this size and shape. That’s a dealbreaker too.
My other minor gripe is that the much-lauded motion sensor that rotates your view when you rotate the phone seemed very slow to respond, taking up to 2 seconds to re-orient the screen. Not sure why that should be.
My brief experience left me wanting an iPhod. A currently mythical device that has everything the iPhone has EXCEPT the phone (and the associated AT&T baggage). Photos, videos, MP3s, multi-touch, wi-fi, browser and the UI in general: sign me up. iPhone? Not so much.
My only other thoughts of the day:
The award for Best Comment goes to Dave Geradi of MobileCrunch: "It’s hard to keep projecting my air of cultured, metropolitan superiority when so many of my cohorts are acting like technopop lemmings"
And of course, by far the best pre-release coverage is this little movie. If you haven’t seen it, you really should have: