It was arguably the biggest technological event of the 21st century so far: Apple's release of the long-awaited, highly-hyped iPhone. Now that the lines have dwindled and the anticipation dissipated, has the iPhone proven itself worth the wait? Worth the hype? Let's find out.
The interface is sleek and the casing is slim. The display is glass rather than plastic. The phone is lightweight enough not to weigh you down, but substantial enough to merit its purported power. Unquestionably, the iPhone is nothing if not clean and stylish. But how does it hold up in usability?
The display screen that dominates the face of the iPhone could hardly be easier to use. It's a brilliant touchscreen display, 3 ½" large with a 160 dot/inch pixel resolution (that's 480 x 320), giving incredible graphics with incomparably vivid colors and fluid motions.
In classic Apple style, the Menus on the iPhone are the user-friendliest on the market. All the features are indicated by large, bright icons generously organized in such an intuitive way that it's simple to find whatever feature you're looking for. The smooth animations that segue you through the various features is an attractive and appealing touch.
Speaking of "touch", the multi touch screen on the Apple iPhone is deft and versatile, acting at once as a dialpad, keyboard, Safari browser, music player, and video player. It was a relief to discover that the touch screen is so very responsive (unlike its clunky competitors), especially since it sadly does not include tactile feedback (or haptic feedback). But while the "clunky" competitors may offer haptic feedback, they mostly only offer tapping and drag-and-drop interactivity with the touch-screen whereas the Apple iPhone can be manipulated a variety of different ways.
The onscreen QWERTY keyboard has large buttons spaced widely-enough apart that even a person with large fingers should have no difficulty tapping the keys. Typing emails and text messages, however, can be a bit challenging as it only works when the phone is held vertically.
Holding the phone horizontally, on the other hand, is brilliant for watching videos, movies, and photos in widescreen. Everything about the music and video features on the iPhone are top-notch - as well they should be. There's a 4 GB and an 8 GB model, both of which provide ample storage for all your favorite multimedia.
The sole hardware button on the face of the iPhone returns you instantly to the main menu from wherever you are. An additional multifunction button appears at the top of the iPhone to control calling and telephone power. The bottom o f the iPhone is where its speakers are located.
The features on the iPhone are too numerous to elucidate in detail, but a quick overview of the smorgasbord reveals Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, an iPod, the Safari web browser, built-in iTunes Music Store, YouTube, and Google Maps software (though it has no GPS…yet), visual voicemail, and 2 megapixel camera, and access to a slew of those beloved customizable Apple Widgets.
The iPhone's interface will certainly benefit from a few upgrades and improvements, as the benefits of smart menus and shortcuts are meted by the disadvantages of having to scroll through various menus to get the buttons you need to appear on the screen (for example, the "Talk" and "End" buttons only appear when the iPhone is in Call Mode).
The connection rate leaves a bit to be desired, though, and the call quality is unfortunately inconsistent, as the iPhone relies on the EDGE network, which tends oftentimes to run sluggishly. There's also the inconvenience of having to sign a two-year contract with AT&T in order to activate any new iPhone.
In line with Apple's reputation, the iPhone pioneers many innovative design elements, and it can only be expected that future generations of the iPhone will offer even more benchmark-setting power and performance.