Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Finally, an iPhone.


Finally, an iPhone - a review by a first-time user.

After a 14 year love affair with Nokia, only briefly interjected twice by Samsung and HTC, I have finally moved on to the domain of Steve Jobs. The great, grand Steve Jobs. My new Apple iPhone 3GS has taken me - for the time being - to a different plane altogether now.

Apple Inc logo image for Bright Sparks blog of Sandeep Manudhane sir
A bite, anyone?
Having observed the consistent failure of Nokia to provide a really good smartphone that could stir my fancy, I clung to my 3 year old E90 (Nokia Communicator) with all the loyalty I could muster. But it just did not measure up to what the world was now becoming.

Media played its role too. Apple turning into a tech company with the world's highest market capitalisation, and laudatory reviews appearing persistently in global media played their own part. The clincher perhaps was a full page article in last week's The Economist which talked at length about the travails of Nokia. Somehow, I thought, let me try this new stuff.

So here I am with my new iPhone 3GS - 16 GB. Do excuse me, as I write with some enthusiasm! I am using this stuff for the first time, and as someone who can appreciate the beauty of original thinking, I think I am in love with a lot of what it has to offer.

But first, the precautions:

  1. As a Nokia enthusiast, it will take some time to get adjusted to an iPhone. The first 48 hours are most painful. The thought of switching back to Nokia crossed my mind several times, but I persisted, and tried to learn all the features. And it worked!
  2. The interface is everything. Apple wants you to enjoy the iPhone. One cannot really use it - one has to begin to enjoy it. Then you start becoming a part of Steve Jobs' vision of technology serving man, and not the other way round.
  3. The iPhone is symptomatic of the new world of smartphones that will be the lingua franca of the mobile industry in years to come. Even at the entry level, chances are, iPhone like features will be industry standard. But iPhone is not built for India! It's too smooth, too shiny and too soft for it. That's a huge minus, and hence one needs to be physically very cautious while using it.
  4. Learning the on-screen typing will take some time. It is not easy. Nokia enthusiasts accustomed to the tough qwerty keypads may find it frustrating to actually focus their minds on individual alphabets as they pop up in big sizes (beautiful!) as you type from the onscreen keyboard. It takes some time before you realise the wonderful magnifying glass waiting to be at your beck and call!
Now, the adolescent moments of joy!
  1. The touch experience is breathtakingly beautiful. It just rolls! And rolls! And if you learn it fast enough, and move your fingers 'across', it rolls even faster. This is pure joy. Seamless, non-jerky, non-discrete. Silicon Valley has scored a big plus over Scandinavia, in touch.
  2. The way Apple has ensured simple tasks remain simple, in a touchscreen environment, is praiseworthy. To delete an sms/email, just wipe your finger across and the red coloured delete button appears for you! It sure gives you a sense of control.
  3. iPhone image for Bright Sparks blog of Sandeep Manudhane SM sir
    iConic
  4. The icons are outstandingly beautiful. Steve Jobs' love for calligraphy, simplicity and beauty is all too visible in the way each icon is designed and placed.
  5. SMS experience is totally different. Instead of being stored as discrete pieces of communication (like in most other handsets), various SMSs exchanged between any two people are shown in a series of communication bubbles. That changes everything! You can view your entire conversation with someone over time, not just pieces of it (though there is a major minus in it, which I will mention later).
  6. Typing, copy-pasting, deleting is all very intelligently designed. A new user must spend some focussed time learning these tricks of the iPhone trade, to fully release its raw power and energy.
  7. Setting up the phone is a lovely experience. Smooth as silk, everything settles down quickly, and the unique packaging (in which it arrives) makes you scared at first (Oh my god!, this is so different.. I hope I can handle it) and delighted soon thereafter!
  8. Managing pictures and videos is really very cool. In fact, the entire phone - oops, device - is all about its "cool" factor. It is very visible that Steve Jobs and his team have done everything possible to retain the "cool" factors even while the device goes about handling the most mundane of tasks. Making calls, for example. The way the list of calls made (recd/missed) is displayed, and gels with creating new contacts is superb. It is extremely user-friendly once you master it. It takes some time for that, though.
  9. The device's homepage icon management is classic. You can do anything you want to - this is one freedom very few companies offer. You can create multiple home pages, with any possible arrangement of icons. That is the extreme to which you can push customisation. And it really helps generate a sense of ownership in the owner's mind (it did, for me!). The way a folder gets created is classic - just drop an icon "into" another icon, and presto! the folder is ready - it uses commonsense.
  10. Steve Jobs pic for Bright Sparks blog of Sandeep Manudhane SM sir
    Steve Jobs and his digital world
  11. The online iTunes store's width and depth surely must be huge, but I have not started using that fully so far. I guess it must be one of the most populated online stores, and options on applications must be varied and rich. My son's first horrified reaction "Dad, nothing is for free here!!!" proved wrong when we spotted the "Free" tab, and discovered a whole host of free goodies available. Now for an Indian user, that's really important :-)
  12. The arrival of 3G networks in India will multiply the pleasure of using an iPhone. It is truly designed for that infrastructure only. The tardy speeds at present kill the joy of seeing a webpage load in all its glory, with easy navigation and delete options.
  13. Using the phone in hands-free mode (without a headset) is very convenient as the on-screen icons are very large and clearly visible.
  14. Spending time on online-social-networking (OSN) on this handset is very interesting. From feeling that you are on a miniature PC to enjoying the adjustable-screen-display-tilt feature, it glides fairly smoothly. Webpages are a breeze.
  15. Emails are very smooth to manage. And the push-mail feature makes it very Blackberry like (though almost all brands offer this feature now). But I must admit - Blackberry is totally business-like in appearance and behaviour. So perhaps the iPhone is for evolved business-persons! Ha ha. And thank God they do not restrict the number of email accounts one can install.
But the product is far from being "perfect". Limitations are:
  1. SMS communication thread makes it very difficult to identify the last received sms from any user (as it gets inside some communication somewhere!). It is only upon the first prompt that you can see the fresh sms clearly, and then it is lost inside the whole list of communication threads stored. You may change this through the settings feature, I guess, but the thread utility will be lost then.
  2. Why, oh why, do you have to create a separate tool for a thing as mundane as a SIM card slot! It is a foolish idea. The pin just cannot be preserved safely for long. And since billions of other handsets in the world are easily working with a manually (and easily) openable sim card slots, why do we need a pin in the iPhone to accomplish that task?
  3. It is clear that Steve Jobs did not have India in his mind while designing the iPhone. My small advice - please wake up to the subcontinent's realities, if you really want to crack the market here. The dust, grime, sweat, jerks, tumbles and drops here are unlike anyplace else. The iPhone is too sophisticated to become a mass product in India (which ultimately Apple will try to become). It catches dust easily, gets scratched very quickly, and the real danger of the windshield ruined to pieces is all too scary!! I have issued clear instructions to both my kids that the first one to smash my screen will have his/her PC confiscated.
  4. The handling of the device needs extra care. Apple should put a good grip on either sides of it, that's leathery and rough, so we can hold it properly. Smooth metal is hardly the best idea!
  5. Of course, it is costly!
  6. The best way to silence an incoming call is to have an on-screen icon like most other handsets have, by default. The lack of this feature in the iPhone 3GS surprises me - is there some higher purpose here?  (you can silence it by tapping the volume-control switch provided on the left side)
  7. I am still not able to see the "automatic into drafts folder" option for sms that you suddenly lose while typing (Nokia has this very useful feature). It is very irritating to lose a large w-i-p sms after typing out most of it!
  8. Nokia phone image for Bright Sparks blog of Sandeep Manudhane sir
    Nokia's great vision
  9. It is frustrating for a business user to notice the lack of a flash while taking pictures. It ruins many images totally. Nokia rocks in this feature! Apple iPhone 4 removes this anomaly, but it's fairly costly for that.
  10. We all know that Apple is a closed universe - their own hardware, their own software, their own policies, and their own showrooms (mostly). So it will take some time before adjusting to this reality. This is in stark contrast to a very open Nokia system, that grows on you like addiction in no time. (the Ovi service never could catch on as much as Nokia would love it to)
  11. The microphone quality is a bit inferior though, and one needs to speak loudly at times, when using the speakerphone mode.
  12. The auto screen-tilt feature is not foolproof in the iPhone. It works best when the phone is held perpendicular to the ground, not when it is at an angle.
  13. A big irritant is the absence of a "delete all" feature for sms and emails. How do you delete multiple sms / emails? One by one? Come on!
  14. Big letdown - Battery gets drained very fast, not a suprise given the size of the display screen. So while one could get away with a 2 days non-charging period with the Nokia E90, here it's a tight situation, even with a low 'screen brightness' setting.
  15. An advice to Apple and Steve Jobs - send a team of designers to India, and let them study the sturdy, tough, unbreakable (almost) handsets of other manufacturers that operate for the Indian market. In the long run, that learning will work wonders for Apple, as it goes about grabbing a meaningfully large share of the Indian market.
My verdict : If you are totally happy with your present handset (which most likely will be a Nokia!), no need to shift. You are in sturdy, solid hands. But if you have had enough, and want a complete change, iPhone it is.

Let's see how this battle evolves in the months to come. It can move in any direction, as writing Nokia off may be foolhardy. They simply can bounce back with a disruptive product that again takes people like me to their fold (what a waste of money it will have been then!). For the time being, let me partake of life's little pleasures including wiggling icons, the silver-smooth Apple logo, and rapturous communication threads!


Thanks for reading, and have a good day!

A comprehensive, topic-wise and useful collection of my various posts and answers can be found here. Enjoy.

~

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11 comments:

Praj.. said...

Dear sir,
Heartiest congratulations to you for your new purchase!! The first word that came to my mind after reading your blog was 'WOW' what an amazing analysis. I am surprised with the microscopic analysis that you have provided over the features of iPhone! what suprises me all-the-more is that its just been few days that you have made the purchase. I had known each and every detail that you have provided here courtesy Proton Samrat Nema. This person is a huge devotee of Apple products and am sure he can help you out with thousands of free applications available online as he is expert in cracking them. Regards and good wishes. Proton Prajakta Inamdar.

Praj.. said...

Dear sir,
Heartiest congratulations to you for your new purchase!! The first word that came to my mind after reading your blog was 'WOW' what an amazing analysis. I am surprised with the microscopic analysis that you have provided over the features of iPhone! what suprises me all-the-more is that its just been few days that you have made the purchase. I had known each and every detail that you have provided here courtesy Proton Samrat Nema. This person is a huge devotee of Apple products and am sure he can help you out with thousands of free applications available online as he is expert in cracking them. Regards and good wishes. Proton Prajakta Inamdar.

Praj.. said...

Dear sir,
Heartiest congratulations to you for your new purchase!! The first word that came to my mind after reading your blog was 'WOW' what an amazing analysis. I am surprised with the microscopic analysis that you have provided over the features of iPhone! what suprises me all-the-more is that its just been few days that you have made the purchase. I had known each and every detail that you have provided here courtesy Proton Samrat Nema. This person is a huge devotee of Apple products and am sure he can help you out with thousands of free applications available online as he is expert in cracking them. Regards and good wishes. Proton Prajakta Inamdar.

Krunal Gurav said...

Congrats Sir!!

Your love for Nokia and excitement for new apple iphone is much evident in the blog, really nice to nice to see that and as usual great analysis focusing on each and every minute detail. At last I would like to say OPK, CEO of Nokia is going to face a tough time if many such decisions are made daily somewhere else in the world.
Regards,
Krunal Gurav

Soya said...

Dear Sir,

Your review is very helpful, not that I was buying an iPhone tomorrow :-), but I am a huge Nokia fan & cannot even think about using any other phone. I was skeptical about SMS communiation of touch screen phones & your blog cleared my doubts about it. Since I use the text messages feature alot, I will stick to my QWERTY Nokia.

Regards,
Shoaib Qureshi

pandey_ana84 said...

So much on the first bite of Apple :)

Congratulations Sir for the new phone.Having iphone,ipad is one of those experiences people like to have once in their lifetime.:):)

Anamika

vidhi said...

Dear Sir

Congartulations for Apple iPhone.
Really very good review about iPhone which can surely help to potential buyer.

Sir I am really very happy with the range of the topic you are choosing for the blog. I think it is the main thing which is attracting a lot to readers of your blog like me.

Sir I am not a Proton student but I am a big fan of yours and enjoing your blog a lot. Every time your blog has given me a new insight for the perticular topic.

Keep writing such a insightful articles.


Regards
Vidhi Shah

Samrat Nema said...

Congratulations Sir,

You have given such minute details about the phone in such a short span of time. Reading your view about the phone was very motivating for me.

Sharing my experience: - Using iPhone always has been a wonderful experience for me. This gadget has performed more than I expected. It’s evolving like humans did and attaining new heights. Being an Apple fan I would like to keep my points on the point which you have mentioned in the blog. I would love to assist you with the usage or software’s of the phone.

Not criticizing your views about the iPhone, it’s just being an experienced user I would like to share my views.

Referring to your 9th point about its App Store and applications: -It offers free Apps and you can also find LITE versions of full paid Apps. You can also find paid Apps for free on some sites. It would be piracy. But the Apps which are highly charged, like $79.99 can be downloaded as some people may not afford to pay hefty amount.

Referring point 12:- There are many free applications in App Store for social networking, which also provides PUSH notifications. This keeps you updated every moment your friend comments or messages you.

There are some limitations which can be removed by installing software’s, if you own a Jailbroken and Unlocked phone(which is declared legal), would reduce the complexity of using ALL features.

Apple is known for innovation and its designer products. For changing SIM in other phones (almost all) you need to open the cover of the phone and then remove the battery, which is a tedious job. We can use a safety pin to open the SIM card slot. The new iPhone4 has the glass which is used in helicopters windshield.

Referring to the 7th point:- Additional software will make it work. It doesn’t loses out if u have typed a message a goes to some other message, if you click on Messages (top on left hand)in a chat window.

Referring to the 8th point:- iPhone’s camera quality is way better than a Nokia’s 5MP camera. The quality of pictures shows the difference. iPhone offers flash in its new 4G handset. Purchasing an iPhone 4G from abroad would cost Rs. 32000, while in India you are getting iPhone 3GS for the same price. But not everyone has contacts in abroad.

Referring to point 10:-A protector (dust filter) which is covering the Mic and speakers can be removed to enhance the volume.

Referring to point 12:- Edit option gives you the choice to mark many messages and delete them.

Referring to point 13:- Open Apps in background causes battery to drain. There are many ways to save battery including Killing open apps, switching off Wi-Fi when not in use, disable location services from settings, fetch data less frequently etc.

I believe that the person who uses iPhone and Apple’s products won’t shift to Nokia or other products till other brands bring something unthinkable feature in their product.

This revolutionary product is beatable(to some extent), but to do it other companies would take many years and a Mastermind who could beat the Cancer patient and the brand image of Apple. Mr. Steve Jobs with his will, is working day and night to bring out revolutionary products for the people and iPhone fans (like me).
Hats off Mr.Jobs.....

Regards,
Samrat Nema

Samrat Nema said...

There are some limitations which can be removed by installing software’s, if you own a Jailbroken and Unlocked phone(which is declared legal), would reduce the complexity of using ALL features.

Apple is known for innovation and its designer products. For changing SIM in other phones (almost all) you need to open the cover of the phone and then remove the battery, which is a tedious job. We can use a safety pin to open the SIM card slot. The new iPhone4 has the glass which is used in helicopters windshield.

Referring to the 7th point:- Additional software will make it work. It doesn’t loses out if u have typed a message a goes to some other message, if you click on Messages (top on left hand)in a chat window.

Referring to the 8th point:- iPhone’s camera quality is way better than a Nokia’s 5MP camera. The quality of pictures shows the difference. iPhone offers flash in its new 4G handset. Purchasing an iPhone 4G from abroad would cost Rs. 32000, while in India you are getting iPhone 3GS for the same price. But not everyone has contacts in abroad.

Samrat Nema said...

Referring to point 10:-A protector (dust filter) which is covering the Mic and speakers can be removed to enhance the volume.

Referring to point 12:- Edit option gives you the choice to mark many messages and delete them.

Referring to point 13:- Open Apps in background causes battery to drain. There are many ways to save battery including Killing open apps, switching off Wi-Fi when not in use, disable location services from settings, fetch data less frequently etc.

I believe that the person who uses iPhone and Apple’s products won’t shift to Nokia or other products till other brands bring something unthinkable feature in their product.

This revolutionary product is beatable(to some extent), but to do it other companies would take many years and a Mastermind who could beat the Cancer patient and the brand image of Apple. Mr. Steve Jobs with his will, is working day and night to bring out revolutionary products for the people and iPhone fans (like me).
Hats off Mr.Jobs.....

YOGENDRA RAI said...

Sir, Inspired from above post, i have also tried a blog-post about my new HTC handset. :-)
Take a look sir... http://yogendrarai.blogspot.com