I suspect over the next several days, there will be a slew of iPhone reviews from the masses, and that this one will disappear into the tide of the web over the next few days, but I have to say: So far, the iPhone has both met and surpassed my expectations.
I arrived at the Clarendon Apple Store around 2pm today to begin my wait, and I was surprised to see that there were only 60 or so folks who’d shown up before me. The first arrived last night around 9pm, and seemed to spent a night in the rain, somewhat worse for the wear. The rest of the crowd was animated, showing off MacBooks and MacBooks Pro, as well as taking video, shooting stills, all manner of other fairly-Mac-like things to do. iPods were out, playing their swan songs before the debut of their successors, and the same was true for various phones.
As the wait came to a close and the store flooded with eager buyers, I wondered, what must supply be like? We crowded into the storefront in Arlington, snaking through the lines of software, glimpsing the counter at the genius bar, and the piles of boxes behind. Two in hand, I left the store, crowding past the obnoxious camera crews and packs of roaming reporters. I dropped the second off in the hands of its intended recipient and headed for my favorite coffeeshop (complete with open Wireless) for the unveiling of the phone.
The box itself is simple, and it’s not hard to get access immediately to the phone, as it’s right beneath the hardened cardboard lid. I pulled it out of the box, admiring its heft and balance, and placed it in the Dock that I retrieved from the bottom of the box. Immediately, iTunes was up and running, asking me what I wanted to do. I told it who I was, that I was a returning AT&T Customer, that I wanted the $20 data plan, with some extra SMS messages, and it set about activating the phone.
The whole thing took maybe 5 minutes.
I’m going to repeat that, because it bears repeating. Activation took 5 minutes. And I type slow. This was the easiest activation of any cellphone I’ve ever had. Ever. By orders and orders of magnitude.
But once I had it activated, I synced it up with just the basics enabled. Instantly, my email accounts, my contacts, my calendars, they were all just there. On the phone. I didn’t have to think about it. They were just there. As if placed there by tiny little digital elves. I’m so used to slogging through tedious setup procedures and all manner of wizards that it was refreshing not to have to do it all. iPhone just did it.
The touchscreen…oh the touchscreen. It’s smudge-able, like so many other glass things, but the wipe I got for my case does a number of them. The multitouch functions feel smooth, there’s no visible lag, the screen just zooms in and out. Punch a button, bam, you’re there. The keyboard’s going to take some doing, I think, and it’s certainly the part that I continue to be remotely skeptical about.
I was really quite pleased with how easy voicemail was to setup. Kiss your old greeting goodbye, record a quick one from the screen of the iPhone, and away you go. Let your messages pile up, you’ll be fine wading through the ones you want to hear versus the ones you can’t care about.
It works great with WiFi, and EDGE, well, it’s better than all the reviews seem to make it out to be. I twittered, I sent mail, I even pulled up Flickr without too much trouble. Would I want to do this all the time? No, but that’s why I have WiFi so many places in my life. Tap, tap, WiFi enabled. All better.
Flicking the contacts screen, it’s just so natural. Scanning through hundreds with just a few flicks like a frictionless Rolodex. It feels grand. Then tap to stop it, tap to hit a contact, and away you go.
The iPhone, I believe, may make me hate mobile devices less, and I think that’s certainly a good thing.