Hands-on with the iPhone: First Impressions

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Act your wage.
Political Access
27 Dec 2001
Preface: Most of you know that I'm an Apple user -- I made "the switch" about 2 years ago -- but I believe in objectivity so I don't "drink the kool-aid" or fall under the "fanboy" mentality. If Apple screws-up then you'll hear about it from me, and if they do something great then I'll probably mention that, too. :)

I went to the Apple Store this weekend to see the iPhone for myself. I already knew that I didn't want to buy one, but I did want to see if it lived up to the hype, plus I was curious as to how crazy the store would be. I went on Saturday so I definitely didn't stand in line and luckily didn't have to wait long to mess with one of the 10 or so demo units the store had on display. The store was busy, but not a madhouse like I'm sure it was the night before.

So how was the iPhone? Very, very nice. I think it's only right to comment on what I can -- what I was able to experience. For example, I can't comment on call quality, because you obviously can't make calls from demo units. So with that said...

Thinner than a closed RAZR and just a bit longer. I don't do the phone-on-a-belt-clip thing, so anything I own has to fit in my pants pocket. The security cable was was long enough that I could slip the iPhone into my pocket. It fit just fine and I'd have no problem carrying it around in my pocket.

Lots of demos with that thing left a lot of finger oils on the glass screen. I wiped it across my shirt and that helped a lot. I wipe my phone screen all the time anyway, so I'm not sure why the iPhone would be any different. The quality and clarity of images and text was outstanding. The screen size seems huge considering the size of the entire device.

(Soft) Keyboard
This is one of the big deals that has been made of the iPhone. How will the keyboard work? I opened up the Notes application and started typing away with two thumbs. I completed an entire sentence looking only at the keyboard, that way I wouldn't be tempted to stop and correct any errors I might have made. I typed very quickly, without hesitation, and the entire sentence came out correct. I probably missed a few keys, but the auto-correction in the software did its job. I proceeded to type some more while looking at the screen to see the auto-correction in action. I missed several keys but kept typing away -- the auto-correction worked all but one time.

As you type, the keys you select magnify, so you know if you hit the wrong key. If you can trust the software to do its job then you will hardly need to make corrections to your text. My only disappointment with this part was that there is no highlight/copy/cut/paste. I knew that the copy and paste wouldn't be there, but I didn't know you wouldn't be able to highlight text for deletion. Maybe this will be changed in a software update, maybe not.

Overall, I think the soft keyboard is excellent and definitely worth any minor trouble because in exchange you get a monster screen on a small device! One side note that I think is important is that I don't have large fingers, so people with larger fingers might not have the same experience with typing.

General Software
I tried to sample all of the applications that come with the iPhone. All of the apps were excellent in the few minutes I spent with each of them. Web browsing and viewing video stand-out the most, but I'll address web browsing on its own. The camera images were great, but I was in a brightly lit room so I don't know how it performs under all conditions (there is no flash so dark shots obviously won't work). The phone directory is awesome and visual voicemail is probably one of the strongest features as well. I love that you don't truly "quit" anything -- you just push the one physical button on the front of the iPhone to return to the home screen.

Web Browsing
I could seriously imagine sitting at Starbucks for a couple of hours surfing the web on an iPhone instead of a laptop. So long as the content isn't Flash or Java then everything is as it was meant to be. The way you interact with web pages is really cool, and it works just like you see on the commercial.

The speed of web browsing has been another big deal. At the Apple Store I was on a Wi-Fi connection, so web pages were very snappy. I can't attest to EDGE speeds, so I'm not going to even hypothesize on that. I will say that I probably will not buy an iPhone until it supports 3G -- the only thing that will sway that decision is if I hear reports of good EDGE speeds in my city.

Overall Impressions
The iPhone is very fun to use, and very impressive as a phone, web browser and multimedia device. Based on my 10-15 minutes with the phone, I was not disappointed, and I left wanting one more than I thought I would. I wish I had more real-world use to talk about, but I did what I could with the demo unit and really enjoyed sampling it.

If anyone wants to know more about something in particular then I'll be glad to tell you what I can, though my answer might be "I don't know." :)


Electronica Addict
Political Access
3 Feb 2002
I went to Best Buy a couple days ago. Apparently they have an Apple Store section in most Best Buys now so I got a little excited about seeing an iPhone demo being there. Too bad they didn't have any :(


Tech Junkie
19 Apr 2002
Engadget's latest 3-part review has to be the most comprehensive and balanced look at the iPhone I've seen so far.

I found that my impressions after playing with a demo unit at the local Apple store match pretty much everything they mention, so it just saved me quite a bit of typing. :)

I've also posted my thoughts briefly here - Thoughts on the iPhone.


Awesome is as awesome does.
Political Access
5 Apr 2002
There is an Apple Store in Albany, maybe I'll stop down...


Mr. Bananagrabber
Political Access
12 Jan 2006
Im an apple non-fan.
But i thought I would go test it out.
I hate the screen.
The glass bit, not my first choice at all.
Color wise, the UI was very warm.
I like the UI

Still, as with any phone that costs $600, the screen is too small to get the full benefit of the cool touch screen.

As for everything else,
I've got the psp, Axim, smartphone, and Zune.
Why would i need them all one device.

Plus the Axim x51v does everything the iphone does, short of 8gb of memory, and outright phone capabilities. But the Axim x51v does have a 624mhz CPU, so im not complaining :p

I'll probably snag an 8525 on ebay for 300-400 dollars.
With the keyboard, and Windows Mobile 6, it will be well worth it.
I also, don't have to buy a special service plan, just to make a phone call.

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