This is a phone that is far from perfect; For the record, there are many better phones out there which offer a lot more functionality. Where Apple scores is in adding a little human touch to their device.
Over-hyped novelty, or a flawed jewel?
Apple’s design sense has always been splendid; the iPhone 3G doesn’t break conformity. The first time you look at it; you’ll think iPod Touch on a high-fat diet. It’s better looking than its predecessor (the iPhone 2G). The black model we received was beautifully finished; thankfully the rear resists normal smudging and scratches. It’s not a very thick device but feels large to hold; although with a 3.5-inch screen this isn’t exactly a design flaw. Build quality is excellent. Quality of buttons and switches on the device are top-class. Even the SIM tray fits flush; attention to detailing is very good.
The buttons on the sides, top and the headphone jack are chromed, and the black bezel and chrome trim add further visual appeal. Apple’s menu system is excellent with the single main menu button being perfectly functional. The 3G’s appeal lies in its blatantly simple and usable interface and the sheer joy and funkiness of a touch and finger swipe navigation system that works flawlessly. The proximity sensor and low-light sensor work flawlessly.
The iPhone menus work well, but the on-screen keypad is a little small and you will make a few incorrect key taps for a month or so, which won’t please SMS junkies. The phones number pad is huge though; and you’d be a clod to goof up dialling numbers. SMS’ sent and received to and from a single number show up as a single entry with the last message exchanged as a preview; the rest of the messages are displayed in small green conversation boxes that become visible on selecting the relevant entry; a novel concept that takes getting used to. There is still no way to delete or select multiple messages. For some, the text entry box may also appear too small for practical use. If you try to edit a message after typing it out; the inbuilt magnifier helps as it magnifies the spot where your finger touches, but cursor navigation within the text body remains a tricky affair. You also cannot save a typed out SMS as a draft, and the inbuilt email option allows you to save multiple email IDs and password information for quick use; though the on-screen keyboard raises its ugly head again to spoil the party.
Its Safari web browser is very basic — no support for Java or Flash. Copy/Pasting is also not supported — a serious omission. We also noticed that the touch interface works with fingers only, not a stylus or fingernails — ladies beware. If you think you can get a Bluetooth keyboard to make up for the on-screen keyboard, think again; the iPhone’s Bluetooth works with headsets only — no keyboard, and no file transfers.
The bundled GPS and Google Maps work well in tandem — better than Nokia Maps. Apple’s inbuilt scheduler and calendar work well; as good as any PDA. A lot of games come preinstalled, but there’s no serious office application with document and spreadsheet support. Some of these applications slow down the phone — big time; though for the most part it’s fairly responsive.
The iPhone is a decent phone when it comes to signal quality — it’s a little behind Nokia’s best phones in this regard. Voice quality is pretty good but the volume is a little low. Sadly the loudspeakers’ quality is very bad — like a cheap CDMA unit — and a lot of distortion occurs when a voice call is put on loudspeaker. The headset looks like Apple’s earbud headphones but incorporates a small microphone unit that is compact enough to be easily missed. Voice quality on this handsfree unit is absolutely top notch; and the volume level is fantastic.
The claimed battery talk time is ten hours; not true, we measured this to be more like five hours.
MP3 quality is very good; no other phone comes close. It has a gorgeous screen for video. Just make sure to ditch the bundled earplugs for music. Eight or 16 GB of inbuilt storage is enough for most; if it isn’t, you should remember that expansion is not an option. The camera is a mediocre 2 megapixels, and isn’t this phone’s forte — you can’t even record video!
Sadly, the iPhone only comes as part of a service provider’s scheme — you cannot buy it unless you’re an Airtel or Vodafone customer. Our device was provided by Airtel and is available for Rs 31,000 and Rs 36,100. The first 500 MB of data usage from Airtel is free, after which you pay a nominal charge of 30 paisa per 50 KB.