I recently got an iPhone 3G and away from all that Apple mania; I thought I would give an honest review. This is framed in the mindset of all the past Nokia devices (which I have posted about here also) which I have owned.

Okay so where to start? Well I think a good place would be what I could have bought instead. Strange place for a review; but its good to see what is out there and what I was looking at beforehand.

  1. Nokia XpressMusic 5800 Nokia make great phones; I have stuck to the reliability of Symbian on their earlier phones for quite some time. I love Nokia; they mean reliability when you need your phone most - always a top feature other manufacturers never got quite right. Maybe its part inertia on my part - I can’t really say. Long story short is that this was a major competitor: over the iPhone it has expandability and a lot more hardware features (like RDS Radio), can play a lot more formats also. Downsides: Got terrible reviews for poor Symbian integration with touch; that plectrum looks downright stupid; it is not as sleek as iPhone in form factor (although it is smaller), screen didn’t seem as good to me.
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  2. HTC Magic imageFollow up to the HTC Dream or GPhone; this Android device has probably the coolest developer OS around. Lots of activity is going on around Android at the moment; so the first phones to land in the UK and Ireland should be more polished (using next gen Android: CupCake). Their is even rumors it will be adapted and put on net books: possibly making it the standard of mobile devices if given enough time. This will only bring more cool apps in time and reduce Apple’s iTunes Store lead. Downsides: Not available yet; so I couldn’t buy it. Doesn’t have as much apps yet. Isn’t as polished in the software interface as iPhone. All of these can be resolved with time however…

  3. Palm Pre imageI hold out a lot of hope for this! Also Linux based; it promises a cool, open Web developer community as all the apps are online. Web apps need a lot more thought for offline use in my opinion, so I am reserving judgement on this. The interface seems to rock; and developing for it looks super easy… Downsides: not out yet, thus lack of Apps and pricing info.

  4. Some junk WinMob imageSays it all really: a smart-phone but for less than a good plain old non-smartphone. Always made by some obscure Taiwanese outfit - not that is a bad thing; after-all most iPhone parts come from there. For those on a budget this was my last option; but darn cheap; just over €115 for one! I could have bought one for every member of my immediate family for the price of one iPhone: makes you think, doesn’t it?

On to the review of the iPhone:

Pros:

Beautiful Interface:
It looks amazing: lets be honest. I have never seen a phone look quite this good.

Fingers:
imageUsing only your hands is great; lets face it: you cannot forget your hands. You can forget a stylus and even the iPhone itself; but those hands are sticking with ye!

**Time: **
I use my phone for time; Apple has it displayed elegantly, in the same place, almost in all the phones’ screens. I love this as I can keep myself aware of what I have to do next… All in glorious 24hr goodness, they way time was meant to be displayed…

Lots of apps:
The App store grows bigger every day and all those little useful Apps are really handy.

**Quick Interface: **
The software interface is very fast at getting you to where you want to go; to that Twitter application or your Web mail etc.

Maps and Location based services:
I have seen the future: and it is the Internet that is location aware. iPhone has taken the first tentative steps in this area with allowing apps to use location; as well as building it into the camera and maps applications.

Great iPod:
Apple doesn’t lie on this one. It is a great iPod. The best? I haven’t decided yet… but it’s not far off…

Safari:
imageIt is the real web you get on an iPhone. Not only that: it is surprisingly comfortable to navigate with. I haven’t seen a mobile phone device come this close before. The N810 has a great browser with flash; but all round Safari wins on ease of use. I heard the earlier versions were very buggy; maybe I got in just as Safari matured properly.

Accelerometer:
Changing the view of applications as you rotate the phone was a masterstroke. Some things just need to be viewed vertically; others horizontally. The iPhone just makes it happen: seamlessly.. no buttons and no fuss. Thumbs up!

SO-SO

Camera:
Not a lot to complain or praise about the camera. It does it’s job… Their is no flash or other trickery other phones have to offer; so any sub-optimal light and the iPhone may as well just not have a camera…

Cons:

imageCost:
Its darned expensive! I bought it contract-free and to say it burned a hole in pocket is an understatement.

One Inbox:
Nokia has this one on the button. I don’t care whether its SMS, MMS, E-Mail or a message through telekinesis: put it in one place please… It’s easier to check; and logically it makes more sense to not have to visit ten apps for each. Bonus points for allowing developers to hook in things like Twitter..

Smudgy:
It smudges and scratches like nothing I have seen. They tried to make it too shiny; at the cost of usability. I would prefer a grippier, less pretty surface: but I am sure I am in a minority on this. I could probably have even been overheard muttering “Smudgy piece of ****” . Add to any price the cost of a cover…

**Keyboard: **
imageYes I know how ugly hardware keyboards look: but they do work. The on-screen keyboard to me: sucks. I much prefer the N810’s on-screen one that I can use with my thumbs. Using my index fingers just doesn’t feel right; and more to the point: all onscreen keyboards are crap. This is a major TODO for any willing iPhone competitor…

Background Apps:
This may sound like a minor niggle: it’s not. Only apps you can run in the background is the phone, iPod, Safari and Mail. I don’t even think Safari and Mail are true background apps; in fact I know they aren’t: they suspend when they are not at the forefront.

Status:
iPhone OS 3.0 is set to fix notifications; apps will be able to display a number next to their icon. I personally don’t think that is good enough. Is a notification area as seen on other phones (you know for like calendar?) too much to ask? I would prefer that as the idle screen rather than the pretty picture.

Activation:
I already feel Apple doesn’t trust me; but to force me to run around trying to find a computer with iTunes to activate the thing (I wasn’t near home) is just pure stupid. Do it over the air (for free; at your expense) or just don’t bother. Fail on this, major fail.

Rat race jailbreak:
Apple should just give up.. People are going to crack these no matter what. You only inconvenience your customers (hint: not the networks; us little people) with all this DRM nonsense. EA has it right: do the minimal DRM for contract purposes.
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Pay to release even a free app:
Its a shame Apple thought 30% markup wasn’t steep enough… But even developer of free applications have to pay $99 to release it on the store. It would be fine if you could get the app another way… This just causes more junk apps to appear at a cost… If they did this on OS X it would be suicide; why not open up the iPhone to free software?
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No 3.5G:
I expect this was due to power; which is totally forgivable and understandable. But a nice feature would be 3.5G for extra speed; I expect this and 4G (WiMax?) will appear in later models..