With my personal phone I used to be with Orange. But a while ago their mobile communication division was sold to T-Mobile here in the Netherlands. So they’ve asked me to change my Orange contract to a T-Mobile Contract. All right. No problem with that.
Now it’s common here that with contract renewals or extensions, you also receive a new device. So last weekend I’ve walked into their local shop and looked around for something to replace my E-Ten Glofiish X500+, which a have used now for nearly 2 years. It is a Windows Mobile device, and I was searching for something that offered the same functionality.
I noticed a couple of other WM devices, but I still was disappointed that in the last 2 years, this OS hasn’t changed a bit (although i know that Microsoft is about to launch a new version. Unfortunately it’s not available at the moment). So that’s when I decided to look beyond this requirement and focused on other devices as well.
That’s when I took a look at the Iphone 3G. At first I was very skeptic about it, because of the hype around it. But i wanted to know for myself if this device is really worth it. That with the fact that there where no extra costs when choosing the iPhone (instead of paying around 80 euro when choosing a WM device) made me take the iPhone as my new personal phone.
And so far I am actually very positive about it. I must really say that the User Experience Design of the device, compared with my previous phone, is really a huge improvement.
Below I summarized some pros and cons about my experience with the iPhone. note: This is compared with my previous private phone and my work phone which both use Windows Mobile 6.
- Low learning curve
Although i have some experience with mobile devices, I’ve never learned to know a device quicker than this one. It has one menu, one place for settings, and that’s it. Everything can be done from there. Although I spent a lot of time with Windows Mobile, I still get the feeling I haven’t seen al it’s options. It’s like Jensen Harris of Microsoft said about the previous Office products in a MIX08 presentation. “It’s Bloated!”. And with my new phone, I received the feeling I am in control. Now that’s a good User Experience.
- Quick responses
Another thing I really appreciate are the response times of the device. I know my X500+ wasn’t the fastest of all WM devices, but for my work I have a Samsung i780, and with that device I also experienced unpleasant delays when opening menu or configuration screens, or with incoming calls. This makes the device feel slow. And this is something I don’t have with the iPhone.
2 years ago I choose the X500+ because it has something that a lot of devices nowadays still don’t have. A screen resolution of 640x480. Everything looked sharper and more information could be displayed on the screen. Unfortunately this also required 4 times more processor power compared with 320x240 screens, and that’s what they forgot to add at the E-ten corporation. But after a while you get used to it.
But now with this iPhone, the resolution is lower. 480x320. But somehow they’ve managed to build a render-engine that makes the display look very sharp and crisp. I looks better then the 640x480 of the X500+. And as I already mentioned, it also reacts much faster.
- Additional programs
I was always disappointed about the need of additional programs for improving the UX of my Windows Mobile device. Luckily the SPB Mobile Shell and the SPB Diary were a very welcome addition. But when you think about it, it’s rather crazy that you need such things. And that’s just it. The iPhone gives me a great experience, straight out-of-the-box. No extensions or additional programs necessary.
- Without a stylus
Windows Mobile devices aren’t meant for operating with your fingers. At least, that’s what I’ve experienced. You almost always need your little pen, the stylus. That’s frustrating. Especially when you can lose that little pen. Now there are possibilities for additional programs that’ll make some functionality easier to access without the styles, but that’s just it. It just won’t make the device faster in use. To do something “quick” isn’t an option. So it was rather refreshing that with my iPhone everything is made for finger-tough. This way i can quickly access and use the functionality I want at the moment. No need to fetch the styles first.
Now the keyboard on the iPhone isn’t for everybody a Pro. But compared with other devices that doesn’t have a keyboard, it work’s quite well. Especially when you think about the WM on-screen keyboard. Before the introduction of the iPhone I’ve seen some prototypes about how to make a on-screen keyboard functional with the use of displaying your selection next to your finger. I guess Apple used this idea and displayed your selected character above your finger. It’s not the fastest way of writing, but it works. At least it’s the best option I’ve seen for a on-screen keyboard without the use of a stylus or mouse.
- Local Access Connections
What surprised me is the smart and fast access of local WiFi connections. When requiring an internet connection, it looks for local WiFi. When found, it asks the key if needed, and remembers it so it’ll connect the next time automatically. Easy and straight forward. Just how you want it. I remember that my WM devices where a little more complicated about it. Not very stable or reliable about their current connection. It’s rather normal for a mobile device to enter and leave WiFi area’s. So that’s what you want supported.
- Multi touch
And then there is the multi touch support. At the moment the only one who has that. Android G1 also is going to support it, but that device is not here yet. I have already had a good laugh when two people played Touch Hockey on my phone. Is multi touch needed… maybe not. But it’s certainly handy and allows you to use it for zooming and rotating in applications like Google Earth.
- Less options
But the iPhone is not just sunshine and miracles. It also has some cons. First of all, everything supplied comes out-of-the-box. It’s all there, and although it works just fine, it doesn't allow you a lot of customization. So “personalization” isn’t really an option. At the moment this is not bad, but after a while it might become something you want.
Yeah, well, it’s out then. iTunes. …sigh… I have to admit, it’s not quite the best program, but needed for the iPhone. Certainly when on a Windows environment. I’m currently using a Core i7 system with Vista x64, Raid 0 and triple channel memory. It’s a really fast machine. But iTunes seems to forget that. Very disappointing. And then the Apple update popup which also wants to install programs I don’t want. Also localization which disables you getting applications like wonderful iPint on your IPhone. Is it really necessary to disallow other languages? And when syncing photo’s to your device, you’ll get an additional iTunes “optimalisation” folder in you photo map. That’s not what I’ve asked for! Sorry Apple, but it’s just lacking.
- Synchronization with Windows Contacts
And next to iTunes, there’s always the synchronization between the Apple world and the Windows world. I do use outlook, and have outlook contacts, but I don’t have these on my desktop. Also my media library is on the desktop, and I don’t have outlook installed on that machine.
Then how do you get your contacts in your iPhone? Synchronize with Windows contacts!
I’ve managed to copy the contacts from Outlook on my laptop to my Windows Contacts folder on my desktop. I’ve attached new pictures to them because this was lost in the export. But from there, the sync worked. Until I tested it.
I called myself on the iPhone, and the device hang! Really hangs! It starts vibrating, shows the call screen, but no sound, no reaction, nothing. Had to Google for how to restart the device, but after a couple of seconds holding the power button and the menu button simultaneously, the device restarted. Second try, same effect. A real hang again.
After some guessing I’ve discovered the problem. Originally, when using Outlook contacts, the image of the contact is resized by Outlook. But this doesn’t seem to happen with Windows contacts. I’ve selected photos from my digital camera which were about 3MB in size and this must have been copied straight to the device (normally iTunes “optimizes” pictures). So with incoming calls, the device was trying to load and scale a 3MB picture. I guess that was too much. Little bug here?
Now that I’ve resized my pictures to 480x320, this problem don’t occur anymore.
So far my first experience with the device is really positive compared to what I had. I really hope that this opinion stays this way. It’s possible that after a while I might change my statements, but by then, I'll let you know.