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“I'd had a number of friends who's had iPhones for some...”

Written on: 03/06/2010 by SpeedDemon (10 reviews written)

I'd had a number of friends who's had iPhones for some time and, having listened to them wax lyrical about how the iPhone was the best thing since sliced bread, bought one as soon as it became available on my chosen network (Orange) and, in many ways, boy do I wish I hadn't bothered!

There's no denying that the iPhone design is cool. The device is sleek, stylish and the user interface is simple & intuitive. The big let down is that, frankly it's a bit of a jack of all trades rather than being a master of any (or even one!).

As an iPod it's fair to middling but even with the most highly spec'd 3GS you've only got 32GB of memory which will barely scratch the surface of my iTunes library - and that's without putting any of the vast array of apps that are available on there. So, fine if you've only got a small library of music you want to put on there but limited otherwise.

As a PDA it's reasonably proficient. It handles multiple calendars, e-mail etc without too much head scratching required to configure it and will sync to Microsoft Outlook (or your Apple equivalent). So, no real complaints there.

As a palmtop computer/application tool it's pretty good. In the advertising for the iPhone & iPod Touch they claim that pretty much whatever you want to do, " there's an app for that" and who am I to argue? There's a seemingly limitless array of apps available from the iStore offering everything from games to online auction sites, restaurant/nightspot finders for the perfect night out to TV listings for the perfect night in, some high street banks even allow you to control your bank account with an app for your iPhone and the list of apps grows by the day. The number of apps you have is limited only by your willingness to purchase and/or download them and the amount of memory you have with which to store them. Other than that effectiveness of the iPhone as an application tool is a question of the user interface (which from a hardware/firmware point of view is good but from a software point of view will depend on the app in question) and how good the apps you have are.

As a web browser I'd have to say that, unless you're connected to a WiFi network, the performance of the iPhone is a pretty poor. I know when the iPhone 3GS was launched the advertising campaigns were all about "..the fasted iPhone ever" but in my experience even with a good strong 3G signal internet access speeds fluctuate wildly from barely adequate to being so slow the servers you're trying to connect to close the connection because they get tired of waiting for you. I've experienced the screen freezing, going black momentarily and then returning to where I'd left off on a depressingly regular basis. iPhone owning friends who've seen this happen tell me there's something wrong with my phone but taking it back to the Orange shop to have it tested have led to no faults being found!?!? Maybe this is a failing of the Orange 3G network but friends with other Orange 3G internet enabled phones don't have the problem so I can only conclude that it's a failing of the iPhone itself. Either way my experience is that my iPhone 3GS on contract with Orange is about as much use as a chocolate fireguard as a web browser.

Finally, as a phone I'd have to say that it's pretty unsatisfactory. The signal strength of my carrier in my area has always been rock solid and I have not experienced no signal or a dropped call since before I switched to digital from my (still pretty reliable) old analogue Nokia Orange, that was until I got my iPhone. Calls drop and text messages fail mid send when I'm sat still with a frequency and regularity that beggars belief. I can be at home with full signal and, without moving an inch, can watch the signal strength drop of until I'm seeing "Searching " and then "No Service" displayed on the screen only to be replaced moments later by full signal and 3G coverage. Bluetooth connectivity is very much hit and miss, with the iPhone only seeming to want to connect with other iPhones, Macintosh computers and a limited number of hands-free devices. Even when you can pair the iPhone with another device, that's no guarantee that you'll get the full functionality of the paired device when connected to the iPhone. For example, my iPhone will connect to my TomTom sat nav and will allow me to use the TomTom at a hands-free car kit; it won't, however, allow the TomTom to download live traffic data - so that's a years traffic subscription out the window just because I 'upgraded' my phone to an iPhone.

To sum up, the iPhone is a sleek, stylish gadget that will allow you to run any number of apps and store a reasonable (but not enormous) amount of music and video from your iTunes library. If this is what you want from a gadget - get an iPod Touch. As a Bluetooth enabled, 3G mobile telephone with internet access this so flakey it should come with a yellow wrapper!! There are MUCH better phones out there, do yourself a favour and get one of those instead.

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