Lograh (lograh) wrote,

impressions // iComplain

So, after spending all Friday morning in line, I got to spend all weekend playing with teh shiny. Here are some thoughts, some applicable to any old iPhones running 2.0, some specific to the 3G version (since I grabbed the early leaked 2.0 for my old phone, I had a day to run that so I have some comparison basis).

Battery: WTF?!? So, there is a rumor out, based on a tear-down of the 3G iPhone, that it uses a smaller battery. Seems to me, a smaller battery would run down faster given the same usage. Considering you're adding in a raft of new abilities, shrinking the battery should be the last thing you consider -- probably right about the point you give up and don't release the product. Rumor aside, I am noticing this battery will die easily twice as quick as the previous model's would. I used to be able to get two days (close to three if I turned off syncing and almost never used it for anything) of standby battery time on the first gen phone. This 3G one is showing a significant drop in charge at the end of a workday.

GPS: okay, yeah, a cute toy. Seems to have trouble getting a firm fix on you when in the car, though that could just be how/where I was holding it. It does better if you park and wait, or if you are out of the car walking around. Even still, with the loose fix it is slightly more accurate than the cell-tower based location (which was quite usable, and I wasn't complaining one bit). It most certainly doesn't update anywhere near frequently enough to provide live-action directions. "Turn left in 200 feet" is simply not possible with this thing. "Turn left at the next street" or "Turn left on 5th avenue" are. In my testing it would lag behind my position by half a block sometimes, never more accurate (while driving) than a hundred feet or so. There were also two occasions in the car when it simply lost me and had to try re-acquiring -- which it fails about half the time if you are on the freeway. Again, some of this could simply be due to how/where I was holding it.

3G network: meh. EDGE gets better signal strength almost anywhere, voice quality is no better on 3G (in fact, sometimes it was better on EDGE). Yes, it has more bandwidth, but I'm not an impatient person. Last night, I was browsing various web sites for about a half hour before I remembered I still had 3G turned off (was experimenting with battery life in standby that day). After I turned it on and went back to browsing, the difference wasn't as big as most people seem to be making out like it is. I'm solidly underwhelmed with 3G network speeds.

Form factor: skinnier at the edges, same width in the middle. I would have preferred they made it the same thickness all around, or perhaps even keep the edges the same and bulge the back out a bit, so they could have a larger battery. The first gen was not too big by any stretch, and simply rounding out the back of the first-gen phone a bit would have probably given this thing enough space for a 50% larger battery, which it sorely needs. The all-plastic back is much easier to hold on to -- it's slightly 'grippy' on the skin and so doesn't slip out of your hands as quickly as the first-gen does. That aluminum back is nice and pretty, and I kinda miss it, but it sure can be slippery.

iPhone 2.0 firmware:
Stability: WANT 2.1!!!! ZOMG this update is *flaky*. It's so bad I had the fscking 'Home Screen' crash on me. App Store has crapped out three times so far, iPod twice (as well as failing to update the 'new' status on some podcast episodes), Safari a number of times (though not as bad as it used to, oddly enough), and some third-party apps have crashed as well (though none as much as the built-in Apple apps). I'm starting to shut the phone off and on in the morning in hopes it will help clear out whatever cruft is causing all the problems. Imagine that, an Apple computer that needs a daily reboot to keep running well. Sounds an awful lot like some other OS I've used in the past. :)

Battery life: Yup, just as the 3G iPhone has lower battery life than the first-gen version, so too did iPhone 2.0 seem to run down the battery quicker than the previous version I was running on my first-gen phone. Now, admittedly, that leaked firmware wasn't quite the right version for the first-gen (rumors are it was only supposed to be applied to the 3G phone) but it was damn close and worked fine, though it did run the battery down quicker. Others who didn't apply the leaked firmware and who are still using their first-gen phones with the legit firmware can better speak to the battery life issue. From what I saw, though, the battery took a hit with the upgrade. Even though I cross-graded the old iPhone to the official 'legit' firmware once it was out Friday, that was after I had the new one so I didn't really test the battery life beyond then.

Apps: Yes, you jailbreakers have known this all along, but third-party apps on the iPhone are wonderful things. It is good that Apple finally opened it up some. Some of the apps are crap, some are brillant, but this blend is to be expected (90% of everything....). Overall, I'm much liking the AppStore and the iPhone feels much more 'complete' now with it than it did before.

Mail: Having real honest-to-goodness Exchange support is so much better than the wannabe-support they had previously. Not only is push email outstanding, but even when you do a manual sync it finishes up in record time. It feels like the new Mail can finish syncing in the same time it would have taken the old one to just contact the server. And I've tried this over WiFi, so I know it's not just the 3G/EDGE issue. All the other updates in Mail pale in comparison to how great this one is for exchange users like me. I tested the push speed this weekend with a co-worker of mine and push email got the messages between us faster than SMS did. Why bother texting when I could send a whole email quicker? Especially since SMS is 140 characters and email can be much more verbose, and if a single email shows up faster than a single SMS, it's only going to be that much faster than an SMS that had to get split across multiple messages.

Details: Overall, the iPhone 2.0 firmware seems to be much more complete than the previous versions. Unstable though it is (this is always an issue in tech and I'm sure they will address it quickly enough), it is a welcome upgrade. There are little touches all over the system (timer can now put it to sleep, ringtones work much better (see my previous rant about ringtone problems), the calendar supports all your iCal calendars instead of lumping them together (though it does screw up their colours), support for real WiFi encryption and VPN, taking screenshots, etc.) that I keep finding out and being delighted by.
Tags: review, tech

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