iPhone 3G S: First Thoughts

My iPhone (16GB, white) and I got off to a rocky start.

After standing in line (in the rain, the first in 30 days) for an hour and a half, I entered the very-well organized Apple iPhone purchase-and-activation system.* Buy the phone and give the AT&T computers a heads-up that a phone number migration is about to happen. Move to activation station. In less than the time it took to take that picture, my Blackjack had been deactivated (which I discovered when I tried to post it to TwitPic).

Open the box, remove the phone, plug it into one of those laptops, and moments later I hear, “You’re good to go. It will take a few minutes for the phone to show that it’s active.”

Use that “wait time” to pick up screen protection (I choose matte finish) and grippy side/back cover. Wander over to a station with no Apple employee to sync my contacts with my MobileMe account. (I migrated my Blackjack contacts to Apple’s address book, using The Missing Sync.) Phone still showing “not activated” so I connected to my MBP and the store wifi network. Walk through iTunes setup stuff; sync calendar and address book. Check phone. Still not activated.

I’m not yet impatient, but I wander back to my activation guy. He says, “It shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.” I tell him it’s been more than 15 minutes. He takes the phone, checks that AT&T still thinks it’s activated, asks me to wait a little longer. So I play around with it (Tweet from Safari) and wonder if I’ll ever get used to the keyboard. Typo city!

Another 20 minutes or so, and I go back to my activator. He double checks (again) and then physically turns the phone off and back on. Success! [Of course, it’s sad that “when in doubt, reboot” remains a necessary consumer electronics mantra.]

I packed up my laptop and headed out for breakfast. But first I called Mike to tell him I was a proud owner of a new phone! (Voice dialing rocks!) Even without my Jawbone (I’d left it at home), I thought the device worked pretty well as a phone.

The Application Store
Given my experience with Twitter’s web interface on Safari, I went straight to the Twitter utilities. I decided to experiment with TweetDeck because (a) it’s free, (b) I love it on my desktop (and the two can be synced), and (c) other applications had more mixed reviews (even Tweetie). Oh, yeah, that was a good decision! What a difference a dedicated application makes!

As I prepared to eat an indulgent breakfast, I tested the TwitPict application. I think I prefer the Blackjack’s MMS texting, because I could send pictures to TwitPic, Flickr and Facebook with one “push” (the disadvantage to this method was a very short caption character limit). Unless there is an application to share pictures that I haven’t found yet, I have to post a pic to each application separately. (Note: I haven’t checked out Flickr yet, but I have subsequently added the Facebook application.)

While eating breakfast, I noticed that the iPhone sucks battery power. Less than three hours after activation, without constant use, I was at 55 percent battery power. Ouch. That’s not an 8-hour day! Of course, I wasn’t turning the phone “off” when I sat it aside, I merely let the screen go to sleep (because this was my practice with the Blackjack).

Once I got home, I seamlessly connected to our home Verizon/FiOS network. I fiddled with the settings (rearranged the home icons, changed the wallpaper, added passcode access and changed auto-lock time to 5 minutes, added my primary gmail account) and read the “finger tips” instruction booklet.

Day One Advanced
I had a motorcycle safety instructor meeting this evening. Before/during, I discovered the coolness of maps (it’s like a mini-GPS application; I checked my progress when stopped at red lights), replied to my first text message (I was looking unsuccessfully for “reply” — it took me a second look to see the text box and think “tap that”), added some more applications (Flashlight, Facebook, UrbanSpoon), played with the compass and watched a YouTube clip.

MobileMe Gallery - safariOh, and I published my first photo to MobileMe; well, I thought I did. I had sent a notice of upload to my gmail account; when I clicked on the link in that mail, Apple prompted me for login info! These uploads aren’t public?!? As you can see, there’s nothing “there” in Firefox or Safari. It turns out the problem is the link in the mail: it contains the caption in the string. Of course, the link is to the gallery folder, not the specific, public image. Lame.

I realize that I am getting better with the keyboard (except for the “m” — I keep hitting backspace) and have figured out how to activate the spelling correction. I’ve decided accessing the number or special character “keyboards” is no less bothersome than mode changes on the Blackjack (and the iPhone mode change is far more visible).

The screen clarity is amazing! I now understand why insiders were agitating/hoping for an Apple tablet this summer.

On my to-do list for the weekend:

  • Ringtones – doable? I want Mike’s calls to still be the theme from Doctor Who!
  • Flickr upload
  • MMS
  • Play with video

Overall, I’m very tickled!

* One Reservation
There was a long and congenial line of folks who had reserved an iPhone. Apple employees circulated with cookies, granola bars, water (someone had gone to Costco!). They answered questions. All in all, they were very competent, except for one thing: the way they handled the line of people who had not reserved a phone.

After I’d been in line for about an hour, I could see that there was two lines. We joked that we should go get in the shorter (no phone reserved) line, but an Apple employee said something like “they won’t get their phones until after you get yours.” We laughed and said OK. But that was not how the non-reserved line was handled. Employees let two people in from the reserved line and then one from the non-reserved line. Thus, there was a clear time penalty for having reserved a phone. In my opinion, the non-reserved line should not have had store access until 10 am, as long as there were people waiting who had reserved a phone.

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4 thoughts on “iPhone 3G S: First Thoughts

  1. Thanks, guys!

    Hi, Curt, I figured this out by deduction… I don’t know if the battery meter is inflated or what.

    Thanks, Sandro, I’m heading to the App store right now. :-) Whee – it’s free, too!

    Well, the reservation was to secure a phone … but really it was to give Apple an idea of how many people might be showing up for a given store.

  2. I’ve used a few different Flickr upload apps and found FlickIt to be one of the better in the crowd. Very polished and can even geocode your images.

  3. I’ve discovered that you need to give the phone a nice, long charge. Even though it might show as full after an hour or so, leave it on the charge for 2-4 hours (I believe I read that in the directions somewhere). It needs that to get the maximum charge into the battery.

    Also: To conserve battery power, turn off Fetch New Data (the push function) under the Mail settings under the Settings. If the phone is checking e-mail frequently, that can add to battery drain. You have to manually check for new mail, which isn’t a big deal for me.

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