Most mobile phones I’ve owned have sucked. Because I’ve tended to go for more fully-specced gadgets, rather than plain old phones, I’ve had a succession of devices that haven’t done calls very well, or haven’t really done the web, or have been underpowered or unusable.
But – and at risk of sounding like a hopeless fanboy – my new iPhone is just wonderful – far better than anything I’ve had before, and better than I even expected. You don’t get it until you use it, and no number of geeky denouncements of shoddy camera quality or lack of 3G will, at this stage, change my mind.
1. The iPhone makes internet use habitual: a combination of Safari’s usability and ability to properly display the real (not mobile) web, plus the all-you-can-eat data package, means I’ll browse with confidence when I need to get some information, and for entertainment when bored. This is a step up from any device that doesn’t have a full web browser, or a pay-as-you-go data tariff, where browsing is an expensive chore.
2. It doesn’t crash: Touch wood here – but every smartphone I’ve had crashes more regularly than a Premiership footballer in a Porsche. And a mobile phone that’s crashed is a brick – especially when, as in the case of a Windows Mobile-powered Orange SPV I once had – it would crash, without anything on the phone indicating it wasn’t working. I’d just wonder why I wasn’t getting any calls that day.
3. Battery life is excellent – even when browsing heavily, the iPhone is lasting longer than my rubbish old Nokia N80 did on standby.
4. Wifi that works – the iPhone’s wifi is, as you’d expect from Apple, a doddle to set up. That means the spread of Wifi, via the bundled Cloud connections and the other network I have access to, makes the cruddy 02 Edge connection less important. The iPhone’s seamless migration to Wifi is good news for both the user, who gets faster speeds, and the mobile network, which doesn’t have to carry all the traffic.
5. The small things: Like the way the music fades down when a call comes in, and back up when the call ends. It’s like a perfectly customised call-in show, where your friends are the callers and the music is your favourite songs.
I thought the iPhone could really change the smartphone world when it was first launched, but I now think I underestimated its impact. With the device already outselling Windows Mobile in the US (and miles ahead of Symbian) my initial prediction is already coming true.
Now, let’s look further: this could broaden the market for more powerful phones, tempting contract mobile users to the mobile web and causing other manufacturers – and other networks – to come up with gadgets that mimic some of its features, thus amplifying the effect. It could have quite an impact on mobile content.
Could the iPhone – not Facebook – turn out to be the most significant technology development of the year?