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Last Updated: Friday, 6 July 2007, 14:40 GMT 15:40 UK
First impressions of the iPhone
Ian Hardy
By Ian Hardy
Click's North America technology correspondent

The Apple store in New York
Many fans had queued for days to get their iPhone

In a blaze of publicity which characterises everything Apple does, its first real foray into the mobile market is now a reality - at least in America. The iPhone is certainly eye-catching, but can it live up to the hype?

The scene outside the 5th Avenue shop in New York resembled a movie premiere, only with smelly, unshaven people as the stars; they had camped out for days in the heat and dust.

Meanwhile, freshly showered Apple employees clapped and cheered as iPhone customers left the store - not because of the event, they were just overjoyed not to be the ones chained to the cash registers inside.

Scott Conley was 12th in line and waited two days for his: "I desperately want, as a professional and an Apple enthusiast for the product to win not just the industry but win me over as well. But I know myself enough that if in three or four days of use it's not going to carry me, I will go back to my Blackberry and flip the iPhone."

iPhone
Google Maps is among the iPhone's applications

National iPhone week, or iDay as it was also called, was a brilliantly executed climax to six months of intense hype and marketing.

The device has been billed as revolutionary, and in many respects it is. The crisp 3.5 inch touch screen is the centre piece and the reason why the iPhone works so fluently and fast.

It is very responsive and can display many of its functions in both portrait and landscape mode thanks to an accelerometer sensor.

Multi-touch technology allows two fingers to be used to zoom in or out, and coverflow mode allows the user to effortlessly flick through music collections. In fact the integrated iPod is by far the best design to date, and it should not be too long before the stand-alone versions follow suit.

With a two megapixel camera, Google maps and wi-fi, the iPhone has a lot to offer.

Next generation

But successful as the campaign has been for Apple they did neglect to mention a few details, as Sascha Segan from PC Magazine explained: "It doesn't sound very good. My calls on the iPhone have sounded kind of tinny and weak. The volume is not great, there's been some volume wobble. The calls just don't sound terrific.

Steve Jobs
Apple boss Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone in January

"I also don't like how the web browser doesn't support certain advanced technologies like Java, Flash and other plug-ins. So much of the internet is now streaming music, video, Java plug-ins and you can't see any of those pages on the iPhone's web browser."

Rich DeMuro from CNET thinks that the next generation iPhone needs to add a few features.

"First it needs a higher data network, definitely a 3G network. The corporate e-mail issue needs to be resolved, I'd like to see Blackberry-style software easily installed on there or good link software that you could install on there, that would be great.

"Right now you can't use Bluetooth headphones. So it's great that you can use the iPhone for all of your media and phone calls, but you still have that wire."

Verdicts

The earliest reviews - from four journalists who had been given an iPhone to play with a full two weeks before the rest of us - were overwhelmingly positive. But as techblog ValleyWag pointed out, all four journalists have indirect associations with Apple.

USA Today columnist Ed Baig, for example, wrote the iMac for Dummies book.

"If you read my review you'd see there are negatives in there," said Mr Baig. "I like the phone, it's a cool device but it's far from perfect, as I said. The review points out a lot of things that are on my wish list that could work better."

In Brooklyn 48 hours after launch, Scott Conley was in the back garden still getting used to his iPhone and blogging about his experience. Like many customers he was delighted but found a few basic functions just didn't exist.

"I have expectations of the consumer experience, and iPhone delivered on that right out of the box. The packaging's there, the hardware's dead sexy, the resolution and interface are gorgeous.

"But I can't turn the phone sideways to do e-mail, I've got to use the thin keyboard. I can't Bluetooth synchronise with my Powerbook, I can with my Nokia and some other phones.

"I think there are opportunities they didn't get to."

So what else could be improved on the iPhone? A non-user replaceable battery is a big issue - would you want to be without your phone for days while it's shipped back to Apple for a refit?

And if you plan on using the iPod portion of the phone be aware of the limited storage space - 4GB or 8GB with no ability to add to it. So only a small amount of songs or a tiny amount of movies can be kept onboard.

While competitors play up everything that is missing in iPhone 1.0 it is evident that the entire American mobile marketplace is realizing that Apple has raised the bar, even if people buy one just for the interface.



SEE ALSO
iPhone creates stir on US launch
03 Jul 07 |  Business
Has touch technology come of age?
29 Jun 07 |  Technology

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