Why I Still Love the iPhone

If you’re in the market for a smart phone these days, there’s a whole heap of phones to choose from. The most popular ones have Apple or Blackberry written on them, or are one of the many running Google’s Android operating system. Here’s 6 reasons why I still love my iPhone, though.

1. You can’t dial it when in your pocket.

While some people seem to hate touchscreen devices with a passion, with some manufacturers going out of their way to add additional slide-out keyboards, I quite like them (if done well).

Prior to (my first) iPhone, I had a standard phone for work. While driving, with the phone in my pocket, I called my then-boss, at just the point I’d decided to sing/whistle along to this song on the radio.
That’s pretty embarrassing, isn’t it?
Well what would be worse, is if he was in a meeting, and didn’t answer the call. And it went to answerphone. And he played it back to everyone in the office, later.
The only thing I could think to do, was record it off and use it as material for my weekly hospital-radio show. But, seemingly by that point, he’d deleted it. Pfffft.

2. Syncing.

If you’ve never had to use Microsoft’s syncing software with Windows CE devices, or tried to sync a Palm Pilot with ANYTHING, you’ll never have experienced how shit some devices are.

My first colour-screen mobile phone had a camera. I took a few (rubbish) pictures. When it came to getting them off, that was pretty hard/impossible. Text messages? Forget about it.

A Sony Clié palmtop I had made it impossible for you to get your photos off, unless you had purchased a Sony Memorystick card. You could transfer contacts via a cable, but not photos. Rubbish.

When I moved from the iPhone 3G to the iPhone 4, I synced my old phone, unplugged, and then plugged in my new one. Everything was transferred from text messages, to music playlists, to contacts, to photos.

3. I actually LIKE iTunes.

So what if the icon is shit?
Before iTunes, I had music all over the place. The stuff I had on computer, I had sorted mostly by artist, then by album. But if it was a compilation album, it’d be under the name of the compilation, then the disc. I had manual playlists I’d put together, and stuff that I hadn’t added to a playlist, which I never got to listen to (because I didn’t know it existed).

And that was just the computerised stuff. I had boxes and boxes of old CDs, singles, and promo discs I’d bought from the sadly-now-out-of-business Disc n Tape records, on Gloucester Road – just lying around.
I once saw Jack Penate on a music show talking about how, if you have vinyl, you make a special effort to get it out and play it, whereas you don’t listen to it once it’s an mp3. Bullshit. Anything

iTunes changed all that. It took me a while to get used to, especially the option it has to rename my files to match the titles in the tags, but get used to it, and you can stop worrying about where stuff is. It searches quick, and you can add every song by one artist to a playlist, in seconds.

It can burn CDs easily, and it’ll even print you a playlist too, easily made the right size for the cases. Prior to iTunes, this was a mess of Nero, plus various CD jewel-case printing software.

I use my computer for putting together radio shows and podcasts. Sometimes I like to put those sound effects into stuff I make in iMovie. To do this, I add them into iTunes. But when I play iTunes on shuffle, it doesn’t play them, because I have a “mostly all” playlist, which excludes anything I’ve tagged as being a sound effect. Clever.

4. The “walled-garden”.

Wait – am I completely mad? Completely stupid? Who wants the walled-garden?

I know Apple can be a little heavy-handed, banning or excluding applications based on rules they won’t tell anyone. But isn’t this better than letting everything through? You don’t get many rootkit applications on the iPhone, I can tell you. In your face, Android.

This isn’t even why I like it. The walled-garden system, and Apple’s stipulations about what mobile phone carriers can and can’t do with their phones – THAT’s what I like.

Pre-Apple, I had several phones which were made worse by the mobile carriers. I had a Samsung phone with a menu system that, according to the Samsung manual – didn’t exist. It had been modified by Orange, and they’d moved the options around, to make you more inclined to buy ringtones, and other tat.

My worst experience is still that first-colour mobile phone. Vodafone provided it (a Panasonic), and a Sharp handset at the same time. For a few months nothing happened, then Vodafone backed the Sharp handset. All new features, new software updates, online manuals, everything – was for the Sharp. I phoned up several times and asked about the Panasonic, and they didn’t know how to get anything to work. And you can’t use the original Vodafone manual to try and get say – email – to work, because they’d changed the software/menus/options.

At the time, data cost £2.70 per mb. Yes, really. In the UK. Not roaming or anything.
And my £30-a-month tariff included precisely ZERO bytes of inclusive-data. Luckily, it was so slow and supported so few features, anything data-heavy wasn’t possible anyway.
When Panasonic built the phone, they put a counter in the browser, so you could see how many kilobytes of data you had used, and work out how much it has cost you. Vodafone’s software removed this. It also prevented you from connecting the phone to a computer with a cable, to transfer photos off, to encourage you to use photo messaging.

While Android’s operating system might be good, it doesn’t come to you directly from Google. It goes Google -> mobile manufacturer -> mobile carrier -> you. When Google release an update for Android, it can take months before HTC have tested it, added their modifications, sent it to the mobile phone carrier, they’ve checked it, added their modifications, and sent it to you. Don’t believe me? See this recent blog-post by an Android-user (found completely at random – I’ve no affiliation). And who is to say in all this modifying, whether the mobile carrier will decide they don’t want you using certain functions, or otherwise make a right hash-up of incorporating new features?

5. Apps.

Yes, there’s apps on Android, and lots of them. But, when an organisation make an app for a smart phone, it’s on the iPhone first. It just is.

As far as Blackberry, Windows, and Nokia all go – they just don’t have the volume. On a purely numbers-basis, Apple has the highest numbers of applications available. And while that undoubtedly means that there is a lot of crap in there (there is), that still means they’ve got the biggest chance of there being some good stuff (and there is).

6. The camera.

While the camera on the iPhone 3G wasn’t great (OK – in some situations – it was completely useless), the iPhone 4 really is very good. The tap-to-focus system works brilliantly, at any distance, and it can accurately focus on printed text (something my iPhone 3G could never do).

Low light conditions are no problem. I’ve taken pictures at night, where my proper digital camera failed completely, and got viewable pictures from my iPhone. These two pictures would not exist, were it not for the camera on the iPhone.

Look. Don't touch.

The cow featured resides at Cadbury House. It’s away from the main building, in a green field area (of course – it’s a COW), so lighting is pretty non existent. They’re not the greatest pictures ever, but they do actually exist.

Even in a recent test for Ch5’s Gadget Show, the video footage from the iPhone’s camera was better than the competitors. I will add that the stills were slightly better from an Android phone, but the Android’s video was pretty poor. I think I’d take “second best stills and best video”, over “best stills and rubbish video”.

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