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The Ultimate iPhone Decision Tool


The iPhone – You Know You Want One…Or Do You?

The iPhone launched just over a week ago, and the dust is starting to settle. This article will present a look behind the hype curtain to help you make a decision about whether or not to buy an iPhone. This guide will give you the features that the iPhone has and the ones it is missing.

iPhone: What It’s Got and What It’s Not!
Below are the main menu items from the iPhone detailing what is useful and what is missing.

Phone 
GOT:

  • AT&T is the carrier. You can check AT&T’s coverage level is in your area. In my area it is good and better than Verizon which I was pleasantly surprised about.
  • Sound clarity is excellent.
  • The headphones that come with the phone are excellent too. They have a little toggle switch on the mic that allows you to switch between calls and music.
  • The phone has bluetooth for a use with a wireless headset which I haven’t tried.
  • Visual Voicemail allow you to see a list of all your recent voicemails. You can go to anyone by just tapping on it. It works very nicely.
  • Add Call feature is handy because it is so easy to use.
  • Cost is not bad. Basic package is $59.99 for 450 monthly rollover minutes, 5000 weekend/night minutes, unlimited web data, and 200 text messages.

NOT:

  • Not available with other wireless phone carriers, and this will hold true for at least the next 2 years.
  • $36 non-refundable activation fee.
  • You can return your iPhone to the original point of purchase within 14 days for a full refund, but there is a 10% restocking fee if the box has been opened.
  • Not Cheap: $499 for 4GB version and $599 for 8GB version.

Mail
GOT:

  • Automatically add Yahoo, Gmail, .mac, AOL mail. You can add other email too such as Earthlink, that falls into either IMAP, POP, or Exhange categories.
  • Push email. Email is delivered to your iPhone at your chosen frequency.
  • Email viewing: very easy to read.

NOT:

  • Can only delete one email at a time. If you get a lot of junk email this is a pain.
  • No corporate email.

Web
GOT:

  • WiFi and EDGE network. WiFi is fast. You can view almost any web page.
  • Safari browser. You can view full web pages which you can zoom in on by “pinching” the screen with two fingers and move around with one finger. Works very well.
  • Bookmarks sync with those on your computer (for windows, only I.E., not Firefox)

NOT:

  • EDGE is not fast, however in my opinion it’s not as bad as has been reported. I used web via wireless connection before, and it seems about the same speed as Verizon.
  • Some websites can’t be viewed on Safari, either they don’t format well or can’t view them at all. This doesn’t happen that often.

Music
GOT:

  • All the iPod functionality including music videos.
  • New Album browsing functionality. While listening to a playlist you can turn the iPhone horizontally and see the album. Tap on the album and you can see all the other songs from that album that you have whether they are in the current playlist or not. From there you can jump to any song on that album.

NOT:

  • There is no headphone that allows you to control your music from the headset say when you’re exercising.
  • If you have a lot of music you will need to pick and choose playlists as the memory fills up fast!

SMS
GOT:

  • Text messages.
  • Display is easy to read and use

NOT:

  • Can’t include photos. Have to send via email. This stinks if you like to share photos with friends this way.

Calendar
GOT:

  • Syncs Calendar and Contacts with Outlook in Windows and iCal for Macs.
  • Easy to read display especially compared with Windows mobile.

NOT:

Camera & Photos
GOT:

  • 2 megapixel camera that works nicely.
  • Enlarging feature by “un-pinching” the image on the touch screen.
  • Move picture around with finger touch.
  • Scroll through album pictures with finger touch.
  • Can sync photos from your computer to the iPhone.
  • Can upload photos from iPhone to computer.

NOT:

  • No Video capture! Bummer. Not sure if this functionality can be added with software upgrade or you’ll have to wait for next generation of iPhone.
  • Sending pictures via email can be a problem. If you have two email accounts set up and the first one is turned off, it won’t automatically use the second email account.
  • Emailing pictures: problem choosing from your contacts. It only shows the contact’s name. It doesn’t let you see the email addresses if the contact only has one email address.
  • Can only delete one photo at a time.

You Tube
GOT:

  • Built in You Tube application. Works great.

NOT:

  • Can’t upload videos, but the camera doesn’t take videos so this is not really a problem.

Stocks
GOT:

  • Unlimited(?) stock and mutual fund watch list.
  • Graph. Choose between 1d, 1w, 1m, 3m, 6m, 1y, 2y views.

NOT:

  • No complaints, except that there are many things I’d rather have than this. (memo notes that sync, voice dial, voice memo, video camera

Maps
GOT:

  • Can view by Map, Satellite, or for directions, by the list of driving steps.
  • Directions will take you step by step along your route with pictures and text. Very useful.
  • Visual Traffic reporting via color coding on the map. Nice feature.

NOT:

  • No GPS functionality.

Weather
GOT:

  • Can have multiple cities. Displays today and next 5 days of weather: high, low and picture of sun, clouds, etc. Can view in Celsius or Fahrenheit.
  • Quick link to Yahoo! for more information on that location including weather, events, city guide, and more.

NOT:

  • No real complaints.

Clock
GOT:

  • As many World Clocks as you want. Once set up, you can see them all in a list.
  • Alarm that you can choose the alarm sound from your ringtone list. Snooze feature available.
  • Stopwatch with multiple lap times.
  • Countdown Timer. Easy to set the time with scroll wheel for setting hours, minutes, seconds.

NOT:

  • No complaints.

Calculator
GOT:

  • Basic

NOT:

  • Can’t add other higher functionality calculators. Workaround:
  • Calculator bugs. Not a big deal, but something to be aware of.

Notes
GOT:

  • Cute notes. Yellow legal pad look. Comic Sans type font.
  • To share you must email it. No syncing. 

NOT:

  • No Syncing with anything! Workaround: Use Plaxo to sync your notes (and tasks, contacts, and/or calendars) from Outlook, Yahoo and more to Plaxo’s online service. This is free and you’ll be able to see your memo notes. You won’t be able to sync them into iPhone notes.
  • No Clipboard, No Copy & Paste.

Keyboard:
GOT:

  • Virtual keyboard that shows up when input fields are tapped on. I think it’s fine, but this is a personal preference thing that you should try out at an Apple store or AT&T store if you think it will be a problem for you.

NOT:

  • No actual keys on the keyboard.
  • No Stylus, but you don’t really need one.
  • No graffiti capabilities. Not really a problem, but it could be a nice option for those who don’t like the virtual keyboard.

Other:
GOT:

  • 4GB or 8GB of memory.
  • Wallpaper: 19 built in choices, but you can use any of your own photos.
  • Airplane safe mode turns off unapproved features for use when in the air.

NOT:

  • There is no general search feature for finding information on your whole iPhone database.
  • No memory expansion. 8GB is a lot for a phone, but not for a phone with music, photos, videos, email and more.
  • No Games. Workaround: several web based games that cater to iPhone: macmost, iPhoneAppsManager, iWhack, iGiki.
  • No Voice Dialing.
  • No Voice Memos.
  • No Switching of SIM cards.
  • No Clipboard, No Copy & Paste.
  • No GPS.
  • Battery Replacement will cost $86 plus 3 day turnaround. Will this be improved? I think so.
  • iTunes can eat some or all of your music when you upgrade to iTunes 7. Solution: if you still have your songs on your iPod, you can use iPod Access for recovering songs from your iPod back into iTunes. I used it and it works. Free trial. Purchase is $19.99.
  • No application add-ons. Workaround: keep an eye on iPhoneAppsManager for links to online iphone applications. You can bookmark this on your iPhone.
  • No sketching tool.
  • No internal back-up in the case that you are traveling without your computer.

Hopeful

Hopefully many of the features, accessories and capabilities it is missing will be added soon in the next firmware upgrade. There are some workarounds for games and applications via web based solutions, but what if coverage is low or out? It would be nice to have these right on your phone. Can video, voice memos, and voice dialing be added with a software upgrade? If you know, please share in  the comments below!

References and Other Information to Check Out

Engadget Article on iSwitchers and iReturners. There are multiple comments on this post regarding readers’ opinions on the iPhone.
iPhone Hacks. Blog on latest on iPhone.

Cool Web Sites for Your iPhone

Plaxo for syncing your notes and tasks to view online. (Can also sync calendar and contacts from multiple sources.)
Google Calendar – if you use this calendar instead of Outlook reminders will come to you via SMS text message.
Google Notebook – Can view, but can’t update.
Google Docs – Can view, but can’t update.
Zoho Suite mini – Can view, but can’t update.
Ta-Da Lists – free online To-Do list application.

Please Share!

What features do you like about the iPhone? Which features do you wish it had? What is your decision on the iPhone and how do you feel about it? Any regrets? All comments big and small are very welcomed!

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30 Responses to The Ultimate iPhone Decision Tool

  1. Dee July 9, 2007 at 1:19 pm #

    Great article Agent Sully.
    Though I am a fan of Apple’s products, and I think the iPhone is great and all, I don’t understand why put such a high price on it. I have a Motorola A780, it does most of the things the iPhone does and cost half as much and it isn’t as sensitive as the iPhone. So people should realize they’re paying mainly for the product’s design and not necessarily for what it can do.

  2. Leo July 9, 2007 at 5:43 pm #

    Great resource, Agent Sully! Excellent job once again.

  3. Stephen July 9, 2007 at 7:21 pm #

    VERY informative, good job on the research Sully. Here is what I think –
    http://hdbizblog.com/blog/2007/07/01/the-iphone-killer/

  4. Web Urbanist July 9, 2007 at 8:26 pm #

    That’s fantastic – as I indicated in my Stumble review and Digg comment: it’s nice to see someone going really in-depth on this new product, rather than just talking about how bad or good it is anecdotally. Very cool, keep up the good work – love the blog!

  5. Abel July 9, 2007 at 11:20 pm #

    The phone was just lauched and you already have so much info on it. Excellent. I personally think GPS should be part of iPhone.

  6. agentsully July 10, 2007 at 1:04 am #

    Hi Dee- I know it is sooo expensive!!

    Leo – nice to “see” you here! Thanks for the comment!

    Stephen – thanks for the link. I look forward to checking it out!

    Hey Web Urbanist – thank you for the support!

    Hi Abel – I agree. I think there are so many things that should be in the iPhone. But not being an engineer, maybe I don’t realize how hard it is to include everything. Or then again maybe it’s all about marketing! Who knows! Time will tell!

  7. cazare litoral July 11, 2007 at 3:13 am #

    This is a great and complete review
    Thanks for sharing :D

  8. Bucky July 11, 2007 at 7:01 am #

    Impressive list! Great work!

    I would probably have one of these if the price was cut in half. I think the overpricing of small electronics has really got out of hand since the ipod, and I can’t justify the need to have one compared to the expense…. besides bragging rights.

  9. Raymond July 12, 2007 at 6:29 am #

    What a long list!

    Thanks for the research, Sully.

  10. agentsully July 13, 2007 at 7:33 pm #

    Cazare -thank you!

    Bucky- it definitely is expensive. It is hard to justify. The coolness factor is very high, but for many, not high enough!

    Raymond – Thanks for the comment!

    Hope to see you all again soon!

  11. zaki blogjer July 13, 2007 at 9:56 pm #

    AgentSully, have you bought one? In Asia, we have to wait until next year

  12. Laura July 26, 2007 at 11:12 am #

    I doubt that battery replacement cost will go down, Apple is awfully proud of their products as they should be. I did find a less expensive option though, ipodjuice.com already has iPhone battery service that’s less expensive than apple’s. I got my new ipod battery from them a while back and have loved it.

  13. Ipod Classic Touch Hacker September 7, 2007 at 1:24 am #

    How about that price drop. Pretty extreme!!! The ipod touch will be hacked. oh yes, oh yes!!

  14. Ben September 16, 2007 at 7:38 am #

    Thanks for the review!

    The biggest cons for me are the mussing corporate email connectivity and that you can only delete one email at a time!

  15. DJ Sammy October 8, 2007 at 4:40 am #

    Hey! I came across this posting after googling for crank ringtone. Thanks for the interesting read. I have often thought about Ultimate iPhone Decision Tool too. Thanks for sharing. On Monday I will have time to look into it more.

  16. agentsully October 16, 2007 at 2:28 pm #

    DJ Sammy – cool. glad you liked it! Hope to see you here again!

  17. John February 7, 2008 at 9:30 pm #

    How does an iPhone compare with the Blackberry. They are pretty much head to head arn’t they?

  18. chris March 10, 2008 at 3:43 am #

    I think with the new SDK release, the iPhone is going to pick up a lot more steam and be the best phone for personal use as well as corporate use by far.

  19. iphone games March 26, 2008 at 10:32 am #

    There are many games to play with the safari broswer on your phone and I can’t wait for the first motion sensed marble madness game for it with the release of a developers kit!

  20. Beer iPhone April 25, 2008 at 6:06 pm #

    Just stumbled across this looking for some iPhone programs. Good read, thanks for the info!

  21. kbuntu August 8, 2008 at 4:14 pm #

    Thanks for the read. I might just go out an buy one.

  22. Billigflüge Amerika August 12, 2008 at 8:02 am #

    I really plan to get and iPhone soon, thank you for your review, it was nice to read. Maybe I´ll drop by soon again.

  23. iphone girl August 28, 2008 at 10:41 pm #

    Great review! I ended up waiting 3 hours in line to get mine last week. Well worth the wait though! Thanks for the list.. i’m still working out how to use all the features.

  24. Unlock iPhone 3G August 31, 2008 at 10:51 pm #

    Fabulous review!!! every one gets some interest to buy iphone after read this article. . so am i?

    Thanks for posting this one!!

  25. IPhone September 4, 2008 at 3:20 pm #

    I liked this article very much it went on some very good topics off the Iphone, and also some negative, but really not alot of negative, haha. I love the Iphone there is just endless things you can do with it.

  26. iPhone Australia September 19, 2008 at 2:39 pm #

    People would buy it anyway no matter what!

  27. iPhone apps December 4, 2008 at 10:19 pm #

    I must say I enjoyed reading our article. Hopefully a lot of these iphone app developers will solve many of these problems with their apps. I know many problems have been solved thanks to their innovation and dedication the iphone app industry.

  28. Neal December 4, 2008 at 10:21 pm #

    Also I’d love to see you write a piece on iPhone complaints I think many of your readers would love to see all complaints especially after the recent release of the 2.2 update.

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    [...] The Ultimate iPhone Decision Tool at lifelearningtoday.com. This website really breaks down iPhone for someone thinking about purchasing it. [...]

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