On numerous occasions, I have written about cell phones, cell phone technologies, cell phone service providers, and cell phone features. At each opportunity I had to write about cell phones, there seemed to be enough change in the market and product offerings to warrant a review of your own cellular needs. Here we are again. A seismic event occurred on July 29, 2007 with the introduction and release of the Apple’s iPhone through the AT&T-Cingular network. The six month prelude to the actual iPhone release, according to many, was reminiscent of the infiniti automakers startup. At that time, it was great fun to speculate on what the infiniti cars might look like, since the ads often displayed tranquil shoreline settings of water and rocks—no automobiles. One memorable quote by Jay Leno of the Tonight Show at the time was “I don’t know how many cars they have sold, but rock sales are way up.” Many have credited Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, with the genius behind this marketing strategy but we must give proper credit to a very willing customer base and an excited and compliant press corps.
Actual iPhone sales data is not available, but informed technical and financial analysts believe that no fewer than 150,000 were sold over the first few days and some have speculated that as many as 500,000 or more were sold during the first week. By any measure, it was a great start towards the sales target of ten to twelve million units Apple expects to sell over the next couple years. Considering the price range of $499 for the 4 gigabyte model to $599 for the 8 gigabyte model, the most expensive cell phones to date, this feat takes on even greater significance.
For most users, activating the iPhone required a new contract, Apple iTunes v7.3 software, a personal computer, and an internet connection. The internet activation system was slowed briefly by the onslaught of new contracts, but AT&T rebounded within 72 hours. My signup took about 10 minutes and was uneventful during the melee. Many news reports noted that there was a discrepancy between purchased units and activated units. One visit to the online eBay auction site, where thousands of units appeared the day of the release, helps explain a portion of the activation shortfall.
The iPhone is easy to use, easy to understand, and for many PDA/cell phone users or MAC computer users the operation is intuitive. Unlike past cell phones that died or were replaced before I discovered or used all of the features, I am happy to report that all of the features of my new iPhone are in use. I am also happy to report that dropped calls, bad reception and bad tower areas appear to be a thing of the past at least in my routine Annapolis travel patterns.
Much has been said about the internal battery life cycle and the $86 replacement cost. I am sure that the policy and procedure will change long before the initial one million units need battery replacements. According to Apple, “iPhone will feature up to 8 hours of talk time, 6 hours of internet use, 7 hours of video playback or 24 hours of audio playback. In addition, iPhone will feature up to 250 hours—more than 10 days—of standby time.” I have found the talk and standby times better than any cell phone in the past considering the change in operations and use. Apple also announced that the entire top surface of iPhone, including its stunning 3.5-inch display, was upgraded from plastic to optical-quality glass to achieve a superior level of scratch resistance and optical clarity. I actually like the clean screen, the lack of buttons and the auto lock feature. I hated past phones that let me make calls accidentally. I found the electronic keyboard quite easy to use and the silence button on the side of the unit a very nice touch.
I haven’t used the YouTube internet link often, and I have used the iPod feature on a limited basis and have not tried the limited Blue Tooth functionality. But I regularly use the internet link on the Cingular Edge network or through free WiFi service areas, the email account with my new iPhone address, Microsoft Outlook synchronization, visual voice mail selection, Google internet satellite mapping with routing, stock portfolios link, text messaging, note pad, world clock, weather alerts, and the 2 megapixel camera. Word, Excel, and PDF attachments to emails are viewable but not editable, which works for me. I also like the fact that I can charge the iPhone through the USB connection on my laptop or through the charger that accompanied the iPhone. Check out all of the iPhone features in the online PDF manual at www.apple.com/support/manuals/iphone and then visit sites like www.maclife.com for other tips and shortcuts.
There have been countless reviews by Apple lovers and haters but there is generally universal acclaim for the iPhone.
If you haven’t had your hands on an iPhone or had a friend show up with their iPhone anxious to demo it for you, take the time to check the iPhone on your own at the local Apple store. You might be a convert and one of the next ten million users.