ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday February 24, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 39

Gotta have gizmo

Boy Toys By Ding

It's was supposed to be the second best thing since sliced bread (me being the first). Apple announced it in January 2007, sales began in the US in June the same year. Even hardcore Mac-haters like me were eagerly following its development. And now, I've got my hands on one.

In a nutshell, it's a highly web-integrated multimedia mobile phone with a touch screen driven user interface. It has a 2.0 mega-pixel camera, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, and comes with either 4GB, 8GB or a massive 16GB (announced) storage options.

The apple of the iPhone's eye (pun intended) is the 320x480 multi touch input screen. The multi touch screen is operated through a touch-drag motion of the finger. So the zoom operation of a picture for example, would require you to "stretch" the part the user wants zoomed. It's very bright, and the ambient light meter ensuring readability even under direct sunlight. And since the screen in glass, unlike on most phones, it will be quite resistant to scratches. The screen also automatically rotates depending on how you're holding the phone.

Connectivity wise, things look good, but the reality is far from that. It has Edge and WiFi support, and has Bluetooth built in. However, it does not support the ultra-fast 3G networks, and the Bluetooth is limited to connecting hands-free kits. High-def Bluetooth transfer for music playback is also not supported. Very disappointing for a phone of this price.

Since this is a web-centric phone, it has the capability of installing "web apps." Apps are available for everything from YouTube (comes as standard), to facebook, flickr and RSS readers for reading blogs and newsfeeds. The iPhone features a built in 2.0 megapixel camera, without a flash, located on the back for photos, but does not support video recording. Video playback however, is supported and is played back in the landscape orientation only. Video playback quality is nothing short of excellent, with colors rendered beautifully and without any jitter or frame loss.

The phone has three kinds of sensors: The touch screen, the ambient light sensor which I spoke about, and a proximity sensor. The proximity sensor shuts off the screen when the phone is brought close to the face to save battery life.

It's a phone, so some users might actually want to make phone calls and send messages with it. So for that minority, it supports the usual conferencing, call holding, call merging et cetera. It also supports text messaging, but the onscreen keyboard needs getting used to. A lot of getting used to.

Sound quality is brilliant through the provided headphones, but the phone's built in speaker disappoints. As does a lot of other things. Complaint time: Apple has tried to be too exclusive with the iPhone. You can only connect Bluetooth headsets, you can't use your MP3 songs as ring tones, and the camera doesn't do video. And for that sweet looking package, you're sacrificing a lot of things if you choose one.

The question is, would I buy one? Personally, I won't. There are so many touch screen phones out there which look miles better (LG Prada / Samsung Armani) with better cameras, better sound, better network integration, which can be bought for the same price.

But if you're a hardcore iPhone fan, then none of this would matter. But I would strongly advise you to have a look at the Prada and Armani phones before you buy one of these.

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