Few diminutive devices have so besotted the world’s imagination in recent times as Apple Inc.’s iPhone. The second edition of the mobile phone officially launches in India on Thursday midnight. Here are some first impressions after spending 48 hours with the iPhone 3G.
Reams have been written on the iPhone’s pathbreaking, multi-touch, intuitive, flick, pinch and tap-driven graphical interface. One can only reiterate the adjectives: matchless, effortless, slick, bewitching. Period. In this avatar too, the magic endures.
Audio, video, Internet
Apple has bumped up audio levels considerably. There’s no crackle or distortion even at full volume. Voice calls offer impeccable clarity even with variations in signal strength. Little can be added to what is already known about its iPod-like audio playback abilities. Video display quality on its large 3.5-inch screen is excellent with vibrant and vivid colours, sharp picture quality and decent viewing angles. The Internet experience with the embedded Safari browser over Wi-Fi is good, enhanced further by the responsiveness of the tilt-motion accelerometer for widescreen browsing. Watching YouTube has never been as much fun in the idle hours!
Hitherto known purely as a personal communcations and media device, in year two, the iPhone 3G is stepping out of its established domain. It now seeks to insert itself into enterprise, corporate and business environments by offering support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, push services (for email, contacts, calendar), and VPN protocols, etc. Also possible now are enterprise-grade networking and remote device configuration.
Apart from Microsoft Exchange, the phone supports mail from Yahoo Mail, Gmail, AOL, MobileMe and other standard services.
One of the most exciting features of the iPhone is its ability to download and run a selection of 600 interesting and innovative third party applications from Apples’s App Store. Spanning everything from entertainment and gaming to news and productivity, social networking and weather to sports and travel, etc., these free as well as paid apps have been developed to exploit the phone’s capabilities.
Accurate, fully functional and fast. Since it is based on Google Maps, the assisted GPS (global positioning system) on the phone is locational, not truly navigational turn-by-turn guidance like a dedicated GPS device. But it works perfectly.
A new annual $99 subscription-based Internet service suite from Apple, it keeps your mail, contacts, and calendars in sync and up-to-date. Web registration with credit card particulars is necessary for you to get a 60-day trial, during which you can pull out if you don’t see any benefits.
How many of us have ever hooked into the Net for firmware updates for our phones? A majority of us are not even aware that something like this is possible. Even those are, either don’t bother, or don’t dare.
Yet in the case of the iPhone, one can expect things to be different. Reason? iTunes-prompted awareness when you sync the phone with your PC.
While the higher calibre of Apple’s support stands out even in a country such as India, it remains to be seen how it will fare with a mass market product.
First-level support providers Airtel and Vodafone will have to ramp up their infrastructure considerably to rise to the occassion.
Being married solely to either Airtel or Vodafone is a necessary evil. This holy matrimony also implies that one must banish all fantasies of SIM swapping with Matrix, O2, SingTel and the like when abroad.
Copy-paste, MMS sending, Flash capabilities and A2DP (stereo Bluetooth). Nothing that an update can’t fix. And the forthcoming firmware upgrade in September could add or alter a lot or all of this.
At Rs31,000 for the 8GB model and Rs36,000 for the 16GB, it hurts when you know buyers in the US are paying a paltry $199 (Rs8,670) for the 8GB avatar. Unfair and unjust. But it would be naive to assume that Apple will sell a golden goose for under Rs10,000 in India.
It remains a device replete with features and finesse and offers a user experience of different level of magnitude at virtually all levels of deployment.
Ashish Bhatia is a gadgets expert and writes for Mint’s Business of Life gadgets page.