The Jesusphone: 24 hours later

by Volker Weber

The iPhone has been covered in so many reviews that you might think there is nothing to be discovered. Apple has published guides showing most aspects of the user interface, everybody has their own opinion, and yet, nothing beats your own experience.

Apple is the best company when it comes to designing the experience when you first use a new device. It starts by designing a package that makes you feel you spent your money wisely. Nothing is cheap or thrown together. There is no 3rd party collateral in the box. The first thing you unpack is the phone itself. Not some mundane documentation, cable or even packaging material. You open the box, and there it is.

The main difference between the iPhone and all other Apple gear is that the device is locked. You need to unlock it by connecting it to iTunes, creating an iTunes ID and then agreeing to a 27 (!) page license agreement. In my case this was a rather odd experience. I have an Apple ID, which has never been used in the iTunes store. So Apple wants me to create an iTunes account. When presented with the different payment options I chose PayPal. The store tells me that Apple needs a US payment source. Arrgh! Then I look at the iPhone and, surprise surprise, it has been unlocked. I still don't have a working iTunes ID, and yet, the phone works.

As you connect the phone, it begins to read all your settings from your computer. When it's done, you are ready to go. You don't need to set up your mail accounts, your calendars, your address book, or anything else at all.

It. Just. Works.

This is such a big difference to all other user experiences you get, that it is worth repeating. It. Just. Works. The same can be said about the web browser. Nothing I have ever seen on any mobile phone comes close. Nothing.

Are you excited yet? Time for the bad news.

No Flash.

This is a biggie. Disable Flash in your web browser and you will notice all the things that no longer work. For instance, no YouTube videos. Big deal, you say. The iPhone has its own YouTube application. Nice. A really good time sink. I spent hours there. But you can't get from a website to the player. Somebody embeds a video, and you can't watch it. You just get a nice little blue icon where the video is supposed to be, and you don't know which one it is.

No clipboard.

You heard it right. No clipboard. You just can't move any information from one application into another. Find an address on a website? Write it down, and type it into the Google Maps interface. On the subject of maps:

No GPS.

Yes, no built-in GPS, you knew that. But you also cannot connect an external GPS. Google Maps on the iPhone does not know about GPS at all. Even if it would, you cannot connect an external GPS via Bluetooth. It only serves as an interface to a headset. No OBEX, nothing:

iphone bluetooth

This means, you cannot do anything interesting with Bluetooth. You can neither transfer contacts, nor pictures, nor movies, nor sounds. Nada zilch. Internet access for your notebook? Forgetaboutit.

No Airtunes.

The iPhone has Wi-Fi, iTunes, Mac OS X. Would be a no-brainer to share music over Bonjour, the artist formerly known as Rendezvous, or play music through an Airport Express, but no dice. If you want to play your favorite track to your friends you need to use the tiny little speaker at the bottom of the device. This only works if the room is absolutely quiet.

And yet, I like it.

This isn't meant to be a rant about this phone. It is absolutely stunning and worth every Dollar (or Euro) you spend on it. It may be missing all the features I just mentioned, but frankly, most of them are complicated enough that most people will never use them on the phones that do support them. Internet access through your phone is one of them. It is possible with many phones and notebooks, and yet, hardly anyone uses them. For all kinds of reasons. Ridiculous customer fleecing by the carriers, mundane setup instructions, absurd complexity in the software stack.

The iPhone is different. It lets you use all the things it is capable off. Its accessibility opens it up to people who "just want to make a phone call", which translates to me as "I cannot figure this out". That won't happen with the iPhone. Your grandma can use it. And maybe even your father.

Comments

>>
Its accessibility opens it up to people who "just want to make a phone call"
>>

Hm, I (and even my mother) can do that with my cheap Nokia mobile also ... but do not need to spend 400 EUR and 50 EUR per month for that...

Michael Urspringer, 2007-11-18

Vowe,

Nice...I like your take on this. I have been thinking along similar lines myself as, on the day of the iPhone launch here in the UK, I took delivery of my E90.

At last! Now that is a 'phone with *all* the features and yet as I loaded it up with all my stuff, WLAN access, BBC etc., I found myself struggling to follow the various routes that exist in the user interface and my mind was turning to the iPhone as I *knew* that it would be so much easier on that than it is on the E90. I mean, those damn blue buttons by the inner screen, what the hell are they doing there? I find my fingers darting to and fro from the main keyboard to those stupid keys. Bad, bad Nokia!

I'd love an iPhone because I just know it would be a joy to use but it simply doesn't have enough of the stuff that I need (err, that's want, actually).

No 3G!! No use as a modem for a Mac, what were they thinking of?

John Ash, 2007-11-18

The contract will be another posting.

Volker Weber, 2007-11-18

From what I have heard, there is also no MMS capability and no ToDo's application which is a must for older people ;)

Andy Brunner, 2007-11-18

I heard that too. :-) I have never sent an MMS message, and twice received one. Both did not work. As for to-dos or tasks, yes, the iPhone is missing a task list. I will need to look further into this, because Apple has started using Mail with Leopard for tasks and notes. I believe they are stored in folders inside your IMAP account.

Volker Weber, 2007-11-18

Btw did anyone notice that the iPhone is neither MMS capable (you need to fetch MMS messages using a browser and guess what, Safari is not supported by T-Mobile...) nor does it log on automatically to T-Mobile hot spots? The latter has an advantage though, it means you will probably be able to use your hot spot credentials to log on with your laptop...

Jan Tietze, 2007-11-18

As I said before, I find MMS completely irrelevant. Never used them, never missed them. YMMV.

The iPhone should connect to T-Mobile hotspots without configuration. But you can get your credentials anyway by texting "open" to 9526.

Volker Weber, 2007-11-18

The iPhone does connect to T-Mobile Hotspots - but you still need to enter your credentials. But yes, they do work on your laptop, too.

Other than that: +1 to your review - there are lot of annoying things about the iPhone, but it's still by far the best mobile device I've ever owned.

Stefan Tilkov, 2007-11-18

From what I heard, the iPhones that were given to journalists before the official launch and used to train the promoters, had the ability to automatically use the T-Mobile hotspots without configuration.

This was reported e.g. in the FAZ: "Einige Sekunden nach dem Platznehmen in der Business-Class-Lounge der Bahn ist der Hotspot von T-Mobile entdeckt. Und wir sind online. Ohne irgendwelche Zugangsdaten oder Kennwörter eingegeben zu haben."

No 3G. No big deal. I compared my iPhone against a Nokia E61i. The Nokia may transfer the data faster, but the time till you see the page in the browser is almost the same. And it is much easier to navigate with the iPhone. I never got used to this little mouse cursor you had to move around on the E61i to hit a link.

Oliver Stör, 2007-11-18

I decided to get an iPod Touch instead of a iPhone for the time being, but the wifi is the best designed for any handheld device I have every used. It worked in Malta. It worked in London. It works everywhere in the US I have tried it.

Good review ... the flash issue is big. I also think the 'it just works' comment is not 100% true if your machine is a PC. I have had lots of issues just getting my pictures from my pc thru iTunes to my ipod touch.

John Head, 2007-11-18

Re: It. Just.Works.

Auch mit Windows/Linux? :-) Ich denke, die Gruppe der Mac-User hat würdige 'companions' für ihre Macs gefunden. Während meiner 15 Minuten im "T-Punkt" habe ich aber auch drei Kunden der Kategorie 'B' gesehen: "Das Telefon funktioniert nicht, aber die SIM-Karte ist drin!". Unglaubig lauschte eine Dame den Erklärungen des Verkäufers über iTunes 7.5 und die Aktivierung... "Aber ich habe gar keinen Computer...". :-)

Martin Kautz, 2007-11-18

Sweet. Looking forward to more tales from the jesusphone...

Teymur Madjderey, 2007-11-19

Am I the only one that finds the term "Jesusphone" offensive?

Stuart McIntyre, 2007-11-19

Posted too soon without updating the preview, I was going to conclude with...

Vowe, I am sure that someone with your talents can come up with with something better...

Stuart McIntyre, 2007-11-19

@Stuart: You're probably not the only one who finds it offensive, no.

Increasingly, Christians are regretting things like the commercialization of Christmas and the increasing use of Christian terms in Western pop culture, but there's a double-edged sword in play here. The insistence by some (serious emphasis on some) Christians that everyone acknowledge the particulars of their religion causes that religion's terminology to become more and more pervasive. Unfortunately, that makes common use of that which is intended to be sacred nearly inevitable.

By the way, does the fact that you find it offensive mean you sympathize with those Muslims who were outraged by the use of the Prophet's image in cartoons? The difference between rioting and commenting that something is offensive, of course, is enormous - but it is one of scale and not of principle.

Rob McDonagh, 2007-11-19

I don't think its offensive. But too long. So I christened my iPhone Jesus.

Malte Diedrich, 2007-11-19

As for me I don't see any sense in buying a phone for 399 Euros plus the fees for the contract which is bandwith limited to 64kbit/s after a while depending on which contract you are. Maybe for Apple enthiusiats the phone is a kind of "Jesus" but for a normal user it's just another toy...

By the way Apple once made the failure not to open up their platform so DOS could spam the PC world. Now they're doing the same big fault and Google will overtake them by releasing Android OS. That's how history is working: some learn from the faults of the others and some don't learn from their own faults...

Greets

Mathias Ziolo, 2007-11-19

Oh and one link I forgot, I'm sorry:
http://uneasysilence.com/archive/2007/11/12686/

Have fun reading!

Mathias Ziolo, 2007-11-19

I'm online via my phone right now, in this moment. But thanks for the info, finally I can put away my thought about buying an Iphone. :)

Even more so, since it uses no UMTS, which I might add is too slow for regular surfing already. Unfortunatly my carrier doesen't have any HSDPA hardware installed....start guessing which one :)

Johannes Matzke, 2007-11-19

Stuart, I don't go out of my way to insult people. But I have also not been accused of being PC. ;-) Besides, it is not my invention.

Volker Weber, 2007-11-19

Mathias, I have some breaking news for you. Your carrier knows when you switch on your phone, where you are, who you call, when you call them, how often you call them, which websites you visit, where your mail accounts are, how often you check your mail. Your ISP also knows which websites you visit, which protocols you use, and the list goes on.

Nevertheless, I would like to know why Apple wants to know who calls their service.

Volker Weber, 2007-11-19

Hmm, just nice to know:
http://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/99243

@Johannes:
E-Plus aka BASE ;-)

Mathias Ziolo, 2007-11-19

And for those German speaking readers, this may set the story straight.

Volker Weber, 2007-11-19

Volker, I know these facts but my phone doesn't send some weird URLs with pseudo IMEIs around the world ;-) Let me set up some fake situation: how about faking stock quotations?! Since the number is unique it can be designated to one person... It's just an weird idea but who knows?!

Mathias Ziolo, 2007-11-19

@ Mathias: Right. You get the T-shirt.

Johannes Matzke, 2007-11-20

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