Today, I am pleased to present another Guest Post. This one comes from one of my readers, Dale Strauss, an attorney with Bullock, Scott, Neisig, Morgan, Leeton & Strauss, P.C. in Midland, TX:
Like many of Ben’s readers, I have been a gadget geek for years. I have tried most every line of smartphones that has been available on Sprint or AT&T, including the Treo 300/600/750, Samsung i500/Blackjack/Blackjack II, Cingular 3125, AT&T Tilt, and RIM Pearl/Curve. What I have been searching for is a jack of all trades that has to master four areas: (1) good phone quality, (2) email, (3) PIM function, and (4) web browsing. The iPhone 3g is the first to solidly hit three out of four.
Phone Quality: The iPhone 3g is as good as any smartphone in call quality and signal acquisition. The 2g tended to have muffled audio and low volume speakerphone quality. The 3g delivers clear audio and loud speakerphone volume even in EDGE network areas.
Email: Exchange Activesync says it all. The 3g delivers email from our Exchange Server even before it hits my desktop. The delivery and updating of email, calendar, and contact information is every bit as fast as Blackberry Exchange Services on my Curve. Add to this the alternative push email capability of MobileMe (whoever chose that name should be fired) for those without an Exchange Server, and RIM should be very worried. Together these extend push email to small and medium businesses with far less pain than BES administration (and server downtime). The Achilles heel (see more in next section) is lack of notes and tasks syncing. This, however, is a problem for all Mac users whether using the built in programs or Entourage.
PIM: This is the weak area for the iPhone 3g, and a significant advantage for RIM. Notes and tasks do not sync with your Outlook information on Exchange Server. This is particularly a problem for Mac users, as even the vaunted Blackberry cannot sync these with Entourage or the built in applications. However, the quality of the new App Store and vendors who are writing for it will fill this gap shortly. WebIS plans to bring PocketInformant to the iPhone, which is the leading PIM for Windows Mobile. Likewise, Datavis is porting Documents to Go, and will deliver a rich Microsoft Office environment to the iPhone.
Web: Nothing compares to Safari on the iPhone 3g; nothing. Palm, Microsoft, Opera, and others have all tried to translate the Web to the small screen, and all have failed to varying degrees. Even Opera Mini, a fair improvement, will wear your thumbs out trying to scroll its viewing window over a representation of a web page. The Safari experience, with the touch/pinch interface, duplicates the desktop Internet experience out of the box. The 3g network is truly less than 10-20% slower than a WiFi connection.
Upgrader Thoughts: As I switch from iPhone 2g to 3g, there are a few important observations
- I thought I would hate the plastic back, and in fact I like it better than the aluminum as it fits in the hand better than the old form.
- Durability looks to be even better than the 2g; check out PC World’s torture test where they wash the 3g with soap and water under a running faucet; also repeats the baggie and keys scratch test from the 2g with flying colors.
- App Store — The iPhone is truly a new computing platform. I can’t wait for PocketInformant and Docs to Go. The games are every bit as good as any handheld game player my kids have had, so my guess there are no limits to what we’ll be doing with this thing in six months. Given this wealth of application development, 16gb is a requirement, not a luxury.
- GPS is as accurate as my Curve, and TomTom is still promising the crown jewel of turn by turn navigation.
- In the “What Were They Thinking Category”: No cut and paste (which appears to be the big hold up with both PocketInformant and Docs to Go), no MMS, and no replaceable battery. This last one may be Achilles heel number two. The 3g network and all that web surfing just kills a battery, and although it has longer battery life than any other 3g smartphone (again, thanks to PC World for testing that) it will still require a midday charge on busy days.
What Apple has now delivered is a new computing platform. As developers (and Apple) continue to fill in the gaps, the iPhone 3g will become the communication tool of choice because it balances all areas better than any current device. It is not perfect, nor could it be, but it is the closest approximation I have seen since starting my computer career with a 1986 Toshiba 1100 Plus notebook.
Dale K. Strauss