Using an iPhone (1): Some Observations

By Graham K. Rogers


phone and touch

I have had a test 16G iPhone in my hands for a couple of weeks. This is hardly a novelty device now. I first wrote about it when Apple announced it in 2007 as have many others. Many of the articles I have looked at deal with it as a smart-phone and forget that Steve Jobs introduced it as a wide-screen iPod with touch controls, a mobile phone, and a breakthrough internet device. That last part flew over the heads of most people.

I bought a 16G iPod touch over a year ago and this has benefited from iPhone development as the services expanded for both, and web apps, then apps themselves were introduced. I do a lot of work on the touch as well as play music (and occasionally, games). When I can get a wifi link, I value the email facilities for when I am away from home. I sometimes use the worldwide web as well. The iPhone that I have is unlocked, so I was able initially to use it with the original True SIM, then tried alternatives.

One of the odd things for me as a touch user is the placement of the headphone socket. The touch has it on the base, while it is on the top with the iPhone. As I alternate between the two, I sometimes get that wrong, although there are other identifiable differences.

To hold, the iPhone is clearly fatter, while the way the back tapers back from the sides can be seen -- and felt -- quite easily. I was not sure about the white polycarbonate back (it also comes in a black finish) after the shiny metal of the original. My touch also has that original finish and the shine quickly diminished as I am not that careful with it. The glass screen is as clear as the day it came out of the box. The iPhone's new back is far more resistant and I am quite happy with this change.

There are a number of advantages that the iPhone has over the iPod touch, apart from the obvious ability to make phone calls and send SMS messages. I turned on call-forwarding for my usual phone number which I made good use of, but this does not work for messaging, of course.

The first comments at my house were on the camera. At 2 Mega Pixels many commentators have been critical. However, when I took a couple of images at home, there were noises of approval.

As a test, I was able to export one of the images in TIFF format in a file of 11MB which had a size of 16 x 22 inches. Trying to to enlarge them any more was perhaps over-ambitious, but these images are usable for web work and a bit more. It is not just the lens, or the chip, but both of these along with the software that I guess adjusts the virtual ISO rating, so that without a flash, in darker conditions any photographs were somewhat grainy. There are expected to be improvements and photographs taken with the beta of the 3.0 software update due in June, are reported to be even better.

phone and touch

Another useful aspect of the iPhone 3G is that, with its built-in GPS, it has better location services than the iPod touch. When I had a satellite fix, photographs were geotagged: co-ordinates are included in the metadata of the image. When I synchronised data, with my Mac, any images were imported and they can be used instantly in iPhoto Places. I used the iPhone for a "placer" image then took photos with my Nikon, and Places geotagged the Nikon images.

With the GPS and Google Maps on the iPhone I was able find my location on a map (or satellite image). This uses Skyhook or 3G, when available instead of GPS, but in the central area of Bangkok there is a problem currently with True's test 3G service and wrong locations are given around Siam Paragon and Central World. A couple of test photographs of the Siam Paragon mezzanine, recorded the location as Sofia, Bulgaria. This is to be fixed soon, I am told.

Just a couple of hundred metres from Central World, the co-ordinates were reported correctly, so it is just that area round Siam. I have also tried map locations where I live, and in several other places in Thailand. I am currently in the UK where it also reports locations accurately.

A couple of days before I left for the UK, I put my own DTAC SIM card in the iPhone. With roaming I used that initially in the UK, although I switched off data roaming and Push services as an economy measure. While flying, there is an Aircraft Mode that turns off all wireless and phone services but still allows access to the iPod and apps functions.

phone and touch

See Also:

  • Uses of an iPhone (2): Home and Abroad and
  • Some Useful Paid Apps for the iPhone and iPod touch

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