iPhone 2.0

· technology ·

As you will have seen if you follow my Twitterings or see them on the sidebar here, I got an iPhone last week. When the original iPhone came out, I fell in love with it, but I couldn't afford it at the original prices, and I also had a mobile contract to finish first. The timing for the 2.0 version was perfect, as was the reduction in price. With all the hoo-ha over the release (O2 got inundated with registrations of interest), I thought that my chances of actually getting hold of one would be low.

As it happened, I got lucky. I tried to order one online early on Monday morning when O2 started accepting pre-orders. The server went down almost immediately, and as I had work to do, I wasn't able to try it again until lunch time. Amazingly, my order went through, and unlike many others who were unlucky, when it arrived on Friday by courier and I activated it through iTunes, the activation went straight through without a hitch. I know that others had a much less smooth experience, but for me it worked really well.

I've been living with the iPhone for several days now, and I really like it. I've been waiting a long time to get a small, mobile device that offers such a seamless experience with my Macs. 3G/Edge wireless works very well, and connecting to a WiFi network is seamless. The screen is beautifully bright and clear, so that reading web pages and emails or viewing photographs is a real pleasure. The touchscreen gestures are wonderfully intuitive and easy to use, and I even quite like the touchscreen keyboard. I'm a touch typist, so it's never going to replicate the experience of a full sized, physical keyboard, but I think it's a very effective and efficient compromise for a small, handheld unit. With one or two minor exceptions, everything is as beautifully designed and functional as you'd hope from an Apple product. In the past, I've had Psion PDAs (2 different models) and Palms/Treos (3 different models), as well as a clutch of smartphones (as well as some dumbphones). So I've had quite a bit of experience with using these kinds of devices, and I can honestly say that I've never used a phone/PDA/internet device which gets so much right. People argue that the latest Nokia, Sony Ericsson or Blackberry does everything an iPhone does, has a better camera, better battery life or whatever. But for me, the point is that the iPhone does pretty much everything you want in such a seamless and integrated way that you don't have to think about it: you just use it.

Of course, it's terrific when you are out and about and want a burst of information or entertainment in a handy package that you always have about your person. But I'm also finding that I use it at home a lot, where I have a laptop which replicates all ^1^ of the functions of the iPhone -- even portability. Somehow, if I'm browsing my email or reading RSS feeds or FriendFeed, it seems so much more comfortable to pick up the iPhone, curl up on the sofa and browse through the sites than it does to do the same at the laptop. In short, I find that it's a device that really delights me, which is a fairly rare thing. I know that there will be someone who comments, "But it's just a phone!" (Jonathan, I'm looking at you ;-) ), and that's absolutely true. But it's a beautifully designed, elegantly functional device that I thoroughly enjoy using, and I don't see why I shouldn't celebrate that in the same way that I enjoy looking at a Victorian suspension bridge, a beautifully turned ceramic bowl or a beam engine.

^1^ Except GPS.