Like it or not, Apple’s iPhone has become the standard by which all other smartphones are measured since it was first launched this time last year. Not a lot has changed in this 3G version, as not much was wrong with the original.
The rear is more curvaceous, which means the phone slips more easily into your pocket, the speed of the data connection has been bumped up to HSDPA, GPS capability has been added, and there’s now an Exchange client for push email. Battery life is still quite good, with the iPhone achieving a respectable 96hrs 27mins in our real-world battery tests.
It remains a fantastic audio and video player, with a 3.5mm headphone socket and full iPod touch capabilities. It’s also a very usable phone: designed from the ground up for touchscreen operation, it doesn’t suffer from the problems that the Windows Mobile phones do with fiddly settings pages. Every control, button and checkbox can be operated by even the clumsiest of fingers.
The touch keyboard takes a bit of getting used to, but browsing the web is an intuitive process. The pinch-to-zoom touch gestures work well, and the responsive touchscreen ensures you’ll be zipping around from website to website in no time. Plus, there are plenty of excellent games and applications available at the Apple App Store.
But the iPhone isn’t the perfect phone, and it has a long list of infuriating foibles. You can’t cut and paste text; you can’t connect a Bluetooth keyboard; you can’t simply download files using Safari and store them locally; you can’t download email attachments if they’re not supported by the phone itself; and you can’t edit Office documents.
It’s worth pointing out that you can’t expand the 8GB storage and that, as yet, there’s still no turn-by-turn car navigation satnav app available for it. That may change soon, but Windows Mobile and Symbian handset owners have more choice on this front, and prices are likely to remain lower as a result.
So, as a do-everything smartphone, the iPhone isn’t perfect. Nevertheless, like a golden-haired yet mischievous child, it’s impossible to stay angry at the iPhone. Its sheer usability and now-respectable phone plans make it a great buy, if you’re aware of its limitations.