For a long time, I did not think this day would ever come. I thought I would surely be using my Blackberry 8700c for years to come. (That review, by the way, is the reason I bought the phone!) Then, as time passed, things began to deteriorate. It just didn’t run as well as it used to. Then came the day on which I couldn’t turn the phone on at all, and I discovered that now if I wanted to turn on the phone from an off state, I had to completely remove the battery and put it back in. Then the scroll wheel started skipping. I decided that it was time for a new phone, and since I knew that Apple has been releasing new hardware in June I decided to wait for what I was sure was going to be the new iPhone 3GS.

I decided to go for the new 3GS model rather than getting the iPhone 3G because I have been looking for a replacement for my handheld video camera for quite a long time and this would resolve both problems at once.

A decent handheld camera would be at least one or two hundred dollars alone and so it seemed like a definite plus. I had also read that it was twice as fast as the previous iPhone and the promise of thirty-two gigabytes of storage space enticed me as well.

Here is a photo that I took with the 3GS camera function. There is an automatic focus feature that, if you hold the camera still just long enough, will focus on a central point and make it the most clear. The woman in the photo handing out papers can be the subject of her own article, perhaps to be written this month. I will tease you with this : I look forward to seeing her every morning.

When the 3GS phone came out I saw some small lines outside of a few at&t stores and the timing could not have been better because that Saturday night and early Sunday, I charged my blackberry three times because the battery kept on dying without me doing anything to cause it to die.

Elizabeth and I headed to one of the smaller at&t stores on the Upper West Side and were immediately turned away, being told that the phone was sold out. We then went straight to the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue and found a gargantuan line and another large line. We apparently had to go to the first line to wait to go to the second line.

I finally got the phone and after getting it activated by the very helpful Apple employee (whose name happened to be the same as my father’s and who also spoke Romanian) I went right online to get Google Synch for the phone so that I could get my contacts back. Google Synch is something I recommend for any phone whatsoever – if you can get it for your phone, absolutely do so because when you get your next phone, having it will make the difference between immediately having your old phone book and reinputting all contacts.

This, incidentally, was when I noted one difference between the iPhone and the Blackberry. Whenever I typed anything, I had to go back and correct myself because I kept on hitting the wrong keys by accident. I hit the key to the right or above, generally speaking. I wonder if there is a way to make the iPhone adapt to my large, clumsy hands.

The second thing that I have thus far found curious is the battery life. I read that the battery life is significantly longer than the previous iPhones. Knowing that, I am glad that I did not own any of those because even with this new phone, I find myself charging the phone just about every night.

I get about six hours of actual usage out of the battery and plenty of standby (I know this because in the “General” subsection of the “Settings,” you can find out all kinds of interesting information about how long you have used the phone. I have to assume that my phone needs to be charged regularly because I use it as much as I do during the day – if you aren’t using it this much, you won’t need to charge it as often.

The instant messaging system on the iPhone is considerably more sensible than that of the BlackBerry. It reminds me of the conversation style of emailing that Google brought to their mail, and of having conversation by instant messenger rather than a more serious looking list of short messages. Though the Blackberry did keep the messages together, it still listed them separately – if you look at your messages list on the iPhone, you will see no more than one group of messages per person. That is seriously impressive.

I have really enjoyed browsing the web on the iPhone. The notion that I could zoom in and out using my fingers came very easily to me without too much trouble. I also like the fact that I can scroll around a page without the labored effort of the BlackBerry scroll wheel / the “nubbin” trackpad that comes standard with newer BlackBerries.

Having said that, I definitely enjoyed the GMail application more than the GMail experience I have had thus far on the iPhone. When I installed the Google package from the app store, I thought it would be like it is on the BlackBerry – ie, pretty much exactly as it is on the computer. Instead, it seems to always direct me to using a mobile version of GMail on the web browser.

Speaking of the app store, I can’t say enough about what a pleasure it is to have something like the app store. The majority of apps that I have gotten have been free but the difference between installing apps on the iPhone and the BlackBerry is like night and day – day on a completely different world, with a set of twin suns for good measure.

There were so many times that I thought I was properly installing an application on the BlackBerry and then, when I ran it, got some obscure JavaScript error that only happened on 1% of installation efforts. With the app store, I click on an app, put in my iTunes password, and I get the app. It could not be any easier.

That being said, I still have not figured out why my iTunes sees it fit to delete the Chase Bank application every time I synchronize the phone to the computer. Elizabeth recently got an iPhone as well and she still has her Chase Bank application.

Lastly, I’d like to mention the voice mail on the iPhone. It is completely different than any other phone I have had. Instead of keeping voicemail on a remote server and having to dial into the service to get it, the phone actually downloads your voicemail onto the phone. You can listen to the voicemail even if you have no phone service. It is a stroke of genius to have it set up this way.

Look forward to some app reviews from me in the future – but no baby shaking. For now, know that I love my new phone!


  1. Thanks for the lengthy and in-depth review, Gordon!
    I’m curious why you didn’t set up your Gmail account using the Mail area in the Settings section. That will help you create a proper mail account that doesn’t rely on the web interface.
    Have you played with the Voice Command feature yet?

  2. I neglected to mention that I did set up my gmail account but I actually liked having it completely synched with my web gmail – or is it? It seems more like it downloads mail and if I delete the mail on the web, it is still on my phone.
    I have played with the Voice command and so far it reminds me a lot of what the Apple Newton used to be – like in this Doonesbury comic. 🙂

  3. That’s strange, Gordon. Maybe mail behaves differently than Gmail on the iPhone. I can delete and manage from four different computers — including my iPhone and everything is mirrored across all devices when I reply or delete or whatever.
    I loved the Newton! Apple actually quoted my rave review during a press conference — without attribution — from a message I posted in a CompuServe forum.

  4. What is with large companies that quote reviews without any attribution? What does it cost them but ten seconds of their time?
    I will have to have a second look at the gmail. 🙂

  5. I agree, Gordon. All my CompuServe friends immediately knew the quote was from me and one friend even sent me a videotape of the Apple Press Conference so I’d have the memory forever. It was a lot of fun.
    In addition the the Google Apps setup I gave your for Microsoft Exchange for Calendar and Contacts — if you use those with — here’s the right way to set up your Gmail or email on an iPhone:
    You will use IMAP with that method and then use the iPhone Mail icon to read and process your mail.

  6. I was looking forward to the video option in general but Apple limited it to 3G S. Definitely there are speed improvements and also the magnetometer. I really would love to use it when out star-gazing and not look in my box for the little compass.

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