An Ode to the Screen

While I was writing this review, Derek Wilson, our resident GPU guru gave me a call to chat about his upcoming DirectX 10 performance piece.  Inevitably he snuck in some questions about the iPhone, but the thing he wanted to know the most was "is the screen as good as it looks in the commercials?"


It looks that good

The answer is unequivocally yes.  In fact, in taking pictures for this article I had to redo a number of shots because the camera would pick out details in the LCD display that simply weren't visible to the naked eye.  Capturing the beauty of the screen is really a tough job, but it really does look just as good in person as it does in Apple's own commercials/videos. 

The screen also gets every bit as nasty as you'd expect it to, given that the iPhone works by rubbing your fingers all over it.  The unexpected part of it all is that with the backlight on, you can't tell that smudges from three different people are all over the 3.5" screen.  The only time you really notice how disgusting the screen has gotten is when the device is asleep, unfortunately it'll take more than just a wipe of the cleaning cloth to get all the grease off of it.  Apple recommends turning the unit off and using a slightly damp cloth, while avoiding all harsh cleaners/abrasives. 


Uh, ew?

At the same time, the device doesn't feel like a fragile jewel, it feels like what a modern day smartphone should feel like.  It feels like something straight out of Star Trek.  Videos cropped up over the weekend showing all the things you could do to the iPhone without scratching the screen, and honestly when using it you get the impression that you'd really have to try to damage this thing. 

By default the iPhone's brightness is adjusted by an ambient light sensor similar to what's in Apple's MacBook Pro line.  Indoors the display is absolutely beautiful, but obviously things change once you head outdoors.  Outside the display isn't nearly as bad as the Samsung Blackjack, but it gets more difficult to see.  Thankfully it's still usable, despite being washed out. 

Index Pulling its Weight
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  • Shimmishim - Tuesday, July 03, 2007 - link

    Yes. It was a good read. One of the best reviews of any piece of hardware (computer or consumer related) I've read in a long time. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, July 03, 2007 - link

    Thanks guys :)

    And no, zero poop-pictures from AT staff.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Tuesday, July 03, 2007 - link

    While not perfect as a product either, Anandtech completely skipped any Palm Treo devices for this comparison. The Treo has done SMS by contact for some time now, just as you have mentioned the iPhone does (I've had it on both the 650p and 750p; I'm sure the new 755p does as well). While I have some issues with Palm support as far as their product goes, I still haven't seen a smartphone that can do better --I blame this at least in part due to carrier wars and desire for control (i.e., crippled Bluetooth, not adding WiFi, so carriers can make you pay for everything through them), rather than blaming cell phone manufacturers. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, July 03, 2007 - link

    There were a number of products I would've liked to have included, but I was very limited by time so I tried to shoot for two of the most popular: the Curve and the Blackjack. I've already dropped Nokia an email but I'll do the same for Palm and see what comes of it :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • retrospooty - Tuesday, July 03, 2007 - link

    Ya, quite alot of things like that the Treo has done, and done well for a long time now, all that and an open platform. The issue is the latest Treo is, 4 years later, still the same repackaged Treo, with a few minor upgrades. The iPhone is by far the best UI, and that alone will be its saving grace, and its legacy on the industry. A few years from now, REAL smartphone manufacturers will copy the UI and improve everything, and do it cheaply, and on all carriers. That is the best thing about the iPhone. Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Tuesday, July 03, 2007 - link

    Actually, in 4 years, the Treo added Bluetooth (the first 600p didn't have it), EVDO (the iPhone has only EDGE, which has been rated far slower, and slowest when provided by AT&T/Cingular, the single carrier of the iPhone), an SD card slot (600p didn't have one), and several other features.

    As I said, the Treo isn't perfect. And I think the UI of the iPhone is pretty spiffy, plus I'll bet it has the best web browser of any phone on the market. But I don't think I could do without a real (by real I mean tactile) QWERTY keyboard (I rely on text messages for work, since cell reception can be spotty in a reinforced concrete building), I like having EVDO support, and I like the fact that I can choose from Sprint, T-Mobile, Alltel, Verizon, or AT&T Cingular for a Treo (AT&T/Cingular has little or no reception in my work area, so it nixes any thought of an iPhone, and by my understanding, they have a five-year exclusive agreement with Apple). And I can get a Treo for a few hundred less as well.

    I want to like the iPhone. Unfortunately, Apple set conditions of pricing and carrier that mean I'll never find out how good a phone it might really be.
    Reply
  • sviola - Tuesday, July 03, 2007 - link

    Not only the Palm Treo, but the Nokia N95, which is just awesome:

    In-built GPS and Navigation Program (over 100+ countries maps)
    5 MP Camera with Zeiss Lens and Optical Zoom, and Video Recording
    Symbian OS
    Plays MP3, video, etc
    Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB, TV out
    Quadriband GSM/WCDMA (3G)
    MicroSD Card Reader

    Among many other features.
    Reply
  • rowcroft - Tuesday, July 03, 2007 - link

    The iPhone looks great, but the big gotcha for me is that I routinely use my 8525 to access the internet on my laptop. Can't do that with the iPhone from what I understand.

    As for all the comparisons to Verizon & such, if you look at the total cost of ownership (Verizon's data plan is significantly more expensive), the iPhone is just a few dollars cheaper than the Blackjack w/Verizon.
    Reply
  • Locutus465 - Tuesday, July 03, 2007 - link

    I've got a Samsung i720 with verizon... For a "last gen" PDA phone priced at just $100 brand new from verizon when I got it, it's pretty sweet. Admitingly the display isn't quite as good as apples, but as far as functionality it does everything the iPhone does and more. I also appriciate the sliding screen with which reveals a keyboard. There's also the other advanatages I mentioned earlier, i.e. Windows Mobile being open to 3rd party development etc. Reply
  • jay401 - Tuesday, July 03, 2007 - link

    quote:

    About the only thing that's missing is the ability to assign your MP3 files as ringtones.


    Now that's practically an unpardonable sin, given that it's such a basic request and something absent from most phones because most providers think people are dumb enough to pay money to download a ringtone (like hell would I ever do that nonsense).

    So why not just let people use their mp3s? I already do that on my cellphone but since I can't do it directly I do it in a round-about way by sending myself the mp3 clips as attachments to messages sent to my phone, which I can then download and assign as a ringtone.

    Why not just make it straightforward and easy? You'd think this is one thing Apple could do right. :(
    Reply

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