Simplicity Perfected

The iPhone has four physical buttons on it, and honestly you don't need any more.  On the front of the phone is the home button, which takes you to the home screen regardless of what you're doing.  The home button isn't an iPhone exclusive, many phones have it, including Samsung's Blackjack.  The button is key for switching between tasks; say you're writing an email but decide you want to check a fact on wikipedia or you just remembered something that you want to SMS to a friend, hit the home button and fire up Safari or the SMS client, do what you need to do and then switch back to your email to pick up where you left off. 


Take me home tonight

Hitting the home button doesn't close any applications, it merely switches back to your iPhone desktop.  The home button is your iPhone's Alt (or Cmd) Tab, it's your ticket to quickly switching between applications; one press of it and a touch later and you're in another application.  The functionality is perfected by the fact that the iPhone's user interface is incredibly responsive, switching between applications works like a computer, not a mobile phone. 


The ringer toggle switch is set to silent, hence the visible red dot

Along the left hand side of the iPhone are two switches: a volume rocker and a ringer toggle switch.  The volume rocker works as you'd expect it to, during a call or audio playback it will adjust the volume of the earpiece or speaker, otherwise it will adjust ringer volume.  Mac users should find the on screen display comfortingly familiar:


Home sweet home...for OS X users

The ringer toggle switches between normal and silent ringer modes; these are the only two profiles you can configure on the iPhone and even then, they aren't very configurable:

In silent mode, all audible notifications are disabled and the iPhone will only vibrate to alert you of an incoming call/message/email.  You can disable the vibrator so that the iPhone is completely silent and motionless in this mode, but that's all.


Silence!

In normal mode, the iPhone will ring, bark, beep or boing at you as loudly as you have the volume set.  In addition, it will also vibrate to give you the complete aural and tactile experience.  You can control what events will trigger sounds, but that's as far as the customization goes.

For me personally, this is all the configurability I need when it comes to custom profiles.  I usually keep my phone on vibrate, and if I want an audible notification as well a flick of a switch is all I need on the iPhone.  I've never really used profiles on my Blackberries and Windows Mobile Phones of years past, mostly because there are way too many keystrokes associated with switching between them all. 

On the Blackberry Curve, you have to scroll to profiles and select the one you want.  It seems silly to complain about using a trackball and having to make two clicks to change a profile, but compared to flicking a single switch that you can do without staring at the screen, it is a big deal.


Profiles on the Blackjack

To switch profiles on the Blackjack you have to hit the power button and select from a list.  Thankfully Samsung included a silent mode button on the keyboard itself, just hold it down and your phone is silenced.  The only issue with Samsung's implementation is that the button is sandwiched between the spacebar and comma keys, not the easiest to blindly select.


From left to right: sleep/wake button, SIM tray, 1/8" headphone jack (recessed and very particular about what headphones it'll work with)

The only remaining button on the iPhone is along the top of the device, and it is Apple's Sleep/Wake button.  The button is stiff enough where it won't accidentally get hit in your pocket, and just like the ringer toggle you can easily activate it without looking at the phone.  Hitting the sleep/wake button while your iPhone is on and active will shut down the screen, pause whatever you're doing (e.g. web pages will not continue to load while the phone is asleep) and lock the interface.  Tapping on the screen won't wake it back up, you either have to hit the home button or the sleep/wake button again.  Doing so will bring up this screen:

And simply slide your finger where indicated to unlock the phone (which is very cool by the way); if you've got a password set, you'll be asked to enter it next.  Just like the ringer toggle, the sleep/wake button is ridiculously useful yet overlooked on many cellphones.  The Blackjack lets you lock the phone by holding down the end call key for a few seconds, while the Blackberry  requires you manually select the lock button from the phone's interface (or if you have dial from home disabled, just hit the 'k' key).  Both competitors at least offer an alternative, but neither is as easy as the iPhone's dedicated button.

The rest of the iPhone's interface is completely virtual, driven by the 3.5" mult-touch LCD.  Know what you're getting into with the iPhone; on first glance it seems overly simplified, but if your needs and its abilities mesh, it truly is a phone interface done right. 

Pulling its Weight Oh Hashmir, Multi-Touch Me Down There
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  • tuteja1986 - Tuesday, July 03, 2007 - link

    alot of features are missing :!
    Bluetooth is crippled
    Virtual keyboard onlys works good with Web browser since its horizontal. keyboard sucks
    Does not have 3G
    battery life is 4hrs talk time.. unable to change battery. black berry 8800 can do 10hrs+
    Digital camera is very basic compared to high quality camera used in phone like Nokia N95.
    No support for 3rd party application
    Its has edge connection which sucks
    no support for HDSPA
    No GPS
    No IM program
    No widget support
    Not able to abstract the image anywhere.. sending image through email reduces it low res which sucks :(

    The only awesome thing about iphone i think its interface , the screen and the ipod video/music feature which works. The phone is certinaly not worth $600 and can be sold for $350 and apple can still make a decent profit.
    Reply
  • plinden - Tuesday, July 03, 2007 - link

    quote:

    battery life is 4hrs talk time.

    Where is 4 hour talk time mentioned. Anand didn't mention talk time, did he? He did get 6-7 hours with wifi.

    Just about every other reviewer got 7 hours or more talk time, close to what Apple claims.
    Reply
  • tuteja1986 - Wednesday, July 04, 2007 - link

    Comfired by latest TWIT episode :! TWIT networks has the biggest apple fanboys ever :)
    http://www.twit.tv/TWiT">http://www.twit.tv/TWiT

    but I sorry to burst you bubble but read the review by mobile phone professionals.
    http://www.wirelessinfo.com/content/Apple-iPhone-C...">http://www.wirelessinfo.com/content/App...one-Cell...

    Also ain't a anti apple but people buying it for so many reason as its calling the revolutionary phone which is not in tech wise , features but is revolution in only in UI design.
    Reply
  • sviola - Tuesday, July 03, 2007 - link

    YEah, the Nokia N95 is an excelent phone, here are some of it's features.

    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

    I would like to see an anand review on it and a comparative against the iPhone.
    Reply
  • vectersmith - Monday, July 02, 2007 - link

    I have enjoyed the iPhone thoroughly and agree that while it is not perfect, for what it does do it does better far and above anything else.

    Edge speed is slow, but bearable (barely). Wi-Fi is must better, although I still have sites that just hang and I have to hit the X button and reload.

    The UI is breathtaking, earth shattering, and will revolutionize the smartphone industry. It has too, once you use the iPhone everything else seems like fruitcake for Christmas (no offense intended to those that enjoy fruitcake on Christmas). I find myself just taking it out of my pocket to slide the unlock and see if anything is new :)

    Also I will agree with Anand about the SMS, you really have to watch out what you are doing as having a conversation is just painless which causes those SMS message count the fly up :)
    Reply
  • kilkennycat - Monday, July 02, 2007 - link

    ....how long did you take to compose the review and how much sleep did you get in the process? Did you work from a pre-written plan? Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, July 03, 2007 - link

    Thanks :)

    I wrote the whole thing in about 24 hours, but the testing took a lot longer obviously. As with all my articles I have a very high level outline, but what ended up being written was significantly larger than even I expected it to be. My initial outline had something around 10 - 15 pages long, then by 3AM Monday morning I estimated it would be around 20 pages and by the time it published I realized it was going to be just shy of 30.

    I had to cut out a lot of additional material from the review just in the interest of time, and I took another 6 or 7 hours working on it to try and make sure I was keeping the attention of the reader throughout the piece (hopefully it worked :)...). There's enough extra content that I didn't use for at least two more articles, but I'm not sure what the demand will be for that so who knows if it'll ever get used.

    As far as sleep goes, I don't sleep much in general when I'm working but the iPhone weekend was ridiculous. I went to bed Saturday night, woke up Sunday and didn't get to bed again until 4AM Tuesday morning. Needless to say, sleeping last night was the most amazing thing ever.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • oopyseohs - Thursday, July 05, 2007 - link

    This is definitely the best article I have ever read on AnandTech or on anything technology related in general. Also, it is nice to see that someone else exhibits the same behavior I do when writing major articles! Reply
  • DerekWilson - Monday, July 02, 2007 - link

    I'm sure Anand is finally getting some sleep after a grueling weekend with the iPhone, taking only the occasional nap so as not to die.

    And a pre-written plan? naah, Anand's just that good :-)
    Reply
  • ninjit - Monday, July 02, 2007 - link

    Argh, looks like everyone bogged down the image server.

    I just happened to hit refresh right when the article went live, and was happily reading it for the first 10 pages, but now none of the images are load for page 10 onwards.

    grrrr
    Reply

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