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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  • goinginstyle - Monday, July 02, 2007 - link

    I just finished it, took a minute for the last two images to show up. Great article by the way and now I know what to get the wife for her birthday next week. Reply
  • ButterFlyEffect78 - Monday, July 02, 2007 - link

    I love my iPhone. I love texting all my friends and showing them my poop. Its great. Thank you Apple. Reply
  • rADo2 - Thursday, July 05, 2007 - link

    This phone is horrible.

    My needs e.g. are much higher than those offered by $500-600 dumbphone with Apple logo on it.. There are dumbphones on the market for $0 - 29.95, that can do more than iPhone. Take any Nokia phone (and they have MMS, voice dial, and record video)... And there are also many $199 smarpthones with Windows Mobile and/or Symbian UIQ that can install 10,000+ apps, many of them being freeware.

    No need to lock yourself in Apple overpriced monopoly with little functionality.

    If your needs are simple, and you value Apple logo above all, iPhone may still appeal to you. Why not. But "dumbphones" with many lacking features sold for $500-600 with 2 year contract most certainly do NOT appeal to smart and advanced users.

    In fact, biggest disadvantage of iPhone is not even missing features like voice dial, MMS, HW keyboard and/or GPS, but completely missing SDK. Developing SDK and giving it for free to developers is a major expense, and even companies like Nokia or SonyEricsson, which are on the market for "centuries", had problems with it. Microsoft has excellent SDK for Windows Mobile.

    Apple has no development platform / SDK. They try to hide this huge shortcomming by saying "Safari is your SDK". Hehe. They can fool "sheeps" that JavaScripts widgets running under Safari are real apps, but not tech people and business people. You cannot code (e.g.) GPS navigation handling 1GB maps, or advanced IM client under JavaScript/HTML/CSS.

    Thus their phone is basically a "dumbphone", not a smartphone, as installing native apps is a primary thing that distinguishes dumbphones for smart ones.

    Why devote 50+ pages review to something dumb? "Sponzored" by Apple?
    Reply
  • michael2k - Thursday, July 05, 2007 - link

    You have to use it to understand, I think.

    You talk about features, but as the review mentions explicitly, it's the interface, a feature in it's own right, that sells the iPhone. Does any 0-$29.95 have a touchscreen as nice as the iPhones? You kind of have to compare it to other touch screen phones to "get it".
    Reply
  • Cygni - Thursday, July 05, 2007 - link

    Exactly. The strength of the iPhone is that it DOESNT have hundreds of features tacked onto it, all done, but none done well. The iPhone does what 95% of the phone buying public wants to do with a phone, and does those functions better than any other phone produced today. That is it strength. That is why its bound to change the way cellphones are made and sold.

    The reason smartphones havent taken off for a vast majority of the public was that they were simply too dificult to use, big, ugly, and counterintuitive. They were systems of endless ugly windows, with terrible fonts, on grainy screens. They were huge fields of buttons with multiple functions for each key. They tried to do everything. Thats NOT what the majority of phone buyers want in a phone. They want something functional, useable, and enjoyable.

    To put it simply, the iPhone does what nearly everyone wants to do on a phone better than anyone else. Anyone who touches it and slides that unlock bar over for the first time has fallen in love. I personally wont be purchasing one for another year, while i wait for my contract with Sprint to expire, and i hope that the second gen has arrived by that time.

    How can you justify spending $600 on a phone that doesnt do everything? The average american spends an ABSURD amount of time with their phone, doing standard phone things. Calls, Alarms, Texts. If i can make those hours of my day far more enjoyable for barely the cost of 2 car payments? I would say thats worth it.
    Reply
  • rADo2 - Thursday, July 05, 2007 - link

    Well, iPhone SW is poorly done IMHO, e.g. not being able to search through contacts by typing is major drawback. I cannot imagine having to scroll through my 1000 contacts...

    There are e.g. great Samsung and/or Nokia phones sold for $0-50 (with contract) that are better "dumbphones" than iPhone, have 3G, MMS, can record video, play music on stereo BT headset, etc.

    iPhone does lack some very basic features, and I consider it to be hype only. Apple has brilliant advertising and "wow" factor, but this will wear-off within next few weeks.
    Reply
  • dborod - Thursday, July 05, 2007 - link

    There is an onscreen alphabet that lets you easily jump to contacts starting with that letter so you don't have to scroll all the way. Reply
  • rADo2 - Thursday, July 05, 2007 - link

    Yes, but that is only single letter. WM5/6 devices can do initial search (multiple letters) or even sequantial search, see e.g. http://www.sbsh.net/products/contactbreeze/">http://www.sbsh.net/products/contactbreeze/

    If you have like 100 contacts beginning with "K", it will be very hard to use iPhone to find and dial the right contact. And voice dial will not hell either.
    Reply
  • michael2k - Sunday, July 08, 2007 - link

    You make it sound like Apple won't be adding search.

    To my knowledge Apple has updated/upgraded via firmware every single one of it's iPods.

    Why do you think the software on an iPhone is "stuck" the way it is now? I imagine within a month of use, with feedback and real world experience, Apple will release an updated browser, mail client, media client, and text interface.

    Then what about your complaints?

    The iPhone is, for Apple, a miniature computer, and as such can be updated with fixes and software.
    Reply
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