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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  • Rizi - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    There are several retailers that carry Apple’s latest iteration of their popular device, as well as several service providers, and each one offers unique benefits for iPhone buyers. The Apple retail store will, of course, have the iPhone 4S for sale. The Genius Bar is also a great place to learn how to use your new device, if you need help with any of the new features. Apple also offers online ordering through the Apple Online Store, and allows you to compare rates and plans for all three available carriers. Apple also offers a Reuse and Recycling program, which allows you to bring your old iPhone 4 in to an Apple store and receive up to $200 for it. Two major service providers, AT&T and Verizon, have carried iPhones for a while now, and you will be able to purchase the newest version from their retail stores as well. This month, Apple is also adding Sprint to their network, allowing even more people to be iPhone aficionados. All three carriers also offer online ordering. Best Buy will also be carrying the new <a href="http://cellocean.com/iphone-4s-specifications-2210... 4s</a> for all three service providers. In addition, they sweeten the deal by offering a $300 gift card to Apple users who trade in their iPhone 4 in favor of the newer model, making a brand new iPhone free or very inexpensive. Best Buy will also offer online ordering. Radio Shack will be offering a similar program, with one important difference: the smartphone you trade in doesn’t have to be an iPhone 4. It doesn’t even have to be an iPhone. Just bring in any smartphone (in good working condition) to the experts at Radio Shack, and let them appraise the value. Hand it over, and then you’re free to use the trade-in value as credit toward the purchase of your new Apple iPhone 4S. This deal only lasts until October 31, though, so don’t wait too long. Radio Shack also offers online ordering, but their trade-in deal is for in-store purchases only. The iPhone 4S comes in three different sizes/prices: 16GB ($199), 32GB ($299), and, for the first time ever, the 64GB ($399) model. Download speeds, monthly rates and data plans for the iPhone 4S will vary from carrier to carrier, though Sprint is the only service provider to offer an unlimited data plan, totaling about $109.99 per month for unlimited talk time, text messaging and data. Verizon limits data usage to 10GB/month max, while AT&T will only let you use up to 4GB/month. Make sure you check with your service provider for details and specific prices for iPhone 4S talk/text/data plans, since all prices are subject to change. Reply

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