Please Get This Thing a Faster Processor

The iPhone spoils. In one fell swoop Apple made all other smartphone, touchscreen and many computer interfaces completely obsolete. There have been many imitators since the original iPhone, but I suspect that we’re a good 6 - 12 months away from a real competitor on the interface front.

As I mentioned in my original iPhone review, Apple made the interface so fast and responsive, that any sluggishness elsewhere is amplified. Originally the slow browsing on Edge was a problem, but now it seems that there are more rough edges.

It now seems possible to type a string of letters too fast for the iPhone. It used to be that every now and then I’d be waiting on the iPhone to catch up to my typing, but generally that had to do with other stuff going on in the background - e.g. attempting to connect to a new cell tower. Now on the iPhone 3G with the 2.0 firmware I find that several times in a sentence the iPhone will pause slightly between entering two characters and burst the second one at a nonuniform rate. For the most part it doesn’t actually slow down my typing, but it does diminish the value of the keyboard’s audible feedback (the only feedback you get).

Remember that the iPhone’s virtual keyboard provides no tactile feedback, but whenever you hit a key it makes a typewriter-esque keystroke sound to let you know that you actually made contact with the key. Typing four characters used to sound like this “tap-tap-tap-tap”, but more regularly than ever I’ll hear this instead “tap--taptttap-tap” with the two middle characters being output faster than the first and last. I find that if my ears can’t rely on proper audible feedback from the keyboard, my typing tends to suffer. I’m hoping this is an issue that’s fixable with a firmware update, it’s not enough to hate the phone but it’s definitely something that hurts the user experience. It is possible that with the App store and the rest of the features added in the 2.0 firmware that the iPhone’s ARM processors aren’t fast enough to keep up all the time.

As I mentioned before, performance with A-GPS leaves something to be desired. The UI will stall as the A-GPS processor attempts to locate you, which isn’t normally an issue but absolutely hurts the experience on a phone that is built around a lightning quick UI.

With three full screens of icons, switching between them is fast but the animations could be smoother at times. Much of what Apple did to make the iPhone feel quick is to make sure that everything animated smoothly, as some of that begins to suffer, so does one of the iPhone’s biggest strengths. I’ll accept that Apple focused on getting the App store launched this time around, but the next major iPhone update had better address performance and the UI, otherwise it runs the risk of turning into Windows Mobile from Cupertino.

Pretty much anything else happening in the background, or attempting to multitask a lot results in a performance hit on the iPhone. It’s no worse than on any other smartphone, and it’s quite possibly a lot better than the competition, but the problem is that the iPhone’s UI is so fast that when things do get slow, it’s frustrating.

It’s like building an ultra fast Core 2 Extreme QX9770 machine, even with four of the fastest cores on the market, you still feel the pain once your OS starts accessing the disk.

GPS.........kinda Issues with the first iPhone (and Apple’s great support)
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  • cleviticus - Saturday, July 19, 2008 - link

    A basic one-line plan with Cingular (I know they go by AT&T now)without ANY extra features runs you $45/month and that is with just enough minutes to tell people that you'll call them back after nine. Unlimited internet and data runs $45, last I checked, and that somehow doesn't cover much texting, something I do a lot of. Texting is another $10. So to get service and data BEFORE tax you spend $90. My provider offers unlimited voice/data/text/GPS/e-mail for $100 with coverage that exceeds AT&T's.
    That fact alone is enough to keep me away from the iphone for good. I admit that the interface is unbeatable but the functionality of the phone is not. That being said I don't think it deserves as much attention as it receives. Also coverage varies drastically from city to city. In NY my phone works great but in Vegas it blows. In Chicago I'm golden but anywhere between Arkansas and Virginia- forget about it. I used cingular for two years and their coverage was only good in large metropolitan areas. As soon as I got out of the inner city my reception was weak and I couldn't even text. I think they are a horrible company but since they bought up most of the old bell empire- they're here to stay.
    Reply
  • Sunrise089 - Friday, July 18, 2008 - link

    Wow I wish I had first comment here so I could get a response.

    In Anand's otherwise near-perfect review, he talked about Exchange support but didn't cover my #1 iPhone question: does Exchange support work without the $45 Enterprise Data plan? I can't for the life of my get a conclusive answer if the Enterprise plan is required for exchange, or just required if the iPhone is going to be purchased or paid for through a business.
    Reply
  • araczynski - Friday, July 18, 2008 - link

    i'm still holding out for the day the iphone comes with some real screen resolution.

    if the N810 can do much better than this, why can't the almighty apple?
    Reply
  • sleepr0 - Friday, July 18, 2008 - link

    Lets see:

    - The 3G doesn't fit the old cradle and the cradle is not included - $15.
    - Old cover doesn't fit - $20.
    - Unlimited data up $10/month.
    - Text up $5/month.
    - Cellular triangulation works nearly as well as GPS.
    - 3G not significantly faster than Edge and all the new users will take a load off of the Edge network, freeing up bandwidth and making Edge a bit faster.
    - Battery life worse.

    I'll wait for Version 3, thanks.
    Reply
  • wvh - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    Why do you buy a new phone when you are happy with your old one – it has pretty much the same functionality anyway? What is wrong with all those people who buy something just because Apple (or whoever) releases it? All these morons queueing up, did they all accidentally happen to break their phone the day before?

    It's a nice in-depth article, no remarks there, I've just heard enough already about this consumer hype. It's just talking people into fake needs.

    Blast me for being negative, but you know I'm right.
    Reply
  • michael2k - Friday, July 18, 2008 - link

    The problem is that people aren't happy with their old one, and it doesn't have the same functionality, so that is why they queue for the iPhone. So essentially all your base assumptions are wrong.

    There is nothing wrong with these people; there is something wrong with the RZRS et al they already own, because they were broken the minute they bought them. No accident, they were just made that way.
    Reply
  • Giacomo - Friday, July 18, 2008 - link

    No, actually you aren't right. You could be, if we were here to make free-philosophy, but that's not the case, we're here to talk about hardware (and related).

    So then, you are accusing the mass of an excess of "hype" around the iPhone, and well, while it's definitely true that many of those people will buy it for "trendy" purposes, there are surely others (like me) who are about to buy it because they just like it and could benefit from it. In my particular case, I have lost my iPod Mini (...) and my cellphone is at its 4th year of life, with the keyboard almost died (intense 20.000+ sms usage in these years). The iPhone, by simply being, to me, an iPod which calls and writes sms, is great to have both the devices in the "main" pocket.

    Full comfort over the whole year (no matter what clothes I'm wearing, the front/right pocket does ALWAYS have my cellphone inside, and thanks to the iPhone, the iPod as well), a brilliant keyboard for my heavy SMS usage, and I could be happy without anything else. Plus, there's something else actually, and I'll surely enjoy.

    If we had to think like you in your post, we should all tell you: Why do you read Anandtech? You can live with a 5 years old PC without problems nor upgrades, if you just use some Office, browse the web and check your mail. If you game, well, that's energy consuming, money-wasting, time-wasting, and you should quit. But, of course, none in here would say that to you, neither would I.

    Regards

    Giacomo
    Reply
  • scottwilkins - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    First, I've had AT&T for years. Never stepped in a store, and never talked with them about a purchase. They were very helpful and darn quick about replacing my wife's phone when it died. AT&T is the easiest to work with (and I work with most of them because I support a lot of folks on different networks) Plus, the AT&T signal in the places I go beats out all others hands down. So for you to say their signal is bad is very objective and quite stupid, since you did it only probably in one room and not overall.

    Also, your indications that other phones can't do what the iPhone can do are all false. One thing the iPhone CAN'T do that many many other phones can do is change. It can't change it's interface to suit other purposes, it can't change it's battery, and it can't change carriers. The 3G's only add over the old iPhone is 3G and GPS. All other features are software, and now available on the original iPhone. So an upgrade is useless until you contract is up.

    Apple is a closed box. I prefer freedom.
    Reply
  • michael2k - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    Uh, with a soft interface and touchscreen, the iPhone is just about the only device where it's interface can change as needed; you get two buttons when in Camera mode, 20+ in Calculator mode, 26+ in note-taking mode, etc. Reply
  • Ryl3x - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    I will buy at lunch. I read alot of reviews over the web including sites that dedicate themselves to phones. I found this to be one that i could relate to. Thanks. Reply

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