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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  • DeesTroy - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    My younger brother works for Garmin. You almost certainly won't get voice directions, at least not for free. The licensing agreements with the few companies that make the maps used in mapping software (e.g. Navteq) are very specific about what you can and can't do with the maps they provide. The mapping companies currently charge significantly more if you want to do voice directions. Nokia's purchase of Navteq makes a huge lot of sense given what one can do with maps, a GPS, and Internet all in one package. All of this is probably part of the reason that Garmin is getting into the phone business with the nuvifone. Reply
  • cocoviper - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    Well I think it depends on how we define free. Since you're paying so much for the iPhone's plan one would think they could (or should) include it at some point.

    The Instinct does turn-by-turn voice GPS and it's included in the phone's plan.
    Reply
  • jcal710 - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    Anand,

    You talked about the problems with contact syncing on Exchange. How configurable is it? Does it automatically default to your top level 'Contacts' folder in your Exchange mailbox, or can your point it somewhere else? Do you have the option of choosing whether or not to sync subfolders?
    Reply
  • Griswold - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    I'm glad I didnt go for the first iphone, that way I can appreciate my 3G more(besides the fact that it wasnt sold until the 11th of july in this country and I would have been forced to import one and jailbreak it).

    Anand, your friend with the huge lips doesnt listen to the name of S.Tyler by chance? :P
    Reply
  • ViRGE - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    Anand, do you know if Apple's A-GPS implementation requires cellular network access? Some do, others can revert to traditional GPS operation if there's no cellular network to offer location assistance. I'm curious which of this it is Reply
  • Obrut - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    So how is it even remotely possible that there hasn’t been a real iPhone competitor in the year since the original’s release?

    Nokia N95 8GB is far superior to iPhone and it was released even before the first iPhone.
    It's right to say there's no competition here. Apple need at least 3-4 more years to be truly competitive to Nokia. I think iPhone is better solution for americans. In Europe you need 3.5G or 4G phone to be truly connected.
    Reply
  • michael2k - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    You're serious aren't you?

    Let us count the ways then:
    iPhone screen resolution is 2x the Nokia screen resolution
    iPhone is nearly half as thick as the Nokia
    CPU of nearly twice the speed

    The Nokia's one physical advantage is the 5MP cammera (which is only possible because the Nokia is twice as thick).
    Reply
  • Obrut - Friday, July 18, 2008 - link

    OK, let's count, Michael...

    1. Screen resolution is bigger and it should be simply because the display is much bigger. The display is much bigger because it's a touchscreen, though not big enough for my fingers.
    2. iPhone is thin and that's because it has merely 4 buttons and a low profile, low-end camera. By the way how do you play games without buttons?
    3. Speaking of games how do you play OpenGL games? I play Quake 2 with full lighting effects and FSAA at 40 FPS. What about the JAVA games?
    4. N95 8GB is a dual CPU solution (2 x ARM 11 @ 332MHz) hence no lower performance here.
    5. The 5MP camera of N95 8GB is more that just megapixels - it has Carl Zeiss optics, decent flashlight and can capture movies at 640x480@30FPS. In addition - correct me if I'm wrong but I don't see the front camera which every decent 3G phone has. How can I make a video call with iPhone? After all this is one of the best 3G features.

    I can continue counting the battery, office productivity and so on, but this is not the place. I don't want to engage in a Nokia vs. Apple or N9x vs. iPhone battle here. I just don't like statements like "there's no competition", "best phone ever" etc. The most accurate thing to say is that iPhone is the best touchphone to date.
    Reply
  • Griswold - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    Why talk if you dont know what you're talking about? 3.5G is called HSDPA (an extension to UMTS) in europe, which is supported by the iphone 3G. 4G isnt even available yet, think 2010 for commercial use, so why mention it?

    Why is there no competition? Because none of the competition has a smartphone that comes with this usability. All the other phones can do the same or more, yes. But all of them feel clumsy like a brick when using them. That is why there is no competition. And this comes from somebody who truly doesnt like apple and its godfather jobs...

    Reply
  • cocoviper - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    Speaking of not knowing what you're talking about...

    HSDPA isn't 3.5G, it's definitely AT&T's 3G and that is what the iPhone 3G supports. That's the 3G that Anand complained is not really that much faster.

    If there were a "3.5G" in AT&T's portfolio it would be HUPSA (the one that they just upped the offered speeds on.) However AT&T currently doesn't offer any phones that are HUPSA capable. They only have a couple of Aircards for laptops.

    And yes, 4G is available in many parts of the world besides the US my friend. WiMax alone is deployed 119 countries currently. LTE is the only 4G that's "not even available yet," and that's because it's yet to be developed. (LTE isn't even into the whitepaper stage yet.)

    So don't slam other people especially since there's always someone that will know more than you.

    sources -> http://www.roughlydrafted.com/RD/RDM.Tech.Q1.07/93...">http://www.roughlydrafted.com/RD/RDM.Te...A0BF6-62...
    http://www.ctia.org/consumer_info/wow/index.cfm/20...">http://www.ctia.org/consumer_info/wow/index.cfm/20...
    Reply

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