So Addictive

The first application listed on the iPhone's home screen is Apple's SMS text messaging app, and if you're not already a heavy texter, this application will change that. 

With a very iChat-like interface (iChat being OS X's IM client for the Windows users in the audience), the iPhone's messaging client does SMS right.  Text messages are grouped according to contact and are stored in conversation format; you can always clear your history if it gets too cumbersome otherwise you've got a walking log of everything you've ever texted to anyone organized by contact.


It seems like an oddly simple thing to get excited about, but honestly it's done so much better than the competition.  On the Samsung Blackjack for example, each text message is handled as a separate message, much like email.  If you and I are having a conversation, each message you send me, appears as a separate message in the inbox.  The messages are not grouped together, they are simply organized in chronological order. 

SMS on the Blackjack

While this makes sense for email, SMS is supposed to be used for shorter chats and thus it makes sense to group according to chat or contact. 

SMS on the iPhone, versus...

SMS on the Blackjack

The Blackberry comes a bit closer, while it doesn't group by contact or conversation, it keeps a partial record of all of your messages within a conversation in each message.  It's like keeping a copy of your chat history in each new message that's received.

The iPhone's SMS application makes it almost too easy to send text messages; you stop thinking of each message you send as costing you money and look at it more like an IM conversation.  While an IM conversation is free, sending that last message that just had the phrase "k bye" just ate into your SMS budget.  AT&T still charges per message and although the iPhone data plan gives you 200 free, it's easy to burn through them.  

Is this last message worth $0.10?

AT&T was particularly sneaky in its SMS upgrade pricing, because in order to get any more text messages you have to upgrade to 1500 messages for an extra $10/month, there's no in-between.  Of course for an extra $20/month you can send unlimited text messages, keeping in mind that is doubling the cost of your dataplan on the iPhone. 

We hate to speculate that the reason the iPhone has no built in IM client is to encourage SMS use, as IMs would be covered by your unlimited data plan.  While the iPhone's SMS application is great and absolutely necessary, we would like to see it augmented by AIM/GTalk support at the bare minimum. 

As is already widely known by now, the iPhone only supports SMS and not MMS.  If you're addicted to picture messaging, your only option on the iPhone is to email pictures to your friends.  Now if all of your friends have iPhones then this works out perfectly.

Syncing on a Mac and on a PC Email


View All Comments

  • icruise - Monday, July 16, 2007 - link

    Excellent review that (surprisingly, given that this is a very tech-oriented site) "got" what the iPhone is about. It may not be the perfect cell phone, but it's certainly an amazing one, and the first really fresh take on the concept that we've seen in a long long time.

    One quibble, however. The review states that Yahoo charges $3 a month for push email support. Yahoo does in fact provide free IMAP push email to anyone using a Yahoo Mail account on the iPhone. However, there appears to be some issues involved in the implementation and I couldn't find any mention of using push email with Yahoo in the Apple documentation, which may be why the reviewer didn't realize this.

    It seems that if you have any other email accounts active on the iPhone, push email doesn't work reliably. It may take quite a while (many minutes) to show up. I tested this on my iPhone and when I had my Yahoo Mail account as the only active account, messages sent to it showed up pretty much instantaneously. When I enabled the other accounts, that changed, whether I had mail checking set to "manual" or a special interval. So in short, I think the iPhone's push capability is there, but they haven't quite ironed out the bugs. Hopefully they will do this soon with a software update, and also enable push email for .Mac mail as well.
  • AnnonymousCoward - Saturday, July 7, 2007 - link

    How bout horizontal/landscape mode for the keyboard? With all this talk about fingers not being small enough for crammed keys, I'm blown away this wasn't addressed. Based on the aspect ratio of the keyboard in front of me, and the aspect ratio of the iphone, I don't see why you'd possibly want to type in portrait mode. Reply
  • ViperV990 - Friday, July 6, 2007 - link

    I'm curious if (a web-based multi-protocol IM) works on the iPhone. Can anyone please give this a try and report back? Reply
  • Icehawk - Monday, July 9, 2007 - link

    Great article, I really hadn't read or watched too much on the iPhone so it was nice to see it all laid out clearly.

    Sadly the phone, like my Tivo S3, is missing some very basic features (voice activation?!) and has some weird ergonomic misses.

    However I think this is a big deal, if the interface is as much of advance overall as it sounds that is big. IMO the next major advance computing (and these MFDs by extension) is the interface - we are still using pretty much the same paradigms as 20 years ago.
  • Calista - Friday, July 6, 2007 - link

    Hi Anand!

    I would like to know how you judge the value of the iphone. We fully understand that you find it an awesome device but it's no denial that it's also a fairly expensive and $600 will buy you both a normal feature phone (2MP cam and the rest) and a well-working internet-tablet like the Nokia N800 - which by the way support up to 16 GB of memory, carry a screen with higher resolution than the Iphone and support Skype. It's another device to carry for sure, but only another 200 grams and it can be left safely in your home when doing things more ..action-packed than sipping coffee at Starbucks.

    Quite frankly, I would feel fairly uncomfortable carrying a $600 device in my pants all the time.
  • Justin Case - Friday, July 6, 2007 - link

    I'm sure you realise there's an obvious joke lurking in that last sentence... ;-) Reply
  • Justin Case - Thursday, July 5, 2007 - link

    Any chance of a comparison with the Qtek 9000 or Nokia's N700...? Reply
  • 2ManyOptions - Thursday, July 5, 2007 - link

    Why the hate? Its not something which you can totally reject or totally throw like trash ! It does look good when compared to it's competitors.

    The price tag for the iPhone is an individual's concern. If he/she thinks spending 700$ on iPhone is cool, so be it, i wouldn't lose anything !! Does that mean the person who bought an iPhone is stupid?? I wudn't agree with that, its his money n his idea of fun n spending.

    I would like to buy something like an iPhone but not unless its below 250$ or something like that...And maybe something new, something better than iPhone will pop up by then.
    Good marketing by Apple though.
  • Koing - Wednesday, July 4, 2007 - link

    to pick the 4GB instead of the 8GB version! :P Reply
  • aGoGo - Wednesday, July 4, 2007 - link">HTC Omni

    If Steve was holding this phone a million idiot will be standing in line from now till October :p

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