iPhone: The goods, the bads, & my vacation

I just got back from two weeks of vacation, which was nice. The header on this blog is a panorama of a cove in the Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve on Maui, taken last year. This year, we went back again (my wife’s from Maui) for more, including more snorkelling with our five year old. One of the best parts of the trip was that my laptop broke on the second day, and despite my best efforts — and the Novell help desk — I didn’t get it repaired until I got to an office yesterday.

Fortunately, my dear wife had just bought me an iPhone.

The bads

The iPhone really is not suited for a corporate environment. It wasn’t designed for it and it shows. Calendering is broken. Contacts don’t work very well. The pull email isn’t as good as RIM’s push. Typing on the screen is terrible; I haven’t gotten past the index finger method, while I’m a thumb demon on my old Blackberry.

The calendar is a particular problem; for those of you not in a big company, you don’t realize how important that is. Novell, of course, uses our GroupWise product, which has a good calendaring function, but the situation is the same for Outlook/Exchange. So, for example, I missed a couple of important meetings that I had planned to attend during my vacation.

AT&T is really trying, but they still suck; my activation was moderately complicated but required what felt like dozens of phone calls. Each time I had to give the friendly rep my phone number and explain the situation again. And then when I wanted to call my mom in Spain for her birthday it turns out that international dialing wasn’t enabled and the office I needed was closed, etc. etc.

The battery’s not that great, especially if you make a lot of phone calls. I don’t like the non-standard audio jack, which requires a stupid adapter. The EDGE network is dial-up slow.

The goods

The iPhone is absolutely gorgeous. It’s the first innovation in mobile telephony since, I don’t know, ever? It’s the first phone I’ve given a crap about in forever. I don’t even really think of it primarily as ‘my phone’ — it’s more like my likkle computer that does WiFi and maps and the rest, plus make calls.

The gesture controls are very cool; flicking through photos or album art is elegant and intuitive. Having a usable internet browser at all times is pretty amazing. The screen is as bright as I’ve ever seen. The integration between different components could be better but as it is it’s already great. Regular email works perfectly. Gmail integration is great — in fact, Google in general is very well done on the iPhone. I don’t normally use Google Reader, for example, but it’s my default on the iPhone.

I don’t think that I would give up my laptop just yet, but the iPhone, for all of its shortcomings, really saved me on my vacation from completely stressing out about not being connected