iPhone First Impressions

It was difficult, but I finally tore myself away from playing with my 8GB iPhone to put together a First Impressions post. I tried touching on a few things that we might not have discussed before, or at least things that I particularly appreciate that might not have made it into the keynote or video spotlights. Given the complexity and depth of such a ground-breaking device, you can be sure this won't be the only first post of its kind from me or the rest of our team, but for now, read on for some initial thoughts on one of Apple's most anticipated devices of all time.

  • I just need to get it out of the way: Words cannot describe how incredibly wonderful this thing feels to touch and hold. It is an absolute marvel of engineering. Gorgeous in every way.

  • It's light; surprisingly so. Not quite as light as I remember my Samsung BlackJack being (one of - if not the - slimmest and lightest smartphones on the market), but considering how bad the BlackJack and Windows Mobile in general sucked, it's honestly a non-issue.

  • Amazingly, just about all facets of the phone's software work as advertised. Switching from the browser back to the Home screen is a snap; hitting the Home button the middle of a YouTube video is also a snap.

  • However, YouTube videos take a bit longer than advertised on TV to buffer and begin playing, even over Wi-Fi. Not too worried about it.

  • Google Maps is surprisingly responsive, even over EDGE (which wide reports are saying has received a significant speed boost in the last couple days. Hmm, wonder why).

  • The magnifying glass effect is quick and very, very cool. However, it unfortunately seems to negate the possibility of selecting a block of text for deleting. This would have been handy in instances like blowing away a URL already in Safari to start typing a new one; the only workaround for this is tapping at the end of the URL and holding the delete key down and waiting for each character to be deleted in succession. Kind of annoying. Update: Thankfully, a commenter pointed out the big grey X sitting in Safari's address bar, allowing for a one click deletion of an entire URL. Much handier.

  • The app seems a little misleading - all it does is display a message on the iPhone instructing you to add a direct URL for a site's feed in Safari, in which case it will display that feed much like Safari RSS on a computer. It isn't a web-based app at all from what I can tell. Unless Apple has something more planned for, I'm calling this another fumbled addition to the .Mac family (though, for the record: I'm a happy .Mac customer, I just increased my storage to 2GB and I fully plan to renew my account in October).

  • Have I mentioned yet that this seems to be a device designed and engineered by angels? Because it is.

  • Changing the ringer/phone volume or toggling the vibrate switch elicits a translucent Mac OS X-like volume feedback.

  • Seeing translucency on a phone with this gorgeous of a display is nearly worth half the price in and of itself.

  • The SMS app looks like iChat and almost sounds like iChat; it features a different sound for incoming SMSes, but the default iChat sound for sending SMS messages. My only question is: where is iChat!

  • YouTube H.264 videos look as gorgeous on the iPhone as they do on the Apple TV (remember: Apple got YouTube to convert a portion of their catalog for the iPhone and Apple TV into H.264 from the original uploaded files; this isn't a conversion from original > Flash > H.264). Note to YouTube: drop Flash, switch to H.264 video for your entire catalog. Now.

  • Snapping a picture on the camera features a virtual shutter that snaps shut and open again once the picture is done being snapped and saved. Kinda silly, but more entertaining than a 'saving' or 'please wait' message.

  • The 160 dpi display is even more gorgeous than in the videos and up on stage in a keynote.

  • According to John Gruber, the iPhone's UI is all done in Helvetica, which I am definitely a fan of. I also agree that Notes being done in some icky Comic Sans-y type is... weird.

That's about it for now. We'll hit up more of the (predominantly) wonderful impressions as soon as we can roll them out.