ArsTechnica iPhone Review

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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If you're looking for a more technical review of the iphone, Arstechnica posted their extensive iPhone review along with their own stress testing. It's hard to provide an all encompassing summary blurb but they leave the reader with these pros and cons:

Pros:

• Web surfing experience is superior to other phones
• Overall SMS experience is great
• Practically non-scratchable
• Looks fantastic in every way
• Easy to use, self-discoverable
• Soft keyboard is definitely usable
• iPod interface rocks

Cons:

• iPhone is currently locked to AT&T
• No worthwhile Exchange support
• No wireless syncing over Bluetooth or WiFi, must tether via USB, no modem use at all
• Extremely quiet ringer/alert/speakerphone volume
• Windows version of iTunes cause a few hiccups
• Application support is weak
• E-mail implementation feels weak, uninspired

Article Link
 

lsfjosh

macrumors newbie
Jun 26, 2007
21
0
Syracuse, NY
My response to this:

"No wireless syncing over Bluetooth or WiFi, must tether via USB, no modem use at all"
-Bluetooth is cool for phones that do not come with a way to connect your phone to your computer but the iPhone comes with a dock and cable! I mean seriously. Nitpicking.

"Extremely quiet ringer/alert/speakerphone volume"
-My ringer is loud. I actually use the alarm function to wake up in the morning and it hasn't failed me yet. I think the volume is quit loud.

"Application support is weak"
-1. Apple already gave reasons for this early on and we all know more apps are coming and there are already some amazing web 2.0 apps out there.

"E-mail implementation feels weak, uninspired"
-Just exactly what is this supposed to mean? Uninspired??? Are you for real? My email experience on iPhone has been flawless, easy to use and manage. Just what an email program should be. I have 3 email accounts attached to it and all run flawlessly (yes including a yahoo one). It's not a friggin song thats supposed to make me want to change the world! That is one of the most ridiculous "cons" i have ever heard.
 

iAmLegend

macrumors regular
Jul 8, 2007
200
0
"E-mail implementation feels weak, uninspired"

-Just exactly what is this supposed to mean? Uninspired??? Are you for real? That is one of the most ridiculous "cons" i have ever heard.
I agree. I'm not sure exactly what he wants his e-mail to do. Has there been some big innovation in emailing recently that I missed? Send/Receive emails, organize them in inbox/sent folders, check automatically for new e-mails...that's pretty much what I want from any e-mail program, especially one on my phone.
 

xUKHCx

Administrator emeritus
Jan 15, 2006
12,587
6
The Kop
I agree. I'm not sure exactly what he wants his e-mail to do. Has there been some big innovation in emailing recently that I missed? Send/Receive emails, organize them in inbox/sent folders, check automatically for new e-mails...that's pretty much what I want from any e-mail program, especially one on my phone.
How about push email?

In regards to bluetooth, every phone these days comes with a usb cable but i would still want bluetooth syncing for the iPhone for calendars, contacts etc. Means if i quickly update something on my computer when the phone is in my pocket/bag/elsewhere as I am about to leave I can get the sync going without having to dig around and find the phone. Or have to unplug a USB device from my computer just to sync it. Portable only have 2 USB ports for example.
 

garfinkel

macrumors newbie
Dec 29, 2003
9
0
Philadelphia
I agree with some of the cons

I also feel the ringer could be louder. Some of them are loud enough. But some really aren't.

Email is great, but of course would benefit by some further enhancements. But I would not call it uninspired.

Yes, it would be nice to be able to simply sync thru Bluetooth. But is it a major drawback? Nah.

Overall, it is by far the best phone/handheld experience to date.
 

daneoni

macrumors G4
Mar 24, 2006
10,807
79
How about push email?

In regards to bluetooth, every phone these days comes with a usb cable but i would still want bluetooth syncing for the iPhone for calendars, contacts etc. Means if i quickly update something on my computer when the phone is in my pocket/bag/elsewhere as I am about to leave I can get the sync going without having to dig around and find the phone. Or have to unplug a USB device from my computer just to sync it. Portable only have 2 USB ports for example.
Amen

I rarely sync my phones via USB everything is bluetooth. Understandable to sync the iPod via USB as it has no bluetooth and you're mostly transferring songs/vids/pics with a little PIM data but if something has Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR and syncs PIM regularly, then for the love of me use it for something besides BT Headsets.

As for the email thing, yes it works BUT the little things that make life easier arent there such as deleting a bunch of emails at once. You have to do it one by one and you have to repeat this step when removing from trash as well (no empty trash option). Thats useful especially these days with spam and all. Also Exchange support is so so. No visual alerts like SMS

Its a first gen product which means things will only get better
 

jdizzle

macrumors newbie
Jul 9, 2007
5
0
email on iPhone

I wanted my email to work. not sure if this was an at&t issue or what but...my iPhone was constantly jumping on and off of the "edge network" which made emailing painful. I'd often get "unable to connect with smtp server " messages...this sucks.

If you notice I refer to my iPhone in past tense...I returned it after 3 days of misery.
 

BobbyDigital

macrumors member
Sep 13, 2006
96
0
"E-mail implementation feels weak, uninspired"
-Just exactly what is this supposed to mean? Uninspired??? Are you for real? My email experience on iPhone has been flawless, easy to use and manage. Just what an email program should be. I have 3 email accounts attached to it and all run flawlessly (yes including a yahoo one). It's not a friggin song thats supposed to make me want to change the world! That is one of the most ridiculous "cons" i have ever heard.
I think the point that the reviewer is trying to make is that Apple has the opportunity to use Mail.app in OS X and totally sync the accounts, folders and all, but they're not doing this at all. I think the least they could do is sync up the sent mail from your iPhone with your Mac. It's such a basic thing that it baffles me why Apple didn't do it.

I am hoping for changes to mail on the iPhone.
 

aaarrrgggh

macrumors regular
Jul 1, 2007
156
24
e-Mail "Uninspired"

I agree with that comment completely; it give a very exact sense of the application. If you have ever used a Blackberry, you see that there are things that the iPhone just gets "wrong" in their mail application. I appreciate keeping it simple, but... a few basics:
-If you get 50-100 mails a day and don't use Yahoo IMAP, Outlook, or Mail.app on your desktop, you need to manually open all your messages on the iPhone to clear their "unread" status. This takes me 20 minutes to a half hour!
-Copy and Paste. Been said before, no need to dwell, but it isn't easy to compose a message longer than two lines on the iPhone.
-The "return" key sends the message when you are in the "to" field. If you are typing an e-mail address with a period in it, it is quite easy to accidentally send the message before you have written anything.
-Only one account can be the outgoing address if you have multiple accounts on the phone.
-Loads HTML messages, including remote images! Privacy concerns and speed aside, yuk! Increases page loading time.
-Ironically, can't compose HTML messages (bullets).
-How many taps are required to change between accounts?!
-Awkward hand positioning is required to go between similar functions (next, reply, trash, compose

There is much more, but if Apple really wants to court business users, a lot more effort is needed for the mail application.
 

mainstreetmark

macrumors 68020
May 7, 2003
2,228
293
Saint Augustine, FL
My response to yours:

My response to this:

-Bluetooth is cool for phones that do not come with a way to connect your phone to your computer but the iPhone comes with a dock and cable! I mean seriously. Nitpicking.
The iPhone is dead to OSX with bluetooth. Why can't OSX see who's calling, sync address book contacts, use it as a modem?

"Application support is weak"
-1. Apple already gave reasons for this early on and we all know more apps are coming and there are already some amazing web 2.0 apps out there.
Yeah, and I can't wait for "real" apps to come along, so we can access some hardware, like the ringer, the phonebook, the SMS system, the wifi gear (iStumbler!). All the web2 apps out there are rather.. i dunno. Movie showtimes? App listers?

-Just exactly what is this supposed to mean? Uninspired??? Are you for real? My email experience on iPhone has been flawless, easy to use and manage. Just what an email program should be. I have 3 email accounts attached to it and all run flawlessly (yes including a yahoo one). It's not a friggin song thats supposed to make me want to change the world! That is one of the most ridiculous "cons" i have ever heard.
I totally agree. A list of accounts on one page, then on the next page, "inbox" and "trash", and then finally messages, with sent+received all globbed together. No way to "mark all read". No search, no sort. It's a very, very simple mail reader, even for a phone. version2 will be much better.
 

Stella

macrumors G3
Apr 21, 2003
8,321
4,778
Canada
This is another good review from Ars Technica. They tend to be very fair and balanced, always.

Its good to see an in depth review of the iPhone like this, rather than the initial reviews we saw.

My response to this:
"No wireless syncing over Bluetooth or WiFi, must tether via USB, no modem use at all"
-Bluetooth is cool for phones that do not come with a way to connect your phone to your computer but the iPhone comes with a dock and cable! I mean seriously. Nitpicking.
Blue tooth is extremely convenient, no wires. Its a bit slower, yes, but if all your doing is syncing address book, small files etc then its fine. Syncing music over BT - no thanks!

"Application support is weak"
-1. Apple already gave reasons for this early on and we all know more apps are coming and there are already some amazing web 2.0 apps out there.
Those reasons were nothing more than weak excuses, and displays the current weaknesses of the OS. In the future Apple will make mobile OSX more robust and allow proper ( native ) 3rd party apps.
 

whooleytoo

macrumors 604
Aug 2, 2002
6,562
631
Cork, Ireland.
Funnily enough, if the iPhone were available here tomorrow, the Bluetooth limitations would be the deal-breaker for me. I send & receive files from my phone a lot (and obviously don't carry around a dock or installation CD with me), plus when txting from home I often send txts from Address Book.

That said, the inability to bulk-delete mail messages would be another major annoyance.

Here's hoping for a lot of changes in iPhone 2.0.
 

localet

macrumors newbie
Jul 10, 2007
1
0
hacker would free iphone if apple would not

"iPhone is currently locked to AT&T" -- I believe that will soon be resolved by hackers. See, some tool like iPhone Unlock Toolkit can now activate iphone without signing the contract with AT&T.
 

zeluiz22

macrumors newbie
Jul 6, 2007
8
0
My response to this:

"No wireless syncing over Bluetooth or WiFi, must tether via USB, no modem use at all"
-Bluetooth is cool for phones that do not come with a way to connect your phone to your computer but the iPhone comes with a dock and cable! I mean seriously. Nitpicking.

"Extremely quiet ringer/alert/speakerphone volume"
-My ringer is loud. I actually use the alarm function to wake up in the morning and it hasn't failed me yet. I think the volume is quit loud.

"Application support is weak"
-1. Apple already gave reasons for this early on and we all know more apps are coming and there are already some amazing web 2.0 apps out there.

"E-mail implementation feels weak, uninspired"
-Just exactly what is this supposed to mean? Uninspired??? Are you for real? My email experience on iPhone has been flawless, easy to use and manage. Just what an email program should be. I have 3 email accounts attached to it and all run flawlessly (yes including a yahoo one). It's not a friggin song thats supposed to make me want to change the world! That is one of the most ridiculous "cons" i have ever heard.
I'm still amazed that some people just can't admit to the very obvious and very basic shortcomings of this phone.

It's really silly to argue that it's unreasonable to expect basics like bluetooth synching and programmable email prefs. To say that a dock somehow makes the lack of bluetooth synching OK just sounds like you're trying to hard.

I mean, c'mon folks, it's a great phone, but it has some very serious flaws and omissions.
 

s10

macrumors regular
Apr 8, 2002
131
0
Los Angeles
I mean, c'mon folks, it's a great phone, but it has some very serious flaws and omissions.

Some things could obviously be better, wait for the software updates, but to call them Serious flaws and omissions? Are you?

I think you should use a laptop if you have 50 to 100 emails daily and need to have all those functions... doing all this on (any) phone is like digging a tunnel with a corkscrew imho.
 

diamond.g

macrumors 603
Mar 20, 2007
6,361
317
Virginia
"E-mail implementation feels weak, uninspired"
-Just exactly what is this supposed to mean? Uninspired??? Are you for real? My email experience on iPhone has been flawless, easy to use and manage. Just what an email program should be. I have 3 email accounts attached to it and all run flawlessly (yes including a yahoo one). It's not a friggin song thats supposed to make me want to change the world! That is one of the most ridiculous "cons" i have ever heard.
Maybe you didn't read the review. Just incase here is the text that leads up to their descision with regards to email in the iPhone:
Using the mail application is not very enjoyable. Viewing individual e-mails is a strangely slow process; click on an item and you see a subject line and header information first, then the iPhone takes another two seconds to load the contents of the e-mail. At first, we thought that the iPhone was reaching out to the mail server to get the contents of the e-mail; that's how slow it is. If you're a heavy BlackBerry e-mail user, you know that any delay greatly slows your progress.

Deleting messages is also a gigantic pain in the butt. You have to either swipe your finger across a message header to bring up a delete button, or you have to enter "edit" mode in the inbox listing and click two additional buttons per message to delete them. We need one-button delete, and we need to be able to delete more than one message at a time. In this spammy-spam world, how can anything less be acceptable?

It gets worse, actually. Deleting these messages just moves them to the trash. If you want to expunge them, you have to delete each one from the trash manually again or wait until the "autodelete" function kicks in. It defaults to "Never," and the most frequent option for emptying the trash is "1 day." Apple needs to give us an option to empty the trash with one click, and we need more frequent options for emptying the trash automatically, too. This is particularly important for keeping IMAP mailboxes in order across multiple connections.

And speaking of automation, users are limited to setting their iPhones to check for e-mail periodically, since push e-mail is not supported aside from Yahoo's mail integration. You can specify manual-only checks, once every five minutes, once every half hour, or once every hour. The more often you have the iPhone check various e-mail servers for mail, the lower your battery life will be, obviously. We chose to have it check once per hour, and manually checked when we needed in between. One thing that we would love would be the ability to set different e-mail accounts to check at different periods of time.

Such account-specific features should also apply to signature support. Like BlackBerrys, the iPhone comes (by default) with its own little "Sent from my iPhone" signature. This can be edited within the iPhone's preferences to say whatever you want. Mine now has my entire Ars e-mail signature, but I kept the iPhone line at the end as a caveat so that anyone reading my e-mails can understand why they might be shorter and more to the point.

The downside to changing the sig to be more your style, however, is that the same sig is used for every single e-mail account on the iPhone. I currently have my standard Ars Technica sig set up on the iPhone, but it ends up being tacked onto every e-mail I send, even from my personal accounts. Mail.app on the Mac allows you to have different signatures for different accounts, and this should be supported on the iPhone as well.

Another half-done oddity about the iPhone in general is that it contains support for Word, Excel, and PDF documents... as read-only. And the only way to get those documents onto your iPhone is to e-mail them to yourself. Reading Word documents is easy, though, and doing so very readable on the iPhone's screen. We found it odd, then, that the iPhone doesn't let you actually edit these documents, since doing so would seem simple and make perfect sense.


A minor, yet helpful feature that we'd like to see in future versions of the iPhone software would be for Growl-like e-mail alerts to pop up on top of other applications when an e-mail comes in. This happens when you receive a new SMS (which we will talk about when we get into the phone stuff later), along with the new SMS sound and a short vibration. Currently, when a new e-mail (or three, or ten) comes in, and you're in another application, it only rings the new mail sound and vibrates. You have no idea how many e-mails you've received, who they're from, or what accounts they are on. A simple, semi-transparent pop-up, like the one provided for SMS messages, displaying even just the subject line and who it's from would be a nice addition to the mail interface, along with a button asking whether you want to view or ignore it.
Spam ahoy

The first two things that anyone who uses e-mail a lot will notice is that the iPhone's mail client contains absolutely no spam filtering whatsoever, and that there is no way to mass-delete e-mails. If you have e-mail accounts that get a lot of spam—even if your mail client on your computer catches most of it, as ours do—you are going to get every single one of those in your iPhone's inbox. And when they come flowing in en masse, you have to delete every single one of them one by one.

Deleting E-mails
Building on our earlier complaints about the lack of a mass-deletion option, there is also no way to mark a handful (or all) e-mails as read in a particular inbox. This can be infuriating upon first sync with the e-mail server when you have hundreds of messages pouring in as "new." More attention to e-mail management features is badly needed on the iPhone.

Exchange support is a joke

The iPhone's mail client does not currently have "real" Exchange support; it can be used with Exchange servers that have IMAP enabled, but it does not support MAPI or RPC or HTTP. Apple says that it supports Exchange, but it supports Exchange in the same way that your Honda Civic supports off-roading. It's technically possible, but you're not going to enjoy it.

The lame Exchange support comes as a huge frustration to throngs of business users who want to use the iPhone as a replacement BlackBerry, push e-mail and all. This is a feature that is rumored to be coming via software update in the future, but for now, Exchange users who want to get on the iPhone are stuck with IMAP, which is workable only if you are not also using the standard MAPI client through Outlook. If you are, your inbox will quickly be out of sync because of the way IMAP and MAPI handle deleted e-mails, along with other reasons. We can't stress this enough: mixing IMAP and MAPI will just leave you sad. Messages you delete using the iPhone's IMAP connection will not be removed from Exchange, even if you empty the trash and sync again.

In sum, Mail is a bunt, but the batter reaches first

We have a lot of complaints about the mail app on the iPhone as we feel that it was ignored, perhaps to the benefit of Safari or the touchscreen implementation itself. Yet, don't get us wrong: the e-mail client is decent, it doesn't crash, and you can send and receive POP and IMAP e-mail easily. It's not going to blow you away though, and it comes nowhere near the BlackBerry e-mail experience, where the BlackBerry and your primary inbox are wedded more or less flawlessly.
Email section Page 7

Ars wrote very clearly what bugged them about the iPhone when it came to email. And yet they still gave it a very very good score at the end.
 

MacRumorsReader

macrumors member
Mar 29, 2006
97
0
I agree with that comment completely; it give a very exact sense of the application. If you have ever used a Blackberry, you see that there are things that the iPhone just gets "wrong" in their mail application. I appreciate keeping it simple, but... a few basics:
-If you get 50-100 mails a day and don't use Yahoo IMAP, Outlook, or Mail.app on your desktop, you need to manually open all your messages on the iPhone to clear their "unread" status. This takes me 20 minutes to a half hour!
-Copy and Paste. Been said before, no need to dwell, but it isn't easy to compose a message longer than two lines on the iPhone.
-The "return" key sends the message when you are in the "to" field. If you are typing an e-mail address with a period in it, it is quite easy to accidentally send the message before you have written anything.
-Only one account can be the outgoing address if you have multiple accounts on the phone.
-Loads HTML messages, including remote images! Privacy concerns and speed aside, yuk! Increases page loading time.
-Ironically, can't compose HTML messages (bullets).
-How many taps are required to change between accounts?!
-Awkward hand positioning is required to go between similar functions (next, reply, trash, compose

There is much more, but if Apple really wants to court business users, a lot more effort is needed for the mail application.

I usually hate doing this but...

EXACTLY.

Don't get me wrong. I love <3 my iPhone. Coolest, slickest device I've ever owned... and I'm a tech-junkie!

But the lack of a "mark as read", a "default" email address (why can't I just pick?), no copy/paste, no filters (!!!).

Anyway, it stills beats most other mobile email solutions. This is the one area that my blackberry (7250) walks all over the iPhone.

But that would be like saying a Ford Ranger is better than a :insert high priced high value car here: because it's hazard light button is easier to access.
 

megfilmworks

macrumors 68020
Jul 1, 2007
2,045
15
Sherman Oaks
I usually hate doing this but...

EXACTLY.

Don't get me wrong. I love <3 my iPhone. Coolest, slickest device I've ever owned... and I'm a tech-junkie!

But the lack of a "mark as read", a "default" email address (why can't I just pick?), no copy/paste, no filters (!!!).

Anyway, it stills beats most other mobile email solutions. This is the one area that my blackberry (7250) walks all over the iPhone.

But that would be like saying a Ford Ranger is better than a :insert high priced high value car here: because it's hazard light button is easier to access.
I agree as well, but wait, I wonder why Apple is giving every employee a free iPhone. Sounds like a good chance for some R+D on mail and biz apps. The iPhone may not be everything the Blackberry is today but guess what's coming. Let's face it we are all test pilots, and what a great ride we are in for!
 

Stella

macrumors G3
Apr 21, 2003
8,321
4,778
Canada
Some things could obviously be better, wait for the software updates, but to call them Serious flaws and omissions? Are you?



I think you should use a laptop if you have 50 to 100 emails daily and need to have all those functions... doing all this on (any) phone is like digging a tunnel with a corkscrew imho.
Other phones DO have such basic functionality as:
Mark all -> Mark as Read
Mark all -> Delete

Or - more directly -
Mark all as read
Delete all.

( Or equivalent).

If iPhone even lacks this basic functionality then its a serious usability flaw.

How do you know that such flaws will be fixed in a software update? If so, how long will users have to wait? 1 month, 3 months.. ...
 

lsfjosh

macrumors newbie
Jun 26, 2007
21
0
Syracuse, NY
I guess as far as a phone email program and sincing is concerned, I don't really need all those extra "ommisions" you guys are talking about. I am never in such a frantic hurry that I cant take my phone out of my pocket for 1 minute to plug it into the dock and sinc it. Takes a whole 20 seconds to upload and download contact and calendar info. And I have had a flawless experience with an IMAP setup on 2 email accounts and Yahoo Push works perfectly for me as well. I can see any folder I want to on iPhone including trash and sent and any others i have on the account. I am an organization freak as well so I don't like to keep hundreds of emails in my inbox. I read them, reply, then either throw it in the trash or file it when I get home. Its simple. And thats the way I like it :)