Fri, Oct
22
2010

Thoughts on the iPhone, Two Months Later

Fri, Oct 22, 2010

Visual Feedback

I was in Des Moines when the iPhone was unleashed on Canada. Being an Apple fan, I could not help but get caught up in the hype — even a thousand miles away. Having promised myself that I would buy myself an iPhone after winning the Zombies vs. Ornithopters competition, I decided that now was the time to make my move. And then I heard about the lineups and the shortages.

I could have purchased directly from Apple. The device would have no contract, though. The advantage is I could shop around and look for the best deal. The disadvantage was that I took the full brunt of the phone’s cost (over $700, if I recall correctly). So, instead, I decided to go to my local Bell store.

My old cellphone was a Samsung flip phone, bought primarily for its sound quality. I’d had it for a couple of years and it was looking pretty battered. I had another year in my contract, however. So, a couple of days after returning home from Des Moines, and a couple of weeks after the iPhone’s introduction to Canada, I went up to my nearest Bell store cashier and said, “do you have any iPhones?”

The cashier chuckled tersely.

No iPhones in the store. No iPhones in the whole Region of Waterloo. I could, however, be put on the waiting list. It would take about one to two weeks.

That seemed reasonable. Could I upgrade from my old phone given that I was still under contract? No problem; just pay a $35 upgrade charge. The contract itself reduced the price of the phone to around $269, and of that, I put down a $50 deposit, and left the store to wait. About ten days later, I got a call on my (soon-to-be) old cellphone. It was the Bell store: your iPhone is here; come pick it up.

I was one of the lucky ones, it turns out. Weeks later, people were still lining up at the Apple stores in Toronto, hoping to nab any new iPhone that happened to come into stock that day. I couldn’t help myself and gave them a silent ‘neener, neener’.

I really love the device. I still love the form factor even after playing with it for two months. Its screen has held up remarkably well in that time, though I have taken precautions to keep it that way (purchasing a case, and moving my coins to my other pocket, the one with the keys. I notice that I use the iPhone a lot more than I did my old cellphone. The smartphone features of the device are easier to use and are actually useful.

The phone itself has allowed me to carry fewer things in my pockets. It is, first and foremost, a cellphone, but it is also an iPod, which conveniently attaches to my car’s sound system for play. The camera is also miles better than the one on my cellphone, and a pretty decent competitor to the Canon camera that I used to use. Yes, the Canon provides a better picture (not surprising, given that it’s an actual camera), but the iPhone’s pictures are pretty good quality themselves, and the iPhone is a lot more portable.

I’ve also found that I’ve abandoned my watch, relying on my phone to provide me with the correct time. This, apparently, puts me in the company of the younger generations, who think of watches as quaint little devices akin to rotary phones, though this changeover wasn’t entirely painless for me. I can get the time just by glancing at my wristwatch. iPhone time requires me to dig deep into my pants and struggle to pull the phone out. It’s cumbersome and inconvenient for the task at hand. One the other hand, I still haven’t put my watch back on. As much as I liked that particular watch, it did irritate my skin.

And as for the apps, I find them very useful. It’s even harder for me to get lost, now that I have GPS. I can check my e-mail to see if any important notes have arrived (I have resolved to ramp that back, however, as I don’t want to completely isolate myself from the outside world). My Jackson Pollock app has proved a useful way to entertain Nora while we wait in line at Early Years, and it saves us carrying pens and paper. Finally, the pedometer app iTreadmill has been logging my steps for the past two months, now, and has encouraged me to walk more often, to help make me more fit. All in all, I could probably do without an iPhone, but it has insinuated itself into my life, and I quite like having one.

An iPhone was something of a self-indulgence after that Zombies vs. Ornithopters competition with Erin (note: in the end, she did also get her shoes), but it’s not a purchase that I regret. And that, to my mind, is as good a review as I can give any product in this day and age.


Further Thoughts on the iPhone

In the past two months, I have been testing three camera apps on the iPhone: iPhone’s native camera, an app called Camera+, and an app called Pro HDR. Camera+ became my preferred camera app early on because of its interface, its features, and the fact that you could use the iPhone’s volume buttons as a shutter, instead of the screen’s hypersensitive trigger. Unfortunately, that little trick with the volume buttons got Camera+ banned from the iPhone App store. I also found the photo features to be beyond my skillset, so I reverted to the simpler and just as effective native camera app, especially after the iOS 4.1 update gave that app the same HDR features as Pro HDR.

HDR, for those who don’t know (and I didn’t know this two months ago) is a means some cameras have of producing remarkable pictures in complex lighting situations, by snapping two or more photographs in quick succession, each at different light exposures. The software then combines these photographs together so that the washed-out brights aren’t washed out, and the dark spots don’t disappear into shadow.

Although iPhone’s native camera app now offers HDR (along with the very useful feature of snapping a non-HDR photograph alongside the HDR variant), I’ve chosen to stick with HDR Pro, as its software seems to do a much better job in merging the photographs together into some truly stunning pictures, like the one below:

Brushstroke Clouds


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