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iPhone v. Q – War in the backwoods of Mississippi

Apple convinces us to wait for Gen 2

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EDGE vs. EVDO

The most interesting discovery about the iPhone was the performance on the EDGE network. Using CATTRAX (which uses MapQuest maps) in real time with zooming and scrolling was excellent. While some of the updates took a few seconds, there was nothing that was a show-stopper in the performance. It was much better, in fact, than the Q with EVDO and Opera: that might be the AT&T network enhancements alone, but the end result was excellent. Even El Reg popped up quickly and was easily navigable, unlike sometimes on the Q where style sheet problems make the page hard to read.

The real surprise was the integrated Wi-Fi. The fact that the phone will pick up Wi-Fi on demand and use this for the "heavy lifting" data transfers eliminates the need for HSDPA in many (but not all) situations. (This is still a toughie for me, as I have no wired WAN connectivity and eschew using hot spots. However, Pat also has the same set up as I do in his motor home, with an EVDO rev.a modem feeding a Wi-Fi router, and this works very well for the higher speed downloads as needed.) It appears that the iPhone does a superior job of scheduling data transfers between foreground (web pages) and background (large downloads) thus keeping the EDGE speed available for immediate use.)

Email

The iPhone access POP and SMTP directly, without needing Outlook 2007 to synchronize. And no auto-delete when the message is removed from the device but not the server queue. Windows Mobile 5 devices like the Q can send and receive POP/SMTP but don't download the mail from the server. If you don't synchronize using a PC and Outlook 2007 (2003 doesn't seem to work any more) you lose the message on both the device AND the mail server when it is deleted in either location. The iPhone, on the other hand, acts like a regular mail client and moves the message to the phone from the server if set up that way. Neither Pat or I use IMAP and neither of us runs Exchange or Notes or another communications management server, so POP/SMTP support with a "real" email client is important. (We even go so far as to have a completely separate mail address for the phone - on our server, not the phone company's server - thus we use phone mail at a different "priority" than our regular email accounts.)

As far as attachments go, the iPhone lets you view them but that's about all. However, WM5 has similar limitations. I can view doc, xls, ppt, pdf (but not ODF), but can not copy from them or save them.That is, I believe, acceptable: if I can't run the tool that created the document I probably don't want to save it locally. And, given the screen size and all, I don't WANT to run the tool on the phone. Let me forward the note and document to a PC and work on it there. Aside from screen size, there's little difference in device capabilities. (Note that Pat and I didn't test this on the drive.

Video and Audio

I watched a "South Park" episode on the iPhone to see how the "multimedia" aspect really worked. Yes, it is a SMALL screen. Yes, a PC or tablet screen would be "better". However, the image quality and performance of the playback was better than anything I've seen short of a portable DVD player or the PSP. I would use this feature to view a movie on an airplane or while sitting through a horrid awards banquet.

I also listened to some of Pat's music, which was excellent . . . as expected.

Now, on my Q, I do download some video - but only stuff I post-process myself (reducing resolution and changing encoding to eliminate stuttering on playback). I also download my own MP3 music from my collection. The Q and Windows Media Player do an excellent job with the music and a fair job with the video (it loses the first 5 seconds on any video due to slow CPU start-up), but WMP kills the battery very quickly (only about 2 hours total use with a full battery). The iPhone is superior in battery life and does not have the delays in start up that the Q has.

Pat and I did not try downloading music that was not from iTunes (a must for me: I do all my own ripping) or our own videos. I still need to test those features.

The camera is quite adequate. It is much more responsive than the camera application under WM5, so it is useful for quick pix and videos.

Ruggedness

Pat keeps the phone in his pocket, along with other "stuff". So far, there are no scratches or gouges. Neither of us wanted to toss it out the window of the car to test impact resistance, but it's survived drops from the car seat to the pavement and from eye-level to the floor. It will not survive immersion in water - without a removable battery no device can manage this. But the ruggedness is good enough for me.

And now for what the iPhone's missing and how it stacks up in total.

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Next page: Missing features

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