Sunday, July 13, 2008

Reviewing my 3G-Unit

Two days in with the iPhone 3G, so far, so-so. I'll take an O.J (stab) - crude humor, I know- at an unbiased review of this wonder phone.

On the surface (not literally), it's an amazing piece of technology. It took me two hours to realize this little sliver of Mac magic was also a phone. I had no interest in making a "phone call". How boring! Instead, I'll just triangulate my position with the GPS, email you a picture of my coordinates and follow it up with a text message confirming the email's delivery. Phone call? 1844 called for its technology.

On to the Good vs. Evil

The Good:

The Apps store. There's more upside to this part of the iPhone than Kwame Brown in the 2001 NBA draft. For Steve Jobs' sake, let's hope it doesn't pan out along the same path (paging Michael Jordan's talent scouting abilities). I started off basic, downloading the Facebook, Bank of America and Google apps. More on those in the Evil section. Once I got a feel for the store, I tried out Loopt, Pandora and gamecast.

Loopt - Very cool, however, "restraining order" potential ranks just below the scene outside a Jonas brothers concert. Loopt tracks your location (via GPS) and allows you to track your Loopt friend's positioning as well. Overall a fun app, but just know, the eye in the sky is watching.

Pandora Pretty much what you'd expect from the web's best Internet radio. User interface is simple but efficient, and the graphics (screen shot on right) show like an iPod album with clear icons for song approval or rejection. The major downside? Pandora won't run in the background of your phone, which means any other activity will cause the music to stop. It's like a last call gone wrong when you can't listen to your Cool Kids station because you just got an email from Gamecast -

A perfect app for any baseball fan living outside of his or her team's television market. The actual gamecast portion of this app is nothing special, but the kicker for this app is the updated video highlights. Select any game on the MLB schedule and the server feeds you video highlights from the games. We're not talking old school, Sprint-style highlights that required a permit, homing pigeon and 2 week clearance process to receive - no, no - on demand baby, delivered right to your wonder phone!

The GPS technology - A must have for anyone staring down traffic issues en route to work. The "maps" function of the phone works as effortlessly as google maps on your computer. With good reason - it is google maps on your phone. Find your current location? One click. Checking traffic? One click. Switching from map mode to hybrid? One click. Finding directions to any number of overrated sushi restaurants in LA? A ton of clicks and typing - but hey, at least you can do it. The GPS tracking is fast and accurate - turn on the track mode and watch your blue dot fly - directly into the trunk of the car in front of you.

And now, THE EVIL:

The Battery- Did someone poke a hole in my battery or is it the 18 hours of constant use I've put on this puppy? This was the one area my old cell phone was strong in. What I'm failing to factor here is that my old Treo spent so much time dropping calls and turning off whenever he so pleased that his tank o' energy was always full. That sneaky devil. Not the case with the 3 Warren G phone. At least you'll have a great time sucking the power out of this little guy.

Can I customize? - A small matter to nitpick, but one of the first things I wanted to do with the desktop background was remove certain icons. No cigar, says Apple. Calculator and Stocks? Really? Maybe for someone who's rich and desires to check the square root of his bank account. I yearn to be in that demographic.

Windows-esque glitching - Pardon my cliche Windows bashing reference, but there are flashes of "Vientos" in my iPhone. Loading the contacts page seems clunky (I'm not even to 100 yet) and Safari goes Don Cheadle and crashes often. Perhaps I'm holding this beast to an unfair standard - but the way people are waiting around (see, myself and a few others) it's hard not to expect perfection.

App Upgrades needed - As I mentioned above, some very popular apps need work. The Facebook app doesn't allow you to post on walls. Facebook with no wall posting? Sounds like playing volleyball with a beach ball in knee-high water - stupid. And with most of these apps, they don't run in the phone's background. Hopefully these issues can be addressed with a new crop of updated apps, but we'll see.

OVERALL - The mail program works great, the SMS texting runs just like aim, saving each individual threaded conversation and the YouTube application leaves you just a couple clicks away from gems like this (Wichita, stand up!) Despite its flaws, the 3G-Unit iPhone is the Paul Pierce of cell phones - there may be some flashy foreign models out there (Kobe), some with more hype and substance(LeBron) but The Truth prevails.

Now go get one and add me to Loopt.

* Side note: If you happen to click on the "flashy foreign models" link, make sure to read the description on that video. Talk about features on a phone! Bar code scanner? Does it pour your milk, too? My iPhone is frowning at me right now.

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