iPhone: First Impressions from Australia

by Chris Howard Aug 27, 2008

I bought a new computer. You can't really call it anything else, despite some people calling it a phone. Yes, I joined the iPhone brigade. I gave Steve more of my hard-earned.

Of course, it was A LOT of my hard earned as I bought it outright. I had been holding off because I didn't want to lose the deal I was currently on, but I discovered that, despite no advertising, I could actually get the iPhone on my existing pre-paid deal. For this though I had to forgo any sort of reasonable data plans, and contradict myself.

Several weeks ago I told you that Telstra was screwing it's customers on data charges. However, last week it greatly improved in that area but is still a long way short of its competitors. So, contrary to what I said then, I bought through Telstra. However, if you're an Aussie and expect to use much data, I wouldn't go near them. Unfortunately, after purchasing my iPhone, I also discovered that the data plans for pre-paid customers are hideous.

But I have no intention and never did have, of making much use of cellular data access. Although, with the risk of blowing the little data I do get, I sought a way to turn on and off cellular data access as required.

There doesn't appear to be any easy in-built way of doing this - which is a great concern - but I found a bit of a hack. I went into Settings, Network, Cellular Data Network and then added an "x" the name of the APN, thus rendering it invalid and causing and appropriate error when the phone tries to acess data over the cellular network. And I then remove that "x" when I want to access data when I'm away from WiFi. So that's fairly easy, but really, there should be an easy on/off option.

Back to the computer at hand. Yes, yes, pun intended.

This little device is changing the way I work and use my Mac. It is freeing me up from so much of what I do on the Mac, like email, browsing the internet, managing my calendars and so on. I have had some of this before, having owned a couple of Palms, but the integration of all these functions in the one device is fantastic. And because it can relieve me of much of what I do on the Mac, I must call it a computer. Of course that makes me feel more justified in spending so much an a phone. wink

Being a software junkie it only took me an hour to load it up with all sorts of stuff. And this is the iPhone's greatest feature. Just as the iTunes store is the iPod's greatest feature. And in the App Store Apple will hope to develop that tie-in to customers that will keep them loyal iPhone users for many years.

The App Store is fantastic and I've discovered more than a few applications I'd highly recommed you at least take a look at.

• Reqall  - A seriously clever list manager with online services including converting a spoken "to do" into text.
• Super Monkey Ball - this will sell a few iPhones!
• Mach Dice - a great little app for showing off your iPhone, just needs for the dice to roll to the bottom when you tilt the iPhone up and it'd be perfect.
• 1Password - it's very re-assuring having a backup of my passwords etc that goes everywhere I go
• Converter - this is the best of the conversion apps, with conversions for anything you can think of, even clothing sizes.
• Sol Free - I've always been a Solitaire addict and this is a great - and free - version.
• Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart - a great break from work or study.
• WordPress - if you're a WordPress blogger, this is really neat, although not for long articles until you've become an iPhone keyboard ninja.

Also, as a Google apps devotee (calendar, mail and docs), SpanningSync  for synchronizing iCal and Google calendars is a wonderful.

The iPhone does have a few shortcomings still but none of them has really bothered me. For *my* usage - copy&paste I haven't needed yet;  I carry an 8MP ultra-compact in my pocket at all times so the lame camera  is no problem; the sweded http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Be_Kind_Rewind#.22Sweded.22 bluetooth that can only connect to headsets is disappointing as it'd be nice to have bluetooth connectivity to my Mac but it's not a big deal as I have to plug in for recharge every night anyway.

But one limitation really disappoints me: You can't use it as a USB drive! Why didn't anyone tell me that?! That's why I bought the 16GB model. Several apps in the App Store let you save files to the iPhone, but I want to actually use it like a USB drive, opening, editing and saving files directly from it using desktop applications. Hopefully Apple will add this functionality in a later software upgrade.

The keyboard entry is great to use. I was always a big fan of the Palm's handwriting recognition system and became quite fast at entering infromation, but I reckon the iPhone's input is even quicker and has a very short learning curve. The only thing I haven't got the hang of yet is the auto-correct. Often I'm changing words that were spelt right but not recognized by the inbuilt dictionary.

The App Store has one feature missing too. It needs a wish list. A few times I've seen apps I wanted to keep an eye on but wasn't ready to download or buy yet.

The iPhone is handheld computing I'd always dreamed about. I always liked my Palms but they were still unfinished works and always ended up not being used and left gathering dust.

The iPhone is not finished either, but because it provides so much of my computing functions, allows me to manage so much of my life from one device and that then integrates so well with the Macs I use, and synching and rechaging is so much easier, well, it has already become invaluable reached a level of usefulness the Palms never did.

No matter how you approach it, the iPhone isn't cheap. But as it replaced three devices of mine (Palm, phone and iPod) worth over AU$1000 at "only" AU$850, plus adds more functionality than those three combined, it actually starts to make financial sense.

It's only been two and a half days for me, but already I'd say, when you can afford it, the iPhone is a must have.


  • Agreed.

    The Apple store also needs a wishlist.

    bluegirl had this to say on Aug 27, 2008 Posts: 19
  • Oops! Forgot to include nintendo DS when comparing costs. So add another AU$200 there. So now   my $850 iPhone is up to $1200 value!

    (written on my iPhone)

    Chris Howard had this to say on Aug 30, 2008 Posts: 1209
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