Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Week With the iPhone: A ex-Symbian addict's view

One week back, on an impulse, I bought the iPhone 3GS. I explained why in my last post. In this post, I share my first week’s experiences moving from Symbian to iOS5.

General Usability
Setting up the phone was quite simple. Apple provides a small pin to pull out the SIM card slot at the top of the phone. Once the SIM is inserted, the phone has to be powered up, and it guides you through the installation process. 

Setup screens.

I had no problems transferring my contacts, since all my contacts are on Outlook (MS Exchange). Once I configured the Exchange account, all contacts were there for me on my new phone.

I have been quite used to the Symbian way of "Menu" button based browsing apps and settings on the phone. On iOS, there is no "Menu" button. All the settings and apps are there on the various home-screens, and you just tap the icons directly. Of course, Symbian Anna & Belle had pretty good home-screens, but they had shortcuts and could still press the Menu key to get to the application, and that’s what is not there in iOS. It’s more simple, I guess, but at times I find myself pressing the "Home" button, thinking it would take me to the "Menu" (old habits die hard). I also took some time to figure out that there is no option for closing or exiting an app in iOS. Pressing the home-screen is the way to close an app.
As expected, I found iOS to be more responsive than Symbian in launching of apps. To be fair, there are times when the phone is sluggish, you press keys, but are not sure if it has registered, etc etc, but overall I find that the launch times of most applications are quite faster than on Symbian. One reason could be the more powerful Cortex processor, which Symbian phones still dont have. The other reason is that the application development concept itself is different. For those interested here is an excerpt from the Apple developer pages.

"For example, an app’s launch time is almost always something you should improve during the development process. Other critical tasks should always be performed quickly. When a task cannot be performed quickly,
your app’s user interface should provide some clue to the user that the task may take additional time. Tasks that cannot be performed quickly should not block the user interface; perform these tasks in the background instead."

Content (Apps, Games etc)
One buys a smartphone these days with the single objective of loading it with favorite apps. Both Symbian and iOS have a vast library of apps, games & themes. But I am impressed by two things in the iOS app store

1) Ease of finding the app you want - It is quite simple, just type in the iTunes search box. I wonder why Nokia Ovi Store made it so difficult for me to find anything.

2) Quality of apps - Apple’s stringent scrutiny sure pays off here. I used to download and even buy apps from Nokia Ovi Store on my N8, but apart from the Angry Birds series, I never found anything that was compelling enough to hold my attention. But for every app I downloaded for the iPhone, I was addicted to it. The games are real fun, and quite engrossing as well.

Screenshot from Metal-Storm game.

The e-Books have opened up a whole new category to me. I got the entire Sherlock Holmes collection for free from the app store. This is really cool, and I love reading these e-Books.

The complete Sherlock Holmes.

Having FunThis is where the iPhone excels. It is quite simple... people love this device, because they have fun using it. For e.g., I could never do this with my Symbian phone...

Audio (Voice & Music Playback)
N8 offered exceptional audio quality in both voice calls, and music playback. I should know, because I worked in the audio area in Nokia for a good length of time. I could see (or more correctly, hear) on the N8, the efforts of all my audio software and hardware colleagues from Tampere & Oulu. N8 had virtually replaced my iPod, because I strongly felt that the N8 had better music reproduction than my iPod (Nano). I was vary that the iPhone would disappoint me in this area. So far, the iPhone has not disappointed me. Voice call quality is reasonably good. At least so far I could not make out any difference. On the far end, no one has complained that they could not hear me well. For music playback, I think Apple has addressed the issues it had on iPod Nano’s, and on the first few listening sessions, I cannot make out any difference in audio quality between the N8 and the iPhone.

iPhone camera SUCKS!! Sorry, this is one department that Apple has got wrong, and Symbian had got right. My N8 used to click pictures that would make a full-fledged digital camera shy. iPhone 3GS even lacks hardware keys for launching the camera and snapping pictures, which can make it a bit awkward. I dont even want to compare the pictures taken by N8 to those with the iPhone...but for this post I will!

iPhone 3GS

Both pictures were resized to the same size as there’s no point in comparing a 12MP image to a 3MP image.
Battery Life
What can I say! I have been spoiled by Symbian’s long-long-long battery life. I am so not used to charging the phone every night. But I guess the battery running out in a day is partly because I’m still in the "discovery" phase with the phone. Once If I play less games, reading less ebooks, and browse less, then maybe the battery would last for more than a day.


Girish Shenoy said...

I bought a Samsung Galaxy S (Android) phone a couple of months ago. And the comparisons to N8 are quite similar to the comparisons with the iPhone that you give.

One thing I differ about though. Its regarding the availability of apps. Symbian really did not have much. It was hard to even find a decent RSS feed reader/aggregator. The Marketplace and Appstore have apps numbering in the range of 300,000 to 400,000; while Ovi (and Blackberry store) have something in the range 25,000 to 35,000.

And yes!! I sooo miss the battery life. But then again, I guess it is the larger display of the Galaxy S (and I have the one with SLCD and not AMOLED; maybe thats one reason).

Awaiting your review of the 4s. Anytime soon ? ;-)

Dipankar Mitra said...

Ha ha, I cant afford the 4S. But maybe I should save up for iPhone 5 whenever it is due for launch!!