My iPhone: A love affair without sex

iPhone vs. HTC Fuze

Back in November of 2008 I decided that it was time to retire my trusty HTC Wizard (Cingular 8125) after more than 2 years of superlative service. Over the time I owned it the phone did something few do: it got better and better over time, thanks to the hacking community over at XDA Developers, who turn out a steady stream of high quality hacked ROM’s (operating system software for the phone) that add capabilities that manufacturers technically could add but seldom do because they want you to buy another device. I did not replace my Wizard with the iPhone because, frankly, it’s just too goddamn trendy for my tastes.

Instead I purchased the HTC Fuze, which in every measurable physical sense is superior to the iPhone. When it came down to iPhone vs. HTC Fuze, I thought the Fuze would win. It has a better CPU. It has a higher screen resolution. It has a landscape QWERTY keyboard. It has every connection type known to man and it’s expandable to capacities that the iPhone will never be able to reach without completely replacing the phone. But there was a problem. Within days, my new Fuze began to lock up constantly. It drained battery life like a fat man drains the soup kettle at Souplantation. It rebooted. Randomly. During calls. Clearly my phone was jacked up in hardware, so I exchanged it for a fresh one. Within days it exhibited the same behaviors, though less so. But there was something worse, actually: Windows Mobile. For the record, I’ve always been a fan of WinMo, but as I sat there with this expensive new phone (nearly $400 with tax) I realized something: It was running slower than my old Wizard, whose CPU was only a little more than 1/3rd the speed of the new Fuze. Why? Windows Mobile.

And that’s when it struck me: Windows Mobile hasn’t advanced in years. So I headed back to the AT&T store and decided to give the trendy iPhone a try.

I left the store with almost an extra $100 in my pocket because the iPhone was just that much cheaper, surely a sign that it’s that much worse of a phone, right? Not so much. I was immediately impressed with the speed of the phone. Opening and closing apps was quick and easy, all the important functions were right up where I could get to them easily and the signal quality was noticeably better than what I had on the Fuze or even my Wizard (but please note, I live in California, so my signal quality sucks no matter what phone I use). And then I found what would become my crack pipe: The App Store. I drove home before I’d really looked at it, but when I’d had my dinner and settled down to watch Heroes I began to peruse the app store.

At first I went for the obvious stuff: Free games. After all, that’s what you can expect from phones, right? A handful of free, albeit cheesy, time wasting games. Instead I found a good library of small but fun games, and since I could sort according to their status, I had a field day downloading pages and pages of free games. Then I discovered the apps, and realized something even more shocking: Without spending a lot of money, my iPhone could actually be a badass tool in addition to its status as half baked game player and iPod. At one point I had a combined 9 pages of apps and games because I just plain needed to try everything I could get my hands on. Heck, I even bought the Orb streaming media app to connect to my home server so instead of being constrained to my 16GB of iPhone storage, I could get all 80GB of music from home almost anywhere I happened to be. Pretty awesome.

But the goods just kept getting better. I found the fantastic free WordPress app, which lets me blog from anywhere, I can even upload pictures straight from my phone’s camera (and let’s be honest, the iPhone camera is amazingly mediocre, but hey, it’s a cell phone camera, what do you expect?). Now, I know what you’re thinking: If you can blog from anywhere, where the hell have you been the last few weeks? The short answer: Busy. I’ve got some projects going on, I’ll tell you about them soon, I promise. I’ve also found other exciting apps that do amazing things like keep my notes synced between the web and my phone so I can access them from any PC. I’ve got an app with my vCard on it so I can send it to anyone with an email address in a flash (and who doesn’t have an email addy at this point?). I’ve got apps for streaming internet radio, streaming video talks with some of the world’s great thinkers, all kinds of amazing stuff to help me be entertained, stay focused, work easier, learn more or develop contacts. And it’s in my pocket, it’s with me wherever I go.

So what have I learned from my new iPhone? I’ve learned that you can have all the hardware in the world, but if your software sucks it doesn’t make a lick of difference. I’ve learned that if your software is capable and diverse and easy to use, that makes up for a lot of hardware shortcomings, nerdy desires be damned. Apparently, there’s an End User inside me somewhere who just doesn’t want to fuck with his phone so much as he wants it to just work.

So, it’s with some joy that I announce the impending arrival of our new series reviewing iPhone Apps. From now on we’ll cover a regular assortment of software that you can download for free (in most cases, though we may cover some paid stuff too) to keep yourself productive, entertained, informed and educated. I hope you’ll join us for these upcoming reviews, because I can promise they’ll be informative, slightly funny, and I just might say “fuck” a couple of times. Hey, you never know! 🙂

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