Two weeks with the Nokia N95 and iPhone

The good

The iPhone has the most intuitive and easy-to-use hardware and software interface of any mobile device out there.

On the hardware side, there is only one button on the face of the device. Press it and return to the main screen from any app. On the side there is a ringer on/off switch and a ringer volume control. On the top, there is a lock/reset button. That's it. Everything else is controlled through the multi-touch display.


The Apple iPhone.

Of course, the software is where the iPhone really shines. Just about everything works the way you think it should. And I can't overstate how much difference being able to manipulate objects with your hand makes. Whether it is scrolling through your inbox, moving through your music collection, flipping through your photos and browsing the web, the multi-touch interface beats every other mobile device hands down (Get it? Hands down...anyway).

The screen is amazing. Bright and, surprisingly, scratch-resistant. I kept it in my pocket without a case and had no scratches or scuffs. Much tougher than the 5G iPod I have.

Web browsing. Everything about it is great. The Safari browser renders any page you throw at it. And the ability to zoom in and out or move around the page with your hand feels very natural.

The on-screen keyboard is not nearly as bad as people have reported. I actually have grown to like it. Maybe it is just the size of my fingers, but I am able to type with very good accuracy and speed. Much faster than I can on my Dash's QWERTY keyboard. Plus, the iPhone learns what you type, so it will suggest words for you after just a few uses.

iphone keyboard

The iPhone's keyboard.

Oh yeah, and it has an iPod built it, too. I hear those are pretty good.

And, as with other Apple products, they sweat all of the details to make sure the experience of using the iPhone is better than other mobile devices. If you turn the iPhone to the side, the screen changes from portrait to landscape and vice versa. No buttons to mess with. The keyboard automatically capitalizes the first character after a period. It also removes the space bar when typing in a URL (since spaces aren't valid characters in URLs). There are so many little things like this that seem trivial to mention; however, they all add up to better user experience.

The bad

There are plenty of areas where the iPhone falls short.

Phone call sound quality isn't very good (Good thing they didn't name this iPho-, oh wait they did?). Calls sound a bit muffled and muddy. I often found myself asking people to repeat themselves and that didn't always help.

AT&T's EDGE network is sloooooow, so browsing the web on anything but a WiFi network can be a test of your patience. The EDGE performance also makes the YouTube app almost unusable when you're off of your WiFi network.

The iPhone's 2 megapixel camera isn't very good either. Sure, it will capture an image, but it really isn't an image that you'd want to show off to anyone. If the lighting is perfect and you can hold the iPhone still, then you can get a decent image. Otherwise, skip it.

The bottom line

I can't believe I am saying this, especially considering all of the negatives I just mentioned; however, the iPhone is the best mobile device I have ever used. It does everything I want a mobile device to do and it does it effortlessly (for the most part). It is perfect for anyone who is tired of the clumsy, unusable software available on the majority of mobile phones. It also provides the best mobile web browsing experience. And don't forget about the iPod in there.

The most interesting thing to me about the iPhone is that everyone who I let use it knew how it worked immediately. This goes for my kids, for my mom and for my co-workers. And not only did they figure out how it worked in just a few seconds, but that was just about how long it took for them to say, "I want one of these!"

It also draws a crowd. If I was using the iPhone in public, people would stop me and ask to see it. A guy in line at Subway played with it the entire time we waited in line. That's never happened with any other gadget I've owned.

So which one's better?

Even though I just declared the iPhone the best mobile device I have ever used, I don't want to suggest that it is the best device for everyone.

I think the Nokia N95 is a better choice for someone looking to cram as many high-end features into a single device as possible. If you take a lot of photos on the go, the Nokia's camera crushes the iPhone's. Same for shooting video, especially since the iPhone doesn't support recording video.

However, if you're like me and you want a device that looks great, is incredibly easy (and fun) to use and provides the best mobile web experience, then there is nothing close to the iPhone. Sure, the phone quality kind of stinks, but I hate to talk on the phone anyway :)

So what's your favorite mobile device? And do you think you will ever spend $600-$800 one?