Product Review: Apple iPhone

18 Mar 2008

Several friends (and taxi drivers who were listening in on our heated conversations) have dismissed the iPhone as a glorified iPod ‘with a phone bit stuck on’, which made me wonder if it really is the revolutionary communications device it has been touted as.

On top of this, the excitement of holding an iPhone in my hand was somewhat diminished as I thought back over the huge US and UK launches which took most of the fanfare away by the time the device got to us.

Plus, many diehard Irish Apple fans have already managed to acquire an iPhone from abroad before now so I wouldn’t even look unique carrying one around in public.

So, as I unboxed the iPhone, I thought to myself: “Will this replace several devices? Will it do more than the phone I have now?” I think it’s from these affirmative answers the iPhone really starts to show its worth.

I usually carry around both an iPod and a BlackBerry on a daily basis so I can get my music, email and phone calls but the web browsing experience on the BlackBerry, or any other phone I’ve ever used for that matter, has always been a bit disappointing.

For this reason the iPhone really is worth its weight in gold. With its huge glossy screen, clear display of all websites and pretty zippy speed, it has made the mobile web a place I want to visit.

However, the data on the iPhone comes over O2’s EDGE network which is 2.5G. In other words, it is slower than 3G which the iPhone is due to get by the end of the year, according to Apple.

One cool thing about the appeal of the iPhone is that lots of companies like the Wall Street Journal and Facebook have rushed out to design iPhone-specific sites which are easier to navigate and read when using the device. has also created a brilliant site where you can find cinema times and gig listings at a tap and a glance.

Although the web experience is by far the iPhone’s strength, I also became hooked on the Google Maps application that sits on the phone’s menu. Google Maps for the iPhone can use the GPRS on the handset to determine where you are and drops a pin to mark your position.

You can then get directions to anywhere you want to go by typing in the location and waiting for Google Maps to do its magic and plot a route.

This was perfect when I was making my way to a sushi restaurant in Dublin. I wasn’t sure exactly where it was but knew it was within walking distance, plus I didn’t want to get there before my friends.

I was able to take my friends’ addresses from my iPhone contacts, put them into Google Maps, work out how long it would take all of us to get to the restaurant and text them to tell them when to leave.

Meanwhile, I found the restaurant’s website, checked its menu and rang the number on the website, all within a few taps – I can see the iPhone and its ilk earning their stripes as the first, true, all-round mobile devices.

As a phone it does pretty well too and texting on a touchscreen soon becomes second nature, as does the expectation to follow all texts like email or instant message conversations – a very neat feature.

The iPhone is available starting from €400 for the 8GB model and €500 for the 16GB model from O2 Stores nationwide.

The handset is tied into a specific O2/iPhone contract for at least 18 months which will only cover 1GB of data per month.

Pros: Finally, proper mobile web

Cons: Tied into an 18-month mobile contract

Price: From €400

By Marie Boran