iPhone Hands-On Review, Five Years Later

It's been about five years since I bought an iPhone, and after giving myself some time to get a feel for the device, I think I'm ready to say that a smartphone is something everyone should consider owning.

Joel Johnson used to write about technology for Gizmodo. Now he runs Animal, where, as it turns out, he still writes about technology.

Technically, I'm not using the original iPhone I bought a few years ago, having upgraded to the slightly better harder each year. (I guess that means I'm on my sixth iPhone: one of each model, plus a replacement for the iPhone 4S I lost last year in Texas.) Although buying a new smartphone each year can be costly -- anywhere from $US500 to $US800, depending on how much storage I choose -- I find that I'm using my iPhone nearly every day, sometimes for many hours at a time! Although it's difficult to quantify the iPhone's worth exactly, I think that paying less than a cup of coffee a day to have this device in my pocket is a pretty good deal.

Of course I've also paid thousands of dollars over the years to phone companies -- AT&T in my case -- to provide not just a phone signal but also a wireless data signal to my iPhone so that I can surf the internet and use applications that need to communicate with other computers or phones around the world.

When I first bought my iPhone the signal wasn't always very reliable. After five years, the data speeds -- how fast the information flies through the air from the internet to my phone -- are quite a bit better, although sometimes I still can't get a clear signal in crowds, big buildings or in the deep wilderness. And sometimes my iPhone drops phone calls right in the middle of a conversation! That can be annoying. Fortunately, I haven't been making nearly as many phone calls as I did five years ago due to the large number of ways I can use the internet to talk to my friends and family, both using voice chat and text messages.

Not to mention all the applications, or "apps". Although it took Apple almost a year to make apps available for purchase, I've probably spent a few hundred dollars since then buying apps& -- little computer programs that add new functionality to my iPhone. Even though they usually only cost a dollar or two, buying a lot of apps can really add up! Don't worry, though: Apple has always let me return the apps I didn't like.

Since I bought my iPhone, some other companies have come out with similar smartphones. The ones from Google and Microsoft are pretty good–in some ways better than my iPhone! But I think for me the iPhone is still the best.

If you like to visit web pages, check on the weather, get the latest sports scores, listen to music, download podcasts, watch movies, play video games, use a GPS unit to navigate city streets, manage all your passwords, take photographs, share memories with friends, keep a calendar, take notes, read books or magazines, share your "tweets" on Twitter with your "tweeps", get recommendations on restaurants, let your friends know where you are in a city, keep a to-do list, make animated GIFs, edit photographs, produce and edit short films, record audio on a multichannel mixing station, use a compass, add or subtract one number from another, get access to files you've saved on other computers, have a robotic voice remind you of household tasks when you walk through your front door, keep the birthdays and phone numbers of every person in your life, track your sleep patterns and be woken at exactly the right time in your REM cycle, take college courses from real universities for free, keep track of all your passwords, use email, tune your guitar, monitor police-band broadcasts, remix ambient audio into a living aural nightmare, have AAA send a tow truck, find free condoms, learn how to tie a knot, write a novel, control a flying robotic drone, mail a letterpress card, control your television with a remote control, order a coffee, keep track of your finances, look up a recipe, send a friend money, check on the status of your airline flight, find your computer if it's been lost, use a camera to create an augmented reality portal through which you can locate and identify celestial objects, keep track of your heart rate, take a personal credit card as payment, or make phone calls, you might consider buying an iPhone.

This post is republished with permission from our friends at Animal where Joel Johnson is managing editor. Check them out for a daily mix of art, news, culture, politics and opinion straight from the gut of New York.



    What's interesting in this article is that the author freely interchanges the use of "iPhone" and "smartphone". A lot of sheeple do this, it never occurs to them that the iPhone is now just one of dozens of equally adept smartphones available.

    I used to see this attitude a lot when I was working for one of Adobe's rivals - I had realised that what I loved was what Adobe's software, specifically After Effects, allowed me to achieve, not the product itself. When I found another product that allowed me to do the same amazing things in a much better way, I was an easy convert but it was very, very difficult to convince a lot of other users who weren't able to divorce the process from the result. i.e. No matter how much super-cool stuff I showed them, they never really believed that any other application would work for them. Its why "industry-standards" are so hard to shift once they become entrenched.

    His final paragraph illustrates it perfectly, as any smartphone will allow you to do those things, although many of them - video editing and multi-track recording, for example - are things I would never want to do on my phone.

      This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

        I find it is far easier to get iPhone/iPad/Mac owning nerd wannabes angry when they try to be smug about it and a simple shrug/meh can send them into a blind rage that is priceless...

      It's also the usability experience. I've had both Android and iOS.

      I feel the iOS is more polished in most cases when using their apps. Whereas the Android was like any generic smartphone which meant that the apps I was using had a hit and miss of overall positive experience.

      Just my 2c

      [flame shield on]

        Agree Francis. Between my HTC Desire and the wife's iPhone, iOS is far more slick and simple compared to the mess of android. Yes, I know you can customise and whatnot but after the novelty of that wearing off after about....I dunno.....a couple of days, I just don't care anymore. Besides, I'm getting over the whole android thing because of constant unending spam notifications and "magic" apps that install themselves on my home screen.

        iOS FTW!

          Slick, simple... restricted, wall of icons... no idea what is going on with your Android phone, sounds like you are just making stuff up.

          Slicker than iOS; less jumbled than Android; uniquely intuitive with logically related things closely integrated with one another; uncluttered desktop software with solid and comprehensive cloud services.

          WP FTW!


          LMAO @ "compared to the mess of android". Are you serious? Do you even know how to use a phone? Seriously if you did, that sentence would not have existed in your comment. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Do yourself a favour and stick to iOS, it clearly is made for those with limited brain capacity.

    >>track your sleep patterns and be woken at exactly the right time in your REM cycle
    do you mean EasyWakeup app?
    >>control your television with a remote control
    what app do you use for that?

    wow this article sounds like it was written by my 11 year old nephew :/

    I get that Giz <3s Apple, but seriously this is pure infatuation. As MotorMouth points out, that last paragraph completely confuses function with form - I was personally doing about 1/3 of those things on my Nokia 6280 (a featurephone running S40); and at least 2/3 of those things on my Nokia N95 8GB (a smartphone running S60). Almost all of the remaining things I didn't do could have been done with the right software.

    And talk about padding! My Nokia 5210 had an organiser, voice dialing and downloadable games in 2003. "share memories with friends" - what, like sending MMS which I've been doing since 2005? Does "manage all your passwords" mean something so different to "keep track of all your passwords" that it needs a separate entry? Calculators, note-taking, web browsing (and almost everything one can do on the Web nowadays) all predate iPhone.

    Don't get me wrong, iPhone's great. And it's actually a device I'd recommend for most novices as a "my first smartphone". But to credit all that functionality to iPhone as though nothing else could do it is simply misinformation.

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