iPhone 4S Quick Review

So I got the new iPhone 4s. I came from the iPhone 4, so the upgrade isn’t as significant like the previous upgrade. Many of the changes were either internal or software based. The form factor is identical to the iPhone 4 so those looking to get a new design will need to wait another year.  There are quite a few features in the new phone. Hardware-wise the phone is noticeably quicker in video games, browsing websites, and when snapping photos.  The performance improvements won’t be noticed by many, but it’s there.

On the software side the new iOS 5 added many great features. Some of the features that really stood out were the implementations of iCloud. Upgrading from my 4 to 4S was incredibly easy. You just login with your iTunes account and let iCloud do the rest. The whole process will copy all your apps and settings to your new phone.  The other feature that was long over due were the revamped notifications.  Apple clearly ripped it off Android, but I’m not going to complain. It’s a great needed feature and it works well.  The app that many have been talking about is Siri. It’s a voice command assistant app that is built into iOS and is only available for the iPhone 4S.  At first, it was fun to play around with, but I don’t see it as a necessary application for the phone, at least at this time.

Overall, the new iPhone 4S is a great device. Apple has decided to take the conservative update path on this new phone, so if you already have the 4, I don’t believe it’s a worthy upgrade to spend more money on — but if you have any of the previous phones, such as the 3Gs or below, it is a recommended upgrade.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆


iCloud will make life easier for future phone upgrades
Amazing camera for video and pictures
Usable Notification features
Speedy performance


Short battery life (should be fixed with next software update)
Not a significant update to predecessor

Does Microsoft have what it takes be the come-back kid in the mobile phone business?

Earlier this week Microsoft announced their new mobile platform, Windows Phone 7 . They are taking the same route similar to Google’s Android by having their platform be available for different manufacturers and on different mobile carriers (Except for Verizon). Saying Microsoft is late to the battle of mobile devices is the understatement of the year. A little more than 5 years ago Windows mobile was one of the dominating OSes in the mobile market. Now it represents a whimper of a market share compared to Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android, and RIM’s Blackberry phones. For the past several years Microsoft sat on their laurels only to watched their competitors past them by. But will the new release of Windows Phone 7 be enough to put themselves back in the mix with the rest of the big dogs?

Many analysts have already noted that Microsoft is a little too late to the game and the best they can do is vie for 3rd place. And some believe MS’s new platform is the new Palm. With the recent failure of the Kin Microsoft doesn’t look to be in any kind of position to play around with this new platform. They need it to be a huge success and anything less is a failure.

I think it’s a little too early to count Microsoft out yet. They got something that none of the other guys have; a popular and powerful office suite, the Xbox Live service, and a huge install base of Windows users. If they are able to meld their products into something an end user can use effectively and efficiently they can bite a huge chunk of their market share back. From the preview of the devices MS is looking to differentiate itself from the rest by implementing a unique user interface. With large icons and widget style views it makes sense where MS is going: to providing quick access to information and apps.

So far they are taking the right measures by getting their platform onto many devices and carriers as possible. Billions of dollars have been pumped into marketing and getting developers on board and only time will tell if Microsoft can claw it’s way back to the top. Will you be getting a Windows Phone 7?

iPhone 3GS


Some of you may know the the new iPhone is set to release this week. The details of the new phone left people unsatisfied. The most significant change on the new iPhone 3GS is a faster processor, more RAM (256mb), and a different video processing chip. Apple has clearly intended this upgrade to cater to game developers. Early adopters will definitely enjoy the new upgrade as Apple claims the new phone will be twice as fast and in some cases can be 3x faster. Those hoping to get a forward facing camera for video calls or some LED visual notification will be disappointed. Externally, the iPhone 3GS is virtually identical to it’s predecessor.

Also, releasing this week in conjunction with their phone is their new OS, version 3.0. I happen to have the final release and have been using it for over a week. The new updates are welcome but were way overdue. Cut and Paste and the ability to read/write text and emails in landscape view were the most important updates. Sure, sending and reciving MMS is something everyone wanted, but with the release of cut and paste accessing MMS messages is not as painful beofre. But we have to give it up to Apple to take 3 iterations to implement something that was so basic on a smartphone. One very important feature that didn’t make the update was the ability to run multiple apps in the background. This feature alone would have been the deal breaker to ditch my trusty Blackberry completely. Unfortunately, Apple decided it wasn’t important enough. I would have understood if background apps were only available on the new phone since it has twice the RAM and faster CPU, but Apple has no intention of implementing that feature anytime soon.

For those who have been waiting patiently, Apple has finally release a decent phone.  For those who have the 3G model I don’t recommend picking up the new iPhone. The minimal added features does not warrant an upgrade. Those who have been holding out for the past few years can jump in and pickup the iPhone given that you’re able to get it at the subsidized price. If you’re strapped for cash picking up the 3G model instead can save you a $100.

Apple is getting closer to making a phone that people want. It’s so obvious that they are milking the iPhone by adding bits and pieces to each model and charging a bundle for it. At the rate they’re going their competitors will such as Palm and Blackberry will leave them in the dust.

iPhone 2.1 firmware Review

I downloaded the 2.1 firmware on Friday morning and have been putting it through my daily usage and then some. The new update resolve many of the crash issues, but it doesn’t fix them all. I still have some random app crashes once in a while, but much less than before and much less rebooting. Another thing I noticed is that the scrolling of the main menu seems much faster and smoother. The two main fixes I was looking forward to was the Contacts list and SMS lag. The lag issues were just as annoying as the app crashes. With this update the lag issue is not completely resolved. Instead the lag times have reduced to about 50%-75%. So instead of being frozen for 6 seconds its frozen for 3. Other improvements include faster app installation and a slight improvement on backup times. The update was suppose to increase battery efficiency, but I haven’t notice any differences yet.

Overall, the update provide some relief for those who were having serious app crash problems. But for me it doesn’t cut it. The iPhone seriouly lacking in necessary features. The ability to have cut and paste is a given in every smartphone yet Apple fails to deliver. Also, being unable to run third-party apps in the background makes communication software like IMs useless. I was never impressed with Apple products. They’re are over-priced and their closed-platform limitations are just plain annoying. I thought the iPhone 3G was going to be different and change my mind, but appearently it’s still the same as any other Apple product; over-priced and tailored for the lowest common technophile.

iPhone 2.1 firmware coming soon

As many of you know the Apple’s “Let’s Rock” event was today and Apple fanboys’ King and demi-god, Steve Jobs, announced several new products. Not actually brand new products, but more like new updates and models to their iPod lineup. Most notably, the iPod nano has a new design. Instead of its square-ish previous design it’s now more slender and longer similar to the first gen model.

Steve-o also announced that an updated iPhone 2.1 firmware will be released soon. This Friday, we hope. It should fix the numerous bugs that plagues the iPhone. Not much info was released about the update, but hopefully it’ll fix the phone’s shortcomings. For me, this is the make-it-or-break-it firmware update. The iPhone’s lagginess and constant app crashes are more of a headache. If the 2.1 update is only a minor fix and doesn’t provide much needed features like cut and paste (Hell, I just wish the upcoming patch fixes the lag issue and app crashes then it’ll all be set) I’ll be dropping the iPhone when the Blackberry Bold is released. Seriously, Apple needs to get it’s shit together. First it was the MobileMe issues, that still doesn’t even work right, and then their iPhone 3G issues. That’s two strikes right there. If this firmware update doesn’t follow through then that’s number 3 for ya. “How do you like them apples?!” in this case, you can have them.

By the way, whatever happen the Apple’s push server for third party apps?

iPhone 3G review

After two weeks of having the new iPhone 3G I’ve come to conclude, and so has many other users, that the iPhone succeeds some ways, but fail in others. I’ve been using a Blackberry for a few years and I couldn’t help but compare the use of the iPhone to RIM’s Blackberry.

GUI (Graphical User Interface) and OS– The iPhone is popularly known for its GUI. The simplicity of the touch interface makes navigating through the iPhone’s OS easy for almost any user. Like the Blackberry’s OS they are both solid. Through the years, RIM’s Blackberry devices have been improving and many of its users have found tricks and third-party apps to make their BB as efficient and useful as possible.
Winner – Tie

Internet Browsing – There is no other phone device that can beat the iPhone in terms of web browsing. The generous screen size and the Safari browser make browsing the internet-on-the-go a treat. The Blackberry’s browser inability to display webpages in its true form really limits the browsing experience. I think this area is what really lacking from RIM and other phone manufacturers.
Winner – iPhone

Battery life* – The implementation of 3G on the iPhone allows for faster data transfer but the cost is a quickly drained battery. For me, normal use has my battery down by half right before lunchtime. That’s from 730am – 1130am. For heavy users without any charging throughout the day you can probably expect the iPhone to be completely drained before your work day ends.
Winner – Blackberry

Third-Party Apps – When I got my iTunes account setup I was excited to get my hands on some of the iPhone’s Apps. But aftera few days of downloading and playing around with the apps (free apps only) it became clear that the majority of them are useless and that’s if they even work at all. Many of the apps I’ve downloaded crashed. I’m unsure if it’s something with the apps themselves or with the iPhone. My biggest gripe is that one application can be running at a time. Apple doesn’t allow apps to run in the background, so programs such as AIM are almost useless unless you have the app constantly on in the current view of your phone, so multitasking with apps is out of the question. Whereas with the Blackberry you can run multiple apps in the background and it still be able to notify the user of incoming data or messages.
Winner – Blackberry

Email and Messaging– iPhone is playing catch-up to RIM’s Blackberry and they have now implemented push email. Push email is very important in a corporate environment. With the implementation of Microsoft Exchange many business users now have an excuse to convince their IT department to support the iPhone. For personal-use push email you’ll need to get MobileMe service from Apple. MobileMe is very similar to RIM’s BIS. Your MobileMe account pushes all emails to your iPhone. You can forward your emails from other accounts to MobileMe and you’ll get an immediately email push to your iPhone. The downside to this is that the MobileMe service costs $100 a year, but you get more than just push email. MobileMe will sync with your contacts and calendar events. Unlike with a Blackberry you get an account with your standard internet service package from your cell phone service provider. Heavy email users and texters will prefer the Blackberry as the iPhone does not have a tactile keyboard. If you’re a speedy typer on a Blackberry you can expect your type speed to be reduced to about half. The virtual keyboard doesn’t provide any tactile feedback so you’re always constantly hitting the wrong key. On the upside for the iPhone is that it supports IMAP. So you can access your email server and work directly with it.
Winner – Blackberry

In conclusion the Blackberry, in my case, the curve, beats out the iPhone 3G, or without. But there’s something I must admit. I started writing this review a week after I got the iPhone and there was a little subjective bias involve at first. It’s been three weeks now and I finally have time to finish up this review. So far my initial opinion of the iPhone has changed in terms of its functionality. Fortunately, after an ample amount of time you’ll seem to forget it’s shortcoming and enjoy what it really is;a neat phone device that is great to kill time, play video games, and surf the web. In a business environment or a heavy email and text user the Blackberry device is the way to go. People need to know that the iPhone is a consumer device and aims at the average user. There are certain features that the iPhone desperately need if it wants to really compete with RIM in the enterprise market. Adding push email and MS Exchange support doesn’t cut it. First and foremost the iPhone needs to have cut and paste feature. As great as Apple is as a software company I’m very disappointed that a simple feature like that has not been added in their first generation phone. Second, the iPhone needs a notification system or process to let the user know they have an email, or active calendar event. All Blackberry devices have a blinking LED that lets a user know they have a message without having to take the phone out of their holster or if their phone is on a table on silent mode. For the iPhone if the phone is locked you’ll have to press the menu button, and then unlock the phone to see the message indicator. The iPhone should at least have the ability to display a email message notifications on the phone before you unlock it. Luckily for Apple these things are software issues and can be patched and added through firmware updates. For those users out there who are using a smartphone such as a Blackberry Curve or similar go ahead and hold off on the iPhone 3G. It’s a good thing that the phone is sold out everywhere. This gives Apple time to fix many of the browser crash issues and app crash problems before a new set of buyers gets disappointed.

*By setting your emails to fetch less frequently or none at all can save quite a bit of charge on your battery. If you’re like me and you work in an are with a wifi hotspot turning off 3G mode saves even more battery juice. In combination the amount of battery charge saved is very exceptable.

iPhone 3G


The iPhone 3G is probably the most hyped electronic item this summer. Many die-hard Apple fans camped out for a week just to be the first ones to lay their hand on the new device. When the first-generation iPhone became available last year I wasn’t convince that a software company like Apple could create and compete successfully with other cell phone manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Nokia, and RIM. Sure, Apple created the prolific and ubiquitous iPod, but that was just an MP3 player. Cell phones are a totally different animal. But millions of iPhones later I was proven wrong. And still, I was not convinced enough to run out and get my hands on one, and I especially wasn’t going to give up my trusty Blackberry for it.

During that first year I saw countless friends, strangers, and a room mate couldn’t tear themselves from their iPhone. They claim the device, which seems to be surgically attached to their palms, to be the next best thing since sliced bread. Though the iconic omnipresent Apple brand is plastered everywhere human beings existed; in grocery lines, waiting rooms, subways, public restrooms, TV commercials, and college campuses I still never bit the bait. With my Blackberry holstered to my belt in its official Blackberry case it wasn’t going anywhere. But one day all that changed…

I was waiting at the Las Vegas airport with a friend. He was browsing away with his Wifi enabled iPhone, and I was sitting there trying to access a single webpage from my EDGE network Blackberry Curve. My weak cellular signal made my unlimited data plan useless. So I sat there reading old text messages and emails from my phone until my friend handed me his iPhone so he could go use the restroom. In my hand was the device I had so loathed because of the company that changed my beloved electronic culture from its esoteric geek-ness to a chic fashion statement, and don’t forget the annoying overzealous fan boys that get erections at the sight of a new Apple product.

Using the Safari browser was not quite what I had expected. The application was snappy and responsive. The webpages loaded up quickly (Wifi access tends to do that compared to EDGE network internet connections). Before I knew it I was pinching, flicking, scrolling, and flying through webpages I couldn’t do so on any other phone, let alone my Blackberry. I checked my work and personal emails, read blogs, and even posted comments. The excitement of being able to have the internet at my finger tips had me cowering over the device like Gollum and his One Ring. As quickly as I became accustomed to the device my friend came back and took away the iPhone. I sat there looking at him browsing away thinking to myself, “if I could just get a few more minutes with my…’Precious…’”

Months have gone by with rumors of the next generation iPhone being ready to be announced. I followed the scene reading blogs, and tech site news. Right before Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference started the iPhone hype was in full force. Fake iPhone pictures and false specs began popping up on the internet teasing the fanboys into a frenzy how Dunkin Donuts coffee and methamphetamines would affect a normal human being. Then on release-day I read every post on every tech site that had coverage of the release of the iPhone. Preliminary results had the iTunes servers going down. Waiting lines were 4-6 hours long. People couldn’t activate their new phones, and those who just wanted to update their firmware got their phones bricked, and some buyers left the stores with no cell phone service for almost the whole day. So day-1 wasn’t such a clean launch for Apple. The following day was more of the same; long lines and endless waiting but sans the downed iTunes server and activation issues. On Sunday I found myself waiting in line at the Apple store at the mall near my house. The line wasn’t too long. I was in the store within a minute or two of waiting. When I entered the store I was greeted with a happy Apple rep. He asked me how he could help me and I told him I just wanted to look at the new iPhone. While dabbling around with the device I asked the rep a few questions and I got a few vague answers. The one that surprised me the most was when I asked, ‘how can I transfer contacts from my Blackberry to an iPhone’ and the answer I got was, “Oh, there’s software for that.” It wasn’t as detailed as I liked but he answered confidently enough. I had errands to run, so I left the Apple store shortly after to get my oil changed for my car. While I waited I thought more and more about the iPhone. If I had bought the phone earlier I could be using it to browse the internet and dawdle around with the new cool iPhone apps I’ve read so much about. So immediately drove back to the store after the oil changed and picked up the phone. The process was quite fast, and within 15 minutes I was out the store with a working iPhone.

(to be continued… my iPhone 3G review. Was it worth giving up my Blackberry?)