Reception, sound quality
Reception is what makes a cell phone, and I have to admit that the reception on the iPhone sucks. In my home it constantly is switching between 1 bar and 4 bars of signal, with the phone in the same spot. This means that calls frequently get dropped. In contrast, a Sony Ericsson W810i or a Motorola V3xx and PEBL both maintain their signal much better than the iPhone. Iím not sure what is causing this jumping of the signal, but it definitely falls short of expectations.
As an iPod, the sound from the iPhone is pretty good. As a cell phone, it isnít very loud as a headset or a speakerphone. For me loud enough is the ability to use it in speakerphone mode in a noisy car, it really canít do that unless you hold the device very close to your ear. The included stereo headphones, however, are pretty good and when using those, the volume is sufficient.
Some people have complained about excessive feedback in speakerphone mode, but I have not experienced that. This does make sense though as the stereo speakers on the unit are on the bottom, next to the microphone.
In the Apple store, they spent quite some time going over how the Bluetooth in the iPhone was the un-crippled high data rate version. Unfortunately, I couldnít get the iPhone to communicate with my old Samsung t809 to transfer contacts over. I was able to get a Motorola headset to sync up though. Other people have mentioned Bluetooth problems. Once again, hopefully this will be addressed in a software upgrade.
It definitely does wifi well. It doesnít tell you what data rate you are connected at, but it will all be faster than EDGE. I was able to connect to my personal router with a hidden SSID and WAP encryption without any difficulty. I was able to connect at the Apple store without trouble, and it is surprising how many wireless networks you will run into as you walk through the mall. A local Lowes Hardware had an open wireless network with the default SSID.
With EDGE, Iíve gotten about 100kbps-180kbps in the mall or in the park with 4-5 bars of signal strength, all in Orange County, California. This is lower than what others have reported in the area of 200kps but slower than 3G which can be as high as 1500kps.
No other PDA or smartphone has the same internet browsing experience as the iPhone. Most other devices arenít powerful enough to display actual webpages, relying upon streamlined, mobile versions to work. Since the iPhone uses Safari, it has the ability to display web pages just like on a real computer. The zoom function of the iPhone interface allows you read all web pages and navigate very well through a web site.
The beauty of the iPhone is that it doesnít need to have pages designed specifically for it. Pages load reasonably fast on the iPhone and you can start browsing the page before it has a chance to fully load.
The built in orientation sensor allows you to switch between portrait and landscape view nearly instantly. You can choose to rotate it clockwise or counterclockwise and it will still work. So the iPhone is ready for those places where they drive on the wrong side of the street and where the toilets flush backwards.