Two Weeks with the iPhone 3GS

Apple iPhone 3GS It was one of those “Oh crap” moments. After a long day of work, I decided to take a dip in the hot tub under the cool evening sky. So anxious was I for that bubbly, refreshing goodness that I forgot about the BlackBerry 8800 (RIMM) in my board shorts.

Oh crap.

The next day, I went out and purchased an iPhone 3GS (AAPL). It wasn’t a quick & easy decision. I ruminated over the BlackBerry Tour, the Palm Pre, and the iPhone 3GS for quite a while. I read countless reviews and articles and opinions and comparisons about each. The reviews are generally mixed, depending on what you need and what you want in a smartphone.

As an entrepreneur, I have a pretty strict list of requirements that are mostly for business purposes. A regular phone wouldn’t suffice, so my only options are smartphones. A fair portion of my business is done while I’m away from my laptop, so my smartphone needs to double as a mini, portable laptop, basically.

Just for the record, what I need are:

  • Ability to receive and make phone calls, of course
  • Ability to type lots of potentially long emails often (a good typing experience)
  • Ability to sync up with and access my Gmail (GOOG) and Yahoo! Mail (YHOO) accounts
  • Ability to sync up with and access my Gmail Contacts
  • Ability to sync up with and access my Google Calendar
  • Ability to know where I am, look up addresses, and give me directions (GPS)
  • Ability to read RSS feeds
  • Ability to browse the web
  • Ability to set an alarm (small, but handy feature)

And my nice-to-haves are:

  • Ability to take photos
  • Ability to take video
  • Ability to play games (nice time-wasters)

I state these because your needs are almost certainly different than mine. Not all entrerpreneurs need to read RSS feeds, for instance. It all depends on what you need and what you want.

Since the iPhone 3GS has video capabilities, that tipped its scale for me. The lack of physical keyboard concerned me, but friends tell me it’s not so bad. Its plethora of apps also make it appealing. So with the iPhone I went.

That was about two weeks ago. Am I still happy with my iPhone purchase? Mostly so.

The apps are cool. No doubt about that. Useful, plentiful, colorful. They are a smorgasbord of snazz, a potpourri of power. Need something to deter you from drunk dialing your exes? There’s an app for that.

GPS and Google Maps work great on the iPhone, especially with the traffic data. Finding nearby restaurants, cheap gas stations, and wifi hotspots; publishing blog entries, tweets, and photos; reading stock quotes, RSS feeds, and news – it’s all a swish and a click away. And don’t even get me started on the awesome video capabilities. Smokin’!

I desperately miss a physical keyboard, however. My gosh do I miss one. Guess I didn’t realize how utterly useful one is. I can blaze out a long email pretty quickly with my old BlackBerry, may she rest in peace. It takes me twice as long on the iPhone.

And to compare apples to apples, after two weeks of using my BlackBerry, I was savvy with the keyboard. After two weeks of the iPhone, I’m still hunting & pecking like a n00b. With email being one of the most important capabilities that I needed, the iPhone makes me feel like I’m going backwards instead of forwards.

Does that mean I regret my decision? Naaah. I’m sure I’ll get used to this virtual keyboard in time. I’ll be keeping my eye on the BlackBerry Tour and Palm Pre though. The Pre’s app development capabilities are especially intriguing, though their App Catalog is a dial-up modem compared to Apple iTunes’ fiber optics right now.

Ultimately, I think the right phone for you is the phone that fits your criteria. The iPhone 3GS is great in some ways, bad in others — at least, for me. Same with the Palm Pre and the BlackBerry Tour, I’m sure. If you were to ask me which phone is the best for entrepreneurs, I would answer the same way most questions in life are answered: it depends. It depends on what you need and what you want.

Author: Mike Lee

An idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student.

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