My iPhone 3G Review: This Device Is Made For Photographers

iPhone Ever since I got the iPhone 3G, I have been obsessed with everything about it.  Techies (a.k.a. geeks) like myself get all worked up over a device like the iPhone.  After spending a few weeks with it, here is my review… geared towards photographers.

Let’s face it, there are a lot of great Smart Phone or PDA phones out on the market today.  They almost all have the same features, like GPS, navigation, e-mail, web browsing, calendars, contacts, games, and the list goes on.  Most of these phones are offered in some fashion or another by every major wireless carrier.  The exception being the iPhone 3G.

As a photographers, we need to have a means to stay in constant contact with clients, websites, blogs and the like.  What I love about the iPhone is it lets me do all of those things and it also can be taken a couple of steps further.  In my review I will tell you what I like and dislike about the iPhone from the standpoint of a photographer.

What I Like:

  • First off, the iPhone has the slickest interface on the market today.  The prospect of using a touch-screen and only a few buttons scares the heck out of a lot of people and rightfully so.  I thought it would be tough to get used to, but it only took me about a day to nail down typing on it for e-mail and text purposes.  After that it’s smooth sailing… er, typing.
  • I love the way the iPhone seamlessly integrates with both Windows and OS X.  I’m using Windows Vista and Outlook and it syncs flawlessly with my Calendar and Contacts.  It even syncs with my e-mail if I want it to.  The sync settings can be adjust in iTunes and it’s very easy to set up. 
  • If you use a free e-mail account like Gmail, Yahoo, or AOL, the iPhone already comes with built-in support and you can set up your account on your phone in minutes using Mail, included with the iPhone.  You can also use a Microsoft Exchange account if your IT department will support you using the iPhone.  Now I have e-mail at my fingertips and I can even save it for later to download into Outlook.  Even without a laptop I can communicate via e-mail with family, friends, and clients.
  • One of my absolute favorite features is having photos on the iPhone.  I have a folder organized in my Pictures folder that I have broken down into two sub-folders, Portfolio and Inspiration.  This way I have a completely portable portfolio with me all the time.  I can show anyone my photos at any time on a large, bright, colorful display and I can even do a little slideshow.  Potential clients always want to see your work and handing them a business card or website address is hit and miss.  They may never make it to your site.  With the iPhone I can show my work right on the spot.  Thanks to David Hobby who turned me onto that function.
  • Since the software upgrade in June, the iPhone is now capable of downloadable applications and let me just tell you, that put the iPhone way ahead of it’s competition.  Developers are so excited to develop apps that they distribute a lot of killer apps for free!  With the Word Press app, I can write and post pictures to my blog right from my iPhone.  There are several Flickr apps that allow you to upload photos from your iPhone to your Flickr account on the go.  There is also a really cool app called Pandora which is also free and provides free streaming radio to your iPhone as long as you have a data connection, either Wi-Fi or 3G.
  • The connectivity of the iPhone is absolutely outstanding!  The 3G network from AT&T can achieve approximately 1.4Mb/sec download speeds and with Wi-Fi you can go even faster than that!  With Safari, web browsing is exactly the same as it would be on your desktop or laptop computer.  The ability to zoom in and zoom out lets you view websites that were created to run at a desktop resolution.  You can do almost anything on the web on the iPhone that you can do on a desktop or laptop.
  • I couldn’t live without the GPS!  The Maps application (powered by Google) uses GPS to display your location and get you directions to any point of interest you would like to go to.  There are no turn-by-turn directions like you would find with a Garmin or Tom Tom, but it accurately tracks your position on the map along your route as you travel.  There are also free, downloadable apps that used the location service to tell you where movies are playing, what restaurants are around, etc.  As a photographer on travel, this is a feature that I couldn’t give up now that I’ve had it.
  • The onboard camera is very handy for taking a quick snapshot and it does that job amazingly well for a PDA/phone.  I have posted a few shots that I took with the iPhone’s camera and you can find them here.

What I Don’t Like:

  • The iPhone is not capable of viewing Flash-based content on the web.  This is frustrating, but I think it will only be a matter of time before Flash-based content will be compatible.
  • Battery life is not outstanding.  If I’m using the phone intensively (GPS, web surfing, e-mail, etc.), the battery will only last about a day.  Since I can use the cable that comes with it to charge my iPhone on my laptop, a field re-charge isn’t out of the question.  One way I have found to lengthen battery life is to use Airplane Mode when I don’t need the data or phone features and this helps tremendously.
  • Beyond the two things I mentioned above, there is nothing else not to like about the iPhone.  Even those are a bit picky at best.

All-in-all, I would buy another one of these phones in a heartbeat if I had to.  I’m glad that I waited a year to get one, as the 3G, GPS, and downloadable apps put the iPhone out in front in terms of a Smart Phone and leave the competition struggling to keep up.  Apple has done a phenomenal job with the iPhone 3G and it’s a device that fits photographers like a glove.


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