iPhone Hands On Review, Five Years LaterS

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 $500 to $800, 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–is 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 todo 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.