updated 12:50 pm EDT, Wed June 6, 2007
iPhone Hands-on Surfaces
The iPhone should deliver on what enthusiasts respect, according to a first-hand account of the device in real-world conditions. A server at the upscale Balthazar restaurant in New York City was given a rare opportunity to test the phone by a guest, who has claimed to be only one of twenty people so far allowed to own a fully-functional version of the device outside of Apple. The employee claims to have had a brief but substantial test of the phone's media playback and web browsing features that reinforced the server's already positive expectations for the device.
Prevailing among the observations was the perceived fluidity of the experience. The phone's responsiveness is said to be exceptionally quick, transitioning between programs and the phone's landscape mode with very little delay or perceived slowdown. No bugs were evident during the test. The overall experience was likened to a computer rather than a traditional smartphone, which can sometimes behave sluggishly due to limits on memory or processor speed.
"The thing seemed more responsive than my PowerBook," he said. "Consider it another Mac."
Concerns about the screen could also be largely put to rest, the Balthazar worker claimed. Though both using clean hands, the guest and waiter alike had never noticed any apparent smudging on the display, which was also readily visible with indirect natural light. The outer aluminum shell can also "absorb" fingerprints, according to the report.
Questions nonetheless remained about the practical web browsing speed. As the phone was set to use a local Wi-Fi access point, testing the frequently slower EDGE cellular Internet access was said to be impractical. There was also a slight but noticeable lag in drawing the New York Times website, though the mobile version of Safari was itself "very responsive," the waiter claimed.
Also said to be on display was packaging, which returned to the cube-shaped packaging of earlier iPods and with a more "organic" black texture than for today's fifth-generation iPod boxes. Reasons why the packaging would accompany the guest weren't mentioned.
The test represents the first hands-on experience with the Apple device outside of press events. Apple has so far limited public demonstrations of the technology to controlled environments, though the handset has been spotted in practical use by select Apple employees near the firm's Cupertino campus, particularly in the wake of its FCC approval last month.