iPhone Review: Phone and Contacts

Of course the preliminary purpose of the iPhone is to make calls, right? So what is the quality like on the iPhone's phone capabilities?

Making and Receiving Calls

Well it seems that Apple realizes the iPhone is a phone before all else, and this is reflected in the ease and simplicity of the iPhone's calling features. It's easy to find a name in your contact list and give them a call by scrolling through your contact list by flicking and dragging the screen or using the alphabet column to hone in on the letter you're looking for. Traversing your contacts list has an almost tactile feel due to the "rubber band" effect of the interface. However, given too many contacts and users will probably want to see a keyboard installed in the contact list to make names searchable.

There are five call functions overall: Favorites (a speed-dial list), Recents (incoming, outgoing, and missed calls), Contacts (your full contact list), Dialpad (the usual 12-key number pad), and Voicemail (email-like voicemail interaction using call ID and audio snippets).

The Favorites list is easy to add onto (in the Contacts list all contacts have a button giving you the option to make them favorites) and users can reorder it any way they like. In Recents, missed calls are highlighted in red, but it is annoying that incoming and outgoing calls are not differentiated. Missed calls from unknown numbers are also identified by region and area code to help you figure out whom the call is from. The voicemail pane also allows you to record your own answering recording which can later be transmitted to your wireless service. Be aware that when you are talking on the phone, anything typed in Dialpad is lost at the end of the call, unlike some phones where this will stay on the screen to be used later.

Dialing a number is very simple - you just dial the number and the call is made. In-call functions are simple too. When you are in a call, options presented on the screen include mute, keypad, speaker phone on/off, add call (which brings up the contact list), pause, and contacts. Incoming calls present the following options: ignore, hold call & answer, and (in a huge red button) end call & answer. Users can conference up to five calls at once.

Using a Bluetooth headset is also easy.

Call Quality

The call quality of the iPhone is nothing special, but it is not bad either. There is no static on the line and the volume is decent. However, anyone stepping down from a UMTS handset will likely notice a slightly more "compressed" sound than they're used to. People on the other end of the call also reported acceptable limits to background noise.

Ring and Vibrate

The ringtones for the iPhone are good, better than average. However, it's disappointing that users can't select their own custom ring from the MP3s they are sure to have on their iPhone - perhaps in the future. The vibrate function is as strong as other phones, with a good alert from the pocket both sitting down, standing up, and moving around. Like other phones however, you may miss a call while the phone is on vibrate in a bag.

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