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Steven Levy: Why the iPhone Is Almost Perfect

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Steven Levy: Why the iPhone Is Almost Perfect
My first full day with the iPhone 3G turned out to be too full. At least as far as the iPhone was concerned. It was just two in the afternoon when the screen displayed the most unwelcome dialog box in mobile computing: low battery: 20% of battery remaining. In my experience, that message's real meaning is make your last call NOW, because the lights are going out soon. Though it didn't happen instantly, within a few minutes that gorgeous screen looked like the closing shot of the The Sopranos finale.I had been enjoying the iPhone 3G. The out-of-the-box price was right — as low as $200, with a two-year contract — if you qualify for the subsidy from AT&T. It was slimmer and sleeker than its predecessor. It had real GPS. And, addressing my biggest problem with the original iPhone, data loaded much faster when a 3G network was available. Most of all, I was itching to try out loads of the intriguing applications from the iTunes App Store, about a dozen of which I'd already downloaded. But there's no joy in a juiceless phone.How bad is the problem? No way around it — 3G cellular chips eat energy. But Apple's Bob Borchers contends that the iPhone team succeeded in extending battery life to an acceptable level. There's evidence to back this up: The iPhone does best its 3G rivals when it comes to run time.Nonetheless, battery life is more of a challenge for the iPhone than for its competitors, because Apple's multitouch darling entices you to actually...

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