Review: Smart Dial
Smart Dial is a iPhone dialer/phone application, a replacement for the built in iPhone dialer. It adds a few features to the dialing options. Smart dial has three main function tabs, a dial pad, a recent dialed list, and a contact list. The contacts lists appears to be identical the iPhone one - it doesn't import the contacts at all, it just uses the existing contacts.
The dial pad is straight forward, with large buttons that are easy to hit. Unfortunately there is no way to "skin" the dialpad, or even change the colors. The biggest feature of smart dial is the built in...you guessed it..."smart dialing". When you start dialing a number, the smart dial program also looks through the contact list based on the letters associated with the numbers you are hitting (2 = a, b, c; 3 = d, e, f; etc). As such, instead of looking through the contact list, you can "look up" a contact simply by starting to type the first three letters of their name. The programs examines both first and last names, so you can use either one. In the event that multiple names match the "letter" combination (since 5-3-6 can be "JEN" or "KEN") you can use the down arrow button to scroll through the potential matches. If you have dialed a combination of numbers that does not match an existing contact, the numbers are displayed on the screen (instead of the matching contacts) and the program assumes you are now dialing a number.
The letters matched have no limit - so you can type someone's whole name if you like. Unfortunately, there is no display of the numbers you are typing, so if you are dialing a number directly, you can't look at the screen to verify the numbers you have typed (unless the numbers don't match any letter combinations for your contact list). The defaul number that you dial can be alterred, it is initially programmed as the "mobile" number. When you actually dial the number, the program quits and you go into the default dialer (although you do go back to smart dial when you hang up.)
There is also a recent dialed list, but this only works for phone numbers dialed within Smart Dial. It also doesn't have a list of recently received calls. The recent dialed list has each phone number dialed listed separately, so even if you call the same person three times in a row, each call will be listed separately (as opposed to "compressed" into one contact listing like the default dialer does). This can be good or bad, depending on your point of view.
Unfortunately, there is no way to access visual voice mail through the dialer, which means you probably can't replace the default program with this one (unless you don't want to worry about having access to visual voice mail). You can program 10 "speed dial" numbers, though, and you acess them simply by holding the appropriate number down. You can use the program to initiate a SMS message as well.
As a replacement for the built-in dialing program, I don't know if it offers enough features to replace it on the dock. It is nice to be able to try to spell a name to access a number, but I find it just as easy to scroll through the contact list and find the person directly (or simply use my recent call list to access the number more quickly). If you are routinely dialing numbers NOT in your contact list, I would think this program is a hinderance more than a help, since it will be trying to match the numbers with the spellings of a name in your contact list. However, if you find yourself on the phone with a lot of your contact, and you don't want to have to scroll through to find their names in the contact book (or recent call list) this program may save you some time. It really is for people who call a lot of different people, rather than someone who mostly calls the same 4 to 6 people on a regular basis, IMO.
Pros: Nice interface, good speed dial options, can be a fast way to find a contact.
Cons: Can't access voicemail, can't turn off the name search
All in all, this could be a handy program, but I find the people that would benefit the most are going to be a select group. It can be fun to use - the program seems more of a "cool, look at this". At $1.99, the price isn't bad, and there are no real faults with the program itself, it's just more of a question if the program is useful. Because there are no real faults and it is just a question of whether or not the program is useful, I give it four out of five stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating.