The Deliverator – Wannabee

So open minded, my thoughts fell out…

The Obligatory Iphone Post

Posted by Deliverator on July 3rd, 2007

I wasn’t going to post about the Iphone, but for several weeks, it is all that anyone seems to want to talk to me about and I have had a lot of inquiries about it from my clients. In short, I think the Iphone incorporates some very interesting technology and productizes some amazing rethinking of computer/human interaction, but is fundamentally flawed as a device in many, many deep ways. I am thoroughly disinterested in owning one. Here is a canonical list of reasons why:

-Touchscreen only interface makes it impossible to execute common phone functions without pulling it out of your pocket. I frequently make use of my phone without ever looking at it. The touchscreen only interface and glass screen make for a device quickly covered in oily finger print smudges. The touchscreen is also of a type which is only useable with fingers, so forget using a stylus, using a gloved finger or protecting your precious Iphone from your keys with most (I have heard a few work) screen protectors.

-Battery is internally sealed and soldered in place. It is not end user swappable or replaceable. It has long been anathema in the cell phone world to make a device with a battery which is incapable of getting through the day. My own experience with the batteries used in Ipods and other mobile devices is that they greatly diminish in overall capacity within the first year of heavy use and that they can fail very unpredictably. I find the idea of having to go without my phone for likely weeks when I need to send in my entire phone to have my battery replaced to be an incredible turnoff. The stated price I have seen for out of warranty replacement is $86. My Nokia 6620 has exceedingly long battery life and takes less than an hour to recharge. I have for years carried a spare battery around with me in my wallet for those not so rare cases when I forget to charge my phone for days on end. I have no such option with the Iphone. My spare battery cost me $5, shipped to my door.

-The Iphone is $600 (you do want 8GB right?) and the minimum monthly charge is $60 for service with a minimum commitment of 2 years. The Iphone is just plain EXPENSIVE AS HELL.

-The only current service option (barring future hacking) is through AT&T. AT&T’s EDGE data network is extremely slow for even light web and email use, much less the bandwidth intensive intertube 2.0 uses everyone seems to envision for the device. My own experience with EDGE and GPRS through various providers is that it delivers a modem class experience, not the “slow dsl” experience of more modern CDMA networks such as offered by Sprint and Verizon. Did I mention the first day after ATT/Apple released the Iphone their EDGE network was down throughout the US?

-As stated, the ONLY service option right now is AT&T. This is not the phone for you if you want to travel outside the country (or just outside of ATTs coverage) and use it via prepaid SIMs on global GSM networks.

-The Iphone has a standard 3.5″ headphone jack, but the jack is so far recessed within the Iphone’s shell that the majority of headphone are unusable without an adapter jutting from the side and causing pocket maladjustment/clipping/breakage issues.

-Built in camera app has no adjustable parameters, only a shutter button and isn’t capable of video.

-Bluetooth profile support is extremely limited and doesn’t extend to sharing the EDGE connection with other devices. I frequently use my Nokia 6620 to provide internet access to my laptop or to my Nokia N800 internet tablet while on the run. The Iphone basically supports monaural bluetooth headsets period. It doesn’t even support A2DP (stereo), which seems like a no brainer on a device which doubles as a music player.

-For $600, the Iphone is the dumbest Smartphone in history. You are limited to only the applications that Apple chose to bundle with the device. Basically every modern phone has allowed for 3rd party applications, many of which have provided much needed and more refined functionality than that provided by the built in ones. My mantra over the last few years has been that “The non-obvious uses for a technology/device are far more compelling than the obvious ones.” Apple has left many functions out of the Iphone that phone users have taken for granted for years and some of their implementations of other functions are less than overwhelming and not fixable by anyone other than Apple.

-There is currently no support for exchange/push email. Although support has been vaguely alluded to, it isn’t here yet and nobody has had a chance to evaluate how good that support will be. I don’t see anyone dropping their Blackberry or Treo for the Iphone in the near future.

-The on screen keyboard which Apple has been trying to assure the world is just as good as dedicated keys has been getting decidedly mixed reviews. Avid SMS/mobile email users need not apply.

-The Iphone’s screen resolution (480*320) is too low for web browsing without significant reformatting of most pages, yet Apple has attempted to display the screen layout as if you were browsing on a desktop. This makes most text far too small to read, necessitating constant zooming and panning. The mobile version of Safari on the Iphone does not support Flash, which for better or worse, has become a defacto standard. It also doesn’t support JAVA. For a desktop like mobile web browsing experience, I recommend the Nokia N800 Internet Tablet. Its 800*480 screen provides a much closer to desktop web browsing experience and it supports flash (if only through version 7, currently).

-There is no Instant Messaging client built in and no ability to easily add one. It doesn’t even work with iChat, Apples own service. I consider web based IM clients to be a very poor alternative and reports are that some of the more popular web based clients do not work with the Safari browser on the Iphone.

-No MMS messaging either way and no ability to attach files within the email app. Apparently, you are supposed to send photos one at a time (only one per email) through email and only to people capable of receiving email.

-No Voice dialing

-No GPS. I know some people could care less about this one, but this has become an increasingly standard feature on phones in this price range.

-Limited ringtone selection and no ability to use mp3’s or AAC files as ringtones.

-No streaming audio support

-Can’t copy/paste and there is really poor integration between all the phone’s built in apps

-No file manager and Iphone doesn’t show up as a UMS. How is one supposed to keep one’s files organized?

-No document editing support or even viewers for most common file types. Again, this makes the Iphone absolutely useless to most of the Treo/Blackberry crowd. Steve Jobs constantly compared it to these phones (mocking them in many ways) and yet the Iphone doesn’t provide much of the functionality that has been taken for granted for years for users of these devices. Oh, you can’t get the Iphone on a business or family plan anyways. Despite all talk to the contrary, it is obvious that the Iphone is for rich, white afluent jerks with more money than sense.