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Sat, 30 Jun 2007 17:11:00

The iPhone - Just say no

Why haven’t I fallen over dead from lust over the iPhone?  Because it’s not revolutionary.  It’s not even evolutionary.  Well, it is in one respect; it’s a full-screen 8GB video iPod with a touch-sensitive interface.  That is evolutionary for the iPod.  As a phone?  It sucks (at least on paper), and here’s why.  This list is assembled from gadget blogs and news articles all over the vast series of interwebs.

Some of these things are obviously things Apple should have done to give the phone some actual technically-based credibility, as opposed to the entirely marketing-based hype it currently enjoys.  Some of them are things current phones already do.

  • The number one unbelievable missing feature that just blows my mind?  NO VOICE DIALING.  That’s right.  Bluetooth headset?  Check.  Cute dock?  Yeah, Apple wasted time designing that.  Did they code in a method by which you could dial safely while driving?  No.  We wouldn’t want to include a feature that has been in many (if not most) midrange-to-high-end phones for nigh on to four years now.  In fact it has no voice recognition at all, not for menus, dictating text or email, nothing.
  • No removable battery.  This may be fine for an iPod (although it’s really not) but for a phone?  It’s ridiculous.  The worst part is next.
  • Apple themselves say after 300-400 charges, the battery will need to be replaced.  For most people that will mean an Apple technician so as not to void the warranty.  That’s utterly ridiculous for a cell phone.  If you use your phone all day, every day, that’s not even a year before you have to turn it in for repair. 
  • Network Speed.  AT&T’s EDGE was a huge mistake.  Strike one against any professional road warriors ever being interested.  As a comparison, the data rate for EVDO on Verizon just went up for the whole network, and even when surfing non-WAP pages with my EnV, I’m shocked at how fast it is.
  • Cannot be linked to a computer for use as a modem.  Strike two against professionals being interested.
  • No push email.  Not a dealbreaker, but it takes the iPhone off the table for most business people.  Strike three for the pros.
  • No Exchange or Office support.  Strike four for professionals?
  • No stereo bluetooth profile support.  It’s a music player for the love of Pete.  How can they not include this?
  • Cannot be used without iTunes, which in turn requires Quicktime, and for Windows, both those pieces of software are horrible, bloated and slow these days.
  • Can’t buy songs from iTunes on the go.  Not over the network and not over wi-fi.  What the?
  • Can’t use your music that you bought and paid for as ringtones.  In fact at the launch you can’t even buy any ringtones.  Defaults only.
  • Can’t multitask to the web while on a phone call.  My LG EnV does this and it’s not even a smartphone.
  • No alerts that you have some form of message waiting.  This is basic phone 101 stuff here.
  • Speaking of messaging, no IM.  In 2007, a “revolutionary” phone came out that doesn’t have any kind of IM.
  • Further continuing the missing messaging mess, no picture messaging.  Err...really?  In 2007?  No way to snap a drunken pic of you drawing some balls on your friend’s face and sending it to everyone he knows?
  • No video recording.  Again...every camera phone around does this now.  Even if it’s just 15 second clips at 15 frames per second.
  • No Windows Media support.  Not sure why anyone would care, but in case you want that (or need it because you want to switch from a Windows-based smartphone?), it’s not there.
  • No call recording.  Maybe not a dealbreaker either, but it’s not there.
  • No support for Flash in the web browser.  The ads say the iPhone gives you the “real” internet.  Since when does the real internet in 2007 not include Flash?
  • No GPS.  What the frig?  Really?  In 2007?  That’s...just lame.  Now get this.  What it does have are turn-by-turn directions via Google.  But you have to touch the screen and tell it when you turn to get the next prompt.  That’s a lot of car accidents waiting to happen.  Very, very poor design choice and poor programming choice on Apple’s part.
  • No disk mode, so empty space on your iPhone canot be used (as you can with any iPod) to transport files from home to work/school/a friend’s house/Kinko’s/wherever.  It’s just mind-boggling that this feature was removed.
  • No real API for third-party apps.  All apps must be AJAX, which means they’re web apps.  Limited, and when was the last time you saw anyone but Google make a truly useful web app?
  • No games.  I play a few thngs on my phone while in waiting rooms and so forth.  Again, likely not a dealbreaker, but games on phones have been pretty standard for a long, long time.  Why are they missing on the iPhone?  because it doesn’t support Java, and so many of the games that exist are Java-based (yes, even on most Verizon phones).
  • A non-standard headphone jack.  No headphones that are not made by Apple will likely fit in the jack.  It’s recessed and tiny.  That’s how they get you; the adapter costs ten more bucks.  As if this whole thing wasn’t expensive enough already.
  • No “real” keyboard.  This is a dealbreaker for me, but maybe not for other people.  Millions of phones are sold each year without keyboards and use that T9 crap...the iPhone at least has a software keyboard (like many PDAs) and that’s probably good enough.  But it is a missing feature so I included it.
  • No cut, copy or paste for text.  Not something I miss as my EnV can’t do it, but my PDA sure can and Apple’s trying to do “convergence” and replace my phone, PDA and iPod here; it needs to do the things that my current devices do if they want my money.
  • It doesn’t support all iPod accessories.  Right now one known issue is car adapters that offer playback through the connector port.  They don’t work.  They charge, but don’t offer “line-out” playback.  The iPhone cannot replace your iPod if you use this feature in your car.
  • No support for the following accessories: Nike+iPod Sport Kit, iPod Camera Connector, iPod Radio Remote, Belkin TuneFM, XtremeMac RoadShow, any iPod voice recorders.
  • Partial support for the following accessories: DLO TuneStik, iTrip with Dock Connector, XtremeMac AirPlay Boost, most Speaker sets (Airplane mode must be engaged or the CDMA noise makes it unlistenable)
  • No support for Memorex iFlip or Philips DCP850.  Partial support for Sonic Impact Video-55 (audio only).  No support for video through the headphone jack or dock connector.

I’m sure I missed some things here, but that is one monumentally large list of things a cell phone/internet communicator/PDA should be able to do.  I am not impressed with swiping to unlock the OS or “Coverflow” or any other pretty feature that doesn’t actually make the phone useful to me.  Speaking of the’s 700MB of space on the phone.  It’s barely a stripped-down version of OSX.  And it’s still missing about a bajillion features.

For $600, a two-year contract and a minimum $60 a month plan on an inferior network...this should have been a lot better.  Apple should have left this in development until next year and then blown us all away with a true “Jesus Phone,” as the gadget blogs have taken to calling this thing.

That’s another thing that sucks.  The iPhone has made it impossible to read tech sites this week.  Hype is Apple’s best weapon in the market, and this thing has the fanboys riled up like lonely virgins at a Tera Patrick DVD release party.

My conclusion is Just.  Say.  No.  Wait for the second or third generation, unless you have a ton of cash to blow and need to be on the bleeding edge, and you can stand AT&T as a cellular provider...because in the end?  It’s the network, stupid.  Just ask the hundreds of people who paid a ton of cash for this thing and can’t get it activated.  Meanwhile, two weeks ago when my LG V died and I used my rebate monies to upgrade to an EnV, it took 15 minutes in the store, and my phone was working with my number when I left.

AT&T won’t be able to hold Apple back forever.  Even if the iPhone was perfect and truly groundbreaking, I’d wait until it’s available somewhere else.

Posted by JimK at 05:11 PM on June 30, 2007
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jo-jo#1  Posted by jo-jo United States on 06/30 at 08:07 PM -

i couldn’t tell you how many times someone at work asked me “are you getting an iphone?” to which i reply, “no, i’m waiting for a real phone.”

also, i heard no txt msging??  that HAS to be wrong....

(oh verizon, where oh where is my xv6800 already???

JimK#2  Posted by JimK United States on 06/30 at 08:10 PM -

It does straight text messaging...just no pix or IM, or video messages.

So it’s like 1999 in a pretty little box.  :)

jo-jo#3  Posted by jo-jo United States on 06/30 at 08:10 PM -

hrm.  add a “)” to the end of that ;)

also, i was wrong, i thought it had IM and not sms, it’s the other way around

JimK#4  Posted by JimK United States on 06/30 at 08:13 PM -

That XV6800 is a hot little number.  It’s an HTC Titan with Verizon badging.  Very “it might be my next phone.” :)

Joe R.#5  Posted by Joe R. China on 06/30 at 09:33 PM -

I must be the only guy on the planet that uses his phone as, you know, a phone.

#6  Posted by ErikTheRed United States on 07/01 at 09:23 PM -

Whatever. I bought one for the wife. 8 Gigs. She loves it. It’s a smartphone for people who wouldn’t otherwise touch a smartphone at gunpoint. If you already have a smartphone (like me), you’re probably too much of a control freak with your tech toys to enjoy the experience (like me). It wasn’t meant for you (or me). Get over it.

I live in an area where a lot of cell phone design goes on, and have several friends who work in the industry. Making cell phones is something like making sausage. Lots of unsanitary and unsafe crap in there, wrapped in enough stuff to hide it and make it barely acceptable in the market. Your average phone has dozens of hardware bugs, mostly masked by software that itself has between dozens and hundreds of bugs. Could they fix this after the phone ships? Can, but won’t (it costs money). Could they wait a few months more and polish things? Can, but won’t (the carriers want it cheap and they want it yesterday). The carriers control everything - style, features, timing, etc. Most phones are designed in six months, and it shows. They’re almost all complete shit. Got a problem? Ever notice the solution is always “Buy another one of our shitty phones and… oh yeah… lock yourself into another two-year contract while you’re at it”? Buying an iPhone sends a signal to the carriers that we’re willing to pay a few extra bucks for something that wasn’t rammed out the door by a bunch of entry-level contract programmers in durka-durkastan. And Apple controls the entire user experience - you can’t even select a contract at the AT&T;store. It’s ridiculously fucking great compared to the normal purchasing experience - no wading through a 5-page contract with some fucktard salesperson while they try to upsell you every 20 seconds. <delusional fantasy>Hopefully the iPhone will be a major success and the carriers will take notice and quit this insane race to the bottom they’re all engaged in </delusional fantasy>.

#7  Posted by Noblebrown United States on 07/01 at 11:44 PM -

The iPhone looks pretty good, but I’ll wait for revision 2 before I even consider one. I’d expect a lot of gripes to be resolved through firmware updates at that point (Exchange support and better third party app support are already on the list for later this year) and upgraded hardware will address many other issues. It’s a young product. Give it time.

I was kinda bummed about the battery issue...until I realized that the only time I ever removed the battery on my current cellphone was to give the thing a hard reset.

Thing is, Apple isn’t marketing this to technogeeks or people with gadget fetishes. They’re a market, but mostly, Apple is aiming at people who aren’t familiar with the technology, much like the iPod. Some iPhone gripes are legitimate and will bum a lot of people, but a lot of the issues mean about as much to the layman as geeks complaining about a lack of .ogg support on the iPod.

#8  Posted by GripeBoy United States on 07/03 at 06:21 PM -

A non-standard headphone jack.  No headphones that are not made by Apple will likely fit in the jack.  It’s recessed and tiny.  That’s how they get you; the adapter costs ten more bucks.  As if this whole thing wasn’t expensive enough already.

That to me is the single most annoying aspect. WTF? Who doesn’t dream of have high end headphones for listening to music in lossy formats? I know I do.

Anyway, Jobs surely thinks he could market a gold painted turd if he wanted to. Corporate hubris?

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