Wow, Steve Jobs’ presentation of the iPhone at Macworld this week was as slick as ever and I can tell that productivity on that morning was down at many companies’ mobile teams around the world 😉

Of course everyone I asked was immediately willing to go out and take another mortgage on their home if need be, to buy this thing. Being the uberGadgeteer myself I have to admit I can’t wait for it to be released! Now that the fog has settled I have to say, the iPhone seems to be more of a technical demonstration device in Generation 1 and we’d have to wait at least for G3 before it becomes usable (see iPod 3G – dock connector et al).

Why do I say that? Let’s go through their three focus areas:

It’s an iPod

Well yes it is. And a really slick looking one! In my mind,a 480×320 3.5″ screen is finally a suitable Video iPod and a thing many people have been waiting for. Awesome! Oh wait… it’s got 4 or 8 GB only… how many videos can this fit again? 4-8 movies maybe? That’s enough for when I’m on the move, right? … Oh wait, then I can’t fit any photo or any music file on it anymore. Hm…

It’s a phone

Yay for that. Though how comfortable it will be to hold, as compared to your standard Razr’esque phone remains to be seen. Visual voice mail looks fancy, but honest to god, I think I never had more than 2 voice mails at a time and I do listen to every voice mail I get anyway. Plus, VoIP providers had ‘visual voice mail’ for years. And yes, my Nokia E61, like most phones today can do three-way calling and conferences. I don’t know why this was highlighted by some media outlets.

It’s an internet tablet

Yay! Safari for the first time on a mobile phone! Er… well…okay that’s actually…er… not the truth. While the brand name ‘Safari’ might be new, the Safari webkit (aka all the underpinnings that make it Safari) has been on Series 60 v3 Nokia phones for a year already. The sad thing is: it looks like the Nokia implementation is even better than the Apple one. Having no ability to display Flash is a MAJOR drawback in my mind. The E and N series phones are perfectly capable of displaying Adobe Flash files inside their Safari webkit browser.

So what else is not new?

– It’s got IMAP push email. Yes, as does my E61 and with BIS every Blackberry out there etc etc..
– It’s an iPod!!! Er okay, it syncs better with iTunes, but MP3 functionality is nearly in every phone today and SE and Nokia are stressing that functionality specifically with their Walkman and N series music phones.
– It syncs with your Mac. Oh well thank god, so does my E61 and nearly every other Symbian, SE and Motorola phone for that matter. And I don’t even have to connect a USB/iPod-Docking cable to do so. Bluetooth all the way.

What is missing?

– A decent camera. 2MP, non-autofocus is already giving people yawns (especially outside the US). SonyEricsson and Nokia had 3.2MP autofocus cameras built in for over a year and the N95 with 5MP is just around the corner. I’m not even gonna mention Korean and Japanese phones…

– HSDPA, HSDPA, HSDPA. With all due respect, a phone in (realistically) fall 2007 that doesn’t support 3G networks gives me a big yawn. What good is an internet tablet if the internet’s super slow. Latency and bandwidth of EDGE is becoming very tiresome.

– A VGA front camera. Where is my iSight? Where is iChat video telephony (over WiFi now, HSDPA in G2/G3…)?? This I thought was a MAJOR missing point. Many new phones have this build in already, yet Apple had a chance to build a really great franchise with iSight built into every Macbook, Macbook Pro and iMac and yet.. I won’t be able to video chat with any of them with my Apple phone. Really sad.

– GPS. Google Maps really shines on Helio’s GPS equipped phones and in general, a mid 2007/2008 high-priced phone in my mind really shines with a little GPS chip built in. The gorgeous large screen would have been awesome for in-car navigation for people like me, who don’t need a full blown navigation system, because we don’t use it every day or even every week. Most Sprint/Verizon phones now have it, as will the Nokia N95…

– VoIP. Voice over IP is an integral part of several new smartphones. Nokia’s N and E series WiFi-equipped phones come with a SIP voice client that’s fully integrated into the phone/contact book etc. And new UMA phones even do soft handovers between VoIP and GSM calls, similar to the handoffs the Apple iPhone will do for data.

– No user installable applications (for now). I like my phone’s applications, but honestly, for me it would be worth half as much if I couldn’t install extra apps and games. If it turns out to be true that the iPhone can’t install other ‘OS X’ apps, it’d be a pity.

– A user replaceable battery. This is something every $20 phone from Walmart has these days. I’m not even discussing this because I think this is a ridiculous oversight and I doubt anyone would disagree.

It’s completely and ridiculously expensive

One tiny little weeny bit that people forget to mention is the pricing. If you factor in the typical $150-$200 carrier subsidies on a 2year contract, we’re talking $899 unlocked for a 2MP, GSM/EDGE phone with 8 GB non-replaceable memory. Oookay.

To summarize it: I LOVE LOVE LOVE the user interface. Honestly, like Steve Jobs said it’s 5 years ahead of any competitor’s. The Blackberry UI is ridiculous in my mind (the font alone kills me), Palm was cool in 1990 and Windows Mobile I won’t even mention. Symbian is okayish, but often very confusing (where are Connection settings again?) and way to slow to be able to make me happy. This in my mind is the one area where the iPhone excels above everyone else.

So for me, this is a great concept. A platform that I definitely see myself, as a consumer, be a part of in the future. Yet I believe G1 is not all it’s cracked up to be and besides looking cool, all it will give you is some fun time browsing through your phone album and reading emails – for $800. G3, here I come…

3 responses to “Should we skip the iPhone? (for now)”

  1. joe comments:

    You bring up seeral interesting points, but all I can say is that comparing specs have never been a good way to evaluate Apple products. At the end of the day, there is something else about Apple products that you can’t put on a spec sheet that make them so satisfying.

  2. shrimp comments:

    Good write-up … however, I think most consumers won’t mind the small disadvantages to the iPhone.

    Oh, and you should mention that you’re speculating on the unlocked price.

  3. steve H comments:

    It’s simple.

    Those with more money and fashion ‘sense’ than is good for them will flock to it. The rest of us will keep saying how great it is, then smugly carry on using our cheaper more versatile, more upgradable devices.

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