why the iphone blows.

September 20, 2007

before i begin, let me say that i admire apple in many ways. their business tactics, their entire mindset of creation, and how they’ve managed to pull themselves out of the gutter they were in for so long. as an electrical engineer and a fan of design, their products are fucking incredible. the minimalistic design and the ability to be constantly making beautiful thin sleek designs and cramming so much into such a little package and making it flow so well.

i’ve played with the iphone a lot and read countless articles about it and have been basically following it’s progress since it was a rumour on engadget a few years ago. i am comparing the iphone to my current phone, the t-mobile mda (aka htc wizard). the iphone is truly a revolution in the mobile phone industry in many ways, it’s an amazing device fit into a tiny beautiful package with a beautiful interface and seamless operating system integration. there’s a lot of things i like about the iphone, don’t get me wrong, but there’s way too many things wrong with it; thus why i am writing this. so let’s go…

1. the camera
2 megapixels with no flash? a couple years ago you could get away with this but not today on a top of the line $600 phone, it’s just a dumb move.
oh, and it DOESNT RECORD FUCKING VIDEO. that’s just ridiculous. even the fucking razr, the cheap overproduced phone that everybody has can record 3gp. my mda can record both avi and mp4.

2. internet
EDGE only??? the cellular network in the united states is rapidly expanding with 3G available in more areas than ever. many cell phones (some made by htc) have 3g built in and the people that use it are in love with it. in the design process, it isn’t harder at all to incorporate and program a 3G modem compared to and EDGE one. just plain lazy.

on that note, even though you’re paying for a full internet package, you can’t tether your phone to your laptop for access-anywhere internet. the mda can connect to a laptop over usb or even freaking bluetooth and use the 3G network seamlessly for internet on your computer. i heard there was a hack for the iphone to do this, but even still, it’s not built it and it’s still just EDGE.

on a better note, AT&T did do lots of upgrading their towers to both be able to handle all the iphones and to increase overall speeds.

3. copy/paste
it’s not there, simple as that. the mda has it. just plain dumb, especially with a touch screen interface.

4. keyboard
on my mda, i LOVE having a qwerty keyboard. texting and typing in general are so much faster, it makes you never want to buy a phone without it ever again.

when i found out that the iphone was touch only keyboard i was extremely skeptical. the worse part is nobody knew how well it was going to work. even in the iphone tutorial videos, they mentioned something about how after a couple of months, you get used to tapping the screen.

i’ve heard from text-oholics and people that type a lot on their iphone that the touch keyboard isn’t that bad and that you get decently fast at typing. regardless, i love having the tactile feedback of a keyboard, and no touch based keyboard will ever be up to par to a physical qwerty in terms of typing speeds.

also, the keyboard can only be used in landscape mode in safari, not anywhere else, making it very difficult to type with 2 hands while trying to hold the phone.

5. filesystem/OS
this is a huge one. on the mda, you can install literally countless 3rd party applications, program your own, put files and ringtones on there, use it as a usb mass storage device, software can address hardware directly, even make your own programs. all of which are EXTREMELY easy to do if you have basic knowledge of moving files on computers.

apple allows NONE of this. even if you want a fucking ringtone you have to pay an additional 99 cents on top of the initial 99 cents you paid for the song. this is just plain greedy. initially the iphone didn’t even support extra ringtones than the ones given to you! RIDICULOUS.

in terms of applications though, after receiving lots of criticism of having a closed OS and not having any sort of SDK (software developers kit) publicly available, apple kind of allowed 3rd party apps. this is all done through the AJAX programming language. while this is nice, it has many limitations. the part i have the most beef with is the inability to access the operating system or address any hardware or memory. on top of it, the AJAX apps simply run like shit.

fortunately there’s an extremely intelligent and dedicated team that broke the filesystem opening the iphone to real 3rd party apps. regardless, microsoft allows this from the get-go.

also, considering it’s a real OS running on there, it’s vulnerable to attacks. a couple of weeks ago, the first exploit was discovered through safari. this allowed the attacker to log into your iphone and basically do anything. including making calls, taking pictures, editing any data that’s on there, and even listening to the microphone even though no call is in progress.

6. memory
4gb and 8gb models are ok… but the operating system takes up 700 megabytes. i understand that it’s a stripped version of OSX, but when you only have 4gb available, using almost a quarter of it for the OS is a bit of a rip off.

so just get a memory card, right? WRONG. the iphone has zero support for memory expandability (SD card, mini SD, micro SD, etc). the industry standard now is micro SD, i see tons of new phones, even very basic ones with expandable memory. so when you get that 4gb or 8gb, you’re stuck with it. the mda has 64mb of on-board user memory, but also had a mini SD expansion slot, of which you can get up to a 4gb card for (for about $50), and you can get as many as you want and hot swap them whenever you want.

7. battery
apple’s done it again with a non user replaceable battery. while this is SEMI understandable on ipods, in the cell phone market, this is simply unacceptable. apple has already been hit with a few lawsuits because it isn’t user replaceable. and just like on the ipods, after a few hundred charges, the battery dies and can’t hold a charge and needs to be replaced. so how do we replace it? AT&T store? genius bar/apple store? NOPE. you have to send the phone that you use on a daily basis into apple and wait for shipping and for them to replace it. oh, and it costs $100. try replacing it yourself with affordable kits online? not if you want to keep your warranty.

battery life with ONLY phone functions (no music/video/internet) is 5 hours. simply unacceptable.

8. vpn
while i’m very happy that the iphone has wifi (no matter how terrible the black antenna patch on the back looks), for business applications as well as how we log into the wifi at school, you need a VPN connection. while the iphone has a VPN option, for the password YOU CAN ONLY ENTER NUMBERS. WTF?! so unless your password is all numbers, you’re fucked. at school we require alphanumeric password combinations.

9. push
the best part about blackberrys is their ease of use in a corporate email network. this is called push e-mail. the iphone has zero support for it. it has mild support for accessing your corporate email (non-push), but it requires reconfiguration of all the servers it will be using, while blackberries require zero configuration.

10. MMS
plain and simple, can’t do it, while EVERY other camera phone can. wtf, apple?

11. bluetooth
want to use your bluetooth headphones? or your bluetooth GPS receiver? no chance. iphone has zero support for the A2DP protocol or basically any external bluetooth device outside of a bluetooth headset. just like the sidekick, you can’t even do OBEX file transfers over bluetooth.

12. im
iphone has no native im/chat client. this is extremely disappointing as one would expect a beautiful mobile version of ichat that would always keep you logged in.

13. email storage
200 emails tops. mda is unlimited as long as you have memory to store them all. i currently have over 6000 text messages in my inbox and outbox combined. there’s also no search or sort function whatsoever.

14. headphones
as little as it is, still a factor. the iphone has a special recessed headphone jack. what’s so special about it? it’s so special that NONE of your headphones will work in it and you have to buy new headphones if you want to plug it in to the jack. possibly why they didn’t also throw in A2DP. on that note, the goal of the iphone was to have one device in your pocket instead of carrying around a seperate phone, music player and digital camera. so people who use this as their primary ipod would want to listen to music in the car, right? after spending $30 for a special tape adapter to work with the special headphone jack, you still get that terrible cell phone buzz through the wire unless you put your phone in flight mode. this wouldn’t be an issue if A2DP were implemented.

15. cost
this is the biggest for a lot of people. if you get a new iphone from AT&T, you HAVE to get it with a 2 year service contract. so what about the special iphone plan? the cheapest is 450 minutes, unlimited internet (see above), and 200 text messages. this is for $60/mo. while initially $600, the 8gb model is only $400 now. so $400 plus the cheapest plan for 2 years, $1840 before taxes, ouch. but back to the text messages, no matter which iplan you get, going up to $100 a month, IT’S STILL ONLY 200 TEXT MESSAGES MAX! in order to get more you have to pay more. convenient that while a native IM chat client isn’t installed on the iphone, you can only get 200 text messages…
americans are blowing their balls over the iphone, but you ever notice how there’s never mention of an iphone launch in japan/korea? the nations with the largest, most advanced cellular networks and state of the art cell phones see the iphone as something that they had 5 years ago.


One Response to “why the iphone blows.”

  1. Belg said

    Wow, very glad I read this before buying one… thank you.

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