Pavlos (pavlos) wrote,

iPhone: 3/10 Great device, meh product

I'm in San Francisco again, so I went to the Apple store to look at an iPhone, as one does here this weekend.

Good Points

  • It's physically the right size, dimensions, curvature at the corners, and weight.
  • The screen is high-resolution, bright, uniform, and with good contrast and colours.
  • The user interface is pretty and well designed, and the keyboard sort of works.
  • It has a real web browser that renders pages full-res, and IMAP email.
  • It works very nicely for browsing and reading things over WiFi.

Bad Points

  • It is locked to AT&T, and will be locked to some other provider in Europe.
  • It doesn't have iChat or Skype, so you are forced to use the phone.
  • It's not a first-class computer. No real writing tool, no filesystem, clumsy input.
  • There's no password manager or real cryptographic security as far as I could see.
  • It has a bulky cradle, needs it to sync, and needs an adapter to plug in standard headphones.
So, basically, it's a great technical achievement but it's screwed as a product. It's screwed because it's a phone, and therefore beholden to the wishes of phone carriers. It's also screwed because it's an iPod, and therefore designed for passive browsing and consumption of content.

It ought to be an ultra-portable Mac with an optional built-in 3G phone. I'd be happy to buy it without the built-in phone, and use bluetooth dialling instead. It does have WiFi and Bluetooth, but you can't use any VoIP application over WiFi or dial numbers on other phones via Bluetooth. In fact it doesn't work at all, even as an organiser, until you sign up to the AT&T phone service.

More importantly, there's no good way to create things on it - you can write emails or notes but it's inconvenient and the keyboard doesn't switch to landscape mode in these applications. There's no voice recorder, no outliner/to-do/list-making tool, and no drawing tool. Since there's no filesystem, there's no easy way to move a document between your Mac and the iPhone. It has no password manager, so unless you are weird and remember your passwords you won't be able to access much online. In all it fails miserably to be a thing that you can buy and carry around instead of your Mac.


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