More about the iPhone

I made an iPhone post earlier, and Paul pointed to it, which was cool of him and got me a lot more views than I’m used to. But I got some feedback on the topic as well, so I figured I’d go into it a little more.

First off, If you’re getting the thing for free (like through work or something), then go for it. It’s cool looking, the interface is neat, and it’s very blingy. My issue with the thing is that it’s $600 and somewhat “low-tech”. Here’s what it breaks down to: Stuff they can fix, and stuff they can’t.

Stuff they can fix via a future software update:

  • No custom ringtones. Period. It doesn’t allow for MP3’s, music tracks, or anything else. What’s in the phone is all you get. Although iTunes 7.3 appears to support selling ringtones. Look forward to rebuying your songs as ringtones.
  • The camera is 2 megapixels, but can’t record video.
  • The phone cannot send “MMS” messages. These are like text messages with pictures or video or what have you. For some people, this is no big deal. And it can still send email, so that’s something to consider as well.
  • There’s no instant messaging in the thing. It can do “iChat”, but it can’t do AIM, MSN, GoogleTalk, any of that.
  • The only “push” email it supports is Yahoo Mail. Don’t use Yahoo Mail? Tough luck. It can do IMAP based email, which excludes most email systems and isn’t “push”. Blackberries can do better than this.
  • No games. None. Zero. Zilch. Which is annoying, since they sell iPod games on iTunes that, in theory, could work on the thing.
  • It’s not user expandable. You can’t put your own apps on it, yet. Even if they fix this, it’ll probably be a purchase mechanism thing.
  • The Bluetooth only works with phone calls. So you can’t use your neato Bluetooth stereo headset and have a wireless iPod functionality.

Stuff they *can’t* fix:

  • The massive SLOW of the thing. Unless you’re able to find a WiFi access point, you’ll be using AT&T’s “EDGE” network. Which, as you’ll notice very rapidly, is extremely slow. What really irks about this is that HSDPA is available in cheaper phones and is much faster and extremely reliable (albeit only found in big cities). This can NOT be fixed with a future software update, it’s a hardware problem. Who wants to bet that the “iPhone 2” comes out just as the iPhone price drops down to “free” in a year or so? Who wants to bet that the iPhone 2 will have HSDPA?
  • No GPS. If you’ve seen the commercial with the big screen Google Maps giving turn by turn directions, then you’ll be disappointed to discover that a) the iPhone does not have GPS and so it has no idea where you are (you have to tell it) and b) it can’t actually give turn by turn based directions. You have to tell the iPhone when you make each turn. Which makes it pretty useless for this unless you have a buddy using the phone as you go. No software fix for this, the GPS hardware ain’t in the phone.
  • The thing works as an iPod Nano, basically. It has 4 or 8 GB of storage. But not all the iPod capable things will work with it. Also, because of the jack plug size, you’ll need to buy a special adapter to make some of your normal headphones work with it.

The software problems are enough to keep me from buying one until they fix them. But these last few hardware issues are enough to make me wait until new iPhone hardware appears in a year or two. Why pay extra for something worse than what I already have?

Gizmodo published a list of things you should know before getting one, so don’t take my word for any of the above.

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