Why you shouldn’t buy an iPhone

Since everybody is obsessed with the iPhone, I’ll tell you why you _shouldn’t_ buy one.
h3. The touch screen
First off, this is not the first phone with a touch screen. It is however one of the first you’re not using a stylus on, and that you’re not using handwriting recognition on. You’re instead locked to a virtual keyboard, and a dictionary.
This is bad. First of all, there’s no tactile feedback, so you can’t actually _know_ that you’ve pressed any key, but you have to look, or bet that you did.
Second of all, it makes you rely on a built-in dictionary. This will most definitely be more awkward than similar typing systems. On a regular mobile with a keyboard, you know which key you pressed, without looking, and you can rely on muscle memory to bring up the right word in the dictionary. This is also different from the Wii, where you do get tactile feedback when you type on the virtual keyboard.
Third: Humans have a few thousand years of experience with writing systems. Ink and Quill, later pen and paper came about for a reason. It’s more convenient. It’s easier. It’s more natural. And it works on phones, so shiningly demonstrated by the M600i, P800, P900 and P990 from Sony Ericsson. It’s reusing a mechanical skill every literate person already has. If you feel like combining this with an autocompletion feature, it’s _quick._ Much quicker than virtual keyboards.
Fourth: In order to be touch-sensitive, LCDs overlay a grid, presumably measuring capacitance to determine the position of the finger. Most of these steal light. Which doesn’t matter when you’re indoors, but go outside on a sunny day, and you’ll discover that screens that aren’t touch-sensitive are a lot easier to read.
h3. The browser
Seriously. Apple aren’t the first to make a mobile web browser. The “company”:http://www.opera.com/ I work for has been in the business for years, doing just that. And (internal builds, mind you) “pass ACID 2”:http://operawatch.com/news/2006/05/opera-mobile-becomes-the-first-mobile-browser-to-pass-the-acid2-test.html.
And then there’s Opera Mini, in particular the “Opera Mini 4 beta”:http://www.operamini.com/beta/ – which also quite “nearly passes ACID2”:http://virtuelvis.com/archives/2007/06/opera-mini-4-beta. If you’re not on an unlimited data plan, it’s also going to be a _lot_ cheaper, and quite likely “faster”:http://www.operamini.com/beta/features/ (See point 6).
Did I mention that Opera MIni runs on “any device”:http://www.operamini.com/beta/video/
h3. No Java
Seriously. Are they joking? There is a _huge_ market of J2ME applications, in particular games. Games you won’t see for the iPhone. Chat applications. All of the stuff Apple doesn’t allow you to extend the phone with.
Granted, widgets will fill some of this aftermarket, but killing J2ME is about four year premature.
h3. No MMS
Again, are Apple joking? What’s the use of having a camera in the phone, if you can’t send your images to your friends. And what’s the use of dropping a no-cost feature from said camera, namely video recording.
h3. No 3G
I’ve been online from a phone for _years_ now. If you want to give people the “full web”, you _really_ shouldn’t offer anything but 3G, when you have the opportunity. Apple’s offering is very much back to the 33.2kbps modem (The transfer speeds are faster for edge, but it’s mostly cancelled out by increased latency).
h3. Battery life
The “Wall Street Journal”:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118289311361649057.html?mod=hpp_us_editors_picks lists some data for the phone, including battery life: 8 hours talk time, 250 hours standby, 6 hours Internet use, 7 hours video playback, and 24 hours audio playback. Expect to charge your phone twice a day. Expect to run out of battery at some critical moment (Note that battery life on a lot of other devices is equally lacklustre, but said devices don’t try to be an all-compassing always-in-use device).
Oh, and in case you actually really _need_ to be available to make or recieve phone calls, which is the primary function of a phone, there’s no way for you to carry a spare battery. Because it’s not replacable.
h3. The screen.
320×480. Come on. The “OpenMoko”:http://www.openmoko.org” Neo1973 device will have a screen with a whopping “640×480″:http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/Category:Neo1973_Hardware#LCD_Module_.28LCM.29 display on a 2.8” LCD. That’s *282 DPI!*
h3. The lock-in
This device is locked in in so many ways:
* You’ll be forced to, for _two years_ to be an AT&T customer.
* iTunes. *Sigh*. “I really hate iTunes”:http://programming.reddit.com/info/1z6zx/comments/c1z770
* No third-party software
* A _two year_ contract. You’ve _got_ to be kidding me. Phones barely last two years.
h3. The price
No. The price is not $499 or $599. “The price is $3000!”:http://www.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idUSN2636373120070626 Because of that two-year lock-in to AT&T. And you’ve lost all freedom in those two years to use another phone than the Apple one, should you be dissatisfied with the device. Because, if OpenMoko, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola or someone else comes up with a device you’re drooling over, you’ll still be paying for your iPhone. Until your ears bleed. And then some
*Update:* Gizmodo has an article with “other stuff the iPhone is missing”:http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/apple/what-the-iphone-doesnt-have-272571.php — no songs as ringtones? WTF??!?

Previous Post
Next Post

16 Comments

  1. cake

     /  2007-06-27

    You bring up some good points, but they have been told before. You offer nothing new to the discussion.
    Sure, you have a point about a missing buttons/keyboard, but I and a lot of people prefer screen space to keyboard. The thing about a keyboard is that you don’t use it all the time, so it is just wasting space. I don’t use it much at all on my ipaq. Apple made a compromise with lack of tactile feebback. Some people use a keyboard a lot, most don’t.
    Your claim about pen and paper being a superior format is a big joke. Nobody believes that. That is why most smartphones also have keyboards.
    No J2me, hurray. Most j2me implementations are crap, and they don’t work very well moving them from different phones. Most of the j2me stuff I have displays in a tiny subset of the screen. I am glad apple is getting rid of that crap.
    Apple dropped MMS, why? because hardly anyone uses it. because it is a joke. because apple supports emails. simple
    no 3g, it has wireless, which most people will use anyway, and is cheaper than 3g.
    You argument for battery life is a joke, since most normal phones don’t have half that capacity, and smartphones even less. So how often do you charge your blackberry, because you will be charging the iphone even less.
    I have clearly made a mistake in taking you seriously. This is a joke, most of the points are ridiculous (battery…still makes me laugh).
    Maybe you should try one first….nah, spoils the fun. Go back to Microsoft, Steve.

  2. bq. No J2me, hurray. Most j2me implementations are crap, and they don’t work very well moving them from different phones. Most of the j2me stuff I have displays in a tiny subset of the screen. I am glad apple is getting rid of that crap.
    The three J2ME apps (GMail, Opera Mini and I use are all fullscreen. They also run on any device I’ve tried them on.
    bq. Apple dropped MMS, why? because hardly anyone uses it. because it is a joke. because apple supports emails. simple
    My grandmother doesn’t do e-mail. Sorry. She does however like getting pictures of her grandchildren as MMS (What I am saying here is that MMS is in wide use, at least outside of the US). But, if you buy a phone for the sole purpose of circle-jerking with other Apple users, fine.

  3. bq. Your claim about pen and paper being a superior format is a big joke. Nobody believes that. That is why most smartphones also have keyboards.
    I claimed that handwriting is superior to virtual keyboards.

  4. I agree with you, but not whole-hartedly. Sure, it sucks not to have MMS (how much trouble would it be to implement anyway, considering that they already have two of the most important features of MMS — namely HTTP and SMS — in place already?) and J2ME would have been sweet, but I think e-mail and widgets will fill those needs pretty neatly. I also think the keyboard will be a non-issue. Writing with a pen on an LCD screen makes me very uncomfortable. Even writing with a pen on paper makes me uncomfortable. I’m much more adapt to writing on a keyboard; I write faster and with fewer errors. Plus, I doubt any device would manage to recognise my handwriting without years of training.
    The screen resolution isn’t that bad. Sure, there exists devices with higher resolutoin and DPI, but those usually suck in every other way. The battery life isn’t too bad either. What sucks is that you can’t replace it. The lack of 3G sucks a bit because it also doesn’t support J2ME. That means no Opera Mini which means no bandwidth savings which means downloading everything slowly in Safari. The price and operator-lock-in also weighs pretty heavy on the crap scale. Lock-in to iTunes is also a bit sucky, although I will manage since I use iTunes fairly heavy already.
    Overall, though, I think iPhone is a fine product. I expect it to be a hit and I’d want one if I could convince my employer to buy me one. And I’d also like to mention a plus-side: it supports open standards. It doesn’t support or embrace Microsoft Exchange or Blackberry products. It supports HTTP, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, IMAP, SMTP and POP3. I hope and expect this to force the enterprise away from the current Microsoft and Blackberry lock-ins and over to open source and open standard based software.

  5. Judging by today’s selloff, I think potential customers are starting to realize how expensive the iPhone will be. If you sign the mid-range $99.99/mo service plan after purchasing the 8GB iPhone model, that alone will set you back $3000 during the two-year contract (without any accessories)!
    Here’s a few other potential hurdles that could prevent the iPhone from exceeding its already lofty expectations:
    * You must be an AT&T customer to use the iPhone. With a market share of 20%, that means 80% of wireless customers must cancel their current contracts to sign with AT&T. Being a Sprint customer, I would have to pay a $175 cancellation on top of the $3000 price tag for the iPhone. AT&T’s exclusive contract runs through 2009.
    * Only 4 & 8GB of hard drive space? My tiny video iPod holds 30 GB for less than $200.
    * Recent surveys have shown that the majority of IT departments will not even consider the iPhone due to its PC incompatibilities & exclusive AT&T contract. That will dampen business spending & all but eliminate demand for the higher-tier contracts.
    This is the ultimate “sell the news” scenario. On Jan 9th 2007, Steve Jobs announced the iPhone at the Macworld Conference & Expo. The stock has since been on fire rising 50% to $125, adding $30 billion to the company’s market capitalization. Will the iPhone really hold that much value for Apple? This huge runup comes after a fantastic finish to 2006 after Apple’s stock bottomed out at $50 in October. Thus, nearly everyone holding Apple is sitting on huge gains.
    Expect an Apple selloff on Friday when the iPhone is finally released. 3 similar mini-selloffs have occurred during this recent runup:
    * June 26th: Apple announces 6 AT&T service plans for the iPhone. The stock drops 3% on investor concerns over the high prices.
    * June 11th: Steve Jobs shows off the iPhone at Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference. The stock falls 5% after investors saw no “surprises”.
    * March 20th: Apple beats 4th quarter analyst earnings & revenue estimates. The stock falls on profit taking.
    Apple’s recent success has created impossible expectations. With all the mega-hype already priced into the stock, just meeting expectations will create a selloff. I plan to sell tomorrow and buy back in a couple months. Longer-term investors need not worry because the future looks bright with Macs gaining market share & the iPods continuing their dominant foothold on the music industry.

  6. But Arve, it’s purty!
    Seriously, I really doubt I’d like to use somethign without buttons. I remember trying the LG Chocolate and the buttons were awful to use because of lack of feedback. But that screen looks better (in the demo video) than any other phone I’ve seen. I’d love to run Opera Mini on that phone 🙂

  7. No Flash either…

  8. Bryan

     /  2007-06-27

    I’m definitely not an Apple fanboy, but I have to say Arve, you sound a little too upset about the iPhone. Actually, it sounds like you’re trying to scare people away from it. Much like AT&T’s competition. I’m wondering why you’re so adamant about it.

    I’m not going to buy an iPhone because I don’t want to pay $500 for it. I won’t use all the features, so it’s not worth it to me. I also won’t need the type of plan it requires.

    Many of your comments sound more like anti-Apple rhetoric than facts meant to prove a point. I value your opinion, but don’t like to be preached to or lead astray by someone with ulterior motives. Perhaps you, and everyone else that for some reason is so worried about the effects of the iPhone release, should take a step back… take a breath… and let everyone else develop their own opinions based on facts and not others’ opinions.

    I don’t mean any offense with my comments. I’m just putting my two cents in and hope to see many more terrific posts from you in the future.

  9. Bryan: If I succeed at scaring someone away from what I judge to be a grossly overpriced, overhyped device stripping away a number of the user’s freedoms (something Apple have a long tradition with, going back to the earliest Macs), I’m happy.
    And no, I don’t have any hidden agendas, nor do I represent anyone but myself here. I just dislike Apple’s consumer practices, and I have a strong distaste for lock-ins, hidden tie-ins and other means of trying to force monopolies where none would exist naturally.
    (And to the fanboys posting pointless flames and cruder ad hominems than Bryan did: Don’t bother. I have a comment posting policy linked above the comment form, and I do indeed delete posts violating said policy — and to answer to some those comments I’ve deleted: Noone peed in my cornflakes, and I have more than enough money to go buy one. I just think the iPhone is overhyped and underspecified)

  10. Those who still drool at the iPhone’s interface can ‘pimp’ their Windows Mobile phone anyway:
    http://lifehacker.com/software/hack-attack/turn-your-windows-mobile-phone-into%20-an-iphone-269055.php

  11. deadHarlequin

     /  2007-06-28

    Oh com’on, you are biased! 😛
    It’s not perfect but its an OK ver 1.0 product. And of course common logic says the chances are to NOT match its hypes (I personally dont like that i have to operate it with both hands)
    As you know, the power of Apple is the combination of hardware and software and the intergration to a nice platform. Most people expect chinese manufacters to catch them easily with better and cheaper phones. Buts it’s the iphone as a whole set that makes apple a tough player in the industry.
    Anyway, personally I was very optimistic about Apple in general, I am not know. I think they get you too much locked in to their things, and they still dont have the market power to do this. I do believed that 3rd parties have a limited future, but that’s too much. There is not only that iphone is locked. Look at their home platform: AppleTV replaced apple mini. They could have used a computer like mini was, with a nice frontend alike AppleTVs, but they finally made it a device not a computer. A device only understanding itunes and youtube. iTunes only understnading apple videos etc etc.

  12. Bryan

     /  2007-06-28

    I’m glad I wasn’t the most crude! :p

    I do have to agree the iPhone is over hyped. I’m just amazed at how polarizing it’s become. Everyone either hates it or loves it. Everyone is posting about how everyone should buy it or not buy it. In my mind… it’s a phone. Nothing more. Nothing less.

    And don’t eat the cornflakes! 😀

  13. pwb

     /  2007-07-02

    iPhone lives up to the hype and more. Anyone contemplating buying one should go ahead and do so and be confident you are getting by far the best device on the market and for some time to come.

  14. pwb: You’re most certainly entitled to that opinion. I happen not to agree. The phone has some nice touches, but some of the stuff on my list makes it an absolute no-go.

  15. Ellio

     /  2007-07-03

    You cannot attach a $3,000 price tag to the iPhone based largely on the 2 year service contract. My T-Mobile BlackBerry currently runs at $80 per month also, so that’s $1,920 over my two year contract. The iPhone contract I would want is also $80. That’s a wash. With the $600 price tag, $30 activation, and $175 cancellation fee – I am looking at a total cost of $800. And, I’m thinking about doing it.
    You can’t include the cost of service in the price because in this day and age everyone has a monthly service cost for a cell phone.

  16. Anders

     /  2007-08-03

    Personally, I wouldn’t even think of buying iPhone. It doesn’t have much new features to offer, and it lacks a lot of the features I have got used to.
    Btw, if you want the right opinion on this, read Maddox’s “The iPhone is a piece of shit, and so is your face.” 🙂