The Apple iPhone: Good thing or not?

So, the Apple iPhone has been launched, it was brought to my attention as actually being announced by the MD at work, who appears to have become a complete apple freak (poor bastard... or is that rich bastard to be able to afford apple's mediocre offerings and be happy about it?). Anyways - from reading the story from BBC News and the official website, here's my conclusions.

First off, when marketing a phone, how about you actually mention it's phone capabilities as the number one priority? I'd like to know about the sound capabilities, the battery life, the overall user feel for it as a phone... maybe I'm odd, but a phone has a purpose, it should make and receive calls, and it should do that job well, with good quality voice, a decent (filtering) microphone (it's a mobile, you'll be walking whilst speaking on it, reducing the background noise is a selling point), but apple appear to have mostly avoided talking about this. Instead, the first thing that you're told about from the news story is the unique user interface - great, so we have a touchscreen "whoop, de, do!". Worse still, from the official site, the first thing that springs out is that it's a "Wide Screen iPod" - it's a phone, if I wanted an iPod I'd buy a damned iPod - as it stands, for my music needs I have an iAudio M3 which suits my portable music experience really rather well. I choose that on the basis that it provided ogg support out of the box, didn't require any magical software (I run linux on my machines, it presenting itself as nothing more than a USB hard disk was fantastic, and means that I can use it for other things when needs arise). For a phone I want something that actually behaves like a phone, looking at the iPhone it's primary purpose appears to actually be a media player - that's not good.

With the iPhone only having a touch screen interface, and from everything that I've read there's no stylus and the "finger is the ultimate pointing device", I'm just expecting that within the first 2 weeks you're going to have a scratched or smudged screen from usage alone, add in the fact that it's a mobile phone, and therefore generally treated with contempt (neccessity rather than luxery), and that most people carry mobiles in their pockets without any form of protection (easy and fast access) and you've got a recipe for disaster! The touch screen is going to be hit (wether you like it or not) whilst the phone is in your pocket, it will wear - there's no question in my mind about it. Touchscreens aren't designed to be smacked around 24/7, they're touchscreens - they respond to touch! So, assuming that you're shiny new iPhone is sitting in your pocket a lot of the time that's a lot of usage of the touchscreen - they're not designed for constant pressure (think about what happens to pockets in trousers when you sit down...), so I don't think that, overall, the sensitivity of the screen is going to last very long. It's only got a fairly narrow screen too, so what about those of us with not entirely slender fingers? When composing SMS messages on it with the on screen qwerty keyboard, do you really think that you're going to get the right keys every time? Small, on screen, buttons and pubs do not mix - and I'd hasten a bet there's a fair number of SMS messages sent from, or on the way back from, the pub, with a predictive text system at least you can almost work out what the heck the person was trying to say - this is a whole new ball game.

The iPhone also makes the phone functionality only available after you've hit the part of the screen that says "Phone", now, I don't know about other people, but if I'm being given a number, I tend to just start hitting the right buttons on the phone, I can store the number later (via the call register or whatever) and hit call, now there's an extra step to getting in touch with people.

From the official site we have the words:

iPhone also introduces an entirely new user interface based on a large multi-touch display and pioneering new software, letting you control everything with just your fingers.

Now, err, just when did a phone require you to use anything other than your fingers? Please tell me, I'm dying to know - I've never yet needed to use my feet to operate my phone, have you? This is marketing gone insane - and what worries me is that people actually believe this bullshit.

Apple may have "revolutionised" the computer industry with "Mac OS X" (this is actually not something that I believe, and OS X actually makes me more frustrated than being sat infront of a windows desktop - and believe me, that's difficult), but this is a phone, how about they try making it about the phone first, and the next generation tart audio player second?

I'm willing to be convinced that I'm wrong, but I definately won't be going out of my way to aquire an iPhone just because the marketing spiel looks good.

Posted: 2007-01-10 23:45 in Tech | permalink