Apple iPhone – A Closer Look


For the last couple years there has been a lot of hype about the iPhone. When it first came out, I laughed at all the suckers that bought it at full price. If I was ever to get one, I would wait for it to come down to a more reasonable price. Sure enough, Apple convinced AT&T to subsidize the iPhone so that normal people could afford one. I finally recommended it to my wife as she was shopping for a new phone.

Considering what she would be using the iPhone for, the 3GS was way too powerful for her. I went with the 8GB standard version. Everything started pretty well, but then the extensive limitations came to light. First, there was no way to send a picture message (MMS). Considering that the iPhone data plan is more expensive than the regular data plan, this was frustrating. The firmware update claimed it would allow MMS, but so far no dice. An email is easy enough to send, but MMS is hard to come by.

Next, we started installing more and more apps. This part I am actually happy with. With some minor exceptions, the apps typically install as anticipated. It is easy to sync, and it is easy to arrange apps on the various pages of the iPhone. Syncing works pretty well on Vista, and certainly runs well on my Mac Powerbook. Both use iTunes to sync. While the apps are good, the phone itself leaves a lot to be desired.

On my Sony Ericsson “dumb” phone I can tether my internet connection. With an unlimited data plan, I can use my laptop at ISDN speeds. Not too bad for a simple Walkman phone. Can I do this on the iPhone? No. Right after we got the phone there was a rumor that tethering would be a feature on the pending firmware update. It turns out that it was, but not in the United States.

Okay, so we can’t tether the phone, how about we make some phone calls? Or maybe not. Never has a phone in my possession dropped so many calls. Never has a phone failed to connect so many calls. The only variable was the iPhone itself. The plan stayed the same, the locations we use the phone remained the same, and the volume of use remained unchanged. Her Sony Ericsson, an identical model to mine, worked just fine for calling.

Okay, so I can’t use the internet on my laptop, and I can’t make phone calls. What is there left to do? Apps. The apps clearly are the best feature of the iPhone. However, why get an iPhone rather than the iPod Touch? The touch can do everything the iPhone can do, as I understand it. I really do mean everything in this case, since the iPhone can’t connect a call with any reasonable consistency.

AT&T scored a major victory by getting the exclusive contract on the iPhone. Both firms made a lot of money. It is time to send the iPhone to Verizon and let it torture them for a while. In the meantime, AT&T will finally have room for a proper phone, i.e. one running Android. My fingers are crossed.

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