Apple’s new iPhone promises to be 4.7 ounces of awesome.
It will do everything the iPhone does well – surfing the Web, serving up music and movies, and letting you flick through your voicemail messages with a fingertip – only faster and cheaper.
Yet imperfections still lurk, in spite of Chairman Steve Jobs’ maniacal attention to detail. Even before its release, there are some niggling issues – some minor, others major – that make the iPhone a mere gadget, just like any other. Just ask those pesky bloggers:
Those crafty phone companies! Yes, at $US199, the new iPhone is cheaper up-front than the original, which first went on sale starting at $US499 last year. It is not, however, less expensive to own. Do the math and you find out the iPhone will cost $US160 more over two years than the original iPhone because AT&T put together a pricier data plan for the phone to help it subsidise the up-front cost of the handset. The gadget fiends at Gizmodo called that “a small price to play,” but Bits, the technology blog at The New York Times, called it “a step backwards for consumers.”
The iPhone is a surprisingly capable Web browser. Its wide, high-resolution screen and the ability to bop around the Web by tapping links with a fingertip has turned mobile Web surfing from a chore into a pleasure. The biggest hitch: the iPhone still doesn’t support Adobe’s Flash technology, which means many multimedia-rich sites remain off limits. While Adobe is working hard to make its technology iPhone-friendly, don’t hold your breath.
No replaceable batteries
Hardcore road warriors don’t have time to stop and recharge their phones. Instead they carry their batteries with them, clicking them into their BlackBerrys in the backs of cabs, or, if they’re lucky, in a coffee shop. By contrast, there’s no easy way to crack open the new iPhone’s sleek case to pop in a battery, disappointing bloggers. And while kits are available for do-it-yourselfers, we wouldn’t recommend trying it in between bites of your bagel.
Apple’s computers come preloaded with iMovie, a slick little application that makes video editing easy and fun. Apple’s iPods, with the exception of the Shuffle, have evolved into snappy little video viewing machines. But if you want to record video, you’d better talk to Sony. Despite its built-in two-megapixel camera, Apple isn’t building the ability to take video into its new phone, a feature even many low-end so-called “feature phones” include.
The inability to copy a chunk of text and paste it into another application has baffled geeks since the iPhone’s introduction last year. It’s a simple tool that would make blogging and zapping bits of text to friends via e-mail a breeze. And, yes, it can be done without screwing up the phone’s interface.
No Multimedia Messaging Service
This might be the most interesting example of what makes the iPhone quirky: There are some things dirt-cheap phones cranked out by the tens of millions can do that the vaunted iPhone cannot. Forbes.com’s David Ewalt sees the lack of support for Multimedia Messaging Service as one of the most maddening. Want to open an image sent to you via MMS by a friend from her (dirt-cheap) mobile phone? No dice.
Bonus: No voice dialling
No blogger we’ve seen has complained about this yet. Maybe that’s because all the geeks who might whine about how tough it is to dial the iPhone died in fiery auto wrecks first, seeing as the iPhone doesn’t have the voice-recognition smarts to let users dial verbally – the one feature makes the BlackBerry, with its nubby little plastic keyboard, usable on the road.