What I Don’t Like About The 3G iPhone ;-)


Don’t you just like the title?  It grabs you and makes you wonder why this nut has anything bad to say about the all powerful Apple 3G iPhone.  Of all things, the iPhone!  Yes, I’m now going to say what I feel about what I don’t like about the 3G iPhone and I’m going to be really candid.

Do I sound like an oxymoron talking about this?  Perhaps but there is no perfect device that I’ve seen in the past 8 years since I started using PDA Phone gadgets.  I must say that as time has passed us by, the technology has progressed by a quantum leap with the advent of the iPhone.  That is a fact!

I cannot deny that the iPhone has captured the imagination of the non-PDA Phone users.  That in itself is a feat not previously done in such a large scale until the iPhone arrived on the scene.  In the past, O2 broke ground by starting the trend and consumer interests in PDA Phones.  First the geeks, then the guys, but few ladies caught on.  Dopod, HTC, Asus, Toshiba, and many more continued where O2 left and certainly a larger audience had picked up these devices.

But guess what?  As Asia and Europe breeded on the Windows Mobile PDA Phones and Nokia legitimised the market with their Symbian smart phones, our US friends were still slow in adopting these gadgets except the corporate crowd that went goo goo gah gah over their Blackberry email gadgets.  These Blackberry devices pale in the light of the Windows Mobile PDA Phones but they have since caught up with the rest of the world.

Today, the iPhone is the definitive benchmark for any PDA Phone by far.  But it’s far from perfect.  Stay with me for now.

The iPhone Itself

The few things that caught my attention about the iPhone that needs more work are the battery and the overall weight of the device.  Other “flaws” include the SIM card slot and the text input at the on-screen keyboard (since I’m not too hot now on handwriting recognition).  Keys are definitely much better.

If you haven’t noticed, the new 3G iPhone is shipping with a 1150 mAh battery instead of the previous 1400 mAh models.  With the 3G radio active, the battery life will be sucked dry long before the day is over.  Another key problem is that you can’t replace the battery by yourself.  At least, it is not advisable because it is well sealed inside the casing.  Since it is not soldered onto any other components, a good technician should be able to make the replacement with minimal effort but this is not to be tried at home.

Then the weight.  At 133g, it’s the heaviest in it’s class of devices.  The Omnia at 127g and the HTC Diamond at 110g are both lighter than the iPhone.  Oh, it’s about 5g heavier than the Omnia, you may say.  In the PDA Phone devices, every 5g of weight is considered significant.  If you carry it for long hours everyday, you will soon realize that 5g is quite heavy after all.

The iPhone can only get lighter if the material used are lighter in nature.  Carbon fiber of some sort instead of ultra violet finish plastic will be nice.  The change from plastic to optical-glass quality screen gave the brilliance.  I don’t think I will change that for anything but the trade-off is certainly the weight.

The SIM card holder is a slot that makes SIM card change quite a pain.  Using an Apple “paper clip” is not the best idea (see picture).  Some designer must have slept on the job.  In Malaysia, where many people own a few SIM cards, the iPhone is not friendly for sure.

The last point I want to make is the on-screen keyboard.  No one can make that transition from proper keys on a phone to a keyboard on the screen with no tactile feedback.  Those who have been using the Windows PDA or the Palm have long been familiar with on-screen input.  Interestingly, standard phone users have made the plunge to the iPhone and this deficiency has not stopped any of these users from throwing the iPhone away.  So I guess it’s an inconvenience but the fad to own an iPhone is more powerful.  There should be innovative input applications available to circumvent this inconvenience.  Especially with predictive text input similar to T9 and I have seen new style input coming out on the Windows Mobile world.  I’m sure the iPhone world will have it very soon.

Beyond the Phone

Apple’s strategy is to do lock the user to an operator partner and share part of the monthly operator income.  This is fantastic to Apple’s stock price but now leaves consumers with no choice.  Here in Malaysia, Apple will pick either Maxis or Celcom, both who operate their own 3G infrastructure.  In Singapore, Singtel will be their choice.

Looking at how the Internet community provided tricks and tips to side step Apple’s hold, I’m sure once the iPhone is available in Malaysia that something will be done to allow it to be used by any 3G operator.

Apple will soon realize that the Asian market has the knack to make money from making the iPhone available for other non-Apple operator partner.  So I won’t worry too much on this one.

Apple’s MobileMe service underestimated the load coming from the frenzy buying of the first days of the 3G iPhone launch.  Great that sales breezed through with queues of fans waiting to buy the 3G iPhone but the activation and the MobileMe servers faltered.  I’m sure we won’t see this happening here in Malaysia with the “cracked” iPhone.

Conclusion

With all things said about the flaws of the new 3G iPhone (which I’m sure there are many more), you must realize that the kinks and quirks of the present design do not outweigh the fad and cultic trend of owning and using an iPhone.  The emotions that exude from personally having one surpasses the flaws or “minor” inconvenience … oh? which is probably non-existent when you start using your new 3G iPhone.

Sure it is not perfect but the iPhone has come a long way and is leading the way to what the ultimate PDA Phone should become.  All credit to Apple who made all the efforts to give what consumers really want.  Every other flaw pales in light of the awe it creates on everyone.  Even my lady friend in US who swore she won’t be caught with a PDA was recently seen showing off her iPhone.

And I responded … WOW!  Apple did it!


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