FOR THE IPHONE
1. Looks (and feels) amazing
Whatever you think of the feature set, and the chances of your fat fingers destroying that shiny big screen, the iPhone looks amazing, and it probably feels amazing in the palm of your hand, too. It’s sleek, curvy, shiny, and sexy, with on-screen icons and buttons that just ooze and drip class.
2. OS X
Most likely a scaled-down version of the fully fledged Mac OS X, but still a world-class operating system, and touted to run ‘desktop-class applications’. Certainly great news for Apple Mac fans that have longed for a home-grown solution that lets them use the desktop apps they love on the move.
3. Google/Yahoo integration
Seeing Apple working closely with Google and Yahoo may not sit comfortably with everyone, but it does mean that the iPhone gets killer apps – like Google Maps – as well as more mail functionality – Yahoo mail push. A good alliance.
Whilst no-one but Steve and a few top bods at Apple have got their hands on the iPhone yet, all the demonstrations so far point to a pretty slick ‘gesturing’ system for controlling the iPhone. Sweeping and pinching to scroll and zoom look particularly cool. Apple have certainly done a lot of research into this. Well-known for producing great user interfaces, expect something special from Apple on this one.
5. Cover art
Not everyone’s cup of tea, but the function first introduced on the desktop version of iTunes makes it way onto the iPhone. Sure, it only looks good if iTunes can find art for most of your albums, but scrolling through your music visually with bold finger sweeps on that luscious widescreen is amazing.
6. Smart contacts and voicemail
After all, this is a phone: Finding and calling contacts, setting up conference calls, and visual voicemeail that allows you to see your messages rather than having to run through them sequentially, are all cool features that raise the bar on how you make, take, and organise calls.
The iPhone’s three built-in sensors: accelerometer, proximity, and ambient light, improve the user experience by doing smart things without the user intervening or even having to think about them – typically Apple.
Of course wi-fi isn’t everywhere, but it’s increasingly easy to hook up to the Internet at home and work, as well as plenty of other places: cafés, libraries, and urban hotspots. iPhone certainly isn’t the only handset to include it, but it’s a great addition.
9. Large screen
Oh that gorgeous high-resolution widescreen. It invites you to touch it – which is just as well, given that’s how you interact with the iPhone.
10. It’s Apple
For some, this puts it in the ‘against’ list, but not for me. Apple make products that look, feel, and work… great. The iPhone is undeniably Apple.
AGAINST THE IPHONE
Despite running a version of OS X, Steve Jobs has told the press that the iPhone will be a closed platform. It was exciting when we thought we could put all our OS X software goodies on the device, but apparently that isn’t going to happen. Oh, Apple will probably sell extra software, but there won’t be a free-for-all.
I’m surprised, given the stability and reliability of OS X, that a workaround for this hasn’t been found. Steve Jobs has implied that a rogue application could screw up the mobile network. “Cingular doesn’t want to see their West Coast network go down because some application messed up,” he told Newsweek.
That touchscreen is a mixed blessing. Fingers are messy things (some people’s more than others) and sweeping and tapping them all over a glossy screen is sure to take its toll eventually. Plus, fingers are much fatter than a stylus, so you can’t help but obscure what you’re interacting with. You’ll also have to invest in your own screen protection, as first-generation iPhone doesn’t have its own.
3. No 3G
This is a killer for many people, particularly outside the US. Whilst a second generation of iPhone could feature 3G, omitting it from the start may make it unattractive to anyone wanting high-speed Net access on the move. Wi-fi isn’t everywhere and we’re more accustomed to widespread 3G in the UK and Europe. Though Steve mentioned the elusive 3G in his keynote, it’s not a feature yet, and with an apparent exclusive tie-in to Cingular (in the States) until at least 2009, things could move very slowly on this one. Let’s hope European variants evolve more quickly.
4. Poor camera spec
A 2 megapixel camera, even on a mobile phone, is pretty paltry these days. It’s an easy one to upgrade in future models, but it still seems a little stingy. It’s a spec already whipped by cheaper phones from most other manufacturers. With the iPhone touted as an all-in-one device, the camera needs to improve.
5. US provider
The whole deal with users requiring a two-year contract with Cingular to use the iPhone is a bum deal for anyone on the larger US networks with existing contracts. Let’s hope similar tie-ins ‘features’ like this don’t make their way over to the UK.
6. No VoIP
Some were hoping for VoIP to be a part of the iPhone, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. And the reason? Allegedly because of Cisco’s pesky lawsuit against Apple’s use of the iPhone name. Apple have said that their products are different because Cisco make VoIP devices, which the iPhone isn’t. If this is the only reason, it’s a pain. Worth a name change?
7. Release date
5+ months until the US gets hold of the iPhone, and almost a year until international rollout begins, will result in hype and unreasonably raised expectations. It could all backfire on Apple if demand can’t be met, or if the first iPhone doesn’t live up to the spin that will now circle the Internet until release date.
8. Battery life
The iPhone’s battery life is something that has to improve if users are to enjoy all of its features on the move without being forced to recharge it 2 or 3 times a day. 5 hours talk/video time is pretty pathetic, added to the fact that these batteries look like they’re ‘locked in’ (a la iPod) – so carrying round a spare and swapping it out isn’t a possibility.
Yes it’s a premium Apple product, but the price is going to deter even some of the most ardent Apple fans. Unlocked versions, if they ever materialise, could cost even more. And what about the replacement cost? Presumably the iPhone, as it comes on contract, is already subsidised?
10. Not Symbian
Though OS X is great, and the scaled-down iPhone version could work wonderfully, many see Symbian OS as the leading OS for mobile devices. It’s present on around 70% of mobile devices (as of 3Q last year) and is an evolved, honed system. OS X, on the other hand, is as yet unproven on such a mobile device. It also makes it harder for existing third-party applications to be ported to the iPhone.