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Apple iPhone

[Note: This post was originally published as “private” the day after the iPhone was announced at MacWorld. After writing it, I read many similar reactions from other sites. Nevertheless, it’s now open for the public. Please note that these are speculations based on initial Apple annoucement information (they are likely to change by the time the iPhone is launched).]

With all the fanfare and excitement over the Apple iPhone, I thought I’d post my thoughts on this first-generation phone from Apple Inc.

Even though I was excited to follow the launch of the iPhone, and seeing how the new UI works, I quickly felt that it isn’t as revolutionary as Steve Jobs claims. The iPhone as it is introduced lacks some important features, especially for a phone to be released in the middle of 2007 (and later outside of the U.S.). It is easier to criticize than create, and I’m sure Apple has put in a lot of R&D into the iPhone, but from a consumer perspective, the current information on the iPhone doesn’t interest me to the point of buying one right away (if they had it on sale).

Here is the list of what I think are lacking:

  • No 3G network access. I was hoping that the iPhone had HSDPA. 3G is almost a must for “smart” phones launched in 2007, especially at the iPhone price range (costs of US$499 and $599 require 2-year contract with Cingular). Steve Jobs did mention during his keynote that future iPhones will have 3G though.
  • No GPS. Many Pocket PCs and phones came out last year already had built-in GPS. Google Maps or applications using the Google Maps API are already available on many other devices with GPS access.
  • The iPhone is locked to Cingular. The whole world is moving to unlocked GSM phones. This move keeps many potential buyers away. First company to offer unlocking service for the iPhone will make a fortune.
  • According to David Pogue’s FAQ, the iPhone does not sync with Outlook. There goes a large potential market.
  • According to the same FAQ, Adobe Flash is not available.
  • Although the iPhone runs OSX (most likely a scaled down customized version), it is a closed system tightly controlled by Apple. They don’t want any third-party application to run on it. The rest of the mobile world is moving towards open systems. Third-party developers can write and sell applications for different phones, and they don’t bring down a wireless network.
  • Internal battery similar to iPods that is not designed to be user-replaceable. With that gorgeous screen, the battery life suffers. 5 hours on specs usually mean 3+ hours of actual / extended use. What’s the use of a phone without power after 3+ hours, or at the very best, 5 hours? Why can’t users buy extra batteries and swap them?
  • No memory slot. At 480×320 (landscape mode), how many feature length videos can be stored on 4GB or 8GB? Of course, nobody watches movies on phones right? What about music and photos? Or storing images from a digital camera to the iPhone while on the road?
  • Basic 2 megapixel camera with no flash or auto-focus, compared to 5+ megapixel camera phones with auto-focus and dedicated shutter button. Can you imagine taking pictures by pressing the screen?
  • No mention of video capture. Almost all camera phones can be used to capture video, with some models built specifically for that purpose. I’d imagine this would be a standard feature.
  • No face-to-face video call (well, without 3G it’s not going to be very useful). Many Nokia phones have front and back cameras – one for video call, the other for taking pictures or video recording.
  • No mention of VoIP phone software. Probably have something to do with Cingular. Wireless providers don’t like people talk for free. With Wi-Fi, it’d be a shame if Apple doesn’t offer any VoIP solution.
  • Size of the iPhone: The reason I don’t carry my Pocket PC phone (O2 XDA IIs) around much is because it’s bigger and heavier than the Nokia N73 (which fits inside any pocket easily). Although the iPhone is slim, the width and height make it rather bulky to fit inside a pocket comfortably.
  • Better get a screen protector, I can see the screen scratched easily from day one.
  • No mention of which CPU or if there is a dedicated 3D graphics chip. By judging from the live demos, the iPhone performance seems decent though.

Here is an article titled “In Japan, barely a ripple – Apple’s much-anticipated iPhone is ‘business as usual’ in a country where mobile features already are so advanced.

To me, the iPhone is interesting because it brings multi-touch technology to a mass market device. I don’t know if Apple’s 200+ iPhone patents include multi-touch, one thing for sure is that others have been doing it for sometime.

Keeping the iPhone a closed system makes it rather dull. Keeping it locked to specific wireless provider(s) is rather unfortunate.

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