The web in the palm of your hand
2007's Top Products We've already reviewed Apple's iPhone, so why are we taking another look? There are several reasons. First, a different reviewer means a different opinion. That applies to any product, of course, but Apple's claim that the iPhone is "revolutionary" perhaps justifies an alternative appraisal.
Second, the first review was of a device limited by the shackles of AT&T's two-year subscription requirement. With an unlocked model, this reviewer is much less restricted. Thirdly - and this is the killer, really - having used the iPhone as my sole communications device for a time, I think it's bloody marvelous and I'd like to explain why.
Apple's iPhone: four devices and more... in one
I bought the iPhone to explore the unlocking process, and because I was in the US and flushed with the joy of a 2:1 dollar to sterling exchange rate. More money than sense? Well possibly, but I went ahead, promised the young lass in the AppleStore I would only be using the handset in the States - the pommy accent a bit of a giveaway, clearly - and took it back to my hotel room to unlock.
I've talked about this process already - you can read about it here - so I won't go over it again. Suffice it to say, half an hour later I had a working iPhone with - ironically - an O2 SIM loaded. Ironically - again - I was roaming via the AT&T network.
The first thing to do was load up some content and sync all my calendars, contacts, browser bookmarks and so on. Enter iTunes, which provides the relevant functionality. I use a Mac predominantly, so Mac OS X's iCal, Address Book and Safari apps were already well-stocked with appropriate data, and I'd taken the liberty to prepare iPod-friendly versions of some videos I own, just in case.
Getting all this information, along with some music and photos, was easy, but it could have been easier still. Synchronising PIM data, no problem, but the other material has to be copied using a sync process to. With my iPod Nano, I'm used to grabbing songs and albums and dragging them, within iTunes, over to the iPod icon. That doesn't work with the iPhone - you have to set up a playlist into which you drag the songs you want and then sync. This is very irritating, especially if you like to move your songs and videos around frequently.
I had no Wi-Fi in my hotel room, but San Francisco's Moscone centre did have a WLAN, courtesy of the Intel Developer Forum, the reason for my visit. I popped over and the iPhone quickly popped up a list of networks for me to choose from, which I did and had almost immediate access to a fast internet connection.
Apple's iPhone: skinny
Web connectivity is what the iPhone is really all about. If the unlocking process hadn't worked - or I inadvertently apply an update that reapplies the lock - at least I'd have not only a decent iPod but also a very smart web device.
"...tosspots that chip in with installable app support complaints... I know many people that have smartphones that have installed shite like this; sadly after the "oooh look i've got SAP on my phone - w00t!!!" i've never seen them use it again. I mean seriously... your finanical app on your fuckin phone??"
Well, leaving aside the fact you just called me a tosspot (I'll not sink so low as to insult you back), actually yes, I use an app called Cash Organizer to run all my personal and business accounts on my phone. I can only guess that the reason you seem unable to believe this is because you can't do it on your own phone, or perhaps you personally just don't need to, either of which is fine, but no basis on which to judge others' needs and uses for their own phone.
The fact is, I cannot use an iphone because I need to have my accounts readily available 24/7. Likewise for spreadsheets and "Keepass", my password storage and encryption tool. I fail to see why this need causes you such anguish. Perhaps you need anger management classes.
Bad audio quality
Why have I seen no mention of the (to me) embarrassingly obvious fact that the iPhone degrades the voice quality of its users? I know three people, now, who have succumbed to iPhone, and in each case I received calls in which the audio was bad enough to prompt me to ask if there was a problem at their end. Did Apple skimp on the microphone in this sexy but vastly oversold bauble? If it doesn't perform the most basic task of a phone very well, what's the point of it?
The problem is the iPhone isn't a business device; it's a yuppie toy to replace the iPod given the market is saturated with MP3 players. The main thing about the iPhone is they're just offloading the cost to the consumer in the most obvious way; as it's so data-centric the running costs are potentially huge. Without data the iPhone is just an overpriced brick. Personally I like my little Nokia E65 that syncs with Outlook whenever I get within Bluetooth range for the precise cost of nothing. For business I have a BlackBerry 8020 that does the whole mobile data thing much, much better than the iPhone.