If you're thinking about buying an iPhone, stop!

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Author's Note: So, it seems that I've finally been pushed towards writing this piece. I figure that it'll save me effort in the long run, enabling me to present my argument without having to argue my point over and over again, useful in the cyclical nature of internet arguments. I mean, I've cited my own articles enough times in these forums to make them worth writing.

So, you've had a look at the iPhone, and you're thinking to yourself, "This might be a good phone to choose." You're planning to buy it. Stop. With your purchase of the iPhone, you're committing yourself to a product decidedly inferior in the smartphone market, one with glaring design mistakes.

Let's start with the hardware. With the iPhone, you get a 412MHz ARM11 processor, 128MB of RAM and either 8GB or 16GB of internal storage. Apart from the internal storage, this is only roughly comparable to other phones in the smartphone category, and that's before you get to the real flaws in the design. Unlike nearly every other smartphone on the market, you cannot supplement that internal memory with additional memory cards, a facility that's been available since the Nokia 9210 Communicator circa 2000. Apple continues to show off their commitment to hermetically-sealed packages with a battery that can't be user-replaced and a SIM card that you need a tool to remove. And you know, you're really going to wish you had a replaceable battery when you realise that the iPhone has a battery life which makes the Game Gear look impressive.

Then, we get to that screen. Contrary to what Apple may have you thinking, touch screens are hardly a new innovation. Indeed, they've been around since the mid 1990s - in fact, Apple were one of the pioneers in the field with their Apple Newton. But before you go thinking that this prior experience makes Apple experts in the field of touch-screen design, let's consider the Apple Newton for a minute. The Newton, among other things, featured atrociously underdeveloped handwriting recognition, an initial model with a size which made it closer to a modern-day Tablet PC and a price tag which didn't exactly endear it to consumers. It was roundly beaten by the Pilot line of PDAs from U.S. Robotics (later the Palm Pilot series by Palm, Inc.), which used the less ambitious but far more reliable idea of single-letter glyph handwriting recognition, and was available at a far lower price.

The fact remains that the iPhone isn't as clever an example of touch-screen design as they'd like you to think. It uses the new capacitative touch-screen design, which may be more accurate due to its lack of digitiser drift, but it's less precise at the same time. It's got to cope with a big, grubby thumb and process things accordingly, compared to resistive screens, where you use a far more accurate stylus - or a pen, or a fingernail, or any sort of relatively pointed expedient. Actually, what's the deal with having to press flesh to screen plastic anyway? I don't know if anyone at Apple ever considered that some of us don't like getting fingerprints all over our screens, but if they did, there must be some real sadists over in their design labs. Only about thirty seconds is enough to turn the screen into a smudgy mess and myself into a neurotic wreck.

It wouldn't have seemed like such a design flaw had they bothered to include a separate hardware-based keypad, like almost every other phone prior to this point, but they decided to be arrogant and commit themselves to a completely touch-screen based interface. Cue frustration as the lack of tactile feedback thwarts your attempts to type on the on-screen keyboard, and let's not forget the smudgy mess that your phone will soon become as you lay flesh to screen. They seem to be forgetting that the iPhone isn't an iPod Touch, which manages to get by on the same hardware specifications by virtue of its target market, and that the iPhone is competing with venerable Symbian OS, Windows Mobile and BlackBerry platforms.

But it isn't just the hardware that's flawed. Oh, by no means. With the iPhone, you buy one of the most disappointing mobile operating systems ever witnessed on a smartphone, full of compromises and cut corners. The iPhone OS is based on Apple's Mac OS X, a UNIX variant which works well on the desktop, even if it is occasionally over-simplified, frustrating and underpowered by UNIX standards. However, what works on the desktop doesn't necessarily work on mobile platforms, and the iPhone OS displays that principle completely.

So, you're talking about a UNIX which manages to forget one of the original principles of the UNIX operating system; it can't multitask. At all. That brings it somewhere near the sophistication of Palm OS, but that's not really a fair comparison, because Palm OS was first developed in 1996, back when mobile devices didn't have the processing power to effectively multitask, whereas iPhone OS competes with fully pre-emptive multitasking operating systems of considerably more sophistication.

The included software is often lacking and/or plain crippled as well. The web browser has no support for Flash or Java, the camera application has absolutely no functionality past point-and-click, the Bluetooth functionality seems to have its metaphorical legs taken off, having no facility for file transfer or A2DP support, there's no cut-and-paste functionality and no office document editor. Basically, they've given a very limited base package with the phone, one that is decidedly unimpressive.

One of the key features of smartphones is the ability to expand their capabilities with additional software, but Apple have once again shot themselves in the foot in this regard (one would imagine that their lower legs resemble a colander by this stage). To go with the hermetically-sealed hardware goes a software download service you could use as a quarantine tank. Unlike every other smartphone operating system, all of the applications for the iPhone must be downloaded through the App Store - at the same time, you can install Symbian OS applications directly off the internet, just like a PC. The App Store basically amounts to a form of DRM, which has led to a Defective by Design campaign against the iPhone, and as an open-source advocate alone, I'd be inclined to agree with them, even if it weren't for those other objections I have.

Escaping the world of open-source, people might point to the success of the App Store by looking at the amount of applications programmed for it; about 15,000 at last count. But that count means nothing if the applications aren't worth downloading. Sure, there's a lot of dross for Windows Mobile or Symbian OS - I distinctly remember a disproportionately large amount of freeware Koran readers for Symbian S60 - but I can't think of any other mobile operating system for which there are more than 100 applications dedicated to making farting noises - and no proper office suite. I especially can't think of another mobile operating system where even one would be considered worth having, let alone the flood of applications on iPhone OS. Perhaps that's because most smartphone users want to get things done.

At this point, you may be thinking, "What if I just jailbreak my phone? Surely I'll be able to get all sorts of applications then!" Well, apart from the fact that Apple has deemed it illegal, it would only be worth jailbreaking a phone if it has a halfway-decent OS. Funnily, all of the phones falling under that category don't need to be jailbroken, because they have OSes produced by people who understand the importance of third-party applications and open development. Yeah, even Microsoft. Strange, that.

Not that you'd be getting many good applications from jailbreaking even if the iPhone OS wasn't a terrible bit of execrable proprietary bloat. Many of the best freeware applications for mobile operating systems tend to be open-source, or at least produced by people who want to push the hardware beyond the normal limits. Open-source developers may enjoy subverting proprietary systems, but their core ethics prevents them from going to prison for it, preferring to ignore or protest against the platform in question. Cue, once again, the Defective by Design campaign against the iPhone.

Or perhaps, you're asking yourself why you'd want third-party applications in the first place. The answer to that is simple. Apple haven't provided a lot of functionality with the phone as standard, with a sub-par web browser incapable of using Flash or Java, no office suite and a camera feature list that roughly amounts to nothing. And that's before I get to the cool yet functional things I can do with my phone. You may want to realise that I'm writing this on my Nokia E71, a phone with a working office suite straight off the bat, and I'm multitasking it with a web browser. And I'm using the copy-and-paste functionality to post it on the internet as well. There are three places where the iPhone hasn't got functionality which I use on my phone.

Let's wrap this up with a look at the things that you might want to do with an iPhone, and the phones or devices that do it better - because, really, I can't think of a single thing that the iPhone does that isn't done better elsewhere. The iPhone is completely worthless as a business device. The lack of copy-and-paste functionality frustrates, and the lack of an office suite renders it useless for business applications. The BlackBerry phones by RIM would be the obvious choices here, but don't count out the fantastic Nokia E71 or HTC Touch Pro. Because of this woeful lack of support for simple business applications, you can't even use it as a work/leisure hybrid, an area where the Nokia E71 once again shines, along with multiple Windows Mobile smartphones.

Perhaps you're just looking at the iPhone as a media device, somewhere where it admittedly finds success, but why don't you just buy an iPod Touch? Or, maybe seeing as Samsung provides Apple with their audio processors, you could buy a Samsung i900 Omnia. Or maybe even an F480 Tocco, which has a far superior 5 megapixel camera to boot. Even in this most crucial of sectors to Apple, you can get smartphones which match it, and also provide better performance in other areas.

And if you want it for fart applications or accelerometer-driven beer wallpaper apps? Then you're a blithering moron or a child and therefore do not deserve a smartphone.

But hey, at least the iPhone looks pretty, right?

Woah. Big Wall of text
you make a good point tho
You certainly did your homework.

Looks like a hate post to me.
I have an iPhone and I've no problems with it.
The screen doesn't smudge that much and a quick wipe on your pants is enough to clean it.
As far as typing on it, it's only difficult if you have palsy or you're a dumbass.
In conclusion: BAWWWWWW

Hammer time.

Ahem, I thought the uselessness of the iphone was a well known fact by now?

I have an iPhone.

I like it. It's not that I need my phone to take ultra-awesome pictures - that's what my digital camera's for. I find the applications available to be pretty good, and while I did jailbreak it, I restored it to defaults when I realized I just wasn't doing much with those unauthorized programs. And get this - it's a pretty decent phone.

If you think you'd like the iPhone, do some research on it. If you want to get another phone, then do so.

To each his own.

Dart378:
Woah. Big Wall of text
you make a good point tho
You certainly did your homework.

He used paragraphs. Its not a wall of text.

Steelfists:

Dart378:
Woah. Big Wall of text
you make a good point tho
You certainly did your homework.

He used paragraphs. Its not a wall of text.

fixed

Very well researched argument.
No iPhone for me then.

I don't know enough about the iPhone's processor and RAM and all that fancy stuff to be able to defend it, plus I have an iTouch instead of the iPhone, so I'll just talk about what I do know about, which is the app store.

I'll just say the same thing I usually say- Yes, there are a whole ton of useless apps like the fart machine and the iBeer app, but there are apps out there worth downloading.

I have 8 pages with 16 apps on each page and they are all fun (well maybe not all) So there are plenty of apps worth downloading, and yes, I too think it's bullshit that I have to wade through all the fart apps just to get to the good ones, but believe me, the goods ones are out there.

DraconianKing:
Looks like a hate post to me.
I have an iPhone and I've no problems with it.

First of all, well done on figuring out my dislike towards the iPhone; it's a sentiment that I've addressed ever since my Nokia E71 review. Secondly, have you ever used a phone with Symbian OS or Windows Mobile? Far more potential in those than in Apple's poorly-modified UNIX.

Regarding the keyboard, what's your typing speed on the iPhone? My typing speed on my Nokia E71 is close to that on a full-sized keyboard, short of using a buckling spring Model M.

RAKtheUndead:

Regarding the keyboard, what's your typing speed on the iPhone? My typing speed on my Nokia E71 is close to that on a full-sized keyboard, short of using a buckling spring Model M.

So you can type a little faster on your phone than you can on the iPhone, why would that matter? And wouldn't how fast someone types depend on the user themselves, not the phone?

I wasn't ever going to buy one anyway. The only thing I'd buy from apple is an iPod at a push.

You forgot to mention the fact that the web browser kinda "suspends" tabs after a while. Then when you return to that tab it'll end up reloading that page. And it doesn't seem to put your cursor back to where you were, either.

I found it very hard to actually multitask within the browser because, well, every time I stopped reading RPGNet for 5 minutes it would lose my place in the thread.

-- Alex

RAKtheUndead:
And if you want it for fart applications or accelerometer-driven beer wallpaper apps? Then you're a blithering moron or a child and therefore do not deserve a smartphone.

But hey, at least the iPhone looks pretty, right?

I love you. I really do. I will use this wall of text whenever the need arises.

Whoops. I bought an iPhone on Saturday, and should be getting it either tomorrow or the day after. So, yeah... just...whoops.

I find them pretty nifty if all else fails you have a phone/ipod/web browser for 99 bucks, not a bad deal imo. I'd get one.

More reasons not to buy from apple. I wouldn't buy it anyway.

I mean, if they sold it here. And it didn't cost half my salary.

If you really want to get into financial matters remember that the iphone's data plan costs 30 dollars a month to the consumer and 45 if you need to use it with an exchange server. Add text messaging and that can reach up to 30 dollars a month. Then let's add the minute rate plan which at the very least costs 40 dollars a month with an individual plan.

30+30+40=100 dollars a month(without taxes) for one person.

So if you really want an iphone you better have a well paid career to support your cell phone bill.

This is also coming from a guy who has to sell them. Most people who have an iphone don't need an iphone. They buy it and tell me face to face daily that they want it as a part of their social status.

I did not understand that at all, for I don't even get those phones.

sneakypenguin:
I find them pretty nifty if all else fails you have a phone/ipod/web browser for 99 bucks, not a bad deal imo. I'd get one.

$99? IIRC, it's $199 or $299 with contract.

Don't forget that you're also paying around $70 a month for voice and data -- this cost quickly eclipses the out-the-door price of the unit.

You'll probably want the extra warranty, too, for when the sealed-in battery craps out.

-- Alex

Steelfists:

Dart378:
Woah. Big Wall of text
you make a good point tho
You certainly did your homework.

He used paragraphs. Its not a wall of text.

Yeah, it's in layers, like a cake of text.

Steeveeo:

Steelfists:

Dart378:
Woah. Big Wall of text
you make a good point tho
You certainly did your homework.

He used paragraphs. Its not a wall of text.

Yeah, it's in layers, like a cake of text.

Not a cake, a pie: a delicious anti-apple-pie...

I have an iPhone. There are flaws that I'll admit sometimes annoy me. However, I also have to state that when you look at it as a whole you're getting a phone/ipod/ all together. Not to mention the internet. The bummer on that is that you have to upgrade your cell phone plan especially for the iPhone and that's a bit expensive.

I do love the fact that if I'm on the go I can check whatever I want with a few taps of a screen and tada done. Every phone has a few flaws. The Blackberry to me was the only other choice I'd have considered and I hate the tiny little buttons on those things. My sister in law has one and I wanted to throw hers across the room when she told me to test it.

If the buttons weren't tiny enough it wouldn't be so bad. Not to mention the fact that the little trackball on it would get annoying quite fast.

At least with the iPhone I don't have to worry about all sorts of buttons being pressed when I put the phone in my backpack at college.

Sure the Blackberry and other Smartphones can do more like copy and paste and such but that's what I have a laptop for. I'm not using my cell phone to paste all important documents to here from there. The Blackberry was pointless over all for me because I don't need to view Powerpoints or things like that. If I did, I wouldn't want a smart phone for it.

A laptop means bigger screen and it's portable, thus deeming my use for any other smart phone to be useless.

In conclusion... It's still a to each their own situation. I just wanted to point out that over all it's not as bad of a phone as you're making it seem like.

My brother is thinking of getting an iPhone, I'd tell him about this, but I don't think he'd care. He'll only use it as a phone anyway.

sv93:
My brother is thinking of getting an iPhone, I'd tell him about this, but I don't think he'd care. He'll only use it as a phone anyway.

Apparently, according to the phone testers at GSM Arena, it's not particularly good for that either. The speaker is extremely quiet, making it very difficult to distinguish voices.

mydogisblue:

RAKtheUndead:

Regarding the keyboard, what's your typing speed on the iPhone? My typing speed on my Nokia E71 is close to that on a full-sized keyboard, short of using a buckling spring Model M.

So you can type a little faster on your phone than you can on the iPhone, why would that matter? And wouldn't how fast someone types depend on the user themselves, not the phone?

The reason it matters is because I write reviews and articles on the bus, where even the smallest laptop becomes antisocial. Also, if you think that peripheral quality doesn't make a difference, you definitely haven't used an IBM Model M.

iPhone is amazing. You're just pissed off at nothing man.
Smoothest phone AND multi media device I've EVER used.
Works Especially well if you have a Mac. Which I do...

i have a blackberry. it is in no way superior to an iPhone.

the browser is horrible, it takes almost 3 full minutes to turn on, and my favorite of all...
if your internal memory gets full (not with pics and such, but just with day to day memory usage) it starts to permanently delete emails, sms messages and phone history...AND THIS IS INTENDED FUNCTIONALITY, verified on Blackberry's message boards.

I would trade it for an iPhone in a heartbeat. And also, when you were railing on their touch screen, you never once mentioned that it is multi-touch, something the Blackberry Storm and gPhone dont have...im not sure about the other phones you mentioned.

RAKtheUndead:

The reason it matters is because I write reviews and articles on the bus, where even the smallest laptop becomes antisocial. Also, if you think that peripheral quality doesn't make a difference, you definitely haven't used an IBM Model M.

Well, to each his own I guess. If you need a better keypad so you can do your stuff on the bus, then that's perfectly alright. I guess what I was trying to say was that a few seconds quicker doesn't really seem like that big of a difference to me.

And you're right, I haven't used an IBM Model M, and I never will.

DROPDEADNAKED:
iPhone is amazing. You're just pissed off at nothing man.
Smoothest phone AND multi media device I've EVER used.
Works Especially well if you have a Mac. Which I do...

First of all, have you tried a well laid-out Symbian OS or Windows Mobile phone? Yes, they have more complicated interfaces, but at least they actually work.

Also, as an open-source advocate, I dislike iTunes by default. I don't own a Mac. I have a series of Windows and Linux computers.

RAKtheUndead:

DraconianKing:
Looks like a hate post to me.
I have an iPhone and I've no problems with it.

First of all, well done on figuring out my dislike towards the iPhone; it's a sentiment that I've addressed ever since my Nokia E71 review. Secondly, have you ever used a phone with Symbian OS or Windows Mobile? Far more potential in those than in Apple's poorly-modified UNIX.

Regarding the keyboard, what's your typing speed on the iPhone? My typing speed on my Nokia E71 is close to that on a full-sized keyboard, short of using a buckling spring Model M.

It's just about the same as on my old cell phone.
It's not like I text entire bricks like your forum post. Most of my texts are "Party Friday?" "Bring Captain" "Where's the hoes?"

Second, I'm not looking for my phone to be some kind of god computer, it's a fucking phone.
If I want to compute something or play games, I'll get on a real computer.

I've used Windows Mobile and *shrugs* Big deal. Nothing to praise or baww about.
It's just a cell phone.
I quite enjoy the fact that my phone can text what I want, can go to Cracked.com on my lunch break, can make phone calls and can play music that doesn't sound too shitty.
I also enjoy the fact that my phone can dock into all kinds of neat speaker systems with no attachments.

I'm not saying the iPhone is the end all be all of phones. It's not. It doesn't even record video. BUT who the fuck wants to record video on their phone. Digital cameras do it better.
So don't give it shit for what it falls short on, because it's just a Jack of all Trades.

In conclusion, stop BAWWWing.
and while this is pure speculation, I think there's a chance you're just mad because you don't have AT&T and you're still in contract with T-Mobile or something.

Specter_:

Steeveeo:

Steelfists:

Dart378:
Woah. Big Wall of text
you make a good point tho
You certainly did your homework.

He used paragraphs. Its not a wall of text.

Yeah, it's in layers, like a cake of text.

Not a cake, a pie: a delicious anti-apple-pie...

One problem: I have never seen a multi-layered pie. :P

Steeveeo:

Specter_:

Steeveeo:

Steelfists:

Dart378:
Woah. Big Wall of text
you make a good point tho
You certainly did your homework.

He used paragraphs. Its not a wall of text.

Yeah, it's in layers, like a cake of text.

Not a cake, a pie: a delicious anti-apple-pie...

One problem: I have never seen a multi-layered pie. :P

I tend to ignore these minor complications on my way to the puns ;)

DraconianKing:

RAKtheUndead:

DraconianKing:
Looks like a hate post to me.
I have an iPhone and I've no problems with it.

First of all, well done on figuring out my dislike towards the iPhone; it's a sentiment that I've addressed ever since my Nokia E71 review. Secondly, have you ever used a phone with Symbian OS or Windows Mobile? Far more potential in those than in Apple's poorly-modified UNIX.

Regarding the keyboard, what's your typing speed on the iPhone? My typing speed on my Nokia E71 is close to that on a full-sized keyboard, short of using a buckling spring Model M.

I also enjoy the fact that my phone can dock into all kinds of neat speaker systems with no attachments.

But you can do that with an Input/Output cable and maybe a stereo adapter.

And iPods have extremely crappy qound quality, to let you know.

Steeveeo:

Specter_:

Steeveeo:

Steelfists:

Dart378:
Woah. Big Wall of text
you make a good point tho
You certainly did your homework.

He used paragraphs. Its not a wall of text.

Yeah, it's in layers, like a cake of text.

Not a cake, a pie: a delicious anti-apple-pie...

One problem: I have never seen a multi-layered pie. :P

You sir, have never lived. =P

On topic: I have an iPhone. It was a Christmas present. I like my iPhone, it's a hell of a lot better than my old Motorola V547. It does everything I need it to do very well and the only complaint I have is that it sometimes freezes up when it has headphones plugged in. But my friends Blackberry does the same and resetting is actually quicker on mine.

I've never planned on getting an iPhone because A) I'm not a trend whore who needs to look cool in front of all my other friends and B) because I don't need all that extra shit on a phone, so it would just be a waste of money.

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