Update: Damn, this is a popular post. I am replying to comments below but I should note that I am not an iPhone expert. I have no special knowledge. I’m watching the news and the videos and reading the blogs like everyone else is. If you’re here looking for iPhone information consider the page on the iPhone on wikipedia which has collected a lot of what is currently known about it. Keep in mind also that there’s a whole lot that ISN’T known and won’t be known until the iPhone is released on friday and people actually take it apart and play with it.
Please note also that if you spam my blog with iPhone questions you’ve asked on every other blog that mentions the iPhone I will delete you. That’s really rude.
I’ve been asked a lot over the last week if I am going to be buying an iPhone, and twice if I’m going to be camping out to buy an iPhone. For some reason, I can’t imagine why, she said, innocently, I seem to have acquired the reputation for being kind of a cell phone freak.
I am not going to buy an iPhone, at least not this version. I am not an iPhone Hater, as those who lust for the iPhone are caling the doubters, but I personally feel little iPhone lust. My reasons:
- The virtual keyboard. I’m a heavy smartphone keyboard user; I am a double-thumb typer and I rely on the feel of the keys to type fast and accurately. The word on street so far is that the iPhone’s virtual keyboard takes some getting used to but is not as bad as it looks, especially if you trust the error correction to work for you. I would like to see it for myself, and I would like real people to use it for a while and to express real world opinions (can the blackberry people use it? That’s what I want to know). I’m also suspicious that any virtual keyboard will ever be as comfortable to type on as a real keyboard with pressable keys. I have a hell of a time with real full size keyboards that do not have good tactile feedback — the joints in my hands hurt. Given how often I type and my experiences over the years with stress injuries in my hands this is something I pay attention to. I do not want a phone that will land me in physical therapy, no matter how cool it is.
- The slow data connection. I was stunned when I heard in the original iPhone announcement that they were going with an EDGE cell connection. AT&T has a fast HSDPA 3G network in most major markets — I cannot comprehend why they didn’t use it. Apple seems to be blithely assuming that you can drop down to wifi at any time and then the connection will be speedy but as someone who has had a wifi phone for the last year I can assure future iPhone users that free and open wifi connections are not as ubiquitous as you might think, even in major urban areas. You will have to rely on EDGE, and EDGE is slow. I have EDGE with T-mobile and it is acceptable if you’re patient, but you have to be very patient. If you’re used to broadband or an EVDO connection it is going to drive you nuts.
- I hate AT&T. OK, I hate all cell carriers. They are all evil. AT&T is perhaps more grossly incompetent and money-grubbing than sheer evil, but AT&T is still a big vote for iPhone: NO right there. It’s going to take an awful lot to get me to sign up with AT&T, especially with a two-year contract, although now that they’ve announced the iPhone plans and they are remarkably simple and not stupidly named (you have the “Elbows Landscape plan with My Hazelnuts”) I’m a bit less suspicious. To be fair, I would probably have precisely this same argument with any carrier at all, including T-Mobile where I am now.
- $500+ for a phone no one has even seen. Speaking as someone who spent $500 on a phone last year that I hadn’t even seen this may seem like an odd complaint. I spent full retail on an unlocked, untethered phone, and I would do it again. I didn’t spend $500 on a phone that would also lock me into a $2000 long term contract with a carrier whose service I know isn’t all that great.
- It is a first generation Apple device. I have had on-and-off experiences with first generation Apple devices; My first generation PowerPC mac was a complete mess; my first generation iPod was replaced once under warranty and broke again a few months later; my first generation 12″ powerbook was rock solid for its entire useful life and I loved it so much I bought another one. The iPhone is new enough in a variety of ways — and cell phones are integral enough to my life that I would really hurt if it broke — that I think I’ll sit out the first generation.
- It’s just not that huge a revolution right now. It is an absolutely beautiful phone. The interface is gorgeous and there are obviously some really new ideas in interaction design there that are truly fascinating. Once the crowds in the stores die down I will be there in the Apple Store playing with it. I can definitely see buying one later on. But now? I have email and the web and Google Maps and text messaging on my phone. I have a camera and music. And I also have video and games and third-party applications. The interface isn’t as pretty on my Nokia. The screen is really small. The apps could be better designed and more useful. But its good for now.
In the meantime I do seem to have accidentally acquired a Nokia Internet Tablet. Its a wifi-based web browser and email device with a big high resolution screen that runs linux. I’m not exactly sure what came over me there.