iPhone reviews out – overwhelmingly positive

Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal and David Pogue of the New York Times were both given iPhones to trial for the last two weeks. Today they (and others) published extremely positive reviews of the phone in their respective publications

The phone does indeed appear to live up to the hype with a game changing interface. There are, of course, a few issues with the phone (more of which later) but it has to be remembered that this is version 1.0 of the phone and many of those issues will be ironed out in the coming months. Can anyone remember the first version of Windows Mobile and just how terrible that was? With that in mind, what Apple have done with their first phone is indeed creditable.

Nokia and Microsoft must be very concerned now with the appearance of this new player on their territory. Especially since the phone’s interface beats anything they have ever produced!

Apple have announced that the phone will be updated over the ‘net – similar to how the iPod’s firmware is updated one assumes. This will allow Apple to quickly address faults or bugs found in the phone’s software as well as adding extra functionality.

David Pogue, after outlining all the phone’s strong points in detail goes on to point out some of its flaws -

So yes, the iPhone is amazing. But no, it’s not perfect. There’s no memory-card slot, no chat program, no voice dialing. You can’t install new programs from anyone but Apple; other companies can create only iPhone-tailored mini-programs on the Web. The browser can’t handle Java or Flash, which deprives you of millions of Web videos… it can’t capture video. And you can’t send picture messages (called MMS) to other cellphones.

Apple says that the battery starts to lose capacity after 300 or 400 charges. Eventually, you’ll have to send the phone to Apple for battery replacement, much as you do now with an iPod, for a fee.

Then there’s the small matter of typing. Tapping the skinny little virtual keys on the screen is frustrating, especially at first.

Two things make the job tolerable. First, some very smart software offers to complete words for you, and, when you tap the wrong letter, figures out what word you intended. In both cases, tapping the Space bar accepts its suggestion.

Second, the instructional leaflet encourages you to “trust” the keyboard (or, as a product manager jokingly put it, to “use the Force”). It sounds like new-age baloney, but it works; once you stop stressing about each individual letter and just plow ahead, speed and accuracy pick up considerably.

Even so, text entry is not the iPhone’s strong suit. The BlackBerry won’t be going away anytime soon.

The bigger problem is the AT&T network. In a Consumer Reports study, AT&T’s signal ranked either last or second to last in 19 out of 20 major cities…
Then there’s the Internet problem. When you’re in a Wi-Fi hot spot, going online is fast and satisfying.

But otherwise, you have to use AT&T’s ancient EDGE cellular network, which is excruciatingly slow. The New York Times’s home page takes 55 seconds to appear; Amazon.com, 100 seconds; Yahoo. two minutes. You almost ache for a dial-up modem.

These drawbacks may be deal-killers for some people. On the other hand, both the iPhone and its network will improve. Apple points out that unlike other cellphones, this one can and will be enhanced with free software updates. That’s good, because I encountered a couple of tiny bugs and one freeze. (There’s also a tantalizing empty space for a row of new icons on the Home screen.) A future iPhone model will be able to exploit AT&T’s newer, much faster data network, which is now available in 160 cities.

But even in version 1.0, the iPhone is still the most sophisticated, outlook-changing piece of electronics to come along in years. It does so many things so well, and so pleasurably, that you tend to forgive its foibles.

In other words, maybe all the iPhone hype isn’t hype at all. As the ball player Dizzy Dean once said, “It ain’t bragging if you done it.”

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6 thoughts on “iPhone reviews out – overwhelmingly positive

  1. dave

    Am I right in thinking that an eventual European launch will have to be iPhone 2.0 – ie. iphone with 3G + wifi? Has there even been a rumour of a vague muttering on this yet?

    Could you launch the current tech iphone in Europe? Would it work with our mobile + data standards?

    Reply
  2. Eric B

    Judging by today’s selloff, I think potential customers are starting to realize how expensive the iPhone will be. If you sign the mid-range $99.99/mo service plan after purchasing the 8GB iPhone model, that alone will set you back $3000 during the two-year contract (without any accessories)!

    Here’s a few other potential hurdles that could prevent the iPhone from exceeding its already lofty expectations:

    * You must be an AT&T customer to use the iPhone. With a market share of 20%, that means 80% of wireless customers must cancel their current contracts to sign with AT&T. Being a Sprint customer, I would have to pay a $175 cancellation on top of the $3000 price tag for the iPhone. AT&T’s exclusive contract runs through 2009.
    * Only 4 & 8GB of hard drive space? My tiny video iPod holds 30 GB for less than $200.
    * Recent surveys have shown that the majority of IT departments will not even consider the iPhone due to its PC incompatibilities & exclusive AT&T contract. That will dampen business spending & all but eliminate demand for the higher-tier contracts.

    This is the ultimate “sell the news” scenario. On Jan 9th 2007, Steve Jobs announced the iPhone at the Macworld Conference & Expo. The stock has since been on fire rising 50% to $125, adding $30 billion to the company’s market capitalization. Will the iPhone really hold that much value for Apple? This huge runup comes after a fantastic finish to 2006 after Apple’s stock bottomed out at $50 in October. Thus, nearly everyone holding Apple is sitting on huge gains.

    Expect an Apple selloff on Friday when the iPhone is finally released. 3 similar mini-selloffs have occurred during this recent runup:

    * June 26th: Apple announces 6 AT&T service plans for the iPhone. The stock drops 3% on investor concerns over the high prices.
    * June 11th: Steve Jobs shows off the iPhone at Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference. The stock falls 5% after investors saw no “surprises”.
    * March 20th: Apple beats 4th quarter analyst earnings & revenue estimates. The stock falls on profit taking.

    Apple’s recent success has created impossible expectations. With all the mega-hype already priced into the stock, just meeting expectations will create a selloff. I plan to sell tomorrow and buy back in a couple months. Longer-term investors need not worry because the future looks bright with Macs gaining market share & the iPods continuing their dominant foothold on the music industry.

    Reply
  3. Mark

    In answer to your questions John. The current iphone already has wifi so that won’t change with the european version of the device when it gets here. i found (and can’t find now!) a site that said 5million units of the 2nd revision of the iphone is due to ship this september, i presume (& hope) to europe which would be in line with the original planned release time frame (Q4 2007). although not confirmed it is widely believed that the iphone will have 3g when it hits our shores. bottom line, europe will not be using the phone that is being released in the states tomorrow – it will be a new version. it has benn confirmed that the at&t iphone will roam so i assume it will work with our standards, damn expensive calls though!

    Reply
  4. Mike

    It does look awesome. I’ve actually got a first generation ZUne (by Microsoft) however the 2nd gen version (released about a month ago prior to the xmas rush) has got similar touch screen features. Of course no phone but it still looks awesome. As for the iPhone i most definately want one; they do one without phone however that has disappointing storage space (8GB or something).

    Reply

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