The iPhone: Awesome! Wait...

January 15, 2007

iPhone with grafted-on keypadA couple months ago I lamented the current state of cell phones and hoped an Apple iPhone would soon appear to shake up the industry. It did, and it will, and I was very excited for a day or two. As the Reality Distortion Field faded, I went back to my ranking of what is most important in a cell phone to see how the iPhone does:

  • Great voice quality: ?

  • Great reception: ?

  • Simple, easy to use interface: B

  • Good keypad (must be usable without looking and for texting): F-

  • Durable (and its child, “feels solid and well made”): ?

  • Sexy (this is subjective, but basically make it black and iPod-like): A

  • Great battery life: C

  • Bluetooth (that I can use to sync with and get internet to my Mac): A

  • Thin: B

  • Screw the mp3 player (unless it’s so awesome it’ll replace an iPod): A

  • Screw the camera (unless it’s so awesome it’ll replace a Canon): D

Huh. The two most important things about a cell phone don’t show up on a spec sheet or at a keynote, so basically I can’t know if I want an iPhone. However, the lack of a keypad has the potential to really suck. Steve Jobs dismissed inputting numbers as “last century”, but I know that’s him being defensive of the iPhone’s true weakness. On my current phone, my most common operation (calling my girlfriend) can be done, without looking, in two button presses - Up, Call. On the iPhone, it looks like that will take four aimed “clicks” - Phone, Favourites, Karen, Call. Even if it just took two “clicks”, anything you want to do on the iPhone that can’t be accomplished with the One Button or by touching anywhere on the screen will be cumbersome to do since you’ll have to look, aim, and accurately hit things on screen. Slow and cumbersome.

Of course the iPhone is really sexy and exciting, and it can do cool new things that I’d like to do. Google Maps and transit schedules on the road would be great. However, serious use of the web features of the iPhone will be stalled by the insane charges for data in North America. $25/mo would get me enough data to load the NY Times site once a week, and that’s it. Ripcougff.

In any case, I’ll probably have to get something else in the meantime while I wait for the iPhone to be released, brought to Canada, and debugged. Maybe Nokia or someone will be inspired by the iPhone sometime soon, and release a keypadful phone that is almost as exciting as the iPhone… or at least wait for the iPhone Nano.

© Allen Pike. See also Twitter and Steamclock.