Monday, July 28, 2008

iPhone 3G - A better computer than phone...

With all the hype surrounding the iPhone 3g, many of our clients are asking about it. Is it a good smartphone? Is it a good phone? Here is my take:

I purchased both the original iPhone and iPhone 3g right as they were launched. The first generation iPhone was a miss in my world - not even a near miss but a total miss.

My biggest complaints were that it was not a good phone (thanks AT&T) and on top of that, it was not a good computer. The only time it was tolerable for computing use was on wi-fi. Even then, the lack of applications and third party developers made the device little more than an ipod with a new interface and some networking capabilities. The lack of corporate email support was what finally pushed me to dump the device on eBay only a couple months after I purchased it.

Now enter iPhone 3G.

First, the miserably executed launch of the product.

AT&T is so greedy that they redesigned and destroyed one of the best features of the original iPhone - the fact that you could purchase it retail and then go home and activate at your convenience. AT&T changed the activation process in a meager attempt to keep the phones sold in the US on their network. That means you have to activate your phone at the point of purchase just like other cell phones. What a clusterfuck. All AT&T accomplished with this change is pissing a bunch of people off and upping the ante for cracking the phone and putting it on other networks. My guess is we will see fully unlocked iPhones within days of this post.

I will only causally mention the fact that getting the phone burned about six hours of my day (2 of them just trying to activate becuase my credit card had a PO box for a billing address which broke AT&T's activation system).

Well, the bottom line is it still sucks as a phone.

Battery life is pathetic. Steve Jobs claimed the new phone would have the "longest 3G talk time in the industry." I do not know what crack pipe Steve was smoking from that day, but my Blackberry Curve on Verizon 3G nearly doubles the talk time of my iPhone 3G. In addition, the lack of a user changeable battery in the iPhone limits it for serious business users. I use thousands of minutes of talk time monthly on my business phone. On a normal business day, I am hunting for my iPhone charger by noon (on the curve I carry an extra battery and go nearly 3 days without visiting a charger). If you want this device to work as your telephone, you'd best be no more than a 1000 minute a month user.

On top of all this, I continue to put up with very thin 3G coverage, dropped calls, and lackluster 3G performance when compared to other carrier's networks, or even AT&T's 3G network that the non-iPhones run on. AT&T needs a data only plan because the voice sucks and I do not want to pay for it. Actually, Apple needs to fire AT&T and put this phone on a real network.

But it is one fantastic handheld computer!!!

The real excitement about the new iPhone is not the phone at all - it's the software (which also runs on the old iPhone). The App Store is fantastic. In addition, people have already started cracking the phone and writing 3rd party apps around the App Store. As of this writing, you can use WinPwn (or the mac version) to unlock your iPhone and load apps on it. You then have direct command line access to the phone. You can telnet and ssh to other hosts. You can ssh from your desktop computer to the iPhone on your wi-fi network. It is getting more and more like a real computer every day! Give me an RDP client or even better, a VDI client and I will be hooked. The corporate email support is one of the easiest, most elegant implementations of Activesync that I have seen. The built in Cisco VPN client shows promise althought I have not actually gotten it to work (yet). As always, the iPhone browser is hands down the best phone web browser made.

Conslusion:

At this time, the most compelling reason to have iPhone is to use as a handheld computer. I can see this device eliminating my need to carry a notebook computer all the time. Give the legitimate applications (and the underground applications) a minute to get written for/ported to the new OS, and I think this device will be one hell of a handheld computer!!!

1 comment:

Tork said...

Great points Todd, the battery life is making me crazy. I just don't use 3G anymore and it seems the coverage is better when just using the Edge network and I seem to get less dropped calls.