Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, June 26, 2021

The iPhone fever pitch is as high as it’ll get, with Apple’s new talk-toy being released in just a couple of days. The major media reviews are in, and they all concur:

All of our reviewers laud the new phone as being groundbreaking. The [Wall Street] Journal calls the phone “on balance, a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer” while [New York Times’] Pogue praises it for being “revolutionary… It does things no phone has ever done before.” [USA Today’s Edward] Baig calls it a “glitzy wunderkind…worth lusting after” and [Newsweek’s Steven] Levy says, “one of the most hyped consumer products ever comes pretty close to justifying the bombast.”

Yet each also takes pains to find plenty of things to criticize. The WSJ says that while the virtual keyboard works OK, it wasn’t perfect: “…the error-correction system didn’t seem as clever as the one on the BlackBerry, and you have to switch to a different keyboard view to insert a period or comma, which is annoying.” Pogue says that, oddly, one of the phone’s greatest weaknesses is, er, as a phone: “Making a call, though, can take as many as six steps: wake the phone, unlock its buttons, summon the Home screen, open the Phone program, view the Recent Calls or speed-dial list, and select a name. Call quality is only average, and depends on the strength of your AT&T signal.”

So on balance, the pluses outweigh the minuses. Although too many of the pluses are married to the iPhone device itself, and too many of the minuses fall onto AT&T’s communication network — which to me doesn’t seem too promising for what’s supposed to be, first and foremost, a phone.

Personally, without actually touching the thing: I have a feeling the touchscreen-only interface is not going to fly with most people. There is a tactile familiarity with physical keys, even if they are tiny. Adjusting texting-conditioned fingers to deftly maneuver a smooth, flat, texture-less touchscreen for data entry is a tall order. On that alone — discounting any potential operational glitches — I have a sinking feeling about the initial acceptance rates for the iPhone. A Newton-like flameout is not out of the question.

That said, this boils down to a common cautionary approach for any tech bauble:

Of course, what virtually none of our reviews says outright is this: Unless you’re rich or have gadget-compulsive disorder, you’d be out of your Steve Jobs-addled, Reality-Distortion-Field-infected mind to buy one of these phones right now. These are strictly Version 1.0 — and there’s a lot that needs to be improved.

Guaranteed, within a year — I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s actually closer to six months, and the holidays) Apple will replace the iPhone with one that works on AT&T’s 3G network, already in 160 cities, which delivers real broadband, rather than this “pokey” throughput.

As it happens, my current Verizon Wireless contract expires in at right around the ETA for the improved version of iPhone and/or its network. I’ve bitched about my current phone before, so I’ll be more than ready for a handset upgrade by then.

However, I’m not ready to throw away VZW. It’s got the best coverage in New York City and environs hands-down, and I doubt AT&T is going to match it anytime soon. Bottom line, being able to connect pretty much anywhere I am trumps whatever the phone can do. And I say that despite the awfully tempting iPhone service rates from AT&T, which actually include unlimited Web access for only slightly more than what I’m currently paying per month.

I’m almost sorry I’ll be out of town on Friday, when Manhattan’s two Apple Stores should be overflowing with mobs clawing to get an iPhone. But I do know someone who’s pre-ordered one, so I’m looking forward to playing with hers. I’m sure it’ll only stoke my desire to get my own, months from now.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 06/26/2007 11:26:32 PM
Category: Tech | Permalink |

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