Saturday, June 27, 2009
Why I Do Not Like My iPhoneI have an iPhone but I don't see what all the excitement is about.
When it became time for me to get a new phone (I'd had my Motorola Slvr for 4 years) I debated about whether I should get an iPhone. The up-front cost was going to be about 100 dollars more than almost any other phone in the store and the requisite data plan was going to be expensive as well. I talked to several co-workers that had iPhones and every one had nothing but good to say. I decided that if I didn't get the iPhone I would probably regret it. So I got an iPhone. And I regret it.
First, I bought my phone in April. The AT&T rep did not say there was a new phone coming out in June. She did mention that there was a new version of software (3.0). And then I didn't really get to use the phone much during the 30 day return period so by the time I figured out just how much I didn't like the phone, it was too late to return it. I am stuck.
So what is it about the iPhone that has me so worked up? Well, there are missing or badly implemented features that just never occurred to me that I should ask about. These just seemed to be givens based on my 25 years of experience with cellular phones. Boy was I wrong. I really underestimated Apple's ability to screw something up. Between the iPhone, iTunes, and Safari, I am now convinced that Apple is absolutely not better than Microsoft at anything except, perhaps, in their ability to, like Microsoft, get some really awesome idea close to reality but stopping just short - and just short in a way that makes the product barely tolerable.
So here's my list of iPhone complaints:
1. You can't take videos using the built-in camera. The iPhone won't do it. When you watch CNN and see all the news videos sent in by viewers or see all the cool videos on YouTube just remember that none of them were done using an iPhone. Virtually any other modern phone or digital still camera also does video. My 4 year old Motorola SLVR did video and the phone I had before that did video. All the phones that my family have do video. An iPhone doesn't. A late breaking update is that the newest iPhone, the 3Gs, will take videos. My iPhone, bought just 2 months ago, and millions others will not. The talk on the Internet from all the experts was that the Apple 3 software that came out a week ago would fix this. It didn't. Big disappointment.
2. In fact, my iPhone from Apple (maker of QuickTime) will not play QuickTime movies. I can download movies from the iStore and play them but I can't create a movie or even download my own movies created on my home digital camera to play on my iPhone. Version 3 did not solve this.
3. Send multimedia text messages. The iPhone won't do it. If I take a still picture (no video) using my iPhone and want to send that picture to my wife on her phone, I can't do it. My 4 year-old SLVR would do it. My iPhone won't. I can only send to her email and, I suppose, she can check it when she gets home. Late breaking update. Version 3 of the iPhone OS will do multimedia text messages with pictures but not with video - if you live outside of the United States. It seems Apple and AT&T are negotiating on allowing it to be used here. Still no multimedia text messages in spite of the promises about Version 3.
4. Receive multimedia text messages. My daughter has a BlackJack. She takes pictures of my grandkids and can send them via multimedia messages to my wife. She can't send them to me. She doesn't have a data plan on her phone and emailing is expensive. I bought an iPhone. I can't receive multimedia text messages of my grandkids. While it is possible for her to email them, why should everyone that wants to send me pictures have to learn to do something special just for me? Well, because I bought an iPhone. Version 3 of the iPhone software allows you to receive multimedia messages with a still picture but not one with video - again, only if you're outside the U.S. In the U.S. you can't do any multimedia text messages. Big disappointment.
5. Delete individual call history items. On any phone I have had since the beginning of cellular phones (I was technical manager and managed cell sites and central offices of a cellular company in 1985) I have been able to either delete individual call history items or at least categories or views of call history items. For instance, if I was looking at dialed calls or received calls and deleted, it would either allow me to delete a single entry or, at most, all of sent calls or received calls. Well, that was until I bought the phone from the pillar of usability, Apple. Now I cannot delete a single entry or any category of entries, the only option is to delete all entries. In fact, I can't even see dialed calls separate from received calls. And if I am in missed calls and delete, it deletes all call history, not just missed calls.
This is a scenario that has happened on more than on occasion in the couple months that I have had my iPhone. Recently, I fat-fingered my contact list and called a business contact to whom I haven't spoken for 3 years and he's no longer with my company. I quickly hung up before he answered but later that day, I accidentally touched the screen in just the wrong ways again and ended up calling him again from my call history. I needed to remove him from my call history. The only way to remove him so I wouldn't accidentally call him was to delete weeks worth of valuable call history.
6. No ability to move files between the iPhone and my PC. Every phone I have had since 2001 has had the ability to share files between the phone and the PC. I have unlimited Internet access on my iPhone but I can't use it to download a file to the phone. Even if I could there is no way to transfer a file to my PC from the phone. My wife's Blackjack can do it. My SLVR could do it.
7. I have family pictures on my PC that I want to copy to my iPhone. iTunes starts by compressing and reducing all your photos before copying them to the phone - compressing and reducing them so that 230MB of originals take 420MB of space on the phone. Definitely something wrong with that picture.
Then, you can only sync to one folder on one PC or lose what's on the iPhone. I had a bunch of pictures on my home PC that I wanted on my phone. As unintuitive as it is, I finally figured out how to get those pictures on my phone by clicking the Photos tab in the Sync screen of iTunes. Then I connected to my laptop wanting to pick up some pictures from there as well. Guess what? You can't do it without losing what's already on your phone! Syncing photos from a second location will always wipe out what's already on your phone! And there's no way to get the sync'd pictures from the phone to your PC for backup before synching to a new location.
8. No tethering. I actually knew this one before buying the phone but was promised it would be fixed in Version 3. It was not. To get around it, I bought a Blackjack that I use just for tethering. We simply share it between family members as needed to help split the cost of the extra phone and services.
9. Another one I knew before hand but is definitely a reason to not buy an iPhone is the lack of an additional memory card. I have an 8GB iPhone. Mostly it is enough for me; preferring a TV screen somewhat larger than 2x3, I don't watch movies or TV on my iPhone and 8GB is a lot of high quality MP3 files. But with the technology available today to not be able to extend the storage of your iPhone by using an additional memory card is simply ludicrous. No matter how cheap memory cards get or how large their capacity becomes, you will never be able to upgrade your iPhone. You'll have to replace it. And if you are on a contract, that could cost you hundreds of dollars. And if you're not on a contract, it will cost you hundreds of dollars unless you are prepared to commit to 2 years of contract. If I want to add 8GB more memory to any of our BlackJacks, it would cost 8 dollars. To add 8GB to my iPhone would be cost anywhere from $350 (used on Craigslist) to $699 (new from AT&T) to buy a 16GB iPhone without a new contract (since I already have a contract and am not eligible for an upgrade).
10. Another issue has come up with an iPhone that many potential buyers, especially those phone buyers who use their phone away from their desks or cars who generate revenue from their phones. I was traveling last week and spent some time playing Mahjong on my phone. Even though I quit playing before getting any low battery warnings, I had consumed enough battery that before my trip was through, and before I had any opportunity to charge my phone, the battery went dead. With any other phone I am aware of or have used, I could simply swap out to my spare battery. With an iPhone that's not possible. So, Mahjong or not (you could easily cause the same dilemma by just being on the phone), an iPhone may not be a good choice if having your phone dead will cost you money.
11. I had great hope that the iPhone OS version 3.0 was going to fix some, most, or all of these issues. Various iPhone sites on the net have been talking about how great 3.0 was going to be. iPhone O.S. 3.0 was going to fix all the issues in the iPhone, solve violence, end crime, and end world hunger. But 3.0 did not solve a single issue that I have with the iPhone. There was nothing at all in it that benefited me beyond finally including a landscape mode keyboard. Even more disappointing was that things that sort of worked - though not great - suddenly got worse.
For instance, the photo album slide show. Pre-3.0, if you tapped an image during the slide show, the show would stop and allow you the option of emailing the image or continuing on with the slide show. The only thing wrong with it before was that if you drug the image right or left you would get the next or previous image based not on the slide show order (which might be random instead of sequential through the folders) but would get the next or previous image based on the file system order. So if you are viewing a slide show in random order and it moves to the next image, then you want to go back to view the image that was just shown previously, you can't get there. Even in random mode, next and previous should show you the next and previous shown, not the next and previous in the file system.
Now when you tap an image, they removed the ability to continue the slide show! Now, instead of dragging to go to previous or next, you have previous and next icons but you don't have a continue or play icon. If you tap the screen, intentionally or accidentally, your only option is to go back to the album list and restart your slide show from the beginning. That is just plain stupid - especially when you're not using the random slide show feature. If you have a thousand images in a slide show and tap the screen at image 500, in order to ever see image 501 you have to restart from image 1 and wait through 500 images again. Did I mention stupid? And guess what? They didn't fix the next and previous links. Those links still don't do next and previous in show order but, instead, only do next and previous in file system order.
Windows Vista slide show, Windows Media Player playlists, and just about anything else that does random playing of anything gets this. In fact, even iTunes gets it. If you navigate backwards or forwards in a random list, move back and forth in the random list, don't switch to the file system list. I guess I must have missed the outcry from the iPhone community asking them to remove the play button from the slide show and to add forward and reverse buttons that don't actually go forward and reverse. What were they thinking?
12. So how is the iPhone at just being a mobile phone? Like my Western Bell Princess Phone from 1974, the iPhone will make calls and receive calls. If that was the whole answer to the question, the iPhone would be ok - but it's not. After all, the reference is not my Princess Phone, it's every other modern cellular phone on the market today.
When a call comes in, the iPhone pops up the picture for the contact calling you. Then it promptly covers it with a menu that allows you to select audio source, keypad, contacts, etc., and there's no way to get rid of it. You can press the home button and the menu goes away but that also gets rid of the contact picture. This is not a huge flaw but it highlights the almost awesome-ness of the iPhone and they just didn't follow through or close the deal.
Speaking of images, you can set a background image for your iPhone. But guess what? It doesn't set a background image at all. When you're on the home screen (the one where you see all the application icons, similar to what we Windows users would call the desktop; the one where we would expect to see the background image) there is no background image. I spent several minutes moving most of the app icons, because I never use them, to the 2nd and 3rd pages of the application list, leaving a mostly blank first page of the app list. Then I added a background image expecting it to show on the background. Guess what? No picture. It turns out that the background picture on the iPhone only shows if you press the home button while the phone is locked - but the default condition of the locked phone is to have the display off. Now I know some will say this is a pretty minor problem and it is. But it shows the lack of direction by the iPhone team. They spent a lot of resources creating a useless background image function. If they weren't going to do it any better than that, I have a whole list of areas where the resources could have been better utilized.
These issues vary in significance from minor nuisance or frustration up to serious flaws in usability or function. All of them have been known to Apple for a long time from many users on the Apple iPhone forums. Instead of working on these issues that affect those of us who actually buy the phone, Apple spent it's efforts in 3.0 adding 1000 new hooks for developers - most of which are designed to allow developers to sell you stuff from within the program that you already bought from them. In otherwords, the iPhone is nothing more than adware; and you have to pay for the delivery device.
For some people that I have shared these thoughts with, these shortcomings have even been show stoppers. Whether or not to buy an iPhone after knowing of these shortcomings is a personal decision. For many, the things that I do not like about the iPhone are not significant issues. The important thing is to not make the same mistake I did. Don't assume that the iPhone provides functionality or usability that has been standard in phones for years. Hopefully this list will give the reader the opportunity to make a more informed decision.
Thanks for taking the time writing it up. You've convinced me into not going for IPhone. A lot of hype and good marketing. Reached tipping point and now suddenly is a must have.Post a Comment
What would you recommend instead?
p.s what is your rss feed for your blog?
What would you recommend instead?
p.s what is your rss feed for your blog?