Top 10 things to hate about the original Apple iPhone


This is an old article — read the updated version: Top 10 things to hate about the iPhone 3G!

Hopefully you’ve read my colleague Tim Gaden’s article about the top 10 things to love about the iPhone.

I agree with him completely except for the fact that some of his points are on my list of things to hate about it.

Don’t get me wrong. I want an iPhone as badly as the next guy but in the midst of the gushing hype-stream out there I’d like to provide a little balance and point out that the iPhone’s far from perfect.

Don’t believe me? Read the following top 10 flaws and then tell me if I’m wrong.

1. Slow mobile data: EDGE is 2.5G so the top speed you can get from it is about 100Kbit/s. Also the only Australian phone network that supports it is Telstra – everyone else will only be able to use slower-than-dialup GPRS. The iPhone would be way cooler with 1.8Mbit/s HSDPA. (See our analysis of why Apple probably used EDGE in preference to 3G in our previous iPhone report).

2. Battery life sucks: Five hours of talk/browsing/email or 16 hours of audio playback? Look we’re not saying the iPhone isn’t an amazing device but you’re going to want a charger on your desk at work one in your car one on your bedside table…

3. Built-in battery: It must be the only mobile phone on the market that doesn’t have an easily user-replaceable battery. We know from the iPod that batteries age pretty quickly but who wants to send their phone back to Apple for servicing when it needs a new battery? I don’t want to have to go back to my dowdy old Nokia while Apple swaps the battery. That’s a major flaw.

4. Touch screen: Have you ever stood at a touch-screen terminal in a shop punching away at the screen trying to get it to register your touch? Despite what Apple disparagingly called “small plastic keyboards” on other mobiles they’re way more likely to work reliably than a touch-screen. No doubt Jobs has licensed the world’s best touch-screen technology but it’s still likely to be the weakest point of the phone.

5. Heavy data usage: There’s a reason why networks love ‘push email’ phones like the Blackberry: it’s because a tremendous amount of compression and optimisation can be done at the carrier-side before the data is sent over the air. An ultra-heavy user of a Blackberry might only use 20MB in a month – regular users will use just a few megs. On the other hand the iPhone uses old-world ‘polling’ email methods – POP3 or IMAP where the phone will check every X minutes for new email and download full emails. The phone might have enough CPU power to rescale that 7MB JPEG but it still has to download a 7MB JPEG. Either the service fees that go with the phone are going to be huge or carriers are going to take a bath on data pricing and risk network congestion.

6. Only a two megapixel camera: OK camera phones are never going to beat a digital SLR but Sony Ericsson has had a 3.2 Megapixel cameraphone out for months now. Unless S-E tied up exclusive supply on that part it’s tough to see why Apple wouldn’t have gone for it.

7. Proprietary tie-ins: Look I’m not saying that the rest of the mobile industry isn’t rife with proprietary tie-ins. Every carrier installs their crap onto mobiles they disable useful manufacturer features so that you’re forced to use their less-useful and more expensive services. But shouldn’t we hold Apple to a higher standard? The iPhone can do push email according to Jobs but only for people who have a Yahoo webmail account. Bad luck if you prefer Gmail or some other mail provider.

8. No video iChat: Er hello? Apple has an incredible base of customers out there with integrated webcams – doubtlessly more than any other PC or software maker – so what a missed opportunity!

9. Apple chooses your mobile network: Apple has announced that its exclusive sales partner in the US will be the mobile network Cingular. Presumably that’s because even though iPhone is going to be an obvious hit there are many political battles Apple faces in breaking into the telco world: powerful alliances and rebate schemes between handset makers and networks the networks’ fears that Apple might at some point introduce iTunes purchasing over-the-air stealing away one of their valuable revenue streams and more. The end result? In each country the phone will probably be locked to one carrier. (Interestingly though in Australia carriers are legally obliged to unlock phones free of charge at the customer’s request – though that doesn’t cancel other contractual obligations such as ongoing plan fees.)

10. Only 8GB storage: Ok ok sure it’s the biggest storage capacity of any phone on the market probably but 8GB is still pretty limited. Considering how good the video playback capabilities of the iPhone are it’s unfortunate that you won’t actually be able to fit that much video on the device.

An addendum: Do I want one of these? You bet! Is it one of the most technologically advanced phones on the market? Absolutely. Do we live in a perfect world? Of course not. Do I wish Apple had reconsidered a few aspects of the iPhone to make it even better? Yep.

UPDATE: Jared at the DKS Weblog points out that the iPhone is also incapable of any syncing via WiFi or Bluetooth despite having support for both. What gives? Read his post.

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