Friday, 16 January 2009

12 Limitations of the iPhone 3G, and other miscellany

I recently bought an Apple iPhone.
This is not like me; having rejected all that is Microsoft on the PC, to opt for Apple is an odd change of direction to say the least.

There are many nice things about this phone. Not to go on at length about them, here is a short list of things the iPhone does exceptionally well:

1. Unrivalled user interface. It really is astonishingly good.
2. Excellent predictive text system - guesses what you meant to type even if what you have typed looks nothing like it - presumably based on key locations.
3. App store. Kind of like moving from Windows to Debian and finding the repositories and thinking, "why hasn't anyone thought of this before?"
4. Connectivity - I wanted a phone mainly for internet access on the move. It really is excellent.

But, there are a number of limitation that I didn't know about, read about or even expect. I can honestly say that had I known about these limitations up front, I might have chose differently. So, herein is the list of things you might want to consider before you buy an iPhone:

1. No Bluetooth. Yes, it has Bluetooth connectivity but only for headsets. That means you can't transfer pictures, files, etc, as you can on almost all other Bluetooth enabled phones.
2. No MMS. You'll have heard about this. Not sure what happens when you receive one either. Fanboys seem to have adopted an "email is better so we don't care" stance. I still see it as an omission in the UK market.
3. No way of sending contacts to anyone else.
4. No "Forward" option on text messages.
5. No custom ringtones, unless you pay Apple for them. Really, no other way (without hacking).
6. If you're going to use it as an iPod, browser and phone, you're really going to need to consider having it plugged in all the time. Didn't last me a working day - listened to a couple of albums, made a phone call and checked the news ocassionally.
7. The Edge network (on O2) is sloooooooow. Actually slow to the point of it being useless. If you get a 3G signal most of the time, you'll be ok. But drop out of a 3G area and that's your browsing suspended...
8. Poor speakerphone. Can't really use it in a car. Odd though, since you can play your albums at really a quite astonishing volume (and quality) through the speaker - just when I try to use it for calling, it might as well not be on speakerphone at all.
9. Notwithstanding number 2 on the pros list, above, the keyboard typing can take a bit to get used to. Having bigger keys (by turning it on its side, for example) would be a major improvement, but oddly isn't an option.
10. Apps appear to be either running (on screen) or closed only. The obvious exception being your iPod functions. But it's quite annoying at times not to be able to run something in the background - like an instant messenger. I don't know why this is the case.
11. Poor contact sync options. The options are: you use a Mac, or you use MS Outlook. I had to manually type in all of my contacts since I don't fit into any of the above demographics. Note, I would have thought Bluetooth might be a nice feature here...
12. Calendar cannot be sync'ed with Google Calendar. Apparently Apple haven't released this functionality yet. Why not is anyone's guess. Having an un-sync'ed calendar pretty much voids its usefulness.

So, there we have it. I would have loved to have found this list before I made my choice - so hopefully it will help someone out there make a more informed choice.

(It is a sweet interface, though.)

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