I was reading Farhad Manjoo’s year-end technology wrap-up on Salon, and he talked a lot about the iPhone. He also included a pointer to a post by Harry McCracken of PC World (any relation to Ed, I wonder?) about the iPhone’s shortcomings. And it got me to thinking about my experiences with the little guy.

The first thing to say is, I went down Harry’s list and kept thinking, “Geez, I don’t really give a rip about that.” Things like Skype, using Lotus Notes (ugh!), Slingbox . . . he just has an interesting set of priorities. After 6 months with the iPhone, I’m still loving it. It is far and away my favorite purchase of the year, and while I can’t wait for the upgrade–Doug’s estimate: June of 2008–I have a hard time getting irritated for it’s faults.

What do I want in an iPhone Rev. 2.0? Right now, just a few things:

  • 3G; while I can live with Edge when I have to, it is definitely far too much slower than 3G. Apple says they’ll have it next year. (June?)
  • A2DP. I’m stunned that I can’t use Bluetooth devices like the Cardo S-2 on the iPhone. That was boneheaded. (Another June fix?)
  • Better ear-buds. The ones that come with the phone break in just a few months, and at $30/pop, that’s not okay.
  • More memory. I can live with 8GB, but it’s not really 8GB. The OS takes up some space (about .75GB), and I have found that if you pack it too full, weird things start a-happenin’. I have found you need to leave about 1GB of free space, which is pretty annoying. But since the Touch comes in a 16GB model, I’m thinking this problem will be solved soon, too. (June?)
  • There are lots of games available on the web for the iPhone now. I don’t want them; I want games that are native. Jeez, Jobs; the friggin’ iPod nano comes with games–what’s up with not having any for the iPhone? Get on the stick!

With regard to some of Harry’s specific complaints, I wanted to give my countervailing opinion:

  • “The iPhone requires too many clicks to get stuff done.” With all due respect: baloney. Perhaps Harry can get to stuff quicker or with less clicks on his 8525; I couldn’t say. But I do know that on my wife’s RAZR, my old v180, the HTC Universal, and any number of other phones I’ve tested that it’s generally a pain in the ass to do almost anything not “dial a phone” related. Where do I go to turn on Bluetooth? How to I use the video camera? (My wife has had her RAZR for 3 months and didn’t even know it had a video camera!) How do I download ringtones? Etc. On the iPhone, I never get lost in menus and I rarely guess wrong about where some feature is located. The interface is simply superb, and as a guy who documents software for a living, believe me, I’ve seen a lot of lame interfaces. It may take “more clicks,” but who gives a rip as long as it’s fast?
  • “The iPhone doesn’t have enough storage to be my primary media player.” Well, it doesn’t have enough space, that’s true. On the other hand, it’s far and away the best media player I’ve ever tested, and I’ve tested a bunch. I’ve tested several that had 30GB or 60GB of storage, and frankly the extra space isn’t worth the screen that’s not as good, the interface that’s not as good, and the lack of quietness that those devices always have.
  • “The iPhone’s virtual keyboard is surprisingly good; the 8525’s real one is better.” Maybe. On the other hand, I’m not using the iPhone to type notes on; I just use it for SMS and answering the occasional email, and it’s just fine for that. I don’t want to trade a virtual keyboard for a real one unless I get something of the quality of an HTC Universal or an OQO version 2. And those babies cost over a grand, and weight 3 times as much. I don’t think that’s a good tradeoff. Your mileage may vary.

One final thing I wanted to mention: as a phone, the iPhone is by far the best cell phone I’ve had. It’s reception is better and more consistent, I can hear better with the stereo earbuds, and it’s interface–in case I haven’t made this clear–is excellent. So I don’t know what the people are expecting who complain, but I have been way happy just on the phone end.

It’s not a perfect device, by any means. But it is the only device I have ever actually be willing to carry on my hip; all other devices have gotten tossed in a gear bag. The iPhone? Naw; I clip it on my belt in a beautiful Vaja case. And while you may not know it, for me, that’s saying a lot.

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