3G iPhone, Yes But…

3G iPhoneIn episode 147 of This Week in Tech, Leo highlights a few of the ‘yes, but… ‘ shortcomings of the latest 3G iPhone offering.

  • Limited 3G Availability: AT&T’s 3G HSDPA is only available in limited U.S. geographical areas (I don’t know how widespread Rogers 3G Network is)>
  • Higher Dataplan Rates: The unlimited data plan price for U.S. consumers has gone up from $25 a month to $30 a month (a price point Canadians still salivate over) .
  • 3G iPhone's New AppsSMS Not Included: AT&T will charge 10 cents per 140 bytes (characters). This is ‘odd’ because SMS is only data. But carrier’s excel at squeezing every last penny out of their users. This is clearly a cash cow they intend to milk as long as they can (Android, please come to our rescue).
  • Turn by Turn GPS Prohibited: Not only doesn’t the 3G iPhone not provide turn by turn GPS,  but Apple’s SDK prohibits developers from writing turn by turn GPS programs. My guess is Apple intends to launch a for-pay turn by turn service in the future. One wonders whether the SDK prohibition violates anti-trust laws.

I would add to this list:

  • No WiFi Sync: You’ll still need to cradle the iPhone to sync music and video content. One of the features that the Zune has over any Apple product is its ability to wirelessly and automatically sync music and video through your WiFi network.
  • 16GB Storage Limit: Since my 5th Gen iPod currently has 24 Gigs of content on it, and since I expect that iPhone apps will take up a significant portion of my future iPhone’s storage, 16GB won’t be enough storage for me. I’ll need a minimum of 32GB. To make up for this shortcoming, I’ll have to limit the amount of music/video I carry around on my iPhone. It’s not so much that I can’t carry everything around that bothers me (since I use my iPod to listen to podcasts 95% of the time). What bothers me is that I’ll have to micro-manage what music, what videos, what playlists etc. are copied to the iPhone – a real pain in the B-hind.
  • Mandatory in-Store Activation: All iPhones must be activated in the store when you purchase it. This means: (i) a 10 to 12 minute wait-per-customer; (ii) you won’t be picking one up for your friends; and (iii) you won’t be able to purchase an iPhone now with the expectation of unlocking to use on a different network later. Expect LONG, SLOW  lines on July 11.
  • MobileMe for $99: Huh? Google provides most of what MobileMe does for free on the iPhone already. I’m sticking with my Google, gMail, Outlook, iMap solution – well, probably :).
  • No Podcast Delete: A feature I’ve wanted for years is the ability to delete podcasts on the iPod/iPhone when finished. Without the ability to delete, you need to use iTunes to constantly micro manage your podcast/videocast content. [July 19, 2008 Update: While there is no explicit delete function, you can set up the iPhone/iPods and Apple TV to auto-delete podcasts. See this post for details.]  
  • No Front Facing Camera: The lack of a front facing camera means no video conferencing or easy self portraits – yet. This will likely be a future iPhone feature.
  • No Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
  • No Landscape (or tactile) Keyboard [Aug 15, 2008 Update: Some applications do provide a landscape keyboard option.]
  • No Cut & Paste between Apps (though this is likely to come in a future software update)
  • No Voice Dialing
  • No Video Recording 
  • Still No Replaceable Battery
  • No Basic Word or Excel document editing
  • iPhone Dock Now Sold Separately

Despite all this, I still want one. But, we continue to wait for Rogers to announce its data rate plan in Canada. That will be the determinative factor for me. $50 or less a month for an all you can eat data plan (or at least a decent data plan of say, up to 5 GB per month) and I’m in. Otherwise, I’m not so sure.

[August 15, 2005 Update: Rogers data plan details are here, my Rogers fine print post is here and my post-iPhone purchase post is here.]