No one is saying that the iPhone isn’t sliced bread – it most certainly is. But it does have some shortcomings. Below we are going to break those down and postulate what will come of them.

  1. Battery. Not replaceable. Waaa! Why? Form over function. Apple being Apple here. Are any iPod’s batteries replaceable? Nope. Hurt sales? Probably not much.  But, “this is a phone” you say.  Have you seen how beautiful the iPhone is?  Yeah, sorry Apple isn’t going to give you a replaceable battery unless by replaceable you mean sending it in for repair, charging you $80 and risking data loss.
    What to do?  Grin and bear it.  One less thing to lose/flap to fall off.  The battery is pretty impressive if you consider you are looking at by far the best looking mobile screen ever.  IF you really need the extra power, buy some of the long play iPod external batteries, an extra USB charger and a car charger why not?  For the super paranoid there is even a solar charger you can build.  Scandinavia in winter?   bummer.
  2. No iChat.  OUCH.  Sidekick users are scratching their heads right now saying that 90% of their day is spent on AIM with their buddies and shooting off quick group sms’s, how on earth does this not exist on the best phone that ever existed in the univese?  No one knows for sure why this wasn’t included in the initial iPhone software release.  The application may not have been ready for the launch.  Also there is speculation that Apple is making money not just off every iPhone sold, but also every sms message sent.  An iChat application would cannabalize some of this revenue.  What to do?  Use any one of the WebChat apps temporarily.  They work but are extremely rudimentary – especially if you are used to rich mobile chat applications.  Apple will release a chat application soon.  They’d better.
  3. Screen Keyboard – no tactile feedback, #%@$ for sausage fingerers.  This is an issue that iPhone users and Apple can probably come to a happy compromise on.  It is true that you do get better with the keyboard if you learn to trust it – but it will never be as good as a real thumb board.  That being said, it would be nice to have the landscape keyboard available to use outside of just the web browser (you’ve spoiled us!)   Look for an update in the next few months which will allow you to do any of your typing from the landscape keyboard – across all applications, not just Safari.
  4. AT&T.  This is the monster Elephant in the corner of the room.  But it is so big that you are in the other corner and your head is still up its arse.
    There is not enough room to write all of the bad things that AT&T deserves to get, where to start?  Net Neutrality opponent.  Monopolizer.  Crappy phone support.  Horrible signal strength.  Gouging for international data.  Confusing bill.  Salespeople are poor/untrained/unhelpful/powerless to do anything effective/upsell parts….I could go on for paragraphs.  I am not saying that the other carriers are much better.  The real problem here is that there isn’t any competition.  I am sure Apple has some performance metrics built into the contract  with AT&T but frankly I don’t expect the AT&T side of the equation to be any good.  What to do?  Grab your ankles iPhone lovers!  AT&T and Apple are married for 5 years.  A couple of ways out:
    • deal with not having the phone portion of the device.  A real downer – especially without iChat.  
    • Get one in Europe – expensive and you have to wait until November but more options abound.
    • Hope that Wimax comes out sooner than planned, Apple shoves a Wimax chip into the iPhone and has a softphone application.  They could probably back out of the AT&T agreement that way
    • Um.  That’s pretty much it.  Sad.  I hate giving money to companies I despise.
  5. Crippled Bluetooth – again, Apple being Apple.  Keep it simple.  Thing is, I want stereo sound for my iTunes.  I want to use my iPhone as a modem for my other devices.  Look for Apple or someone else to do something really tricky like turning the iPhone into a Junxion box type of device.  Yes, it would sap your power but it makes more sense than DUN any day.  Also, expect Stereo Bluetooth (A2DP) via upgrade in the near future.
  6. EDGE – This isn’t as big a deal as it should be without Bluetooth DUN.  Apple has made some concessions – like crappy Youtube while on EDGE as well as having a solid web browser that omits flash content and auto-compresses images (not sure about htis one – I know AT&T does this).  The big problem with mobile phone TCP/IP is the latency which doesn’t improve with HSDPA.  Still, Jobsy would have had to have a good reason not to throw in 3G.  Price?  Naw there is plent of room left in the iSuppli numbers.  Here’s a new one: Maybe he’s actually telling the truth.  Maybe it drains the battery.  My Nokia N95 dies in about an hour of using 3G and it doesn’t have a 3 inch screen to feed.  Or maybe AT&T doesn’t want a million Apple fanboys watching Harry Potter on You Tube over 3G on their network.  Unlimited data gets a lot more unlimited with 3G.  Well played Apple.
  7. Email – No email program is going to please all of the people all of the time, however, here are a great many problems with the mail client.  Surprisingly(for Apple) a lot of them are aesthetic.  The menus for having more than one account are so redundant.   Also, why no calendar invite support?  Landscape keyboard?  Long story short, all of these will be upgrades.  Patience.  Who are we talking about here?  Are they going to let overcomplicated software exist in their products?  Not likely.

So there you have it.  The seven most severe iPhone shortcomings and what’s likely to become of them.  Can you think of anything else?

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