15 things wrong with the iPhone, and how it measures up to Windows Mobile

Written By Alla Levin
August 19, 2007

iPhone issues and we just can’t go by ignoring them!

1. EDGE is too slow for the iPhone.

There are still lots of phones that ship with only 2G GPRS or 2.5G EDGE data supports, but it’s not a big deal on those phones because their Internet capabilities are so watered down as to be almost useless and those are iPhone problems.

On most phones, the web browser mangles pages into something that’s mostly text-only and WAP-like. Even on Nokia phones with the Safari rendering core, the user interface for panning and scanning the full-size web page is still too cumbersome to be useful for regular web browsing on the go.

With the iPhone it’s different. Safari is usable, and when it’s purring on WiFi, it’s an absolute pleasure to use. But stick it on an EDGE mobile network, and the frustration builds quickly. On many web pages, the load times are intolerable for regular browsing.

On Windows Mobile, the browsing is experience is slow to render and the user interface is so generally awful you probably wouldn’t notice the difference between WiFi and 2G/2.5G anyway.

2. Mobile Safari is great, but not for all websites.

Try going to theage.com.au or smh.com.au on your iPhone, and you’ll soon see why Mobile Safari isn’t 100% compatible with all sites on the net.

Digg is another example of a website that doesn’t render quickly on Mobile Safari, which is curious considering its lightweight layout.

On Windows Mobile, the browsing is experience is still so awful there’s no comparison. It might be called “Internet Explorer” on Windows Mobile, but it’s a pale comparison regarding the ability to render pages compared with IE for Windows.

3. Inputting information into web fields can be slow and painful.

For some reason inputting text into fields on a website can be slow. Sometimes iPhone just freezes up and won’t accept data at all. I’ve noticed different performance on various sites so your mileage may vary.

Like #1 and #2, on Windows Mobile, the browsing experiences still so abjectly dreadful you wouldn’t notice if there were problems with text entry fields.

4. Deleting multiple emails is way too hard.

If you’ve got more than a page full of emails (and you will when you first set up Gmail on your phone) it can be a nightmare to delete them all. Plus, once you start removing them, more come in. It took me two days of solid removing to finally clear my inbox.

This is a user interface flaw that should have been picked up by Apple if it wants to be taken seriously in the email-phone space. Blackberries have had simple menu commands like “delete previous emails” for years.

You can’t easily delete emails on some versions of Windows Mobile either, though. (The version that runs on the BlackJack, for example).

5. The virtual keyboard is good, but not great.

I still miss my Blackberry keyboard. I’ve spent over ten days on the iPhone now, and while I can type quickly, I still find it less comfortable to hold with two hands. Also, there’s no way to edit the custom dictionary, but there needs to be.

You could be on any different Windows smart phone. Some have great keyboards (like the BlackJack), and some have only on-screen keyboards.

The ones with only on-screen keyboards suck eggs and shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence as the iPhone’s virtual keyboard — they often require stylus input, and have none of the iPhone’s smarts like a pop-up character that appears above your fingertip so you can be sure you’re pressing the right on-screen key.

6. The camera doesn’t work if your subject is moving.

It’s too slow. It is however as good as the best camera phone if your subject is still and the light is good. Also, while the interface is simple, it’s rapid to view the photos you’ve taken.

Same goes for Windows phones. And most phones in general, in fact. Despite what the bus-shelter advertising from Nokia tells you, phone cameras are universally awful (mostly because of their slow response time — it’s common for a phone to take 10-15 seconds to switch to camera mode), and user interfaces just as bad.

7. Ringer is too soft

Even at its highest setting, the ringer is still too small. This is strange given the folk law that suggests that Steve Jobs has bad hearing and purposefully designed the iPod to deliver louder-than-average volume. I wonder if Steve ever misses calls?

With Window phones, it depends on the phones. I’d guess that most are better than the iPhone in this regard.

8. The Stocks application only supports US stocks.

I didn’t realize other markets existed. Did you?

Windows is an open market, and I’m sure many third-party applications give you this information.

Hopefully, Apple will open up the iPhone to third party developers soon.

9. Using the jog control in iPod mode isn’t accurate enough.

I haven’t been able to control the play-head position in iPod mode accurately. At least not to the same extent as on a regular scroll wheel iPod.

And, it must be said, using a touch screen, with no tactile buttons when you’re jogging (or otherwise not looking at your iPhone) makes it considerably harder to change tracks than on a traditional iPod.

To be honest, I’ve never actually used the media playback functionality on a Windows Mobile phone… memories of Windows Media Player for Windows put me off.

10. The default setting for the Timer is always “Marimba.”

Sometimes, it’s the little things that are so irritating… and I refuse to forgive Apple for it since Apple’s whole raison d’etre is the perfection of the fine points of the user interface. Windows is the OS for people who don’t mind irritating default settings.

I like to fall asleep listening to music. Changing the setting once should set it for next time. It doesn’t, and it sucks.

Again, not sure about Windows but I presume it’s equally complicated, if not more so. Happy to hear from Windows Mobile users on their real-life experience here.

11. Out-of-order lists for no apparent reason

Keeping files in alphabetical order is a good practice if there’s no other logical way of sorting the items, so why then, are ring-tones in the iPhone out of order? The top ring-tone the top selection is always ‘Marimba.’ Why isn’t the hell ‘Marimba’ above ‘Motorcycle’? What makes it special? Is it simply Steve Jobs’ favorite ringtone that has been foisted on all the rest of us unilaterally?

Since this is a particular iPhone software problem, I’m going to give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt and assume there is no problem with list ordering on Windows Mobile (though nothing would surprise me.)

12. WiFi reception seems weaker than other devices

When scanning for WiFi networks, unless you’re standing in the same room as a base station, the WiFi reception level on the iPhone seems consistently small. Other devices tested in the same locations get reliable reception. I can only assume it’s an antenna design issue on the iPhone, but I hope it’s something Apple can improve on with a software update.

On Windows Mobile phones? Well, it’s a hardware design issue more than a software one. I’d be interested in hearing from owners of WiFi enabled phones — Windows Mobile or other — on how their WiFi reception measures up to other devices like laptops.

13. 8GB is spread thin in the iPhone

If you had dreams of an iPod phone that could store all your email, your photo library, a nice chunk of videos and your music, be prepared to spend a lot of time paring back the stuff you sync with your iPhone. 8GB doesn’t go very far at all when you look at all the different type of media that can be stored on it.

Then again, show me the Windows Mobile phone that can store more than 8GB… and if you do happen to pull one out of your hat, is it in a desirable, class-leading slim form factor?

14. No instant messaging. Full stop.

Apple has uncharacteristically accommodated AT&T by not including any sort of instant messaging on the iPhone. The closest you can get is a kind of instant messaging view for SMSes you send and receive. Of course, the reason for this is that AT&T differentiates its iPhone plans on two factors: call value and the number of SMSes included.

But seriously, the iPhone is a computer — it runs OS X, a high-res screen and it a TCP/IP pipe available to it. Not including an instant messaging application — even one to access the iChat network (AIM/OSCAR) — is simply an inconvenience to customers who will have to get by with web-based IM systems.

Most phones that come with Windows Mobile come with some form of MSN/Windows Live Messenger at least.

15. Battery is not user replaceable

When — not if — the battery in your iPhone loses most of its recharge capacity, you have to send your iPhone back to Apple. And for the privilege of that incredibly inconvenient service, Apple wants $US79 plus $7 shipping.

Apple will also erase everything on your iPhone in the process.

Oh, and if you want a loan phone while your main unit is being serviced, it’ll cost another $US29.

So, to replicate the experience that every other mobile user gets by walking into a mobile phone shop, buying a new battery and swapping it out on the spot, it’s going to cost you $US115.

‘Fraid to say, the Windows Mobile phones kick ass in this department: a genuine Samsung Blackjack extended life battery goes for between $US20 – $US40.

So, the verdict overall

Well, the iPhone has a bunch of problems — some significant, and some less so — but Microsoft’s Windows Mobile has many of the same challenges in greater magnitudes.

In fact, if you look at the overall fit and finish and stability of the iPhone OS, it’s imposing compared to the average Windows Mobile Phone.

These 15 points are problems that are tremendously outweighed by the number of good points in the iPhone.

There are some corkers in there that Apple needs to make right for current iPhone customers, and in future evolutions of the iPhone, but given a choice between an iPhone and a Windows Mobile phone, which one would I buy? Still the iPhone. By a large margin.

Source: APC magazine

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