Red Ferret’s list of "serious problems" with the iPhone touchscreen.

A recent article on The Red Ferret Journal seeks to warn us all of the 10 “serious problems” with touchscreens that we should know before June 29 (i.e., the date the iPhone is released). Remember, these are “serious problems.”

Well, let’s get started.

“1. Sunshine is not your friend. Don’t bother trying to dial from that sunny beach.”

Yes, this is not only “serious,” but since it’s well known that most iPhone users will be spending their time at the nearest beach, it will be a major issue. Of course, any other backlit screen will be washed out, too, so I suppose the legions of people bringing their other phones to the beach are in for a struggle as well.

With the above as item number 1, you can imagine how much fun this list gets…

“2. Grease is your enemy. Get yourself a good cleaning cloth immediately because you’ll need it.”

How is grease any more an enemy on a touch screen than any other? Is there some new scientific study, to which only Red Ferret is privy, that shows grease actually blocking a touch? Grease is a nuisance, nothing more. If you like your phone clean, then you already have a cleaning cloth for your current phone and can continue to use it with the iPhone.

“3. Fat fingers fumble. Get used to mis-hitting keys if you’ve got stubby fingers.”

Fat fingers will mis-hit the iPhone’s keys, but can’t miss the tiny plastic ones on other phones? Huh? Can you clarify this please? (It’s a rhetorical question, of course you can’t.)

“4. Pockets get picky. From now on your pocket holds one device only.”

No longer can you throw keys, coins, and “assorted knick-knacks” (???) in the same pocket as the iPhone. You could scratch it, or crack it. Apparently, the device you currently have is scratchproof and uncrackable. If only Apple could use that material on the iPhone! Of course, you could get a case and wear your phone outside your pockets, as millions do. But if that reality were considered then Red Ferret would only have nine “serious problems,” and everyone knows Top 10 lists are so much more fun.

“5. Resolution, what resolution? Prepare yourself for lots of repeated key presses. Stylii or fingertips will both need lots of work to select the thing you want first time.”

I’m not sure I understand what this item is even trying to complain about. I believe Apple’s web site demos are full-size. Buttons look pretty big to me. Hmmm, forget what I said at the end of #4, clearly this is the item they added to make 10.

“6. Forget about one hand SMS texting. Your new screen needs two handed love for any form of complex text input”

Aside from wondering why they believe this, I can only surmise one-handed text messaging is an issue for Red Ferret because the author’s other hand is busy doing… what, exactly?

“7. Remember that glare washout and grease smear? Add on a screen protector sheet and watch the problems triple in intensity.”

So, screen protectors don’t actually protect, but rather “triple” the “intensity” of the problems? From what corner of dubious knowledge did the author pluck this tidbit? Exactly how is a screen protector supposed to exacerbate the problems? And why would it only apply to the iPhone?

“8. Trapped dirt hurts. Bad luck if you get dirt or dust trapped underneath the screen surround.”

Right. Trapped dirt or dust doesn’t affect other electronic devices, just the iPhone. In fact, other digital phones love trapped dust and dirt. But wait, aren’t they designed to prevent stuff from getting inside in the first place? How exactly is trapped dirt going to be a rampant problem with the iPhone? The author doesn’t say, because he’s already on to his next “serious problem”…

“9. It’s complex baby. Touchscreens are very complex items. Unlike keypads there’s a lot of things that can go wrong”

Translation: Touchscreens must be complex because I don’t have a clue how they work. Keyboards must not be complex because for some reason I think I do know how they work. The reality is I’m clueless as to how either of these work, but I’ve been around lots of keyboards so that kind of sort of makes me an expert. As for touchscreens, true, I use them all the time at ATMs, gas pumps, Target checkout counters, etc., and of course if they weren’t reliable they wouldn’t be used in these applications but, still, I needed 10 items so I’m sticking with this one. Because I lack clues.

“10. The eyes have it. Touchscreens give no tactile feedback, so you’ll have to look at the screen constantly to operate your device.”

The author apparently believes a large percentage of people typing text on a regular phone’s keypad never look at the device, and devices with QWERTY keyboards are not looked at because a large percentage of users are touch-typing. That’s a little hard to swallow. Some people, sure (and they’ll get the hang of the iPhone’s screen as well; touch-typing is all about position), but the vast majority of people, um, well, we’re not touch-typing on our phones. This one was kind of weak, though better than 2-5 and 7-9, and completes the required 10.

But wait! There’s more! To conclude this parade of the ridiculous, the author adds a bonus.

“Bonus point: Speedy it ain’t. All that eye candy comes with a speed penalty, folks. Clicking through a keypad sequence is always going to be at least twice as fast as via a touchscreen interface.”

A keypad will be “at least twice as fast” as a touchscreen? Wow. Naturally, the author includes a few links to the many studies that prove this claim. Nope, I don’t see any. Well, there are at least a couple links to comprehensive analysis that postulate this claim. No. Well, is there maybe even one link to someone that’s never used the iPhone but is making the claim anyway? Yes! It’s here.

There have been a lot of silly posts on the iPhone, some of which focus on the touchscreen, but this one is the ultimate in click-baiting blather. It provides nothing of any more or less a concern than with any other high-tech device that one needs to carry around. Take care of it.

1 thought on “Red Ferret’s list of "serious problems" with the iPhone touchscreen.

  1. “Bonus point: Speedy it ain’t. All that eye candy comes with a speed penalty, folks. Clicking through a keypad sequence is always going to be at least twice as fast as via a touchscreen interface.”

    What!!!! I hate going through endless menus – it’s like Windows. My brain thinks iconically – the iPhone is “look there’s what I want – ooh touch it there it is” – ALL other phones are “let’s see, is texting in the envelope menu or the media menu and do I have to turn that on in the settings”

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