First, here’s a summary of some publications’ iPhone reviews to show how professional reviewers feel about it. This provides context for what Thurott says below.
Second, here’s Paul’s tirade against professional tech journalists accusing them of not doing their job and working to “further Apple’s brand.” This shows Paul’s frame of mind, and makes it clear he’s already made up his mind on the iPhone.
From the above two pieces (and 11 iPhone reviews within them), you see a consensus building that the iPhone is a remarkable device, while Paul doesn’t like it. His world is not built on technology from Cupertino. But now that he actually has an iPhone it’s not cooperating with his plans to report negatively on it. So he has to really stretch himself to find some “negatives.”
But he can’t report on it yet, can he? I mean, in his earlier tirade he said (emphasis mine):
“You have to really use it, and do so alongside competitors, and do so over time, to put it in perspective.”
Uh oh, I guess that doesn’t matter any more. Great reviews are rolling in. He’ll get buried and forgotten under an avalanche of these reviews if he adheres to his old strategy, so he ignores it. He wants to discredit the iPhone, and needs to get started ASAP since the truth is coming out and he wants to somehow defuse it.
So, having had the iPhone for just a day, he starts jabbing at it. Since he’s made it clear he won’t be fair about reviewing it, the results are comical. How unfortunate for Paul that it must be working as designed and advertised, just like in the all the guides, videos, and commercials. If it wasn’t, then surely that’s what his complaints would be. Alas, he can’t criticize it for that, so all he can do is pick nits.
So join me now as we examine Paul’s initial “review” of the iPhone:
“In fact, the more you use it, the more problems you find. In my mind, the iPhone, so far at least, is a “but…” device. Because every time you want to point out something positive, you have to amend a “but…” onto the end of it.”
I guess this makes Paul a “but” head. So, Paul, you’ve never used another smartphone and said “but I wish it had a better browser,” or “but I wish it had WiFi?” Never read emails and said “but I wish the formatting was in place, and photos inline?” Never said “but I wish the battery life were longer?” Never said “but I wish it were lighter and thinner?” The list goes on and on. My point is that every device is a “but” device. If 100 people made “but lists” for all the smartphones out there, I think we both know which device’s list would be shortest.
Of course, Paul provides examples:
“The UI is simple, but there’s no Back button… There’s no sense that you’ve done a series of things because each action sits in isolation. Within ten seconds of picking it up, my friend Chris started turning it over, quizzically. “Where’s the Back button?” he asked.”
The iPhone’s apps have Back buttons, but since they’re smart enough to know where they will take you, they’re frequently named accordingly. Check the upper left-hand corner of the apps, and you’ll see this makes for a friendlier user interface. In cases where space is better used for something else (like the “Now Playing” screen), a traditional “back” arrow is presented.
“The screen rotates, but sometimes it doesn’t. Because oftentimes rotating just doesn’t work, especially when there’s a virtual keyboard on the screen.”
Some apps make sense in landscape, some in portrait, and some in both. The browser can work in both, and so does its keyboard. Email does not. Photos in both. Music in both (with landscape being cover flow). This has been known for months. If you want to question why email doesn’t work in landscape, fair enough. But that’s a trivial beef for a first impression. Don’t you have anything better?
“The photo stuff is wonderful but… You do it once and you’re done. How often will you really squint down at this small screen and enjoy photos, really?”
Good point. I don’t use photos often so lets make that interface pure crap. Boy are you ever reaching. For someone who wants to discredit the device so much, doesn’t it bother you that stuff like this is all you have? Oh, and nice shot at “this small screen”. The largest on a smartphone, and gorgeous in all other reviews.
“The iPod functionality works great, but 4 or 8 GB of storage isn’t enough for a lot of movies and TV shows. Plus, iTunes treats the iPhone sort of like an iPod shuffle. You have to really pick exactly the content you want, and that content has to be prearranged in iPhone-friendly ways first.”
The best iPod Apple has ever made doesn’t work good enough for Paul. Size not enough? The largest flash-based iPods are 4 and 8 GB, and the iPhone is… 4 and 8 GB. What’s the problem? The most popular iPod is 4GB so Paul, as usual, is clueless. But as I said before, he’s reaching. I understand he’s to trying to tear the thing down; it’s a shame he has no ammunition for the job.
As for treating it like a Shuffle, what? I don’t know why your job is to ridicule this thing, but you need to go back to your boss and tell him that there’s nothing for you to do it with. Making shit up isn’t working. Artists, Albums, Songs, Playlists, scrolling lists, shuffle, repeat, and scrubber controls. These are on the iPhone just like a normal iPod. Are you losing it, or just writing without even trying the device?
“The iPhone syncs with Outlook, but it doesn’t work with some stuff that’s really important to me, like anything other than the default calendar. Or with any PC-based calendar besides Outlook. Or with Google Calendar. You know, the stuff I actually use.”
Not everyone gets their software free form Microsoft, Paul. Still, Outlook is the most popular calendar on the PC, so the iPhone syncs with that. It also syncs with Yahoo! calendar.
“The iPhone works with Gmail, but it only works in POP mode, which I refuse to use. And it doesn’t work at all with the Gmail Labels system…. It’s just a POP email client. Yawn. The only native Google software on the device is Google Maps, which isn’t as revolutionary as advertised, and the Google search feature in Safari. Big deal.”
First, does Microsoft know you have this new-found love of Google? Second, YouTube is Google, but perhaps that flew under the radar as you were reaching for stuff with which to bash the iPhone. Finally, “it has these features but I refuse to use them so it sucks” is a pretty weak argument. Don’t you have anything that might even be in the same zip code as a legitimate complaint?
Oh, and it’s interesting you make no mention of Yahoo!. You don’t mention Yahoo! calendar syncing, or search, or IMAP email, or the free push email. They’re only the most popular email out there, so I can see how you might have missed it. Funny how the iPhone’s Yahoo! support has caused you to forget all about them, and sent you into the arms of Google all of a sudden. I guess that’s just a coincidence.
“The EDGE network is faster than predicted, but it’s still as slow as dial-up, and a joke compared to EV-DO or Wi-Fi.”
Are you for real? I was on dial-up, Paul. Lived through it. Rode it all the way to 56K. EDGE is faster. But you knew that, of course. And Paul, the iPhone has WiFi. Further, no matter how much you tongue-lick EVDO it’s still a dog compared to WiFi and slower than what most of your readers have in their homes. What we all want is WiFi, and the iPhone’s got it; most smartphones don’t.
“The iPhone includes cool ringtones, but you can’t download more or use songs on the device, which seems like an obvious feature.”
Translation: “I want to pay $1.99 for a ringtone like Verizon.” Besides, using iTunes songs as ringtones is a licensing issue. Maybe the labels will allow it soon?
“This could go on and on and on,”
Of course it could, because you’re reaching. Paul, you’ll have to do better if you want to be taken seriously. What’s funny is that now that you actually have an iPhone, you’ve discovered you can’t run it down based on how it works, so you have to resort to stuff like the above. Hilarious!
“But it’s not perfect. It’s not even close. And that’s not going to be good enough for a lot of smart phone users.”
It’s not perfect? I’m shocked! Who can define “perfect” in this context anyway? If not being perfect is “not going to be good enough for a lot of smartphone users,” are their smartphones perfect? What are they, Paul? Point me to the perfect smartphone.
Anybody could pick nits over the Treo, Q, Blackberry, etc. They wouldn’t even have to resort to the same minuscule bullshit as above. Those phones would come out as not even being workable, let alone “good enough”.
Most smartphone users will consider the iPhone a breath of fresh air, and even the ones who don’t will still know it’s what future smartphones will become in terms of features (WiFi especially) and user interface. But you don’t get it, or have been instructed not to, depending on whose brand you’re furthering today.
Who has ever worked with new hardware or software and not said “this is good, but…?” If the “but” argument is all you’ve got against the iPhone, Paul, you should wait until you have something real.