Summary of iPhone reviews: iPhone Day+1.

Now that over 24 hours have passed since the official release of the iPhone (and official review samples are in more publications’ hands) many reviews are coming in for the device.

In this post I’ll concentrate on publications and avoid personal bloggers (no matter what their stature), though I may round them up in the next few days.

From reviewing the trade publications’ reviews, a pattern is forming on two things: 1) They believe the iPhone is a remarkable device; and 2) Some reviewers perhaps wished it wasn’t so remarkable, as the hype has been tiring for six months and it might have been nicer had they been able to say it failed. It also would have been a much easier story to publish, and staved off the legions of people who will now call them Apple fanatics, Apple fanbois, or maybe even Apple sycophants. Still, honesty prevailed, and it’s admirable.

I’ll start with Hiawatha Bray of the Boston Globe, who is no Apple fan yet had to acknowledge something special about the device:

“After the relentless buildup of the past six months, the temptation to trash Apple Inc.’s new iPhone is pretty much irresistible.If only I could.”

and

“Lots of phones have music players and Web browsers… But these other phones look like high-school science fair gadgets compared with the iPhone, an elegant marvel that even a hype-weary journalist has to love.”

Over at CNET they give it an “excellent” 8 out of 10 (no small feat for Apple from a CNET article), and summed it up thusly:

“The Apple iPhone has a stunning display, a sleek design, and an innovative multitouch user interface. Its Safari browser makes for a superb Web surfing experience, and it offers easy-to-use apps. As an iPod, it shines.”

You should note that CNET’s user review ratings are not yet very high, but if you read them the majority are simply “spammers” giving 2 and 3 ratings based on the so-called faults we’ve heard about for months. Kind of a shame, really, but some people have nothing better to do than post false “reviews” I guess.

PC World, in a bow to some of the ridiculous complaints about the iPhone in recent weeks, exposed the device to a stress test . Their conclusion:

“There’s no need to coddle this sexy little device.”

The reason I call this a bow to ridiculous arguments is simple: When was the last time PC World put a Nokia, Treo, Motorola, Blackberry, etc. into a bag with chains and shook it? When was the last time they dropped it form face height onto concrete? It’s silly the iPhone was even exposed to such testing, unless they also exposed the above-mentioned phones as well, which of course they didn’t. Oh well, at least we know the iPhone doesn’t look like a tank, but it’s built like one.

Ryan Kim of the San Francisco Chronicle was clearly tiring of the hype, but is now impressed:

“After all the ink that’s been spilled describing, previewing and hyping the Apple iPhone, does it deserve the attention? I’d have to say yes. It has its flaws and omissions, but this is a device that will be defined by what it brings to the table, not what it leaves behind.”

and

“But for a first effort, this still blows away so many other phones because it takes us to a new level of interaction with our mobile devices. This makes the promise of a “mobile computing” future seem possible because it’s now something we want to do.The cell phone, the most personal of technology devices, has just gotten a whole lot more personal.”

Computerworld weighed in with two reviews. In the first, Tomorrow’s Technology Today, the author states:

“The newness of multitouch in concert with a growing number of mobile desktop-class apps will eventually fade, just as all paradigm-shifters do. But products like the iPhone… leave imprints in time because we can literally judge points into two parts: before and after. I’m convinced the iPhone is that type of product, and I believe its impact will match the hype of recent months.”

and

“The iPhone is a wonderful and thoughtful product that will only get better.”

Computerworld’s second review is also positive. Of special note is the author had this to say about Word and Excel file editing:

…Google docs and Spreadsheets do work on the iPhone. Who needs Microsoft Office now? With the spanning and pinching abilities you have on this browser, you may forget that you ever needed separate office applications to do simple office tasks.”

The ability to use an office application on the phone will go a long way to defuse potential criticisms of the iPhone as a business device. Combine this with the Zoho announcement that their office suite will have an iPhone version, and IT corporate excuses for not supporting the iPhone are rapidly shrinking.

But maybe the best lines are from Lev Frossman of Time. After a quick list of those iPhone faults we’ve heard bandied about the last six months, he says this:

“Cold fusion would be great too, but you know what? Nobody cares. Steve Jobs has said, repeatedly, that this is the best iPod that Apple has ever made, and it is. It’s also the best phone that anybody has ever made.”

and concludes:

“The hype for the iPhone has been so relentless — witness the screaming Yahoos outside the Apple store — that to praise the phone feels a bit like you’re falling for a sales pitch. Resist the temptation. This thing is a marvel.”

It’s clear that, along with earlier reviews, this device is something different, special, and game-changing. This does not mean it’s for everyone, nor do I claim it to be. If you’ve never been interested in a smartphone, then maybe you’re still not now. But it does mean that other smartphones will be incorporating this type of interface over the coming years (yes, years, because it will take a while to do much more than mimic a few menus). That’s a good thing for all phone users.

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