iPhone: The $1,975 iPod
Apple's and AT&T's high-price gadget is a heartbreaking triumph of greed over genius
iPhone, being thin and slippery when wet, is a phone that you will drop, and often, and you'll have fun pinching its skinny head out of your pocket or purse before it stops ringing. Apple bundles a headset made of iPod earbuds with a cord-mounted microphone. The stereo 'buds sound good, and hitting the mic switch will kill the music and take a call, but this is not professional grade, and iPhone's 1/8-inch diameter headset jack is fitted for headphones, not an industry-standard telephone headset. Every iPhone buyer will need a Bluetooth headset and a holster or slipcover of some kind; be sure to audition both before you leave the showroom because compatibility is not assured in either case.
In all other regards, iPhone is a mediocre phone. Its speaker is too quiet for speakerphone use, and the audio quality of the headset is inferior to that of BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices I have for contrast tests. Visual Voicemail, which creates a browsable inbox for voice mail, is a nice feature. You can jog through each message and view details of its sender, the time, and the date, as well as return the call with a button click. But you cannot forward the message to someone as e-mail or voice mail.
I have plenty more to say about iPhone and plenty to show. I'm chopping up videos I've shot demonstrating the issues I describe in this text and in the notes that I'll share with you in coming days in my Enterprise Mac blog.
The upshot is that iPhone is a really sweet mobile device. If you could buy it without AT&T's service, I'd tell everyone to do so: Its flaws are perfectly tolerable if you acquire it as someone who's looking for a wide-screen iPod with Wi-Fi interface. However, since it is impossible to buy without $60 monthly payments, its quality as a phone and mobile browser is overstated, and it is a platform closed to third-party development, I can't recommend it. A professional or business user who buys into iPhone will be buying a smartphone or PDA to replace it before their contract is out. Lust lasts only so long.