Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Apple iPhone: I won't be getting it

Nope. I won't be the first on the block to get the new Apple iPhone. I sure as hell want one though. ;)

The plethora of great features is really astonishing, and the slickness of the integration and the OS is worlds beyond anything ever released before. However, assuming I could even get an unlocked version of this quad-band GSM/EDGE phone (which may be a problem since Apple has an exclusive multi-year deal with Cingular), I'm not sure the phone really suits my needs entirely. My main issues are the price of the phone, cost and speed of net access, storage, and of course battery life:

1) The phone itself is quite expensive. Given that it's US$599 with a 2-year Cingular contract, I'd imagine that it would be upwards of CAD$1000 for an unlocked version of the 8 GB phone (if unlocked phones are actually available).

2) The data costs for this phone are prohibitive in Canada. Many of the features are fairly useless to me, unless I were to get an unlimited data plan. Unfortunately, such plans in Canada are extremely expensive, even if they may be quite reasonably priced in the US. It may be somewhat moot though, considering that this is an EDGE phone, not a 3G UMTS phone. EDGE speeds often are quite slow, which doesn't always make for a fun time when surfing. WiFi support does mitigate this somewhat, but most areas do not have free WiFi support.

3) One of the reasons I really like this phone is because it has a 3:2 480x320 widescreen. This is just what I wanted for an iPod, for movie playback. In fact, it's more, since I was hoping for a 480x272 widescreen. However, it has only 8 GB storage total. With the H.264 files I have encoded, an average movie is roughly 1 GB. Thus, an 8 GB model can only hold a few movies, if there are music, other files, and various applications on the phone at the same time, not to mention OS overhead. Unfortunately, there is no option for user swappable memory cards.

4) Battery life something that is likely to concern a lot of people. Often times when I am on the plane or train, I will drain my iPod battery down to zero playing back movies and music. After I arrive at my destination I can then take the iPod to the hotel and charge it there. However, this is unacceptable for a phone. If my phone runs out of juice, I am in trouble. For this reason, I always carry a second phone battery when I travel. This is impossible with the iPhone, as the battery is not user replaceable.

Other niggling issues include the 2 Megapixel non-autofocus camera, but I suppose I could live with that. I did mention lack of 3G UMTS support, but in truth our Canadian carriers are still relatively behind on that front, and so for now a quad-band GSM with EDGE is in many ways preferable here. Of course, I already have such a phone though, with a 3 Megapixel autofocus camera too. That mates well with my video iPod, which has the added benefit of TV output.

This is an excellent start for Apple. No, "excellent" is not the word. Shockingly impressive is a better description, considering that this first phone for Apple has an OS and features that are light years ahead of phones from companies who have been at this for just about forever. Hopefully they will get this phone out in time for their claimed launch date. They do have a lot of time to prepare though, since Apple has uncharacteristically announced this new iPod 6 months in advance for the summer release, sending AAPL up 8.3% to $92.57, and sending Research In Motion, Motorola, Nokia, and Palm lower.

I personally will await the iPhone 2.0 in 2008 however, with its 12 (or 16?) GB memory, tri-band GSM support with UMTS (and iSight and iChat mobile), extended battery life, and a 3 Megapixel camera. In the meantime, I hope Apple releases that $299 40 GB widescreen video iPod.


Anonymous said...

Just hold out. ; )

I'd bet anything there'll be a high-end, widescreen iPod running OS X with the CoverFlow UI by next fall (if not earlier), though it'll be pricier than $299 -- maybe $349-399.

Anonymous said...

re: Point #4: Belkin makes an adapter (available already) that will allow you to connect a external battery to the iPod through the connector on the bottom. The iPhone uses the same style of connector, so having additional connection time shouldn't be that big an issue. Granted, I'd like to have a easily replaceable battery, but for the size of it (compared to the blackberry/treo/etc. that it's going up against), I can see why it'll be more difficult.

Anonymous said...

Regarding slick new phone, I'm not worried about price, slowness of net, or anything else. I am nervous regarding only one carrier (Cingular) has a multi-year exclusivity contract. I'm waiting for the Apple faithful to buy the iPhone and obtain a 2 year contract from Cingular and see what happens regarding customer service. If it is as lousy as consumer reports and others griping on the web, I wonder how Apple will react to their good product being maligned and I wonder if there is a claus in the contract with Cingular that would allow Apple to move to a new carrier and partnership with them?

Apple iPhone introduced yesterday, January 9, 2007, and Apple stock up again second day straight. Analysts increasing aapl target. Still glad you sold that stock?

In the meantime, I'll use my T-Mobile GSM phone and keep an eye on apple's stock. I didn't sell mine.

Eug said...

Heh. Now I wish I kept some of the stock. I was planning to buy some when it hit below about $70-75 or so, but it only dropped to around $78 before it went back up so I missed out.

I was expecting the iPhone NOT to be announced at Macworld. I had told myself that it was going to be released in the summer or later, and thus Apple would announce it in the spring. Well, I was right about the projected release date, but wrong about the announce date. Thus, instead of people being disappointed by having no iPhone at Macworld, people are super excited. The stock has responded, despite the fact that the actual release of the phone will be a half year later.

Fortunately, this is just play money for me. My real nest egg is managed more conservatively. And of course, I made a nice chunk of change by selling when I did. It never hurts to lock in profits. In the meantime I'll just wait. If AAPL drops again, I'll bite.

As for the phone, I will keep my Sony Ericsson GSM/EDGE camera phone on Fido for the time being, and maybe consider an iPhone when the new model is released in 2008 (if it is available to us Canadians).

Anonymous said...

that phone looks nice. but to be honest, over here in tokyo what i saw yesterday didn't exactly 'wow' me.

the technology i saw in the phone (apart from the scrolling interface) we've had since at least 1998. hitting the asian markets in 08 they'll have to come up with some improvements on battery time, the camera, (we're already up to 8MP here), and more than likely it'll need TV functionality. The price will need to come down too if they want to really break into the market as even the best smart phones with windows running on them cost little more than 250US and much less if you subscribe to the carrier on a new contract.

ipod functionality is a plus but the media players and radios built-in to our phones work really well and are very simple and intuitive to use.

integration with yahoo is cool but we've had 'real' e-mail since day one. the phone browsers are also very good and support flash etc. google integration was also cool to see but it wasn't clear whether you'll be able to see your own location (ie built-in GPS), something that all phones here have along with functions like being able to know if friends are nearby, actual navigational services that work just like car navigational systems.

the whole thing is like 10 years behind japanese phone technology but i want one! but then again, i only want it as a phone and it's looks!

Anonymous said...

Regarding not wanting to get one becasue you would drain down the battery.
I heard that there will be two batteries in the iPhone. One is used for the iPod features while the other is used for the phone. You could run down the bettery playing music and still have the other battery for phone use.

Eug said...

"I heard that there will be two batteries in the iPhone."

AFAIK, that is not correct. Perhaps you were thinking of Kevin Rose's prediction before the iPhone was announced.