It's iDay minus two and counting, with Apple's iPhone launching on Friday. The first iPhone reviews have arrived, with many reviewers calling it a "breakthrough" device while still noting the lack of some features and the drawbacks of its cellular capabilities.
The iPhone is "a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer," wrote Walter Mossberg and Katherine Boehret on the Wall Street Journal's Web site. Its software "sets a new bar for the smartphone industry," they added, and its "clever finger-touch interface" works well, "though it sometimes adds steps to common functions."
Mossberg and Boehret went on to praise what they called "the best Web browser" they have seen on a smartphone and the largest and highest-resolution smartphone display.
Missing iPhone Features
But, like other reviewers, they noted several shortcomings. They pointed out that the iPhone doesn't have 3G capabilities and can only use the much slower EDGE technology. The compensation for this shortcoming is that the iPhone can automatically switch to Wi-Fi networks, when available, for Internet browsing. On Wi-Fi, they report, the iPhone "flies."
They also lamented that there was no instant messaging, no video recording, and no support for Flash. The lack of Flash means that many Web sites' animation and video will not play on the device.
The lack of a physical keyboard was a "nonissue," Mossberg and Boehret said, adding that they were able to type on the iPhone as well as with a Palm Treo, in part because of the iPhone software that instantly corrects common errors.
'Almost Joyous' To Use
"Overall, the consensus is that the iPhone lives up to its hype," noted Avi Greengart, an analyst with firm Current Analysis. He added that he agrees with that point of view, saying that using the iPhone is "almost joyous." One can talk about the flaws, he said, "but, at the end of the day, it's a revolutionary device."
On the downside, he said, the reviewers generally noted that "it's a 1.0 device," and is hampered by the "relatively slow EDGE network." He said that the lack of a physical keyboard, which some consider a downfall, is a "nonissue" for most of the reviewers, using Mossberg's term.
Apple's Mac changed computers. Will the iPhone change smartphones?
Greengart predicted that we will still have phones with hard buttons. But, he added, "someday all smartphones will pay as much attention to detail in their user interface as the iPhone does."