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WSJ's Mossberg calls iPhone a 'breakthrough handheld computer'

post #1 of 67
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Despite some flaws and feature omissions, the iPhone is, on balance, a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer, writes the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg, who on Tuesday published the first official review of the inaugural Apple handset.

In particular, the renowned technology columnist praised the Apple device's software for setting a new bar for the smart-phone industry, noting that its clever finger-touch interface works well, though sometimes adds steps to common functions.

"[iPhone] offers the best Web browser we have seen on a smart phone, and robust email software," he wrote. "It has the largest and highest-resolution screen of any smart phone we've seen, and the most internal memory by far. Yet it is one of the thinnest smart phones available and offers impressive battery life, better than its key competitors claim."

Excerpts and points of particular interest from the review have been compiled below, though readers are encouraged to check out Walt's full review, which was compiled over a two-week period with help from fellow journalist Katie Boehret.

On the upsideThe iPhone's virtual keyboard "turned out in our tests to be a nonissue." After five days of use, Walt "was able to type on it as quickly and accurately as he could on the Palm Treo he has used for years."
iPhone does work overseas, but only via an AT&T roaming plan.
The initial iPhone model cannot be upgraded to use the faster [3G] networks.
When you have access to Wi-Fi, the iPhone flies on the Web. "Not only that, but the iPhone automatically switches from EDGE to known Wi-Fi networks when it finds them, and pops up a list of new Wi-Fi networks it encounters as you move."
iPhone is thinner than the skinny Samsung BlackJack.
While iPhone does pick up smudges, it didn't acquire a single scratch during the two-week period, even though it was tossed into Walt's pocket or briefcase (and Katie's purse) without any protective case or holster. "No scratches appeared on the rest of the body either."
On the downside
"The phone is about as long as the Treo 700, the BlackBerry 8800 or the BlackJack, but it's slightly wider than the BlackJack or Treo, and heavier than the BlackBerry and BlackJack."
"While the iPhone uses the standard iPod port on the bottom edge, it doesn't recognize all car adapters for playing music, only for charging." Walt claims Apple is considering a software update to fix this.
"There's no overall search on the iPhone (except Web searching), and no quick way to move to the top or bottom of pages (except in the Web browser)."
"There's also no way to cut, copy, or paste text."
"If you are playing music while doing something else, the lack of hardware playback buttons forces you to return to the iPod program to stop the music or change a song."
"The error-correction system didn't seem as clever as the one on the BlackBerry, and you have to switch to a different keyboard view to insert a period or comma, which is annoying."
"It can also handle corporate email using Microsoft's Exchange system, if your IT department cooperates by enabling a setting on the server."
No BlackBerry email services but Yahoo Mail's free BlackBerry-style "push" email to iPhone users "worked fine."
iPhone can view, but can't edit or save Word or Excel files.
"Its battery life is excellent. In our tests, it got seven hours and 18 minutes of continuous talk time, while the Wi-Fi was on and email was constantly being fetched in the background."
Under the same conditions, Walt got 22 hours of music playback, over 9 hours for Internet usage, and seven hours -- enough to watch 4 average movies -- for video.
The phone interface takes more taps to reach than on many other smart phones, because there are no dedicated hardware phone buttons. You also cannot just start typing a name or number, but must scroll through a list of favorites.
"Voice call quality was good, but not great. In some places, especially in weak coverage areas, there was some muffling or garbling."
"While its two megapixel camera took excellent pictures in our tests, it can't record video."
"Its otherwise excellent Web browser can't fully utilize some Web sites, because it doesn't yet support Adobe's Flash technology."
Can't use songs on iPhone's iPod as ringtones.
"Apple says it plans to add features to the phone over time, via free downloads, and hints that some of these holes may be filled."
Read Walt's review in full over at The Wall Street Journal. Alternatively, readers can check out his video review.

David Pogue of the New York Times has also posted his own iPhone review.
post #2 of 67
add to this Pogue's conclusion

Quote:
But even in version 1.0, the iPhone is still the most sophisticated, outlook-changing piece of electronics to come along in years. It does so many things so well, and so pleasurably, that you tend to forgive its foibles.

In other words, maybe all the iPhone hype isnt hype at all. As the ball player Dizzy Dean once said, It aint bragging if you done it.

Look like a winner for Apple. They both comment, correctly, on all the weaknesses that have been cataloged here umpteen million times but it seems the good far outweighs the bad.

Combine this with the cost analysis by Erin over at RoughtlyDrafted. and voila.
post #3 of 67
I've been thinking about the touch screen and one thing I wouldn't like about it is if buttons that function similary (ike volume) are in differenet locations for different apps.

And I'm not so sure this iPhone is going to be as sucesfull as people think (but I hope I'm wrong).
post #4 of 67
NY Times: David Pogue
- "so sleek and thin, it makes Treos and BlackBerrys look obese."
- After walking around with the iPhone unprotected for 2 weeks, no marks on it. Glass smudges are easily wiped off.
- Making calls can be a 6 step process if phone is off.
- Web, Email is superior
- Battery Life Test: 5 hours video, 23 hours audio. Note: did not turn off Wi-Fi and other features as Apple suggests.
- Typing was OK. Difficult at first, but learned to "trust" the keyboard. "The BlackBerry wont be going away anytime soon."
- Cites AT&T network as iPhone's biggest downfall. Cites Consumer Reports survey which ranks AT&T network as last or second to last in 19 out of 20 major US cities.
- AT&Ts EDGE cellular network: "excruciatingly slow"
post #5 of 67
This is the first time I've seen a confirmation that the Camera can't do video however.
post #6 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by physguy View Post

Look like a winner for Apple.

Well, the reviews of the non-wifi network aren't promising and I think that'll be a deal breaker for some people. Reviewers said it took over 30 seconds to load some sites.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider

"Its battery life is excellent. In our tests, it got seven hours and 18 minutes of continuous talk time, while the Wi-Fi was on and email was constantly being fetched in the background."
Under the same conditions, Walt got 22 hours of music playback, over 9 hours for Internet usage, and seven hours -- enough to watch 4 average movies -- for video.

I think this goes in the upside section not downside.
post #7 of 67
FLASH FLASH FLASH

Qt is great, but please stop trying to make the world switch over the Qt. embrace what is already out there and working!

(I could really care less about Qt and Flash pages, this is really for selfish reasons, as I'd rather code applications with Flash and Actionscript rather than having to dig into XCode or Dashcode to make simple applications)
post #8 of 67
I think version 2.0 will be the killer. Add Wi-max and eliminate some bugs and I think that will be the model that'll destroy Motorola, Samsung and RIM.
post #9 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by sc_markt View Post

I've been thinking about the touch screen and one thing I wouldn't like about it is if buttons that function similary (ike volume) are in differenet locations for different apps.

And I'm not so sure this iPhone is going to be as sucesfull as people think (but I hope I'm wrong).

I'm more worried about AT&T's network than the iPhone. I hope they've given Apple some assurances that they plant to gain parity with Verizon and Sprint.

As for the iPhone. I imagine that after a year or two they'll have captured their desired percentage of the market and the hardware will have improved. I'd love to jump off of Verizon's Family plan and on to the iPhone/ATT family plan in a couple of years. We'll see.
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post #10 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

Well, the reviews of the non-wifi network aren't promising and I think that'll be a deal breaker for some people. Reviewers said it took over 30 seconds to load some sites.

I agree totally but its the 'some people' that's the key. What I still think has been missing from most of the discussion on these boards is that the market that Apple is addressing with this phone doesn't really fit into any of the current niches. For me, for example, I could care less about have 'mobile' web access all the time. WiFi is what I want and use and the EDGE will just be icing on cake in the sense that the few times I need to have this access it will be there, slow but there. It sometimes take the NYT's page 20-30 seconds to load at my work place with high-speed. The rest of the features more than make up for it. Would I like the iPhone better if it had the 3G? Of course but it not a killer for me, and I think a lot of other people.

IMO Phone have been marketed to date based on the feature sets that could be provided and people have been convinced that they 'need' these features. Mainly I'm referring to things like ringtones, MMS, etc. The great majority of people I know that have these feature on their phones, which they bought because they had the most features, don't use them. I think the iPhone turned this around to a large degree and said ' lets try to figure out how people would really like to use their mobile appliance' and then engineered that list from the top down.

I've seen that as parallel to the iPod. Apple, to this day, has avoided feature creep for the sake of features - no radio, no voice recording, etc.

We'll all see in a couple of months.
post #11 of 67
how the heck where they goin to bring the iphones in if the 3G chip is ban from the country, if they thought about it
post #12 of 67
The phone not working on all current car adapters is what bothers me. I'm buying the phone so I don't need a phone *and* an ipod. If it won't function as an ipod in my car while simultaneously answering calls with my bluetooth head unit while doing it, it's going back. No way to know other than to try it on Friday.
post #13 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackSummerNight View Post

NY Times: David Pogue

- Cites AT&T network as iPhone's biggest downfall. Cites Consumer Reports survey which ranks AT&T network as last or second to last in 19 out of 20 major US cities.
- AT&T’s EDGE cellular network: "excruciatingly slow"


What have I been saying for weeks now?

At least he liked it otherwise. I think most people will.

.
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post #14 of 67
I tried using the net today on my phone, i went to appleinsider.com and it took over 45 seconds to come up, and it still wasn't up completly. I have Cingular.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBaggins View Post

What have I been saying for weeks now?

At least he liked it otherwise. I think most people will.

.
post #15 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by fraklinc View Post

how the heck where they goin to bring the iphones in if the 3G chip is ban from the country, if they thought about it

The 3G chip ban hasn't even gone into effect yet- and is only for phones that are launched in the US later than early August, last I checked, so it wouldn't affect the iPhone in any case.

Also, its likely to get resolved before long anyway... its the equivalent of 'going nuclear', and the parties involved will want to settle up.

.
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post #16 of 67
Motorola MPx220
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBaggins View Post

Which phone do you have?

.
post #17 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackSummerNight View Post

I tried using the net today on my phone, i went to appleinsider.com and it took over 45 seconds to come up, and it still wasn't up completly. I have Cingular.


Which phone do you have?

.
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post #18 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by fraklinc View Post

how the heck where they goin to bring the iphones in if the 3G chip is ban from the country, if they thought about it

Well put!
post #19 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by fraklinc

how the heck where they goin to bring the iphones in if the 3G chip is ban from the country, if they thought about it

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilco View Post

Well put!


Score 1 for Wilco Massive Sarcasm Wave Attack! All your base are belong to us! You have no chance, make your time! It's over 9000!!!

,
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post #20 of 67
It says in the post that one of the upsides is that the phone connot be upgraded to 3g. This dosn't make sense. Was this a mistake, and should have been put as a down side, or should it have said the initial iphone can be upgraded to 3g?

Thanks
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post #21 of 67
Quote:
What have I been saying for weeks now

Yes you have gold star for you Baggins. But you've also been citing this as reason why people will not want the iPhone.
post #22 of 67
I agree.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimDeRosa View Post

It says in the post that one of the upsides is that the phone connot be upgraded to 3g. This dosn't make sense. Was this a mistake, and should have been put as a down side, or should it have said the initial iphone can be upgraded to 3g?

Thanks
post #23 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by physguy View Post

I agree totally but its the 'some people' that's the key. What I still think has been missing from most of the discussion on these boards is that the market that Apple is addressing with this phone doesn't really fit into any of the current niches.

I just posted this concept in another thread. Thus far, pretty much all the analysis has been comparing the iPhone to Blackberry type devices. However, I suspect that most iPhone buyers will be consumers who have never before used a smart phone. If so, they won't realize what they are missing or what the weaknesses are as even in the new reviews they are weaknesses relative to other smart phones. Instead, they will be wowed by the user interface/ease of use factors.

We'll know soon enough.
post #24 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by fraklinc View Post

how the heck where they goin to bring the iphones [iPhones -Ed.] in if the 3G chip is ban [banned -Ed.] from the country, if they [have you -Ed.] thought about it [that? -Ed.]

The iPhone doesn't have 3G. It has EDGE (2.5G) and WiFi (b/g, no 'n' and no 'a' AFAIK). The ban, therefore, does not have any bearing on the iPhone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TimDeRosa View Post

It says in the post that one of the upsides is that the phone connot [cannot -Ed.] be upgraded to 3g. This dosn't make sense. Was this a mistake, and should have been put as a down side, or should it have said the initial iphone [iPhone -Ed.] can be upgraded to 3g?

Should have said downside. The iPhone cannot be upgraded to 3G as that is a hardware feature.
post #25 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

Yes you have gold star for you Baggins. But you've also been citing this as reason why people will not want the iPhone.


No, I've been citing this as a reason why some people will not want the iPhone. \

I've also been saying that the iPhone will still be a big success at launch. My concerns are more with the long-term.

.
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post #26 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackSummerNight View Post

Motorola MPx220


Geez, that thing isn't even EDGE... it's GPRS. Real-world data speeds are like 30-40 kpbs.

Congrats... you on dial-up, essentially.

.
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post #27 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

I'm more worried about AT&T's network than the iPhone. I hope they've given Apple some assurances that they plant to gain parity with Verizon and Sprint.

We used to be on ATT's system (the older system) and it was crap. Dropped calls all the time and the voice quality wasn't very good. I don't know how their newer system is but I've heard it's better.

The Verizon network is very good (I'm comparing it to the older ATT network). Hardly any dropped calls and good voice quality. That said, I don't like the way Verizon nickle and dimes you to death with charges for all kinds of things for your phones. And they also cripple phones (I have a Mot e815) so that you can't use the USB port to transfer files to and from your phone to your computer. You have to go through them and pay fee to send a picture or ringtone to your phone.

But, if you're motivated, you can to to howardforums and they have lots of posts on how to hack your e815 and other phones. They even have a section on the iPhone and I bet that somebody will be figuring out how to hack it. Here is the link if anybody is interested. Its a good site for phone discussions.

http://www.howardforums.com/forumdisplay.php?f=115

Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

As for the iPhone. I imagine that after a year or two they'll have captured their desired percentage of the market and the hardware will have improved. I'd love to jump off of Verizon's Family plan and on to the iPhone/ATT family plan in a couple of years. We'll see.

I like Verizon as compared to ATT but I don't like the way Verizon has their phones firmware changed so you can't transfer ringtones or pics to/from your phone/computer and also charges you for all kinds of things that should be free.

I have to admit that I am getting curious about the iPhone and anticpate playing with it to see how it works. SInce I posted my last link here in this forum, I've read a few more reviews on the iPhone and they are very positive.

One thing I heard and if it's true, I don't like it and that is that you have to have an ATT contract for the iPod to work. I can't believe this is true.
post #28 of 67
Ouch. David Pogue body-slammed ATT's network and EDGE a lot harder in his New York Times review than the AI blurb lets on. He still liked the iPhone overall, but... wow:

The bigger problem is the AT&T network. In a Consumer Reports study, AT&T’s signal ranked either last or second to last in 19 out of 20 major cities. My tests in five states bear this out. If Verizon’s slogan is, “Can you hear me now?”, AT&T’s should be, “I’m losing you.”

Then there’s the Internet problem. When you’re in a Wi-Fi hot spot, going online is fast and satisfying.

But otherwise, you have to use AT&T’s ancient EDGE cellular network, which is excruciatingly slow. The New York Times’s home page takes 55 seconds to appear; Amazon.com, 100 seconds; Yahoo, two minutes. You almost ache for a dial-up modem.



Like I said... ouch.

But I think anyone not on the Apple Apologista Squad™ saw that part coming, and its not like the iPhone won't still be a huge hit initially.

However, both the iPhone and ATT's network obviously need to improve to keep the momentum going once the shine is off the apple (sorrry, pun slipped in there).

I'm happy I decided to wait for iPhone 2.0. But I don't think too many with 1.0 will be terribly unhappy. Its still a breakthrough product overall.

.
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post #29 of 67
Those speeds are a little high.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBaggins View Post

Geez, that thing isn't even EDGE... it's GPRS. Real-world data speeds are like 30-40 kpbs.

Congrats... you on dial-up, essentially.

.
post #30 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

Well, the reviews of the non-wifi network aren't promising and I think that'll be a deal breaker for some people. Reviewers said it took over 30 seconds to load some sites.



I think this goes in the upside section not downside.

You noticed.

There are a bunch of things that are screwy.
post #31 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBaggins View Post

The 3G chip ban hasn't even gone into effect yet- and is only for phones that are launched in the US later than early August, last I checked, so it wouldn't affect the iPhone in any case.

Also, its likely to get resolved before long anyway... its the equivalent of 'going nuclear', and the parties involved will want to settle up.

.

It's also not for all chips. People keep forgetting this.
post #32 of 67
Basically all "iPhone apps" are going to have poor non-WiFi performance, just as what I recall most people as saying.
post #33 of 67
Quote:
No, I've been citing this as a reason why some people will not want the iPhone.

I think in the US that number will be quite small.
post #34 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

I think in the US that number will be quite small.

Short-term, I'd agree. Long term, I'm not so sure.

There will be better competition going forward, it would be naive to think otherwise. \


.
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post #35 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBaggins View Post

Short-term, I'd agree. Long term, I'm not so sure.

There will be better competition going forward, it would be naive to think otherwise. \


.

And there will be new iPhones.
post #36 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBaggins View Post

Short-term, I'd agree. Long term, I'm not so sure.

There will be better competition going forward, it would be naive to think otherwise. \


.

I don't think the long run is anything to worry about. By then, we will see a 3G version, Jobs said as much.

All networks are getting better over time. As bad as some think ATT is, it's still better than the best network five years ago, when dropped calls were common almost everywhere with all networks.
post #37 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBaggins View Post

Short-term, I'd agree. Long term, I'm not so sure.

There will be better competition going forward, it would be naive to think otherwise. \


.

I think that the competition will get better, but it ain't gonna be easy and Apple has a big lead at this time. The current handset makers will need to improve their hardware and software and for many they don't have control over the software. The iPhones first 'competitor' will probably be iPhone 2.0.
post #38 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by backtomac View Post

I think that the competition will get better, but it ain't gonna be easy and Apple has a big lead at this time. The current handset makers will need to improve their hardware and software and for many they don't have control over the software. The iPhones first 'competitor' will probably be iPhone 2.0.

I think this is absolutely correct. Which is easier to add, a couple of new features, like 3G or video or GPS or ..., or to revamp the entire user experience?
post #39 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by a_greer View Post

I like Mossberg and Pouge but be real, if Apple sold cow pies, they would say "this shit smells like roses!"

And the other review by Levy and Baig? They all seem consistent and rather balanced.
post #40 of 67
I like Mossberg and Pouge but be real, if Apple sold cow pies, they would say "this shit smells like roses!"
You can't quantify how much I don't care -- Bob Kevoian of the Bob and Tom Show.
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You can't quantify how much I don't care -- Bob Kevoian of the Bob and Tom Show.
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