Writing Monday for the eWeek blog, AppleWatch, Joe Wilcox gave the iPhone a D in telephony and a C for battery life, saying he simply could not recommend the device as a phone. Despite singing the praises of Apple’s mobile platform he gave it an overall grade of B- and seemed mighty pleased to announce that everyone in his family has rejected the iPhone in favor of an iPod Touch + some other cell phone.
I find Wilcox’s assessment curious and wonder how many of the other 8 – 10 million iPhone owners feel their device is so disappointing from the telephony and usability standpoints that they’d actually prefer to carry two devices around instead of one. Follow me after the jump to learn what Wilcox thinks is so bad about iPhone and where my own assessment takes me in response.
Initially, Wilcox’s review seems to imply the iPhone doesn’t play well with AT&T’s 3G network, complaining of too many dropped calls. But I find that a real chicken and egg conudrum. As a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, where no providers and no devices are immune to the dropped call phenomenon, I have certainly not found the iPhone to be any less reliable than say, a Motorola Razr or a Palm Treo, two very popular devices I have extensive experience with.
His next realm of distaste is for the audio quality of calls on iPhone, which, again, is a performance area which can be affected by a service provider just as easily as by a deficient device. Speaking once more from my own experience, I’ve never had a single person complain about sound quality on a call with me using my iPhone, and I have found volume and call quality far superior, especially in speakerphone mode, than with a half dozen other phones I’ve used in the past several years. In fact, one thing many people have complained about in the past on calls I’ve been on while outdoors, has been the sound-degrading effects of the often windy conditions around the Bay. Those complaints have dropped dramatically since I began using an iPhone six months ago.
Wilcox doesn’t say what kind of battery life he gets on his iPhone, but whatever it is isn’t enough. He longs for a swappable battery, like on T-mobile’s G1, and says he knows people who charge their iPhone “2 or 3 times a day,” but I’m not so sure. I use a healthy mix of phone and internet services, camera, iPod, and even gaming now that my eight year-old has discovered I’ve been reviewing games for this website. I consistently get 5 to 5 1/2 hours of actual usage out of each full charge, which seems in line with Apple’s claims for the phone battery; certainly not poor enough performance to rate a C on the report card.
Eventually Wilcox fesses up to what he really doesn’t like about the iPhone, or to be more accurate, what his teenage daughter doesn’t like about it. No video. Kludgy SMS/MMS. Somewhat tired complaints having not so much to do with the phone as phone, that he uses to launch into a fond appreciation for the Nokia N79’s flair for “fashion, style, creativity and content creation.” All of which may be true, but somehow seems off the mark from where he started, which was critiquing the iPhone’s qualities as a phone.
Would people be excited if the iPhone had a 5 megapixel Carl Zeiss camera and video capability? You bet. Have 8 – 10 million people been somehow fooled into buying an iPhone thinking that’s what they were getting? No.
In the end, Wilcox concludes:
“If there was time travel back to July, I wouldn’t buy iPhone–but I would get an iPod Touch. Strange and unexpected: All three members of my family have had and given up iPhones. I’ve sold two now that [I] purchased for myself. My wife’s iPhone went back to AT&T during the 30-day return period for refund. She couldn’t stand the dropped calls.
I don’t know where the Wilcox family lives, but it sounds to me like their complaints may be better directed to AT&T than toward Apple.
Teasingly, Wilcox says he’s waiting to reveal his moblie phone of choice in another post, but I’m willing to go out on this limb: A phone is used to make and receive phone calls and the iPhone handles that task on a cellular network just as well or better than any mobile phone I have ever used.
The iPhone may be lacking some of the sexiest multimedia functionality that appeals to the MySpace/Facebook generation, but when taking into account the range of functions made possible by Apple’s mobile platform, and in view of the metastasizing universe of third party applications for the device coming on line every day in the AppStore, I say Apple’s iPhone is – hands down – the best, single most valuable mobile device a person could own today.