Well the iPhone is set to hit the streets this Friday, and the first reports are rolling in. Walt Mossberg from the Wall Street Journal weighs in with his opinion after some extended test time (including a video). He found the lack of any hardware keys to make the interface cumbersome (such as having to switch back to the music player to skip through a song), you have to switch ‘keyboards’ to insert punctuation, and there is NO way to cut/paste text. There is also no way to purchase songs on iTunes directly from the phone itself.
Some of the bigger deal breakers for me is the slow data network, so when you’re not near an open WiFi spot, you are stuck using EDGE. Also, there are no IM programs at all – something I find I use the most on my PDA phone. And because development for the iPhone will be closed, don’t expect this to ever change, unless Apple comes up with an MSN Messenger competitor (which reminds me – forget about ever using Skype with the iPhone, something a lot of Windows Mobile users enjoy for cheap long distance on their mobile phones).
The biggest deal breaker of them all is the fact that you HAVE to sign up with AT&T, so not only to you have to drop down $500-600 for an iPhone, you will be stuck with that carrier for a minimum of 2 years (something that is usually worth $200-300 in phone credit from most carriers, so in effect you are paying $800-900 for an iPhone). It gets worse though; the cheapest plan that can be used costs $60 per month. This includes 450 minutes of talk time, 200 text messages, and unlimited data transfer (on the crappy 2G EDGE network, which makes this less of a deal). To compare, I’d pay about $40 USD per month for 600 minutes of talk time (and an extra 600 minutes of intra-network talk time), unlimited SMS, and 30 MB of blazing fast 3G data transfer per month in Hong Kong.
Granted, the iPhone probably set expectations that it could never meet. But having to sign to a crappy contract for 2 years (and it’s almost impossible to keep your current phone number if you decide to switch, by some reports) which itself is worth at least $300 makes the iPhone seem just plain silly right now. When they come up with an unlocked version that can be used with any GSM network, it might be worth looking at. But until then, only die-hard Apple fans (of which there are many) should even bother considering it (and they will in droves).[via Tech Report]