Five Incongruous Things About The iPhone

A lot of folk have weighed in on the iPhone, and while going through the reviews and such I built up a mental picture of what I would expect it to be able to do considering the insides, what little is known about the OS and what the current batch of “competing” phones can do.

As it turns out, there are a few things that I can’t really figure out. These five are the ones that have come up again and again while talking to European folk – I’m sure other people will have different views, but they feel like odd gaps to me.

1. It doesn’t sync over the air with anything – neither .Mac nor your Mac.

Over-the-air syncing is one of the obvious things folk like me expected, given that many operators have online backup services for mobile phones that support SyncML and Apple happens to know quite a bit about the technology.

But not being able to sync wirelessly via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi is… Odd.

I suppose this is because you’re supposed to sync the whole enchilada (i.e., contacts, music, movies, etc.) in one go and while you recharge the thing, but it sort of leaves iSync hanging and is just plain odd for someone like me who has gotten used to wireless syncing of all sorts (near or far).

Jumping back to .Mac a bit, there is also no way to post photos directly to anything (if you discount e-mail, of course), which seems like another missed opportunity for actually doing something in terms of integrated services – a field where Apple isn’t that hot.

2. You can’t use it as a data modem.

This is something I do with all of my phones, and that should be technically possible on the device. Even if Apple isn’t willing to support DUN or PAN profiles in Bluetooth (which is terribly useful), the thing should have enough of a TCP/IP stack to be usable as a Wi-Fi to EDGE gateway…

And yes, it would impact battery life. But I’ve spent quite a few hours in a hotel room with a phone by the window acting as a 3G access point, and it is much more convenient than using a data card.

Then again, most 3G devices can dynamically throttle the data connection and take a simultaneous voice call, and GPRS devices can’t – they suspend the data connection or (more rarely) don’t take the call.

3. No A2DP Support.

I thought of bundling this one in with the above and putting them under the generic heading of ‘Crippled Bluetooth’, but this caters to a separate target audience – wireless audio is one of those things that you love to have when you have it, and that is becoming a staple feature in “music phones”.

Sure, it would have impact on the battery life, but that doesn’t seem to worry the likes of SonyEricsson and Nokia right now.

4. The camera is pedestrian.

Apple knows about cameras (a case in point is the recent upgrade in iSight resolution), and I’m surprised that, according to the samples I’ve seen and the specs I’ve read, the iPhone appears to have a worse camera than the two-year-old SonyEricsson K750i, which shipped with an autofocus-enabled camera, a timid (but somewhat effective) flash and one of the best balances between optics and CCD quality yet – not even their new devices are quite as good, despite the increased resolutions.

Sure, the power requirements for good cameras are high, but, still, it is odd to see a device with such a glorious screen and limited image capture abilities (and never mind video… Apple missing out on being part of the YouTube generation is another unfathomable lapse).

5. Apple’s own notion of standard connectors.

Yes, the iPod connector has become something like the new industry standard. But I keep wondering why iPods and phones don’t have standard mini-“USB” plugs for charging, data sync (and talking to peripherals) and standard audio jacks where you can fit your headphones.

After all, there’s a USB connector at the other end of that cable, and even Nokia is starting to see the light here.

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