Comment – iPhone Anger

Do not listen to the fan boys, iPhones aren’t that easy to get working.

I like Apple, I have used a number of their products and I am of the opinion that the iPad was one of the best consumer devices launched in the last few years. I am also aware of the stabaliser approach that many Apple products come with, and yet I am still a little disappointed by my first experience with an iPhone.

I got the new handset because my current Nokia E71 is over three years old and has started to come apart at the seams. The bit of kit I really want (SE Xperia Pro) has now had its release delayed until the end of 2011 and I simply could not survive with a phone that requires two batteries and to be powered off to charge.

I heard about the delay with the Xperia Pro on Wednesday. Friday I was due to leave home for a few days and I wanted something that would work without trouble. As the iPhone holds it’s value and offers all the modern conveniences of an internet connected phone, it seemed like the obvious choice.

My network provider promised to get me the device on next day delivery and on Thursday morning the iPhone arrived. In the afternoon I unboxed it, popped in the sim and turned it on. My first taste of disappointment was when the request to plug it into iTunes greeted me. I had seen this before when I set-up an iPad, and whilst I have no particular disagreement with the process, on a phone it seems a little crazy. Nokia and Sony Ericsson both offer proprietary software that allows users to copy content and undertake back-ups, but they don’t ask users to install and run it before you can make phone calls. Goodness knows what I would have done if I had got the iPhone couriered to the middle of Africa.

Thursday afternoon was spent carrying around my new white brick and when I got home that evening I immediately turned on a computer. As I only had an hour before heading out to meet friends, I got straight on with the activation (I still don’t know what actually happened during this stage). As time was in short supply I decided to leave the iPhone at home copying music form the main library. I was suitably impressed that all I had to do was drag across my favourite playlists and podcasts and iTunes did the rest.

Upon returning home that evening I checked the 8Gb of music was on the phone, supped a cup of tea and went to bed.

Friday morning was the usual rush of, oh, I really should have got up before 6:00 am, but I made the train on time and succeeded in remembering the various cables for the laptop, Nokia and iPhone. After settling into my train seat I turned on the iPhone and plugged in some headphones.

To my great disappointment the iPod application reported that there were no music files on the phone. Curious I plugged it into the laptop. Sure enough 8Gb of the storage space was taken up, but not with anything iTunes recognised, odd given the previous night it knew what they were. I spoke to a friend for technical support (an unusual feeling given that it’s normally the other way around) and decided there was not much I could do. Even if I grabbed some additional software that allowed me to delete the music I still needed to synchronise it with the same copy of iTunes, which, conveniently, was two hundred miles away.

Even more amusing is that once I activated the handset, it failed to download a couple of applications and then kindly informed me not to worry as I could these would be waiting for me when I accessed the computer. Oh, how I laughed.

I have already come to the conclusion that when I get home next week I will be doing a clean install and starting from scratch and when the Xperia Pro arrives I will most likely be boxing or selling the iPhone.

As with the other Apple products I’ve played with, my impression is that it looks good, works as expected, but is held back by the measures that the company puts in place to make sure users do not deviate from the chosen corporate path.