January 10, 2007 2:47 PM PST

A heavy load for the iPhone to bear

There's little debate about the aesthetic appeal of Apple's iPhone. But sometimes, beauty is just skin deep.

Tuesday's introduction of the iPhone at Macworld was long on glitz, but short on details. Little is known about the technical workings of the iPhone. There are also a lot of questions about Apple's entry into a competitive market full of large companies far more established than the MP3 player firms that got flattened by the iPod.

Apple, in typical fashion, has not responded to requests for further details or briefings from executives about some of these points, and the iPhone is not expected to become available until June. But the details could mean the difference between history viewing the iPhone as a perfect melding of phone and media player--or as a limited, proprietary device that can't be expanded and won't live up to its hype.

Here's a list of issues Apple could face when the iPhone hits store shelves:

Mac Views
Does iPhone hit the spot?
Click here to find out what our readers have to say about whether the iPhone lives up to the buzz.

OS X: During his keynote speech, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said the iPhone runs "OS X." What he didn't say is how stripped down that version will be.

Apple has a remarkably good development environment in general, but it's unclear how much flexibility it will give to iPhone programmers. How much work would it take to alter a simple game, spreadsheet or text editor for OS X to run on the iPhone? Or will the iPhone be as closed as the iPod? Can existing JavaScript-based widgets for OS X be used without any modification, which some developers believe is likely? A search for "iPhone" on Apple's official developer Web site turns up nothing.

Applications: What types of applications are going to be available for the iPhone? Even if Mac applications can be ported to the iPhone, will they have to be redesigned for the screen size and storage requirements of the phone? It's unclear if Apple will support popular third-party mobile applications beyond the ones from its buddies at Google and Yahoo, such as Skype voice over Internet Protocol calling, which could be a big hit given that the iPhone has built-in Wi-Fi.

Macworld scenes

It doesn't appear that Apple is targeting corporate customers with the iPhone, but executives and salespeople have so far been the biggest smart-phone customers, at least in the U.S. Will Apple support push e-mail software from Research In Motion or Motorola's Good Technology? Yahoo mail users will be able to have their e-mail delivered directly to their phones, but that's probably not enough for a traveling CEO not named Steve Jobs.

Battery life: Apple said the iPhone will have a battery life of "up to five hours" when used for phone calls, video playback and Web browsing, and "up to 16 hours" for audio playback. But the company did not answer a key question: What about standby time? And is the battery sealed like the iPod or easily replaceable, like most mobile phones?

Also, five hours of talk time seems a trifle short when compared with the humble Sony Ericsson W810i, another phone that uses Cingular's EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) network and claims "up to nine hours" of talk time and "up to 30 hours of music playing." Do the rich graphics used on the iPhone and the full operating system require more power to operate than a stripped-down operating system would? Which applications processor is Apple using inside the iPhone?

Networking: Apple said the iPhone will use Cingular's EDGE network technology. Cingular said it offers "typical speeds of 75Kbps (kilobits per second) to 135Kbps." That puts it in the same range as a dial-up connection (a little faster, but far from broadband speeds). The odd thing is that Cingular offers a speedier 3G, or third-generation, wireless service--speeds of 400Kbps to 700Kbps with bursts over 1 megabit per second--in dozens of metropolitan areas called BroadbandConnect (also known as HSDPA). ThinkPad laptops announced a year ago use it; so does a Palm Treo 750 announced this week. Why doesn't Apple's iPhone?

special coverage
Macworld 2007
Click here for full event coverage as Apple continues its consumer electronics push.

The built-in Wi-Fi connection will help consumers get faster access to data in their homes or businesses. But the whole point of mobile broadband is to have fast access to data outside of a hot spot. And EDGE support isn't going to fly outside the U.S., where smart-phone users are accustomed to network speeds almost as fast as DSL and cable modem lines in the U.S.

Touch screen: The touch screen scrolling used on the iPhone is an intuitive way of navigating--flick your index finger toward the top of the screen to scroll up, flick down to scroll down. The lack of buttons--except for the home button--also fits in nicely with Apple's minimalist design ethos and will allow the company to use the same basic hardware footprint for a wide variety of programmable devices.

CONTINUED: Two-handed navigation…
Page 1 | 2

See more CNET content tagged:
Apple iPhone, Apple Computer, Cingular Wireless, EDGE, Steve Jobs

104 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Unfriendly battery
An Apple spokesman told me the iPhone has the same battery style as the iPod, that is not easily replaceable by a consumer. He offered no explanation, but said something to the effect that the iPod and its battery have been widely embraced by the marketplace.

Personally, I agree the costly and sloooooow data access provided by this device and Cingular are going to be a real drag on adoption. Road warriors used to the speed of 3G access are not going to want to go back to dial-up speeds.
Posted by thalen (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
iphlop
nokia and motorola will double the iphone's spec within six months at half the price and on multiple carriers. the ipod was at the very start of the portable MP3 player revolution and leapfrogged the defacto 64mb/128mb devices of the time a thousand times. this iphone merely tickles the butt of the existing market leaders and the time will soon come when the nokia, motorola and samsung behmoths descend on the iphone and ravage it like a pack of hungry wolves.
Posted by sspice (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I sense fear...
Ultimatly... What has happened here is Apple has in fact just
changed the way everyone will look at their mobil devices. It is
hands down the most revolutionary piece of equipment to be
mass-produced in years. The touch screen alone will send the
entire industry into a tail spin.
This is the first generation of many to come and I seriously think
that ALL of Apples peers will feel a serious pinch! Out of 100
people that I was in contact with today, 100 are on board with
the iPhone...
I have had several "smart-phones" and they have all pretty
much... Well, sucked.
Posted by Surf61 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What are you thinking
this phone isn't revolutionary, i was doing the almost all the same thing two years ago with a treo 600 and do more now with a samsung blackjack. I stream all my home music / video and tv using orb and best of all there is no additional cost or files infected with drm. If you had smartphones in the past obviously you don't know
how to use them.
Posted by davidortiz619 (3 comments )
Link Flag
Not revolutionary, more natural progression
It looks like a good device, storage is a bit on the small size - not for music, 4gig is more than enough for 99% of people, no one listens to more than that, they may store 30gigs but generally listen to about 10% of the music they store.

No, 4 or 8 gigs is fine until you start messing around with video. I know, my PSP has a 4gb memory card, and after converting a few movies you run out of space fast.

With degrading the video or audio quality too much, a 2 hour movie is roughly 800Mbytes, sometimes a little less with the latest mpeg codecs. Convert all 3 LOTR extended edition movies and you have no space left for anything but savegames.

Anyhow, I'm sure larger sized versions will eventually come out, I reckon they'll have 32 or even 100gb versions within 18 months of the initial launch - either that or an sd card slot (which they could still add if they chose, and would solve pretty much all the storage issues).

The only meaningful issue for me is the touch screen. I don't particularly like these. I don't like screen protectors, they make sleek and sexy devices look nasty, and I don't like scratching up beautiful screens by the constant cleaning required to remove smudges and fingerprints.

It doesn't matter how well the screen resists such things, they'll still appear, and they'll still need to be removed if you want to keep the screen looking pristine.

Also I rely on the feel of a real keyboard to type or dial without needing to watch as I'm typing.

On the plus side I hate using a stylus even more, so I wouldn't call this a deal killer.

I would prefer a real keyboard or at least a scroll wheel of some kind. If you could switch between the keypad and the classic scroll wheel I might forgive the fingerprints (I don't know if this can be done or not - it's just something I would like).

So when they release an unlocked version, as I'm sure they will if they're serious about selling tens of millions of them, with decent internal storage and a media card slot of some kind - this phone will be as good as it can be.

Nothing on the phone is particularly revolutionary, its more a natural progression to the next level of OS we'd expect given the low cost and reduced power/size of mobile processors these days.

Fortunately for Apple, PocketPC has been around long enough to show exactly what you shouldn't do with a mobile OS, and I imagine the scaled version of OSX they've produced is probably top quality.

I reckon the deciding factor as to whether this phone becomes as popular and as successful as the iPod will simply come down to availability of an unlocked version. By the time this happens it should be a similar price to a 30gig iPod and probably have a similar amount of storage if not more - and they won't be able to produce enough of the buggers to meet demand.
Posted by ajbright (447 comments )
Link Flag
Ummmm no
So 98% that want a phone...want a free one with their plan. A $599 one probably wont be something they are going to buy.

Will people buy it...sure. Will Apple constrict the supply to drive up the hype...oh hell yes.

Parris Hilton is the type of person I see this phone with.....lots of money and flash.

I like my phone, PDA and mp3 player all seperate and so do lots of people.
Posted by Lindy01 (443 comments )
Link Flag
and I sense your stupidity
I sense your stupidity: ?Out of 100 people that I was in contact with today, 100 are on board with the iPhone?. Really? Is that so? Either you work for Apple (wich kinda sucks btw) or you are another one of the Mac-people which is really sad. Get a life.
Posted by fmou (18 comments )
Link Flag
What are you smoking?
A touch screen will change the industry? How will that happen? Its not like full touch screen are new and exciting. Its not like people haven't used touchscreen phones for years now. The touch screen is a nice addition but its not revolutionary in anyway.
Posted by rapier1 (2722 comments )
Link Flag
Touchscreens! Whoa!
I have a 19" LCD touchscreen monitor for my computer. It has software to allow me to use two fingers at once and move and manipulate data / images / whatever on the screen. And it's big enough for my fingers to be able to actually select only what I want and not three things beside them.

Do I use it?

Not at all. I got it because was a 19" LCD screen in an armored metal case and that was what I wanted. The touchscreen part really is a non-issue and not terribly useful.

The new phone isn't a PDA. It's a phone (with poor call quality according to reviewers already messing with it at MacExpo now), a music player, and web browser. None of this is special and all has been done before, better, and cheaper.

I'll admit that Apple's case will likely be damned sexy looking though. They always have had good product design. Is that worth $300 more than a similar product that can do more for less? I don't see it happening.
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
Link Flag
$200 to leave Sprint
I wish it only cost $150 to leave Sprint!
Posted by thriftyT (52 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Check that link
It says $150 in the terms and agreement page I linked to on Sprint's site. Has that changed?
Posted by Tom Krazit (436 comments )
Link Flag
The 2 Key Points
My office was abuzz after the keynote. The two biggest points made:

1. will it have a memory card slot?

regardless of format, sony mem sticks, sd cards (of all varients), are reaching 4+ Gb. I heard there is a 32Gb SD card on the way. Absolutly key for this phone (considering the price) is the ability to upgrade/add memory.

2. why would people by a locked phone in the US?

that is, those of us who thought we might buy one all agreed wede wait until the EU release and buy an unlocked unit. No one I know speaks highly of Cingular/ATandT and would not lock into a 2 year contract with them.
Posted by isaac.johnson (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
EU
Friends in the UK are thinking that Apple will cut their European
deal with either Vodafone or Orange.
Posted by Gromit801 (393 comments )
Link Flag
Re: Points
Sorry, no memory-card slot so if you need that much storage, you likely will have to bite the $100 bullet and buy the 8-GB version.

Interestingly, although the iPhone features a sealed battery, there is an external slot allowing easy access to the SIM card.
Posted by thalen (7 comments )
Link Flag
what no 3g access
what no 3g access, just got the blackjack and edge doesn't even compare
Posted by davidortiz619 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
10 Million was not just from Cingular
I think the 10 mil customers by end of 2008 would by then include
Europe and Asia. Not just the US.
Posted by rosnow (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good point
We fixed that reference, you are correct that Apple plans to be out in Europe and Asia by the end of 2008.
Posted by Tom Krazit (436 comments )
Link Flag
Get a grip
1. Maybe we should wait until the phone is actually available before we declare it dead.
2. Just because you "can do" all of that stuff with your Blackjack doesn't mean the market isn't there for something that might actually do it better.
3. It's not just Cingular forever. Cripes, you'd think it's impossible to make the think work on 3G... ever. I'm thinking it will, at some point.
4. Read the reports from people (tech reporters ) who have actually used the thing. They're pretty unanimous about it being a game changer.
5. If you like your current smart phone, fine. I hate mine (Treo) and would jump at something that works better.
6. Imagine: A smart phone that is actually FUN to use. Oh, right... business is business and isn't supposed to be fun.

Everyone take a breath. I haven't seen it. I'm going by what peopel who have (See NY Times reporter's impressions, for example) who think it's something good. Imagine one more thing: A cellular phone company that actually thinks about how a human being might use a phone.

Back to the complaints. It doesn't levitate. How can I possibly be expected to pay $500 for something that only plays movies, music, browses the Web, makes phone calls, etc. I need it to freakin' levitate.
Posted by JimmyJackPants (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Iphone killer
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://business.cingular.com/businesscenter/8525/index.jsp" target="_newWindow">http://business.cingular.com/businesscenter/8525/index.jsp</a>

Does all the same stuff, less memory (2gig with memory card) Has 3G, lots of software will run on it, and it will have push to talk.

Oh and its $399 with a plan...not $599. I am aslo going to bet that Sprint and Verizon wil have one like this soon since its a HTC phone and the all have WM5 HTC phones right now.
Posted by Lindy01 (443 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Close, but no cigar
Does all the same stuff, NO! It runs OS X.
First of all you conveniently quoted the higher priced of TWO
available models - $499 &#38; $599.
Scrolling! Audio conferencing?, Google alliance (you won't see
MS ally with Google), Push-to-talk isn't far off
- less memory (2gig with memory card). The iPhone Starts at 6
GIGABYTES, and 8 GIG.
Did you see how images *automatically* rotate from picture to
landscape when you change the iPhone's position? The interface
has it all over Windows Mobil too. One is Business, one is
Personal (but can do business, contacts...) and FUN! Check out
the multifuntion headset as well.

Has 3G, lots of software will run on it, and it will have push to
talk. Jobs talked about 3G (see demo online), it helps if you have
a 3G network available in the USA!

&gt;Oh and its $399 with a plan...not $599.
Apple won't stop innovating, it's not coming out until June.
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Link Flag
Can it run OS X?
If not, then it is way behind being an iPhone killer! I do not intend
to buy something that has limited OS capabilities.
Posted by benjiernmd (123 comments )
Link Flag
You're kidding, right?
Wow, some of these comments amaze me! Let's break this
down by looking at the total package....

Cingular 8525 - $399 + only 2GB microSD card ~$119 = $518
Add to that multiple different applications from weather to stock
tracking at around $20/each. Include a mediocre media player,
a buggy, unintuitive OS, then package it in a bulky package.

Apple iPhone - 4GB for $499 or 8GB for $599
Apple has included EVERYTHING that a multifunction device like
this should be (minus the 3G support if it's that important to
you), packaged it with an amazingly powerful OS, very intuitive
UI, and a sleek design, and is still selling the device for less than
it would cost to get anything comparable from the current
market leaders.

After having used Windows Mobile since the Motorola MPx200
and desperately wanting the Cingular 8525, I'll be waiting until
June for the iPhone.
Posted by t_wesson (1 comment )
Link Flag
Poorly Rated Cingular Service (Link)
Check out Cingular's J.D. Powers satisfaction ratings for call quality, customer care performance, billing satisfaction, and overall satisfaction. In my region they are awful.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.jdpower.com/telecom/ratings/wireless/index.asp" target="_newWindow">http://www.jdpower.com/telecom/ratings/wireless/index.asp</a>

The last time I checked Consumer Reports, Cingular was also poorly rated.
Posted by john55440 (1020 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Can't go by that
In my region T-Mobile is the WORST of the carriers, yet J.D.Power
gives them best overall?

I will go by my own experiences thank you.
Posted by Ian Eisenberg (8 comments )
Link Flag
media net cost
in this article it states that the the unlimited internet acess will be
able to be had with the iphone for price of 19.95 which is
cingulars media max plan. But, as much as i would like this to be
true other smart phones from cingular require the purchase of their
data plan which is like 40$ plus the text messaging which is a
minimum of $4.99. The iphone browser is of higher quality any
way. So can someone verify this because I just dont see it being
possible
Posted by bball4t (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Not clear
I got the $19.95 charge from this page (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.cingular.com/cell-phone-service/cell-phone-plans/data-cell-phone-plans.jsp" target="_newWindow">http://www.cingular.com/cell-phone-service/cell-phone-plans/data-cell-phone-plans.jsp</a>), since it doesn't seem that the iPhone would be a BlackBerry-type device, and Steve and Co. kept calling it a smart phone.

But it's not totally clear what Cingular plans to do, so we changed the reference to "at least" if Cingular decides to charge a higher fee. We'll check in with them.
Posted by Tom Krazit (436 comments )
Link Flag
iPhone plan
I'm certian that Cingular will have an iPhone plan, probably at a
better rate than thier other data/internet plans as part of thier
exclusive deal with Apple
Posted by natejohnstone (110 comments )
Link Flag
IPHONE
Thats great. A phone you can't purchase with unknown capabilities. I have had my Sony Ericsson w810i for over a month and I love it. I paid $200. with a $100. rebate on a handset upgrade at Cingular. Next!
Posted by Iboughtbeta (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
modem?
Can the iPhone be used as a bluetooth modem? All my GSM
phones (Motorola and SonyEricsson) had a AT-modem included
so I was able to dial-up with my PowerBook through bluetooth
or infrared.

We'll have to wait until the end of the year to get the iPhone here
in Europe. I had been thinking about flying over to the states to
buy one once it becomes available. However I guess it'll be SIM-
locked and cannot be used with other carriers. It's also still
unclear if any scripting/programing can be done on the iPhone.
That would be my main reason to get one.

Additional software like Terminal and a WAP browser should also
be included. The SMS feature should allow to send SMS to all of
your contacts at the same time (i.e. Holiday greetings).

My first mobile phone was an unlocked Motorola Timeport. At
the time it also cost me $900, so the iPhone still comes in
cheaper.
Posted by joebuff75 (35 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Are WE through SPECULATING!!!
Personally, I hope the OS X IS stripped down. I don't need all those
printer drivers for one. HELLO???
Posted by appletoys (23 comments )
Reply Link Flag
CNet can have access...
that is a load about being denied access. Any media outlet
including some pretty low end bloggers have been granted one-
on-one access as well as hands-on time. All they have to do is ask!
Posted by Ian Eisenberg (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No thanks for me
I'm happy with my current phone. Apple needs to announce HSDPA support for this phone or else it doesn't seem worth it. A removable battery is also a must. Battery life is vital for a phone. On top of all this Jobs has the Linksys lawsuit they have to deal with lol
Posted by cyde01 (115 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Internet via Edge/3G not practical
Slow and not cheap =&gt; not practical (for now)

And no one wants to buy music off mobile networks.
for now.

Browsing and buying music/games/ringtones
on PC/iTunes is more practical.

These network operators doesnt think nor innovate,
yet still makes so much money.
Posted by rslc (93 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Slow and not cheap
How is that any different from Cingular in general? :-)
Posted by PCCRomeo (432 comments )
Link Flag
iPhone- First Generation of a New Type of Mobile Device
It's true that the iPhone will simply perform the tasks that many
of today's smartphones already perform, pretty much the way
that today's cars perform the same tasks that horse and buggies
did in the 19th century or digital watches do what sundials once
did. The importance of this device isn't simply convergence, the
melding of iPod and phone, but rather integration, intuitive
function, and ease of use.

Anyone who has seriously used a modern smartphone
understands the serious limitations that these devices suffer as a
result of poor UI and OS implementation. My current phone is a
Motorola Q and it is a long way from being the ideal phone. The
form factor is fine but I find it lacking on multiple fronts.
Frankly, there isn't a device on the market that fulfills all my
needs and judging from my colleagues and peers I suspect I am
far from being alone. Phones like the Q and Treo may have
media players built in, but these functions are afterthoughts.

The iPhone is exactly the kind of device that should have been
released years ago. Microsoft has had seven years of experience
in this marketplace and failed to create a truly workable product,
instead releasing an unintuitive Windows Mobile with a cluttered
interface and a buggy, slow, and disabled OS. The closest to the
dream mobile platform was the Clie NR-70 series- It had the
right form factor and a workable OS, even emphasizing photo
and video in later models with decent software support, but no
integrated phone. A missed opportunity.

Apple has simply done what MS has proven unable to do, what
Sony-Ericcson can't commit to doing, and Palm has chosen not
to do- To create a truly smart device, relying on software rather
than user expertise as well as software integration. For a first
gen device the iPhone, or whatever it ends up being called, is
incredibly ambitious and hits the sweet spot on a number of
fronts in addressing the failures and myopia of others. I
welcome it to the marketplace and look forward to using it.
Posted by acheron5 (71 comments )
Reply Link Flag
iPhone = Copy of LG KE850?
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.engadgetmobile.com/2007/01/11/iphone-and-lg-ke850-separated-at-birth/" target="_newWindow">http://www.engadgetmobile.com/2007/01/11/iphone-and-lg-ke850-separated-at-birth/</a>
Posted by lockwoodr (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
not enough info to write about
The article is interesting, but would have been better if the authors had waited until there were more facts to write about, rather than less than useful speculations.
Posted by TomG. (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Actually...
... this is not "less than useful" speculation. These are good questions that need to be answered and that Apple declined to clarify.
Posted by aemarques (162 comments )
Link Flag
Nokia N95: The REAL revolution!
The Nokia N95 (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.nokia.com/nseries/index.html?lang=en&#38;country=R1#product,n95" target="_newWindow">http://www.nokia.com/nseries/index.html?lang=en&#38;country=R1#product,n95</a>) that will be available in February (yes, not June), is EVERYTHING the Apple Phone (I'm not calling it iPhone, because that is a different product, from Linksys) and then some.

It has a true phone keyboard (retractable) which is not as cool but it is MUCH more functional to ACTUALLY MAKE PHONE CALLS, NOT TO LOOK AT THE PHONE.

The camera? A 5 MP model, not a 2 MP like in Apple's toy. And capable of recording video in VGA @ 30 FPS...

Oh, by the way: IT HAS A GPS RECEIVER BUILT IN! Now, that is revolutionary! A true revolution, in terms of functionality, not in terms of being cool!

Oh, yes, and it will cost... around $600, i.e., the same as the Apple Phone...
Posted by aemarques (162 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Cool
The Nokia can phone home and tell them where you are ;)
Posted by Michael Grogan (308 comments )
Link Flag
Not an iPhone yet
Just because that arrogant pig Steve Jobs is calling it an iPhone doesn't mean it's an iPhone, maybe it should be referred for now as the phonyiPhone.
Posted by Foggy (32 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Simply Amazing
Its amazing to me that so many people who have absolutely nothing vested in whether or not Apple Inc.'s products succeed or fail have so much to complain about and/or say that is negative. The iPhone (or whatever it will be called once released) will either succeed or fail. If it succeeds, I sure Apple will be happy. If it doesn't, life will no doubt go on for Apple and everyone else. I for one think its great that Apple will be introducing a phone that might very well usher in a new era of cell phones that will be more user friendly - given Jobs' demonstration of the iPhone.
Posted by jkda (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
cnet the apple haters
What a suprise cnet bashing an apple product. Thats sarcasm by the way.
Posted by gianpo (26 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Apple fanboys have a thin skin
No other comment necessary.
Posted by taoman1 (23 comments )
Link Flag
Iphone looks cool, maybe soon will follow....
Im must admit Apple have done a great job with the look of the Iphone. I have a Tytn variant and it also looks great but not quite as good. But as has been pointed out here, it is more of a comsumer object rather than a business one. I presume that Apple will make a business version at some point. Type in www.iWork.com and see where it takes you......
Posted by TeraByteYerBum (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.