Why The iPhone Is Still Unchallenged
Wednesday, 23rd May 2012
I write this article not as an Apple fanboi. Indeed, at the time of writing I don't even own an Apple product. I am, however, starting to accept the inevitability that my next mobile phone will be an iPhone. So why is it I can't even seem to find a David to Apple's Goliath?
Let's look at what I want from a phone and then see how long I can avoid the iPhone.
Starting with the most important, here are my requirements.
- Calls and texts - standard phone stuff that you expect from any phone including things like handling missed calls, finding people I want to dial and the like.
- The Web - it is the only way to prove someone wrong down the pub when they think they know where New Zealand got its name from.
- Email - I want to send and receive email using multiple accounts.
- Social - in particular, Twitter - but maybe even Facebook if the app isn't as dreadful as the Android app.
- Camera - your cat will fall asleep on your keyboard and you need to take a photo and you know you're going to spot a double rainbow, or a colleague will unleash the tornado and you'll need to film it.
- Screen shots - whether you are testing out your ace responsive design, showing someone how to do something or need to capture an error message, you need to be able to get a screen shot off of your phone.
- Upgrades - I'm stuck on Android 2.2 because Motorola wrapped it with Moto-Blur and then couldn't be bothered to upgrade it. According to the Android distribution as at May 1, 2012 - the vast majority of people have the same problem.
- Keyboard - I have owned a lot of mobile phones, but the T-Mobile MDA and the G1 were just better because they had a real keyboard with a proper space bar (it doesn't count as a proper keyboard if the space bar is no bigger than the other keys, or hasn't been put in the middle at the bottom)
So with these in mind I have been busy trying out phones. My long and tiring search for a phone proved that nobody is making what I actually want. A huge number of Android phones are suffering from aged versions of the operating system, you can't seem to take a simple screen shot on Windows Mobile and nobody wants to put a keyboard on their phone.
So if I drop the keyboard requirement, what should I buy? Well, despite my obstinate attempts to avoid it, the iPhone is the phone that does what I want. There's no denying it. I should buy an iPhone.
But what if I do care about the keyboard? When I upgraded from my MDA to the MDA II, which didn't have a one, I ended up getting a Bluetooth keyboard as I missed it so much. Surely this could swing the decision in favour of another phone... Of course not. If you are looking for an accessory, you are unlikely to find a bigger selection for any other phone. There is, in fact, a Bluetooth keyboard for the iPhone and it even clips on the back so it works just like the MDA keyboard that I loved so much.
So this is why you can't avoid the iPhone. It has been around for a while and they have learned a great many lessons, which is why screen-shots have been made easier in the latest version and why they let you update the operating system. Unlike Windows Mobile or Android, there is an incredibly small number or form factors, produced in very high quantities - so people who make accessories can invest in making cases, screen-protectors, docking stations, speakers and, of course, keyboards without having to gamble like they would have to on the Nokia Lumia 710, 800 or 900, which are all different sizes or on a specific HTC or Motorola model, which are all different sizes - oh and some of them use different USB connection sizes for charging and data and nobody puts the USB port in the same place either.
So really my advice to Nokia, HTC, Samsung, Motorola and anyone else making phones is this: No matter what you plan on changing on the inside, try to standardise your form-factor so that any gaps in your product can be filled by the myriad accessory makers, who are currently making iPhones look even better with their accessory ranges.
I'm not saying that all phones should be the same, but if Nokia were consistent across their own range, it would already mean that there are three-times the number of potential buyers for an accessory because it would fit all three new phones. This would lead to more accessories and it would lead to better quality accessories.
It would also mean I actually have a choice when I come to upgrade my phone - a choice I don't currently have unless I'm willing to lower my expectations in order to support an under-dog.