The first reviews of the Apple iPhone are starting to emerge, two days ahead of the product's launch in Apple and AT&T stores across the US. We've already summarised Walter Mossberg's assessment in the Wall Street Journal. Now let's look at what leading technology writer David Pogue has to say in the New York Times :
"As it turns out, much of the hype and some of the criticisms are justified. The iPhone is revolutionary; it's flawed. It's substance; it's style. It does things no phone has ever done before; it lacks features found even on the most basic phones."
Pogue says the iPhone is so sleek and thin that it makes rivals like Palm's Treo range and the RIM Blackberry look "obese". He says that Apple's biggest achievement is with the iPhone software. He describes it as "fast, beautiful, menu-free, and dead simple to operate."
Like Mossberg he raves about the mobile web browsing experience on the iPhone. He also praises the iPhone's iPod and Google Maps integration. Pogue praises the iPhone's robust case, again saying it proved remarkably resistant to scratching.
What's not to like? Plenty
Pogue reserves his ire for the many things the iPhone can't do, like instant messaging and the complete lack of a memory card slot. He criticises the lack of third-party apps and the lack of video recording using the two megapixel camera. He also fares less well than Mossberg with the virtual keyboard saying:
"Then there's the small matter of typing. Tapping the skinny little virtual keys on the screen is frustrating, especially at first.
"Two things make the job tolerable. First, some very smart software offers to complete words for you, and, when you tap the wrong letter, figures out what word you intended. In both cases, tapping the Space bar accepts its suggestion.
"Second, the instructional leaflet encourages you to 'trust' the keyboard (or, as a product manager jokingly put it, to 'use the Force'). It sounds like new-age baloney, but it works; once you stop stressing about each individual letter and just plow [sic] ahead, speed and accuracy pick up considerably.
"Even so, text entry is not the iPhone's strong suit. The BlackBerry won't be going away anytime soon."
AT&T, Free updates and conclusion
Apple's choice of AT&T as its mobile network provider also comes in for a kicking too. Pogue says AT&T's EDGE implementation is "excruciatingly slow". He cites a recent US survey that placed AT&T last or second to last in 20 major US cities when it comes to customer satisfaction.
Pogue points out though that AT&T and the iPhone will improve over time, especially since Apple is expected to roll out software updates for the iPhone. Walter Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal says these will add extra functionality - enabling Apple to address some of the currently missing features.
Apple can do thanks to a clever workaround for the Sarbanes-Oxley Act . Apple is able to argue that the iPhone's initial price is effectively spread over the two-year lifespan of the AT&T contract. Normally you can't add extra features to a product without requiring punters to pay additional hard cash.
Pogue concludes by saying:
"Even in version 1.0, the iPhone is still the most sophisticated, outlook-changing piece of electronics to come along in years. It does so many things so well, and so pleasurably, that you tend to forgive its foibles.
"In other words, maybe all the iPhone hype isn't hype at all. As the ball player Dizzy Dean once said, "It ain't bragging if you done it."