Thoughts on the iPhone

After much deliberation, considering the alternatives, I finally bought an iPhone 3GS when they became available in Finland late this summer.

I had given up hope on Nokia because of the horrible S60 operating system. Google Android looked promising, but the handsets available were not very good, and the OS still needs some maturing. The Palm Pre with the webOS made me hesitate for a while, because the user interface seemed very well thought out. I had the opportunity to try out the Pre while visiting Florida this summer for a conference, and I have to say that the hardware felt very cheap and plastic. Also having used an iPod touch for some time I didn’t feel that the choice of third party applications was even close to that of the iPhone.

Getting the iPhone I had to transfer my phone number from the old operator to Sonera, which currently has a monopoly on iPhones in Finland. Sonera for some reason did not start the process of moving the number until I had physically received the phone (and called to complain!), so I was stuck with a glorified iPod for more than a week until my number was transferred. Not very smooth operation, Sonera …

Now, after a few weeks of using the iPhone as my sole phone I am still very satisfied with it. Trying an old Nokia N95 for a few minutes last week felt like going back in time at least a century, even though technically the N95 has similar specs to the iPhone. The user experience is really very important, even for a geek like me :) I find myself using the “smart phone” features much more often than in my previous phones simply because it is easy and fun to use.

My main complaint about the iPhone would be the restrictions and how the development platform is closed. As I understand, even if I want to develop an application only for personal usage, I would have to pay the $99 fee for the iPhone Developer Programme. This is why, as a developer, I still root for the more open platforms such as Android, and potentially Nokia’s Maemo. Maybe, in time for my next phone purchase in 2–3 years time, these platforms will be mature!

Posted by Mats Sjöberg.