So it’s official: Apple now is a phone manufacturer. With the announcement of the Apple iPhone, we can now finally assess that new product and I have to say, color me impressed. The company has managed to overcome a lot of the problems surrounding existing mobile phones and created a device that is close to what geeks like myself want: 2 megapixel camera, MP3 player, video player, phone with integrated address book, calendar, email, web browser, SMS, notepad, google maps, and support for other widgets, which makes the whole platform more extensible.
It’s a very smart move on the part of Apple, which highlighted the change in the way the company is operating by changing its name from Apple Computer, Inc. to Apple, Inc. , reflecting the fact that they are no longer just a computer company.There were a few interesting items of interest, though.
For starters, no mention of how the phone will sync up with a computer. Are we to assume that it’s Mac Only or will it synchronize with computers running Windows too? If so, does that mean that a new set of applications will be available to Windows users to sync their address book, calendar and email with systems like Outlook or will the device require to manage those things specifically using Apple applications on Windows?
The other thing that was interesting is the announcement that the phone will run on quad-band GSM and will be using EDGE network. This means that the phone will get decent but not great data service. Perfect for email and light web browsing but not quite fast enough for video streaming. However, the introduction of WiFi in the device, which many other companies have avoided for fear of losing battery capacity, could take care of that.
The other interesting thing is that the operating system on this device is OSX. This seems to point out to two possible issues: First, what does that mean for PortalPlayer, which has traditionally provided Apple with the operating system (embedded on a chip) for the iPod? The second question is what does it mean in general: What Apple has introduced is basically a mac in a small form factor, which could easily compete with the UMPC specifications introduced by Microsoft. It’s pretty clear that Apple has a lot of plans in the future for that device but they didn’t say much about the significance of OSX, providing it almost as an aside (and what does it mean for the next version of OSX, which was not mentioned during this keynote at all, a surprising omission in itself.)
Judging from the reaction on the stock market, it’s pretty obvious to see who loses: Palm (makers of the Treo), RIM (makers of the Blackberry), and Motorola and Nokia will obviously not be thrilled with the entrance of Apple in this market. The exclusive deal with AT&T (ooops, sorry, Cingular) will also have a negative impact on Verizon, Sprint, and T-mobile as Verizon will see a number of users switching to them in order to get their hands on this device (in informal discussion with a number of fellow geeks, the disadvantages of moving to Cingular were far outweighted by the coolness of this device).
Let’s take a quick look at specs and see how the difference devices fare against this new entrant:
|Consumer Device||iPhone||Q||E-62||Treo 750||Blackberry Pearl||Blackjack|
|Dimensions||4.5 x 2.4 x .46 inches||4.33 x 2.52 x .45 inches||4.61 x 2.76 x .63 inches||4.44 x 2.3 x .8 inches||4.2 x 1.97 x .57 inches||4.4 x 2.3 x .5 inches|
|Weight||4.8 ounces||4.06 ounces||5 ounces||5.4 ounces||3.1 ounces||3.5 ounces|
|Screen size||3.5 inches||2.4 inches||N/A||N/A||N/A||2.3 inches|
|Screen resolution||320 by 480 (at 160 pp)||320 by 240 (65k colors)||320 x 240 (16 million colors)||240 x 240 (65k colors)||240 x 260 (65k colors)||320 x 240 (65k colors)|
|Operating System||OSX||Windows Mobile||Symbian||Windows Mobile||RIM||Windows Mobile|
|Storage||4GB or 8GB||64 MB + MiniSD up to 2GB||80MB + miniSD up to 2GB||128MB + SD up to 2GB||64 MB + MiniSD up to 2GB||128 MB + MicroSD up to 2GB|
|Phone Service||GSM Quad-band (MHz: 850, 900, 1800, 1900)||CDMA dual band (Mhz: 800 and 1900)||GSM Quad-band (MHz: 850, 900, 1800, 1900)||GSM Quad-band (MHz: 850, 900, 1800, 1900)||GSM Quad-band (MHz: 850, 900, 1800, 1900)||GSM Quad-band (MHz: 850, 900, 1800, 1900)|
|Data Service||Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) + EDGE||1x-EVDO/aGPS||GPRS + EDGE||GPRS + EDGE + UMTS tri-band (850, 1900, and 2100)||GPRS + EDGE||UMTS/HSDPA dual bank (Mhz: 850 and 1900)|
|Battery||talk time: 5 hours / other: 16 hours||talk time: 4 hours / standby: 212 hours||talk time: 5.5 hours / standby 14 days (336 hours)||talk time: 4 hours / standby: 250 hours||talk time: 3.5 hours / standby: 15 days (360 hours)||talk time: 5.5 hours / standby:11 days (264 hours)|
So looking at it, this phone is pretty expensive (you pay for the Apple premium) but packs a lot more features than other phones in the same category. It’s got a better camera, more memory and a larger screen as well as WiFi. It’s talk time (for the category) is actually pretty good (only bested by Nokia’s E-62) and it is a little heavier than the competition. For a first entry in the market, I’d say that Apple has a winner on its hands.