While we were in Denver visiting family we visited an Apple Store (it was the most crowded store in the Mall, of course) and, of course, started drooling at the prospect of replacing our aging Motorola Razr v3cs. “We’ll just wait until our Verizon contract expires,” we agreed, and continued wandering around. Then we stumbled across a Verizon store. “I’ll just go find out when our contract expires,” said my wife as she ran off, leaving me with the twins.
It turns out that our plans have already expired! “OK, let’s go to the Apple Store,” I said (loudly) at which point the Verizon reps (who outnumbered the customers in the store) tried to sell me on the virtues of the LG Dare which, they explained, is better rated by independent reviewers than the iPhone and is superior in most ways.
I won’t go into their sales pitch — I basically tried out the Dare’s web browser (which was an exercise in self-flagellation) and left the store — but I did check the LG Dare out online after I got home. (Of course, if I’d had an iPhone I could have checked it out on the spot.) Here’s the thing, the LG Dare does get better reviews than the iPhone from the likes of C|Net, but not from more critical reviewers such as Engadget. Indeed, MacWorld gave the iPhone 3G a four (out of five) mouse review.
It seems to me that this isn’t because a lot of review sites are anti-Apple, or that people love to criticize the iPhone — although both things are true — but because when you use an iPhone you suddenly start comparing it to what you imagine it could be, versus what it actually is, whereas when you use most cell phones you compare them to other cell phones (say, your current cell phone). The iPhone isn’t a phone, it’s a touchscreen computer that happens to be a phone. As such, its connection is kind of slow, its screen is kind of small, its performance isn’t always stellar, the virtual keyboard is kind of lame, and so on. It’s easy to imagine a device that’s better in pretty much every way.
I like my Razr — I just wish it had a slightly bigger screen, a better menu system (which let me customize shortcuts to, say, the calendar), better battery life, and synced properly to my Mac. I don’t wish it let me use iWork applications, support pen drawing so I could use it as a sketchpad, and let me play Grand Theft Auto. I don’t mourn the lack of an SD card slot that would let me grab pictures from my D50, or videos from my TZ3. I don’t wonder when there’ll be a decent image editor for it.
The iPhone 3G doesn’t deserve better reviews. It just deserves its own category.
Anyway, we’ve decided: my wife will get an iPhone. I’ll get an ordinary cellphone (possibly a disposable, since I hardly call anyone ever) and an iPod Touch. And that way we’ll be able to test our apps on both the iPhone and Touch and pay AT&T as little money as possible. I wonder if Apple will release a Touch with GPS.