5 Big Blemishes for the Apple iPhone 4
by Scott Moritz
IPHONE 4 LINES VIDEO MASHUP
Apple’s (AAPL – News) redesigned
iPhone is destined to be a knockout success. The phone scores high on
style points with its sleek glass and stainless steel design, and it
wins points for its multitasking software and improved screen.
There are, however, a few shortcomings.
The Apple iPhone 4 is set to go on sale Thursday. Judging by the
record demand during the pre-sale period, the newest iPhone will make a
huge sales splash, especially with old iPhone owners trading up.
All the presales excitement and Apple-driven hype have set
expectations very high. But mighty Apple plays to a tough crowd. It’s an
affluent group that has been eager to buy the next new thing out of
Cupertino, Calif. It’s also a highly discerning group with a refined
taste in gadgets, and that makes them a bit fussy.
Here are five bruises on the new Apple iPhone that may engender
No. 5: A Skimpy Camera
As smartphone challengers like HTC, Motorola (MOT – News) and Nokia (NOK – News) embrace the
megapixel race with 8-megapixel and 12-megapixel cameras, Apple’s new
iPhone keeps it cheap with a 5-megapixel model.
This will be a bigger point of contention this week when Verizon (VZ – News) and Motorola
unveil the Droid X Wednesday, the newest Google (GOOG – News) Android
phone, which features an 8-megapixel camera. Android phone giant HTC has
also been generous with 8-megapixel cameras in its Droid Incredible
and Sprint’s (S – News) EVO.
Meanwhile, Apple, always the laggard in cameras, won’t enter the
8-megapixel class until next year when it debuts a sweet Sony (SNE – News) camera in its
2011 iPhone. But by then, who knows where the rest of the pack will be?
No. 4: No Swype
If you’ve seen Swype or used it, you know why this omission makes
the list. Typing on a touchscreen is a challenge as the flat glass
surface offers few clues to where your fat fingers are precisely making
contact. It’s an error-prone process that gives one a longing for the
raised keys of the BlackBerry keyboard from Research In Motion (RIMM – News).
But the Swype keypad software helps tame the new medium. Swype
follows the pattern of your finger movements to type words or predict
words without the usual hunting and pecking.
Apple did wonders with the touchscreen, but Swype makes it more
useful for those among us who like to type.
No. 3: Video Calling
Okay, it’s not totally bait and switch, but Apple’s hot new iPhone
video calling feature, FaceTime, comes with lots of asterisks and a
Say you want to video chat with someone using the Apple iPhone 4.
That someone has to have a WiFi connection and he has to use the same
application on his own iPhone 4. You’re looking at a small club of
people — not exactly an application of global Skype-like proportions.
No. 2: iPhone 4 Shortages
Strong demand is only half the story for Apple’s iPhone sales debut.
Limited supply is the other. A shortage of in-plane display panels,
the crucial part of Apple’s touted retina display screens, has forced
Apple’s contract manufacturers to cut production rates in half to 1
million iPhones a month.
This means there won’t be enough iPhones on hand to meet the
presumably high demand. Though it’s not a terrible problem to have if
you are a gadget maker, sellouts and delivery delays will mar Apple’s
big iPhone 4 debut. The frustration could push buyers toward other
No. 1: No Verizon iPhone.
A new iPhone is big. But a new iPhone at Verizon? Much bigger.
Apple’s exclusive partnership with AT&T (T – News) has been a point
of discord among iPhone owners and it has tarnished the public
perception of both companies. It also has done almost nothing for
Investors have been waiting for the Verizon iPhone. But that’s
apparently not going to happen until next year, if ever.
So Apple fans who want the new iPhone have to lock in for another
two years with AT&T. This scenario is not particularly pleasant
considering that AT&T’s new subscriber plans put penalties on
people (like iPhone users) who happen to be heavy data users.
–Written by Scott Moritz in New York.