iPhone 4

Apple’s promotion and now release of the iPhone 4 has been mired by praise and criticisms all-around. Development of the phone was super-secret, which is part of Apple’s nature. Rumors are leaked here and there to keep the rest of the industry guessing, which allows Apple to really blow away the minds of the public when they debut something new.

The iPhone 4 is certainly no exception to this modus operandi, but ever since Apple made the official public debut of the new iPhone, criticisms, some of which I feel are unfair, have been lobbed against Apple and the new iPhone, almost exclusively by supporters of the competing Google Android platform. Why is this? Google’s Android is a quasi-open platform, while Apple’s iPhone operating system is entirely proprietary. That’s the basic nuts and bolts of it, and it’s the latest battlefield of a philosophical argument that has been going on for almost 30 years.

Yesterday, Scott Morris of TheStreet offered his "5 Big Blemishes for the Apple iPhone 4". Herein I shall provide my rebuttal.

No. 5: Skimpy Camera

The first thing Scott mentions is the fact that the iPhone 4 has only a 5 megapixel camera while new Android-based phones have megapixel ratings higher than even my Nikon D40. But there’s a major downside to higher megapixel camera phones: they’re camera phones. I avoid the camera on my iPhone 3Gs for that very reason. It’s great for quick pictures here and there, but a 12 megapixel camera on a cellular phone? That’s overkill. 12-megapixel cameras are used to produce ultra-high resolution images that can be printed on posters and larger with no loss in image quality. Somehow I don’t see people taking poster-sized or poster-quality pictures with a camera phone.

No. 4: No Swype

For those of you who don’t know, Swype is a relatively new technology on Android platforms, developed by Swype, Inc. If you want Swype on the iPhone, they’ll have to first develop it. Plus Swype is currently in beta, so why is a financial writer complaining about beta software not being available on the iPhone?

Personally I wouldn’t want to see Swype available on the iPhone until it was ready, and given that the iPhone has only one platform, if they develop it for the iPhone they can test it thoroughly in-house without needing to rely on an open beta program.

No. 3: Video calling

One of the biggest gripes against the iPhone is the fact that it uses a proprietary video codec in FaceTime — H.264. For those who don’t know what that is… it’s not really important. However it is expected to outdo the current options available for the Android platform, which have consistently received inconsistent reviews because of a very inconsistent user experience — i.e. they’re unreliable, as Revision3’s AppJudgment recently pointed out:

Scott also mentions this:

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.

FaceTime is currently available only on the iPhone 4, so yes, both ends of the conversation will need to be using it, just like both ends of a Skype conversation need to be using something Skype-compatible. This is what we in the software development field call "protocol compatibility". FaceTime is new, so give it time and there may be other FaceTime compatible applications popping up for other platforms.

Plus the fact you have to use a Wi-fi connection should actually be considered a blessing given the recent changes AT&T made to their pricing of data plans. And with wi-fi hotspots all over the place, or so it seems, how big of a problem will this be, especially in major metropolitan areas such as the one in which I live.

Now whether FaceTime is similar to or better than the current offerings for Android will soon be seen.

No. 2: iPhone 4 Shortages

The frustration [over sellouts and delays] could push buyers toward other phones.

Yeah, just like shortages, delays, sellouts, rainchecks, and the like pushed people away from the Wii toward the PlayStation 3 and the X-Box 360. Oh wait, that didn’t happen. People just waited for the Wii to come in and then got in line.

If someone really wants an iPhone 4, they’ll wait till it’s in stock and acquire it.

No. 1: No Verizon iPhone.

Just like there isn’t a Sprint or AT&T Droid X, or a Verizon or AT&T Palm Pre, or a Sprint or AT&T HTC Incredible. The only popular mobile phone available across carriers reliably is Blackberry. The Nexus One is also available for a discount on Sprint and Verizon or for the full $529 price on T-Mobile and AT&T. Actually Verizon seems to be getting the best of the Android phones, and Android is only recently being introduced into AT&T’s offerings.

So why is there not a Verizon iPhone? Because Verizon’s network is CDMA like Sprint while AT&T’s network is GSM like T-Mobile. It’s also why the Droid X won’t work on AT&T but should work on Sprint (though Sprint isn’t offering it), and vice-versa with the Palm Pre. So right now if I want an Android phone on AT&T, unless I go with the HTC Aria or the Motorola Backflip, my options are limited unless I shell out the $529 for the Nexus One (no thanks).

Exclusivity deals are nothing new, yet no one seems to be complaining about HTC not making more Android phones for AT&T instead of Verizon and Sprint. Hmm… quite curious.

Plus as one commenter to the article pointed out, if Verizon is so superior to AT&T, why didn’t they land the exclusivity deal with Apple? Instead it seems they’re releasing a new Android phone every few weeks to month whereas aside from today the last iPhone release as last June, the iPhone 3Gs.