On Call: Enough with the 'iPhone killer'

The iPhone is great, but it's not the only great cell phone out there. And it doesn't need to be killed.

No, it's not the best phone ever. Corinne Schulze/CNET

I cringe every time I hear the phrase "iPhone killer." And in a month like this, when we've reviewed the Palm Pre, the iPhone 3G S, and the next Google Android phone that is expected to land at T-Mobile, I've heard it way too many times.

My biggest issue with the phrase is not that's it's overused--though that's part of it--it's that it implies that the iPhone needs to be killed. Calling the latest touch-screen phone an "iPhone killer" automatically elevates the iPhone to a place that it doesn't deserve. Yes, it's an excellent, innovative device that does many things well, but it's not the best cell phone on the planet. And with the possible exception of its multitouch Web browser, it's not the ultimate pinnacle of cell phone development.

We need only to look at the iPhone's 3G's latest rivals to know that other devices can pose serious competition. No, they're not perfect either, but they're certainly innovative in their own way. And despite what some Apple fans may argue, they're not going anywhere.

Palm's innovative new WebOS is like nothing we've seen before. The Pre multitasks beautifully, its Synergy feature and notifications system are incomparable, and its multitouch browser almost beats the iPhone at its own game. We didn't love the Pre's hardware, but Palm will be coming out with more WebOS devices. Who knows what round two will bring?

Android handsets like the Google Ion/HTC Magic offer a fantastic interface, great integration with Google services, and a truly user-customizable experience. What's more, since Android will run on more than one device, consumers will have a real choice of hardware. Of course, that last point depends on Google and handset manufacturers actually introducing more Android devices. I'm impatiently awaiting the follow-up T-Mobile G1.

There will never be a "world's greatest phone," though people will find the best phone for their needs. We also should remember that competition and choice are good things. We should not desire a world where there is only one kind of cell phone, much like we shouldn't desire to drive one kind of car, drink one kind of soda, or wear one brand of shoes. There is plenty of room in this world for multiple brands of phones, whether they be flashy, multimedia handsets like the iPhone or simple candy bar models that just makes calls.

So, please lay off the "iPhone killer." It's not fair, it's not accurate and it's just not right.

 

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