Why I'm not getting an iPhone next week

Apple's iPhone looks great-- but not great enough

Apple will begin selling the iPhone on Friday, but I'm not buying one.

It isn't that I don't like Apple hardware. I'm typing this on a MacBook Pro I bought last November. I have a stack of olderPowerBooks (literally), a couple of iPods (one dead, alas), and a Power Mac G5.

It isn't that I don't like to buy new toys. I just counted: I carry around ten battery-powered devices every day, four of which are less than six months old.

But I don't need a new phone, especially not a $499 or $599 phone, unless it can do more for me than one of these other gizmos. The iPhone is being sold as a convergence device-- that is, one device that performs the function of several-- but even with the embarassing number of devices I carry around, the iPhone would only replace one of them.

I've been using a Palm Treo 650 for three years, and although it has always had some minor issues, it has all my data on it and it works fine.

I bought a Cingular 8525 (an HTC product) when I got the new MacBook Pro, because I needed a wireless Internet solution to replace the PC Card HSDPA adapter I'd used with my older PowerBook. I hoped the 8525 would be good enough to replace the Treo as my main phone, but it isn't. Microsoft's Windows Mobile software has come a long way since the earliest days of Windows CE, but it just isn't as easy to use as Palm OS. Nevertheless, I still carry it around because it makes a decent wireless Internet adapter for my MacBook Pro-- that is, when the Bluetooth link isn't cutting out for no apparent reason.

The iPhone looks pretty good, but without voice-memo recording and 3G support (HSDPA on GSM networks, EV-DO on CDMA networks) it can't replace my current phones. Without a lot more storage capacity, it can't replace my iPod. Without native applications from third-party developers, it might not have all the software I want (but I'll re-evaluate this issue once all the details are known). Without a high-resolution screen, it can't even take over the functions of the Sony Reader I also carry around. Basically, I'd be paying a lot of money just to replace the Treo, and the replacement might not be as useful overall.

So I'll wait. I'm betting Apple will have a 3G iPhone by the end of the year. I bet it'll have more storage, and I bet Apple will relent on third-party software development. I'm hoping it'll have a high-res screen, too. Then we'll talk.

(If CNET gives bonuses for linking to CNET product reviews, I could get rich doing this.)

Featured Video

Why do so many of us still buy cars with off-road abilities?

Cities are full of cars like the Subaru XV that can drive off-road but will never see any challenging terrain. What drives us to buy cars with these abilities when we don't really need them most of the time?

by Drew Stearne