iPhone: The world’s most advanced mobile?


For several years I’ve used a basic mobile phone here in Japan with a very limited data plan just so that I can meet up with people and be able to make emergency calls if the need were ever to arise. Some time ago, however, I realized that having a mobile phone on which I could check my e-mail would make things a whole lot more convenient. Since I work from home, the inability to check e-mail away from my computer was keeping me tied to my desk even when I would otherwise be free to run errands or whatnot.

Anyway, SoftBank, the mobile carrier here in Japan that has an agreement with Apple, was running a campaign a couple of months ago called “iPhone for Everybody” in which they were giving the phones away with a 2-year contract. I decided now was the time, and so I got one. They advertise it as the world’s most advanced mobile platform, but I wonder if anyone at Apple has ever even looked at a Japanese mobile phone.

The very first thing I noticed was the inability to use infrared to send your contact information to another phone by just putting them next to each other. Then, when I started to type e-mails I realized it had no copy and paste function. Next, I took a photograph with the camera and realized there’s no flash or zoom. I also tried to scan the barcodes at shops to get their website info and stuff and, surprise, surprise, the iPhone can’t scan barcodes (not very well, anyway)! Moreover, e-mails sent to my phone do not come immediately, because the “push” e-mail function does not work yet.

In Japan, even the most basic phones come with copy and paste functionality, infrared, camera flashes, barcode scanning, push e-mail, etc. How on earth can Apple reps even describe the phone as “modern” with a straight face? A phone without copy and paste functionality is not advanced. It’s obsolete. Phones in Japan can be used to buy things from vending machines and convenience stores, pay utility bills, watch television, ride trains, find directions, surf the net, etc. In almost every respect, the iPhone is inferior to the majority of mobile phones in Japan.

There are certainly some things that I like about the iPhone: there are apps for tracking jogging routes, the GPS function can help people like me without a sense of direction find stores and, most of all, I can check my work e-mail on it. All of these things are available with Japanese phones, though, so if I had it to do all over again I’d probably go with a different phone.

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9 Responses to “iPhone: The world’s most advanced mobile?”

  1. Kansas Bob says:

    Thx for the review Casey. I just bought a Sprint Palm Pre phone and have been wondering about the iPhone. This video .. http://www.kansasbob.com/2009/06/pre-occupied.html .. seems to indicate a bit of advantage for the Pre.

    Hope your days are going well these days.


    • casey says:

      Yeah, the Pre looks a whole lot better. As Lincoln points out, there is an update to the iPhone coming up that will fix the copy and paste problem. Don’t get me wrong, I’m satisfied with the iPhone, just not impressed by any means. I think the way they describe it borders on false advertising.

  2. Lincoln says:

    I have an iPod that I tether with a cell phone, and to tell you the truth I don’t even notice these limitations (except for copy/paste) I think my perception is colored somewhat with using a WinMo phone, and WinMo is bar none the worst mobile OS I have ever seen hands down, amen and amen. It is absolutely horrendous. I have to presume the Palm OS for blackberries are far superior.

    A lot of the limitations you described will be resolved in iPhone’s new 3.0 update, and the next generation phones called iPhone 3G S which will be released on the 19th. :D

    • casey says:

      Does the new one have a built-in flash? Anyway, I know the update is going to give me copy and paste, but I’m still not impressed. Not by far. I think the only reason people get iPhones is because of the Apple image.

      • Lincoln says:

        No flash yet, but it does have autofocus! :D

        I think it depends on your needs. For me the iPod/iPhone is in a class of its own. The apps load instantaneously, its responsive, fast and unbelivably easy to use. And it’s so pretty too. On my WinMo, pffttt, forget it. Even to call someone it has to think about it for a few seconds before dialing. It uses Opera which is the most horrendous browser Ive used on a mobile device. Absolutely no comparison to Safai. And the touchscreen is virtually nonexistent on other phones. Ive tried the Blackberry Storm and there’s just no comparison to the iPhone. I think smartphones do better when it doesnt try to mimick the iPhone, such as the Blackberry Curve.

      • casey says:

        Looks like the hurdle is pretty low in the US, then. They should be calling it the “most advanced mobile platform in the US,” because it’s definitely not the most advanced in the world.

    • casey says:

      Got the update today. Fixed the copy/paste issue, but the push e-mail still isn’t working. Not impressed.

  3. Lincoln says:

    You’re just a bigoted Mac hater then. Don’t hate on the Apple just cuz it’s prettier than you. :))

  4. lstrdggy says:

    now see here. i think the mac OS is great but it lacks in compatability i mean, what programs are actually designed with mac in mind?
    but i also love the iphone and i have one, but id prefer being able to use my programs (while it isnt crashing) on vista then not be able to use any programs at all on a stable computer that cost 3 times as much!