11 iPhone Gotchas

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More Potential Drawbacks

Unplugged Web plug-ins: The iPhone's Safari may turn out to be the most desktop-like browser ever to appear on a phone. But it won't offer the full complement of plug-ins, players, and other enhancements that today's sites require. And an iPhone without Java, Windows Media, Real, and Flash Video support will fall short of delivering an uncompromised Web experience. (Even its much-touted YouTube capability won't let you watch the full catalog of YouTube videos, at least initially.)

The battery life question: Apple says that the iPhone's battery will survive up to 8 hours of talk time, up to 250 hours of idle time, up to 6 hours of Internet use, up to 7 hours of video playback, and up to 24 hours of audio playback. And to explain how it came up with these numbers, the company has posted a list of footnotes and disclaimers that rivals the rules you find on a "free trip to Hawaii" sweepstakes form. We won't know the reality until we're holding the iPhone in our trembling, multitouching fingers. Apple's spec page says that the 8 hours of talk time was achieved when "the Wi-Fi feature Ask to Join Networks was turned off." So how disabled was the Wi-Fi when talk time was tested? Apple also doesn't make clear what combination of 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and EDGE was employed to achieve the 7 hours of Internet use. Macs have pretty good power management settings. What will the iPhone offer? Until more is known, be prepared to carry around the phone charger.

Off-limits battery: While we're on the subject of the battery, it's worth noting that, like the original iPod, the iPhone has its battery enclosed in a superslim case among tightly negotiated electronics and behind a top surface of glass--reducing the chances of a DIY battery replacement to next to nil. (Plus, we suspect that attempting a replacement voids the warranty.) So if your battery life dwindles to roughly 6.5 minutes per charge, or the battery malfunctions, you'll have to send your iPhone in for repair.

Finally, a few other issues that probably aren't deal-breakers but are still worth considering:

  • It's a thief magnet: Everybody wants an iPhone, including people who aren't above stealing yours.
  • Multismudge screen: You can use all five fingers on the screen at once? Better wash your hands first.
  • OMG no IM: Inveterate chatters won't be so :) about being limited to SMS.
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