The iPhone will launched here in the UK on Friday, and no doubt a few of you will be considering signing up for a contract with 02.
I’ve been sceptical about the iPhone’s potential success here in the UK ever since Apple announced it was going to enter the mobile phone market, my boyfriend on the other hand has been considering buying one. He’s quite thorough when it comes to investigating anything that he might be investing his hard earned cash in, so I thought I’d share the research he has done with you here.
The reason he wanted the iPhone was because it is the closest you can get to the real internet on a mobile phone - better than any other mobile browser out there right now. It’s not 100 per cent perfect though, he admits, because although it shows real html pages, rather than cut down WAP versions, it lacks the Flash and Java capabilities utilised by many website. This means that some of the pages he accesses regularly, such as Google Finance, don’t display properly.
Another limitation was the so-called unlimited data cap that O2 had set. Rather than being unlimited it was actually 200MB a month, that’s about how much you will use looking at two YouTube videos. Thankfully, O2 has now seen sense and uncapped the limited downloads – the company is the first to make “unlimited downloads” truly unlimited. So if you get an iPhone at least you don’t need to worry that you’ll end up paying more than £35 a month for surfing you thought was free.
So, if you are looking for almost true web browsing on your phone, then the iPhone is an excellent option. If you want to use your iPhone as a phone however, it’s not so great. O2’s £35 a month contract offers you just 200 minutes calls a month. Having done a quick poll in the office, most deals were about £25 for 300 minutes with the most impressive deal being £25 for 2,000 off peak minutes.
People also tend to avoid any contract that locks them in for more than 12 months. The iPhone contract with O2 is 18 months.
However, the features of the iPhone may still convince you that it’s worth the extra outlay. Viable alternatives such as the Nokia n95 just don’t cut the mustard, according to the boyfriend. “For web experience the n92 is only about 40 per cent there,” he states, based on his comparisons with the iPod touch’s browsing features. He was more impressed by the Picsel browser from Picsel Technologies (available on Samsung phones). This browser, like Safari on the iPhone, lets users pan and zoom around web pages, enjoying the original content, in its original online format. And if you just have to have iPhone-like navigation tools, such as bouncy-scrolling through your address book, you can install plug-ins that will let you do that.
Of course news that Google is about to launch its own mobile web browser could also change the picture somewhat.
For now it seems that the boyfriend intends to mod a handset to run almost like an iPhone. He’s getting an HTC Orbit on eBay and installing an operating system that's almost as good as Apple's (and I don't mean anything from Microsoft!) Why the Orbit? Because it offers GPS: the killer feature missing from the iPhone.
But pimping your mobile to act like an iPhone just isn’t as cool as owning an iPhone, and at the end of the day, it is the coolness factor of owning an iPhone that will encourage people to buy one. Eventually unlocking the iPhone to run on other networks offering better deals will be an option: at launch the Jailbreak hack will not function, so if you are thinking of hacking your phone, you might want to wait for a solution to become available. But remember that hacking your iPhone might unlock the phone, but it may also lock you out of new features that Apple adds. Just remember, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.You can read some more of his thoughts as he asks, Should I get an iPhone? here.