The iPhone losing its fizz?

Over the past couple of days, there have been several articles here about how the iPhone is losing its appeal; how it (slighly) pales in comparison to other phones out there in the market. Sure, the hype has fizzled out, but the iPhone remains one fantastic device.

But before I continue, let’s start with a story. About a month ago, when I was still considering which device I should go for, I spent about 20 minutes playing with Samsung Omnia at a booth here. Things go pretty bad right off the bat. The screen shows “tap here to unlock” but there’s no response. I can’t even shut down the phone. And then the Samsung rep says “oh, I was just showing it to other people. It probably has many tasks running.” Right, it’s Windows Mobile ;) He takes the sim card and battery out, restarts the phone and now we’re back in business. So I ask him how this device is better than the iPhone. He whips out this list he’s prepared in pencil, and starts with the first item that reads “better processor”. Other items in the list include the 5 megapixel camera among other features. But really, when I’m there using the device, I know I’d never buy it. The interface is slow, laggy and the whole user experience is just plain bad.

Why do I bring this up? Because this is the exact same mistake everyone seems to make. When was the last time you cared about the processor and memory powering your phone? People love to talk about how the cameras on other devices are way better (the Sony Ericsson C905 has an 8MP camera!) or have user-replaceable batteries (I know I have never replaced the battery before) among a host of other things. Why, the Nokia N96 even has a tv-tuner! Somehow it reminds me of the complaints people had about the iPod (no fm/voice recording, no replaceable battery).

Sure, the iPhone could do a lot of things better. A better camera (not a deal-breaker for me), bluetooth file transfers, or the good ol’ copy-paste. The good news is the device is gradually getting better. The 2.1 update fixed the most of the glaring bugs I had with the device. But I digress.

Fact is the iPhone just about owns every other device out there when it comes to the user interface. Sure, the multi-touch interface on it is a year old now, but there’s nothing quite like it out there yet. In fact, it’s hardly an understatement to say that the iPhone has sent phone manufacturers back to the drawing board. I’ve tried the Omnias and the Diamonds but they’re not even close. And what’s even more amusing is these new devices try pretty damn hard to conceal the windows mobile interface that runs underneath (yup, I’m not the biggest fan of windows mobile). Admittedly, the Diamond’s TouchFlo3D does a pretty good job at it too.

The day I got my iPhone, I’d replied to a couple of emails, watched a youtube video or two, listened to a number of songs and caught up on some my favourite websites. All this on a 25 minute train ride back home and no application skipped a beat. You literally fly across the device, pinching, swiping and pulling. This is the most fun I’ve ever had using a handheld. I’m no Apple fan, but you have to give it to them when they get things right.

Ramkumar Shankarapple, iphone, omnia, samsung