A couple of colleagues and I have been having a discussion about whether or not the iPhone is crippled. So, is the iPhone "crippled" by AT&T, as are most handsets?
Well, yes and no. Yes, iPhone's kind of crippled now, but we'll have to wait to see what Apple updates in their next firmware update.
Ringtones We did see the Ringtones tab disappear from iTunes screenshots, indicating that either a) AT&T will force users to purchase ringtones from them; or b) Apple will force users to purchase ringtones from iTunes instead of sideloading ringtones like we should be able to. Custom ringtones can already be hacked into iPhone with some brute force.
Bluetooth Apple's iPhone includes the latest Bluetooth 2.0+EDR technology but it's pretty well documented that it's crippled since only Handsfree and Headset profiles are supported. This is a major problem for a smartphone with three radios (GSM, WiFi and Bluetooth), because it means that you have to use a cable to sync data and contacts to iPhone.
Gizmodo points out the extent to which iPhone's Bluetooth is crippled:
- It can't transfer files to a PC, or appear on a desktop (OBEX)
- It can't send a photo to a Bluetooth printer
- It can't stream audio via Bluetooth to a compatible speaker system or headset (iPhone doesn't support the A2P2 Bluetooth profile)
- Video is out of the question.
Not to mention that you can't use iPhone as a modem (DUN). MyiTablet mentions that there are more than 25 Bluetooth profiles out there and iPhone only supports the Handsfree Profile (HFP) and Headset Profile (HSP).
You’ve heard my bellyache over the lack of support for Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) and Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP). If supported, these two profiles would stream music wirelessly from the iPhone to any supported Bluetooth headsets (i.e. Etymotic ety8) or wireless HiFi speakers (i.e. Com One Bluetooth Speaker System).
According to the Bluetooth System Preference iPhone supports: Handsfree Gateway, Phonebook, Headset Gateway and IrMC Sync. According to Wikipedia, IrMC Sync is a standard Bluetooth profile for PIM item syncing (also used on the Sony Ericsson W710i). The problem is the IrMC doesn't appear to be enabled in iPhone v.1.
iPhone's Bluetooth implementation is the definition of "crippled."
Common Misconception #1 Carriers lock down mobiles so tight that you can't turn a GSM phone on without a SIM. Smartphones can do plenty that's not wireless-reliant, but you can't even look up a phone number from the internal memory without a SIM card in the device.
While it's mostly true of the iPhone (see my iPhone Hacking Handbook for some workarounds) The Nokia N-Series and E-Series devices don't require a SIM. In fact the E70 can be used exclusively as a WiFi VoIP phone with no SIM just using WiFi.
Common Misconception #2 You can't give your clunky old 1G mobile phone to your spouse/kid/neighbor/uncle/church to use as an organizer without a carrier contract and monthly charges.
This isn't entirely true either. If a device requires a SIM card to be present, it doesn't require that it be a valid SIM. A "dummy SIM" can be used with several operators. Even a "Pre-Paid" SIM from T-Mobile or AT&T will bring an old phone to life, even if it has no minutes on it.
This begs the question: why design a device (like iPhone) to be completely dependent on the (supposed) presence of one facet of its functionality? It's like designing a Mac that you can't set up and use without a valid Internet connection.
The iPhone activation requirement was surely an operator (AT&T) request.
Smarter devices, like the N and E-Series don't require it outright, the Nokia 6600 does, but many BlackBerry devices don't. I'd bet that GSM-based Treos don't need a SIM to boot to a desktop.
The APIs of the earlier devices may require network access to do some things for some reason, I don't really have an answer to it. I just don't think it that the vendors came up with this scheme. It gives them nothing. The practice of requiring a SIM has fallen out of vogue - at least for higher-end handsets. (Thanks Bob, Emory and Steve)