Congratulations Apple, you made the iPhone less stable than Windows Mobile

Congratulations Apple, you made the iPhone less stable than Windows Mobile

Summary: After a couple of weeks, I gave in and picked up an iPhone 3G at the Apple store just over a week ago to personally give it a try. It is a good device, but the only two improvements over my original iPhone are the 3G support and GPS. The 3G has been very spotty, especially compared to the solid reception I am seeing on the Nokia E71-2, N95-3, and HTC Advantage. GPS is nice and I have actually used it twice to help me quickly navigate around traffic jams and in an unfamiliar area. However, the device has almost ended up going airborne across the room because of the constant instability with both 3rd party and native applications so I am strongly considering a return of the device this next week.

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Congratulations Apple, you made the iPhone less stable than Windows MobileAfter a couple of weeks since the iPhone 3G launch, I gave in and picked up a device at the Apple store just over a week ago to personally give it a try. It is a good device, but the only two improvements over my original iPhone are the 3G support and GPS. The 3G has been very spotty, especially compared to the solid reception I am seeing on the Nokia E71-2, N95-3, and HTC Advantage. I saw 3G at work for the first couple of days, but for the last four days all I get is an EDGE connection. GPS is nice and I have actually used it twice to help me quickly navigate around traffic jams and in an unfamiliar area, but I could have just used Google Maps and the approximate position on my original iPhone to do the same thing. Recently the device has almost ended up going airborne across the room because of the constant instability with both 3rd party and native applications and I am strongly considering a return of the device this week.

As a person who enjoys trying out and using lots of 3rd party applications on my mobile devices I expected issues with some applications because not all developers are created equal and Apple doesn't seem to be performing much of any kind of actual review in letting applications appear on the iPhone App store. However, I have had way too many experiences where I go to start an application, it appears to load and then I am taken right back to the home screen again. The only way I have figured out how to get the application back up and running is to remove it and then reinstall it on the iPhone. I also discovered that for paid applications you have to "repurchase" the application on your device and then as you go through the process a pop-up will appear that states you already paid for the application and would you like to download it for free. Thus you don't actually have to buy the application again, but that is the method you have to follow to redownload it. I would think that the iPhone would be smart enough to know which applications I purchased before you have to get to this point and think there is definitely some room for improvement in the App Store on the iPhone.

There have also been syncing issues where I load the application on the phone itself and then when I sync it to my Mac the application disappears. Also, when I delete an application on the phone it gets reinstalled when I sync at times. I think Apple is having a difficult time managing the store synchronization between the device and a Mac/PC.

I was actually willing to forgive some of these early adoption/third party application issues, but lately I have been noticing major issues with the native Safari web browser that I never see on Internet Explorer Mobile or Opera Mobile on Windows Mobile. Over the last 4-5 days, I have noticed I'll be just scrolling down a web page reading it when the browser will just close and kick me back to the home screen. I will then relaunch the browser and surf for a while before it kicks me off again. It isn't even a case of trying to do something crazy like watch a video or stream something, but I am just trying to read the text on a page. I spend quite a bit of time browsing the web on my mobile devices and if the iPhone 3G is going to keep kicking me out of the browser then it is going back.

I also do not like that jumping between tabs does not always take you back to where you were on the page. The page may refresh or go back to a previous page and the browser does not seem to do a good job of maintaining the state you left it in. The browser supports up to 8 open tabs and I tend to limit myself to 6 so I can open another tab or two when I find a link I want to check out so it isn't a case of trying to open up more tabs than are supported. This type of performance reminds me of using the Blazer web browser on a Palm device that rarely, if ever, let me go back to where I was browsing previously. I never have this issue on Windows Mobile or S60 devices and browsers.

In addition to the application sync/loading issues and browser crash issues, the iPhone 3G will tend to pause or slow down (especially noticeable when using text input and seeing a significant lag) and require me to reset the device. In the old days of Windows Mobile I would have to soft reset it from time-to-time when a 3rd party application would lock me up and the current performance, or lack thereof, on the iPhone reminds me of those good old days. I NEVER experience resets on current Windows Mobile non-touch screen devices (like the T-Mobile Dash or Shadow) and they are rock solid. I occasionally have to reset the Windows Mobile touch screen devices (like the Touch Diamond), but at this time the Apple iPhone is requiring more resets than even these devices and I don't see much of an advantage in the iPhone over these more stable devices. I rarely (and mostly never) experience resets on S60 devices either. The Windows Mobile and S60 devices are also multi-tasking with 3rd party applications so the fact that they are more stable while the iPhone is only running a single 3rd party application with a native application or two in the background is also significant.

Other rants: As long as I am talking about some major issues I am seeing on the iPhone, I wanted to mention a couple other things that bother me on the iPhone. People used to constantly complain about Windows Mobile's lack of ability to work as a reliable alarm clock, but that has now been fixed for the most part. I find the iPhone to be practically worthless at ever waking me up and keep going back to a reliable and loud Nokia S60 device to serve as a trustworthy alarm. Basic functions like this used to be required for a device, but we seem to let these issues slide today. Also, why do I have to turn on the device and slide across the display to get to the Home screen to see how many text or email messages I received? The notifications on the iPhone are very weak in comparison to other mobile devices.

I know that we have been clamoring for 3rd party applications on the iPhone and there are some awesome applications available (and some really stupid ones). However, the stable days of pre-iPhone 2.0 may be gone forever and Jobs may not like the can of worms that he has opened up. It is particularly a shame when the native applications on the device can't even perform reliably and I just have to keep remembering this is the early days of the iPhone and I suppose it is similar to the early days of the Pocket PC when stability was also an issue. I did cut Microsoft and Nokia a break back then when they were starting out and I'll keep using my original iPhone because I do think that many of the applications are useful and well designed and we will see lots more coming from developers. I expected Apple to have a better product with this second generation of iPhone though and have been  disappointed with its performance. I think I'll wait and see what the 3rd generation brings us next year (we are on a yearly cycle, right?) since it took these other companies a few tries to get it right as well.

Topics: Mobility, Apple, Software, Operating Systems, Mobile OS, iPhone, Hardware, Browser, Apps, Windows

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118 comments
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  • Look out Matthew...

    ...you're going to get a LOT of responses to this one. I'll bet somewhere north of 250 by the end of the day. ;-)
    IT_Guy_z
  • Thank you for an excelent article

    And not for the fact that it is an iPhone being "griped" about, but for the fact you have used a comparison of other devices and platforms; it does place the article in a usefull perspective for someone looking into getting the item.
    GuidingLight
    • I have to agree with you

      Lots of articles describing, er... anything lack comparisons whether or not the review is positive or negative.
      palotasb
    • Comparison with other devices that have been out for years vs new porduct!

      Just like the iPod, give it a year to mature.
      Then we can do some real ongoing
      comparisons. You all know what will unfold
      where. But for the time being you Apple haters can hold tight to your illusions!
      raycote
      • RE: Comparison with other devices that have been out for years vs new pordu

        No, I think it's perfectly valid to rip into a "new" product. BTW, I think a lot of the gripes about the new iPhone is that it's significantly less reliable than the ORIGINAL iPhone. So it seems silly to me to give them more slack on something they've already done better not too long ago.

        I bought a new iPhone for my girlfriend and one for my sister (I opted to wait for a Touch Diamond Pro-esque device that has a tactile keyboard). Toying around with their devices (simple things, such as browsing text sites and charging the device), I can testify to the atrocious lack of stability (ie Phone hangs and resets itself sometimes when plugging in the wall charger) that seemed virtually non-existant on the original iPhone.

        The slack that Apple gets for their mistakes really is laughable. When the original Zune came out, it was ripped apart and deservedly so. This new iteration of iPhone should get both its accolades for the things it does well (which admittedly is a lot) but it shouldn't be granted a pass for being a "new" device when it crashes more than the original Moto Q.
        3DSumoWrestler
      • Holding tight to illusions..

        ...Or rather "hold tight to your delusions."
        Mac OS will *always* be far superior and more elegant
        than Windoze. I can't believe I have to use Windoze for my
        work. Right-click, right-click...oops...virus
        attack...prepare to screen freeze...now, where were we?
        Oh yes--working on something that failed to auto save.
        Start over. Right click, right click...a spyware attack?
        Please wait while we scan your system and save your life
        from this horrible attack....

        "Yes," I think. "Do your thing. I'll be over here working
        productively on my MacBook Pro running Windoze safely
        and efficiently while my brand new PeeCee running Vista
        freaks out and spins it's translucent cursor."
        debbert
        • RE: Holding tight to illusions..

          What does you working on "windoze" on your mac have to do with this mobile device discussion?
          3DSumoWrestler
        • RE: Holding tight to illusions..

          The only reason ANY user on ANY platform is attacked by virii is because of their own stupidity and lack of understanding for how to protect themselves on their computer. So, you're trying to tell us that on your work computer, if someone sends you a greeting card email and the link is an ip address followed by a bunch of fumbled letters bringing you to an exe, you actually open it? When a popup appears telling you that there's spyware and viruses on your computer and that you have to download antispyware XP 2009, that you fall for it and download it? Viruses and spyware don't just "attack" your computer in this day and age, it is 100% user initiated ... So, considering that you can't tell the difference between a real link and one promoted by spammers to spread virii and spyware, we should actually listen to your rant about how great the MAC and the iPhone are?

          I don't think so!
          BryEDS@...
      • All Platforms Deserve Equal Treatment

        Why didn't Vista get the same "grace period" before it was vilified by those who prefer Macs? If Palm or RIM produced such a "stinker" of a 2nd-gen model, would everyone say "give it a year to mature?" More likely they would demand that any issues be fixed or the device be recalled?

        If we are going to debate the relative strengths & weaknesses of various platforms, all platforms deserve equal treatment. "Religion" has no place in objective product evaluation or debate.

        Not only does brand "religion" cloud the issues, it lets manufacturers off the hook. After all, if brand fans are willing to tolerate significant problems for the sake of "religion" and saving face, what motivation does the manufacturer have to fix the problem?
        John Westra
        • and I would care about Vista why?

          "Why didn't Vista get the same "grace period" before it was
          vilified by those who prefer Macs?"

          My impression was that Vista was mainly vilified by XP
          users who were being forced to "upgrade". Frankly as an
          OS X user I don't care one way or the other about Vista. I
          do have XP installed on my MBPro with Parallels when I
          have no choice and I'm not in any hurry to "upgrade" to
          Vista. But that is due to the complaints of Windows users
          that I know. Mac users basically don't care about Vista.
          sdbryan@...
  • RE: Congratulations Apple, you made the iPhone less stable than Windows Mob

    I've been using a Windows "smart" phone for 2+ years and
    I now have an iPhone - thank God! The "smart" phone was
    the stupidest piece of technology I ever had. Fortunately I
    didn't buy it (my company did, poor fools). Now I can use
    all the things I need to quite easily.

    My "smart" phone had a heck of time transferring files to
    my Windows PC. Imagine - two Windows products not
    communicating.

    Fortunately for me, my company ditched the Windows
    laptops and now I also have a MacBook Pro. So now I can
    actually do work quickly. If my company finds out how
    productive we all are with our Apple gear, they may start
    piling on more work.

    I will take this lovely iPhone over any Windows "smart"
    phone any time. The iPhone isn't just about being cool - it
    is smart design that makes for a productive and useful
    experience. Good design is always cool.

    PS - the alarm works just fine.
    keaura
    • So you are saying that you have not seen

      any of the issues that the author had written about?

      Interestingly, most Windows users have never seen the Windows/WinMobile issues that you have said you have seen.

      So what is the better choice?
      GuidingLight
    • hmmmm.....

      What is a nice Apple marketing person like you, doing in a place like this? <br>
      <br>
      xuniL_z
    • Simply delicious

      Having struggled with a Samsung i-730 for over a year and a half, (a phone which came out at a price of $700 when new, anyone want to buy it, going cheap!), I have to say that to say that the iphone is worse than win mobile is a but more than premature, it must be a joke.

      Just the software that one uses to surf the net, to take your example, is is backwards/awkward, and it is worse on a Blackberry. The crashes that my win mobile phone had were regular, and grown men and women spent hours and hours in a number of forums (cf pdaphone.com), figuring out how to make the thing stable. I cannot tell you how many times my phone crashed, even hard rebooted itself, (good thing it had a SD card and back up, since otherwise contacts etc would have been gone). The routine of hard rebooting and slowly adding in one program after another, to see what is causing the problem is like a dance which win mobile become quite proficient at. And then the memory leaks, the program to force programs to shut down (Iphone will get this soon, i believe)

      I have had an ipod touch, and now an iphone 3g and I have not had to spend hours and hours in the forums trying to figure out how to keep the thing from self-destructing. In fact, when I bought my phone, I left the store, activated, and the phone went to Mobileme (yes that disaster, according to some) and picked up all my contacts, calendar stuff and bookmarks. So as I walked out of the store, I had everything! Nothing like that with winmobile...In fact, while people complain about dotmac/mobileme, I have had Outlook go south on me on a number of times, and I still do not know why. A pitiful excuse of a program. And then winsync went south and I just gave up on trying to tie windows desktop and mobile together. It just was not worth it. And this all in a year and a half.

      Now a friend has the Samsung i-760 and this needs to be rebooted almost daily, according to him. Huh? I thought 6 was supposed to be so GREAT? What a mess!

      Keep your winmobile phones! Enjoy. For right now, Apple seems to be simply delicious!
      dspeers@...
      • RE: Simply Delicious

        I likewise graduated from the SCH i730 to the iPhone 3g. I must say that neither has presented me with a completely compelling experience.

        The i730 had daily experiences with unmounting its file system in some miraculous way. It became completely unable to open any contact information, store text messages, etc. The only recourse was to reboot the machine - which meant that the text message you just received with a friends' new phone number was lost, because the device lacked a means to save the message. Similarly, the device could not reliably connect to anything besides an open access point and application performance was pitiful.

        The iPhone 3g has yet to lose track of its contacts or files or applications - but I have encountered all of the same problems that the initial post mentions save one: I haven't had any applications reinstall on sync. However, I think this has more to do with the fact that less than half of the applications I downloaded through iTunes are able to install to the device. The same applications are able to install through the App Store application on the phone with no problems.

        Additional inconveniences I have noticed with the iPhone is the lack of a useful home screen like WM had. With a single glance at the i730 I could see my next two or three appointment times and locations, I could easily see the number of text messages received, the presence of voicemail, etc. With the iPhone I can only see a listing of a few of the missed calls/texts. Easy access to the calendar program is totally missing. I went to the Settings to try and re-map the double click home key button to launch the calendar application, and was greeted with the limited options of allowing it to open "Home," "Phone Favorites," or "iPod."

        All around, the iPhone 3g is a step up from the i730 with WM5, but neither puts on a fully convincing performance, in my opinion. Maybe I should go back to owning a land-line and carrying a notepad and CD Player until someone figures out the mobile device world.
        Shmeg
        • I only had problems with stability when I loaded up certain programs

          Again, the dance with the iphone, was one of finding which programs seemed to gum things up. After I got rid of them, I have had little or no problem with stability.

          I had a number of programs on the 730 to do just what you said with respect to calendar/calls etc, spent about $30 at least. They worked ok, but I find a few touches and I am in my calendar, and wrt appoints etc, I use Omnifocus and it seems to work nicely.
          dspeers@...
      • Just amazing

        what matthew wrote (wonder what planet he is living on?)...

        "and I just have to keep remembering this is the early days of the iPhone and I suppose it is similar to the early days of the Pocket PC when stability was also an issue. I did cut Microsoft and Nokia a break back then when they were starting out and I?ll keep using my original iPhone because I do think that many of the applications are useful and well designed and we will see lots more coming from developers."

        Where do you live? Seriously, when did WINMOBILE get stable? Even with Winmobile 5 and 6 IT IS NOT stable! certainly not compared to the iphone. Read the stuff in this forum and then go on to the i760...http://pdaphonehome.com/forums/samsung-i730-i830-i830w/

        Then, just one other thing, my i-730, when using wifi or data, got about 1-2 hours of battery life, and that is with a big HONKIN' extended battery. It could not go a day without recharging etc. I just do not know where you are living?
        dspeers@...
        • Bias Bias...

          You keep mentioning ONE phone as an example. Could you not consider it MAY be a bad model? HARDWARE issues that cause the crashes? Or is that just too much for you to comprehend.

          I have a Winmo 6 (soon to be WM6.1 with the new ROM update) Sprint Mogul. My only major gripes are both manufacture related:

          only 64MB ram
          No ATI video drivers (it has an ati video chipset that HTC refuses to release the drivers for)

          Those cause the biggest slowdowns on my phone. other than that, it only reboots once daily becuase I have a backup program that backs up everything to my mSD card.

          My BF has a Sprint Touch. Works great for him ( I couldn't live without the keyboard) he has had issues with the battery, but buying a new one fixed that, so obviously, again, manufacturing.

          Like it or not, WinMo has gotten stable. It works well if you dont tweak too hard. And it has ACTUAL full Exchange support, unlike iPhone.
          ivanotter
        • You must just have a rubbish smartphone

          I'm using a HTC Touch Cruise, and I get between 5 and seven hours battery if I'm actively using WiFi or data (and about 4 hours if I'm running bluetooth at the same time).

          If I'm not using my phone all day (i.e. just using for calls and the random text) then it will last a week or so.

          I only reboot it about once a fortnight or so, and that is mainly from habit (having to do that with my WM2003SE device).
          RogerDaryl
    • Don't let your inexperience show

      What in the world do you mean by "smart" phone? If you can't distinguish between the hundreds of devices out there, then you've clearly not done enough research or had enough experience to decide that every WiMo smartphone is a piece of junk.

      I, for one, enjoy being able to work with office documents with my mobile device.
      guruboy@...