Are Smartphones a work in progress?

I’ve recently taken the plunge and bought a smartphone. (I’m awaiting delivery.)

Before purchasing, I read all the reviews, looked at them in shops and generally learnt as much as I could about them.

As far as I can tell, the perfect smartphone doesn’t exist yet, in the sense that regular cell/mobile phones can perform the functions they are supplied with pretty much flawlessly. Smartphones seem to be deficient in at least one aspect, like, for example, a poor camera, or bad web browsing or a clunky interface, despite all or many of their other functions working well.

I’m sure that in a year’s time, smartphones will have matured to a state that most imperfections have been ironed out, so buying now may be a bit premature. But, being a gadget freak, I can’t wait.

Do any smartphone owning, or more knowledgable, Dopers have any views on this?

For whatever reason, the iPhone seems to be the gold standard these days, and I often see Engadget comparing other smartphones to the iPhone and noting that they come up short.

That said, it’s amazing how many annoying loose ends still exist in this gold-standard phone. (and I own the latest iPhone and am very happy with it)

Over a decade ago, Palm had an almost perfect synchronization tool in their HotSync product. You simply dropped your Palm into its cradle, pressed a button, and it synced in about ten seconds.
When the Treo came out, with Bluetooth, Palm provided the ability to HotSync over BT.

My Treo was configured so that several times a day it would simply wake up, check the air for its BT home computer, and magically sync from within my pocket.

Why can’t the iPhone do this? Sure, you don’t want to sync your tunes over BT, but why not the calendar, contacts, and other stuff?

The Treo supported BT keyboards. Wouldn’t it be cool if I could use my little aluminum Apple BT keyboard with the iPhone? Sadly, no.

The Palm line’s HotSync performed a full synchronization of the data of all applications. No matter what app you bought, its data was automatically handled via (possibly custom) data conduits.
On my iPhone, I have to manually sync my password safe and any document storage apps; they talk to their mama app on the Mac over the LAN—a true hack.

Even stuff that seems like a usability slam-dunk seems to get screwed up. Apple and Nike partnered in the Nike+ product: a device you slip in your Nike running shoes that talks to an app in your iPhone via BT. But you have to sync via iTunes in order to upload your run data! Why does a phone, with Internet connection, need to sync this data over iTunes? Other running products sync over the Internet.
And why is the $20 sensor needed at all? The phone has an accelerometer and can detect the same running strides as the sensor. This is simply a marketing decision to sell Nike shoes with the sole insert.

That said, there is a good reason why Apple is set to sell 10 million iPhones this quarter. (that’s over a hundred thousand phones per day!) Their product is the best there is, even with its flaws.

I recently had mine replaced by AppleCare because of a flaky bluetooth radio, and I was stunned at their personal service, considering I was one of a hundred thousand buyers in one day.
And when I dreamily revel in the memories of the lightning-fast Treo, I tell folks that the iPhone may be slow, but it looks so good as it launches its apps.

Could a mod remove one of the embarrassingly surplus 'are’s from my title? (Preferably the second one.)

Having recently shopped for a smartphone and plumped for the Treo Pro, with which I’m now not entirely happy, I agree - smartphones all seem to be deficient in one feature or another - for any given budget, a selection of handsets can be found, all with broadly similar specifications, but seemingly all with at least one specification that’s absent or poorly implemented.

I think at least part of the problem is that manufacturers (excluding Apple, who maintain a single product identity) churn out a rapid progression of new handsets, and the flagship product at any moment tends to have crammed into it as many good implementations of common features as will fit, plus one or more new or experimental one - which may turn out to be buggy or useless.

Plus there isn’t any single uniform demand for a standard smartphone feature set - for example: some people want touchscreens, with or without stylus, some want a slide out keyboard and/or touchscreen… Add those things to the already-enormous list of regular smartphone features and you get something that can’t be made much smaller than a small laptop.

In a year’s time, it will probably be the same as it is now - for any given budget, each of the choices will have strengths and weaknesses.

One of the problems is that there is no shop that I can find that allows you to play with a working model, so you can’t tell what it’s like in use until after you’ve bought it.

Except the iPhone 3GS, IMO. The genius being that if there’s a soft feature that’s iffy, there is, or will be, an app that does it better. Then you’re only looking at hardware, and the only flaw I personally can see with my model is that there’s no flash with the camera, which isn’t a big deal (to me).

I predict that in a year’s time they’ll all be copying the iPhone.

They are now. The iPhone invented the genre.

As far as I can tell, they’re already surpassing the iPhone.

In what way?

My guess is that part of the problem stems from a couple of things. The established smartphone manufacturers have a lot of experience and have had a lot of time to get things right, but they haven’t necessarily been very innovative. Then along comes the iPhone, great piece of kit, very innovative etc. However Apple haven’t got a lot of experience with smartphones so you might expect that there may be one or two things that aren’t quite right. On the other hand, the established manufacturers are finding themselves playing catch up, and their first attempts at matching the iPhone can be expected to not be perfect either. So one group have experience on their side and the other has innovation, both end up with strengths and weaknesses based on that alone.

Also as mentioned there is the simple fact that you can’t please everyone so there will probably never be a single phone that is perfect in every respect for a particular person.

Is there any decent cross-app handwriting recognition for the iPhone? - I know there are apps out there that do it (do they work outside of their own box?), but I have read a number of reviews saying they suck.

Which genre? Not the Smartphone.

Sorry - I thought they did. But I thought that the iPhone is what they aspire to, at least.

The ideal smartphone would be as good and varied a general app platform as the iPhone; as good a business communicator as the Blackberry; as straightforward to use, sync, and add peripherals as the old Palms; as independent from being chained to a specific network/contract as a cheap eMachines desktop; and as good and easy to use as a doggone TELEPHONE as the cheap Samsung I owned back in 2004 :stuck_out_tongue:
Part of the genius behind iPhone is the focus on what had been one of the strengths of the old Palms: a great availability of applications *other *than merely a business-centric organizer/e-mail. But, part of the critique upon introduction of the iPhone was that it was NOT great at business-centric organizer/email/OfficeToGo tasks.

Apple keeps on presenting its products as if they just invented their features out of thin air (latest example I saw was Copy & Paste on the new iPhone). Most or all (and maybe more) of what the first iPhone did was already available on existing smartphones (Palm, Windows Mobile, maybe Blackberry and others) when it was launched.

I won’t deny that Apple have packaged, presented and synergised it all very well - and that’s chiefly what other phone manufacturers are now falling over themselves trying to emulate - the style. The substance already existed.


Gotcha covered.


Many thanks.

That’s just silly. My current phone (Nokia N900) has all three features (touchscreen, slide-out keyboard, and stylus), and it’s still phone sized. It’s actually a little smaller than my previous phone (Nokia 6260), though it does have a bit of weight to it. Still fits comfortably in my pocket, though.

These two items. I’ve considered a new phone recently, having decided that I could finally deal with the cost of the voice/data plans (gee, they all seem to have about a $70 per month minimum).

Of course, each provider has about 5 to 7 different smartphones and I’ll be damned if I can figure out what the differences are. At about $200 out of pocket up front costs, plus $1,680 (plus taxes) over the 2 year contract, I don’t want to pick the phone that turns out to be the top of the list of ‘the worst smartphones of 2009’. So I decided to keep my crappy little prepaid phone that (usually) performs only one function: phone calls.

Huh? Everything I saw was Apple announcing, “Okay - we finally have Copy & Paste!” because that was the #1 complaint among owners. We all knew every other smartphone had C&P.