iPhone Owners said “We like it, but…”

29 Aug
iPhone Owners: "We Like It, But…" 
By Melissa J. Perenson
iPhone (Photo courtesy © Apple)

Our survey of 500 iPhone owners reveals that, though most are happy overall, they have lots of suggestions. The honeymoon isn’t over. A little more than a month after the Apple iPhone went on sale, nearly 90 percent of iPhone owners who answered a PC World survey said that they love their almost-new toy. But they also had a few complaints–most notably regarding the iPhone’s voice and data networks–and lots of suggestions.

What the iPhone does right

The iPhone received its highest marks for music and video playback: About 90 percent of respondents were very or extremely satisfied with the iPhone’s ability to entertain. "As an iPod, it’s really good. The simplified navigation is awesome," one reader said.

Survey participants were slightly less pleased with the iPhone’s performance as a phone, but even so 84 percent of respondents gave the device high marks on that aspect of its duties. The iPhone also earned widespread praise for its Web browsing abilities, which 83 percent of respondents found very or extremely satisfying.
In connection with its hardware and native software, the iPhone’s lowest marks for satisfaction involved the camera (46 percent were highly satisfied) and the built-in widgets (62 percent were happy as clams).

What’s not to like

The iPhone suffered its biggest negatives for the voice and data network it’s married to–the AT&T system. A whopping 40 percent of our survey respondents expressed some level of dissatisfaction with the speed of AT&T’s EDGE data network, which tops out at 200 kilobits per second and often performs at half that speed, according to Broadband Reports.

The voice quality of the iPhone on AT&T’s network seems to be cutting into satisfaction with the iPhone experience, too: Among our poll respondents, only 61 percent rated themselves as very satisfied or extremely satisfied with the voice quality of the AT&T network, and even fewer characterized themselves as satisfied with the voice network coverage.
In our pool of respondents, 59 people (13 percent) said that they had experienced a "significant problem" with their iPhone–not an inconsiderable number, but not surprising for a first-generation device. One-third of those who had encountered problems complained about the battery, a quarter griped about the touch screen, 24 percent reported issues involving the Safari browser, and 24 percent had difficulties with other device software. (The total exceeds 100 percent because respondents were free to report more than one problem.)
"The browser crashes from time to time," one respondent said. "And less frequently, video playback crashes, too."
About 13 percent of our respondents said that they’d run into at least one significant problem with their device in the past month. The most common culprit: the battery.
"It is a fantastic device," raves one iPhone owner. "Way beyond my old Treo 700W, which almost seems like an antique rotary phone by comparison. The iPhone is the first and only truly integrated communicator." An overwhelming majority (88 percent) of the survey’s nearly 500 respondents rated themselves as very or extremely satisfied with their new phone.

What’s missing

We asked iPhone owners what features Apple should add to the next generation of the device. Several of their suggestions echo observations that we and our colleagues at Macworld have made. Some note wryly that, so far, the iPhone can’t replace every handheld device in the house. "It can’t open my garage door, or change the TV channel, yet," one reader joked.

The iPhone’s inability to perform basic editing tasks such as copying, cutting, and pasting irked some users. Others pointed to the phone’s incapacity to handle voice dialing and its refusal to load third-party software. One iPhone owner wished for "true third-party applications (vs. Web-based applications) provided that they will not compromise stability or security."
Our poll respondents also took the opportunity to lambaste the phone for its lack of customization options–including custom ring tones–and for the absence of picture messaging, a to-do list, video recording, flash video support, and integrated instant messaging. One reader especially yearned for a way to change the widgets on the iPhone’s home screen: "I don’t care about Stocks or YouTube, but I do want to be able to turn Wi-Fi on or off in one click."
Several readers complained about the iPhone camera’s not having zoom capability and said that the camera produced poor images in low light. Even more of them griped about battery life issues and the fact that users can’t replace the battery themselves.
Lots of respondents called for support for a faster, 3G data network in the second-generation iPhone, along with more storage, a push e-mail capability, and wireless downloads of iTunes content. One owner asked for games designed for the phone and not dependent on an Internet connection–a valid point if you want to use your phone while traveling and don’t have an available connection, or if you just don’t want to play a game over a slow EDGE connection.
Many respondents wished for integrated GPS. One iPhone owner suggested that the iPhone should at least have "a basic cell tower-based GPS that integrates with Google Maps so it knows where I am when I search for services."
Another frequent gripe involved the phone’s lack of PDA-like functions. Respondents would like to have wider address book support, Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes compatibility, and better contacts options.
Many users said that they take heart in knowing that some of the first-generation’s iPhone’s shortcomings may be addressed via software updates (the first update went out last week).
"Ninety-nine percent of the things that I would like to see are software: A well-balanced set of features that do everything that a PDA or regular phone would do–only better. That is what will define and, at the same time, make or break the iPhone," said one owner.
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Posted by on August 29, 2007 in Computers and Internet


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