Walt Mossberg’s Review of the Original iPhone

As we look back at Jony Ive’s career at Apple, surely the high water mark was the original iPhone in 2007. Walt Mossberg’s review holds up perfectly — he absolutely nailed it:

The iPhone’s most controversial feature, the omission of a physical keyboard in favor of a virtual keyboard on the screen, turned out in our tests to be a nonissue, despite our deep initial skepticism. After five days of use, Walt — who did most of the testing for this review — was able to type on it as quickly and accurately as he could on the Palm Treo he has used for years. This was partly because of smart software that corrects typing errors on the fly. […]

In addition, even when you have great AT&T coverage, the iPhone can’t run on AT&T’s fastest cellular data network. Instead, it uses a pokey network called EDGE, which is far slower than the fastest networks from Verizon or Sprint that power many other smart phones. And the initial iPhone model cannot be upgraded to use the faster networks.

The iPhone compensates by being one of the few smart phones that can also use Wi-Fi wireless networks. When you have access to Wi-Fi, the iPhone flies on the Web. Not only that, but the iPhone automatically switches from EDGE to known Wi-Fi networks when it finds them, and pops up a list of new Wi-Fi networks it encounters as you move.

Hard to believe, in hindsight, that Wi-Fi was a novel feature. My favorite part of the review is the chart comparing the iPhone to its top rivals circa 2007 — the Samsung BlackJack, BlackBerry 8800, and Treo 700p. They look like relics. One thing I’ve noticed recently is that I still see people — some of them surprisingly young — using basic flip phones. But I never see anyone using a BlackBerry-style phone with a QWERTY keyboard.

(The other funny thing, looking back, is how Samsung was still Samsung back then, copying not only BlackBerry’s form factor but even its goddamn name.)

Tuesday, 9 July 2019