Friday, July 18, 2008

Top 10 features iPhone 3G lacks or is not available

10 Things the 3G iPhone is Still Missing

By Tim Moynihan, PC World

The new App Store has unleashed a slew of great new apps for the iPhone, but there are still a few standard features we wish Apple's multimedia phone had. Here's the short list.

(© PC World)

It's great that the new iPhone has faster data service and GPS. And you could get lost for days in the new iPhone App Store looking at all the cool new toys and productivity tools. But there are still quite a few Achilles heels in Apple's 3G iPhone. What's most surprising is that these missing features come standard even in some of the most basic phones. With these added features, the 3G iPhone could come pretty close to perfect. (This isn't the first time we've complained about what's missing from the iPhone, and many of the gripes on this list are repeat offenders.)

Here's what we would still like to see in the iPhone:

1. Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)

Despite being fairly standard on most multimedia phones, MMS capabilities aren't part of the 3G iPhone's bag of tricks. That said, you can e-mail photos taken with the iPhone's 2-megapixel camera (or photos stored on the device). You can also share YouTube links directly from the iPhone's YouTube application. So why's it missing? The lack of MMS could be tied directly to the 3G iPhone's lack of a video camera; you can't share video files if you can't shoot or store them natively on the device. As for music, iTunes' strict limitations on sharing music are probably the reason behind that, but it would at least be nice to have audio-sharing capabilities for non-DRM-protected tracks.

2. Stereo Bluetooth / A2DP support

You've got to love the fact that the new iPhone no longer requires an adapter or headphones designed for its recessed headphone jack. But what about cutting the cable altogether? Unlike the latest BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Symbian mobile platforms, the latest iPhone still doesn't offer the convenience of using a stereo Bluetooth headset to listen to its on-board iPod, at least without using a bulky adapter. For such a common feature, and for a company so aesthetically inclined, that's more than a little surprising.

3. Selecting, copying and pasting text

Apple fixed a few of the first-gen iPhone's shortcomings with the early-2008 firmware update (sending text messages to more than one recipient, for example), but they didn't add an option to edit text by selecting passages and copying and pasting them elsewhere in an e-mail message or note. And with the new iPhone firmware, they still haven't. This missing feature is more than a little annoying for those who write more than talk, want to copy and paste long strings from URLs, or fix links that get truncated in e-mail messages.

4. Horizontal keyboard for e-mail and notes

Another annoyance for writers -- and a confusing omission, given the fact that the iPhone's on-screen keyboard flips horizontally for some applications but not others -- is the fact that the touch-screen keyboard doesn't rotate to a landscape orientation when using the Notes, e-mail or Maps applications. Those also happen to be the three most writing-intensive apps on the iPhone, which makes the necessary one-finger hunting and pecking required by the portrait mode keyboard all the more annoying if you use those features a lot. Over time, using your thumbs to type versus holding the phone in one hand and poking at the keys with one finger is a lot more significant than you might think.

5. Improved predictive text (or the ability to turn it off)

The iPhone's predictive text feature (where the phone "guesses" what you're going to write after a few characters to eliminate typos) does a decent job at streamlining typing. However, it only has an "opt-out" feature, which requires hitting a very small "x" to deselect the word it suggests. This is where that feature fails. The time it saves in correcting miscues sometimes pales in comparison to the frustration it causes in forcing you to repeatedly deselect words. And there's no way to turn it off or create a keyboard-based shortcut to deselect the predicted word.

6. Integrated IM app

Here's the first thing on the list that the new App Store's offerings fix -- at least if you're an AOL Instant Messenger user. There's still no IM client pre-loaded onto the iPhone. That said, with e-mail and text messaging and a phone and a host of third-party mobile Web-based messaging offerings (Twitter comes to mind), do we really need another form of communication built into the 3G iPhone? Well, maybe a fax machine.

7. Flash support

Sadly, no one really knows when being able to view Flash animations or films will be a reality on the iPhone. This big wish-list item for the news version is still missing from the 3G handset. Even though YouTube clips are in Flash format on the Web, they've been converted to QuickTime format specifically for the iPhone-centric version of YouTube. The lack of Flash support means Safari fumbles when it comes to YouTube clips embedded in blog posts or other pages; those just show up as broken plug-in icons, with no option to launch the clips in the iPhone's separate YouTube app.

(© Apple)

8. A better camera and a camcorder

Sorry, snapshooters and YouTube filmmakers. The 3G iPhone's still camera maxes out at 2 megapixels, and there's no way to shoot video with the camera. Those are limitations that no number of photography apps from the iPhone App Store will cure.

9. Unified e-mail inbox
Microsoft Exchange is now supported, but there's no way to get all your messages from Yahoo,, Gmail, AOL and your business account all on one page, so to speak. Then again, barring excellent spam filters across all those sites, you wouldn't want that anyway.

10. Voice dialing and voice memos

Third-party apps to the rescue! The new iPhone has no native support for voice dialing or recording audio memos, but a few third-party apps now available via the App Store build them into the 3G handset, including Jott for iPhone, which is available for free.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

World's Most Expensive Mobile Phones - is it worth the money

The World's Most Expensive Cell Phones

By Elizabeth Woyke,

The World's Most Expensive Cell Phones (© Forbes)

There is no cell phone more eagerly awaited this year than the next generation of the Apple iPhone. But for some high rollers, the ultimate iPhone is a diamond-encrusted version from London jeweler Amosu. At 20,000 pounds ($39,600), the creation ranks among the world's most expensive phones.

Even a $40,000 iPhone seems tame compared with the 8800 Arte from Austrian designer Peter Aloisson. The luxury Nokia phone is posh to begin with, featuring designer ringtones and wallpapers and an 18-karat white gold finish. Encased in more than 680 pink and white brilliant-cut diamonds -- sparing only the screen and slide-out keyboard -- the embellished phone is a marvel. And, at 85,000 euros ($134,000), it's also the price of a college education.

These super-high-end cell phones are a fascinating anomaly within the cell phone industry. While handset makers like Nokia, Samsung and Motorola churn out millions of $40 phones for developing markets such as China, Russia and India (see "Cell Phones Your Wallet Will Love"), smaller firms like Amosu and Peter Aloisson focus on serving a much smaller population at the other end of the market.

It's a trend that shows no signs of halting. Fashion firms and automakers continue to show interest on the designer side. Recently, Christian Dior unveiled a $5,000 phone that resembles a sleek cosmetic compact. Watchmaker Tag Heuer is coming out with a $6,000 phone with a crocodile leather back. Porsche and Lamborghini have phones. Ferrari collaborated with Vertu, a U.K.-based luxury phone manufacturer owned by Nokia, on a special-edition phone last year.

Luxury firms say the steady march of cell phones across the globe is further expanding the market by popularizing the notion of luxury phones. "Mobile phones are becoming more and more an object of desire for people," says Alberto Torres, president of Vertu.

So what does a multithousand-dollar phone have that a $100 or $200 phone lacks? In the case of Vertu, whose phones range from $4,000 to $300,000, the difference begins with materials. Its handsets are crafted using scratch-proof sapphire glass screens, titanium frames, ruby bearings (for minimal wear and tear), fine leather and, in some models, gold and platinum.

Design inspirations are similarly highbrow. The brand's "Signature" line features details from jewelry and watchmaking. Its "Ascent" line is based on luxury automobiles and incorporates carbon fiber and rubber. (Torres uses a red Ascent handset.) Vertu's newest phones, the "Constellation" line, are meant to evoke images of classic aviation.

Then there is the painstaking construction. Though Vertu phones incorporate Nokia technology, they are developed and manufactured separately. Some models have more than 500 mechanical pieces, all assembled by hand in Europe. Torres compares the process to that of other luxury goods, such as cars, watches and handbags.

The phones are manufactured with longevity in mind, both in terms of tough construction and classic design. Vertu tests some phones by running a car over them. The goal, says Torres, is to make the phones functional for 20 years, even if users are likely to swap phones long before then.

The combination has attracted high-profile fans, such as former Ferrari Chief Executive Jean Todt, singer Beyoncé, and actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Catherine Deneuve and Michelle Yeoh. Strikingly, most of these people shelled out money for their Vertu handsets. "We are very careful about gifting phones," says Torres. "We think it's more important that people buy into the brand and have a commitment to it."

The World's Most Expensive Cell Phones (© Forbes)

According to luxury phone firms, plenty of people can afford to buy their wares. Vertu had triple-digit growth in 2006 and 2007 and is now in expansion mode, opening more stand-alone boutiques, including its first U.S. shops, in the Wynn Las Vegas and Plaza (New York) hotels. Despite a slowing economy, Torres says, the U.S. is the brand's fastest-growing market.

He thinks luxury phones will eventually ring up billions in sales. But some luxury analysts say upscale cell phones and other electronic gadgets will never be as popular as designer watches, handbags and cars. The rapid pace of innovation in cell phone technology means phones don't appreciate in value the way a Rolex does, notes Pamela Danziger, a luxury marketing expert. And phones, which most people carry everywhere, but rarely secure to their bodies, can be easily lost or misplaced, making them risky investments, she adds.

"It is a very, very limited market," says Danziger.

The two exceptions, she says, are young men, who are increasingly forgoing luxury watches in favor of using cell phones to tell time, a habit that could make them more receptive to spending thousands on a phone. The other: wealthy people she calls "exfluents" (or "extreme affluents"), who "go for the best of the best in everything they purchase."

In the end, as with any extremely expensive accessory, buying a $10,000 phone isn't about logic. Torres compares luxury phones to vintage Ferraris. "They might not last forever or have the latest technology, but they're beautiful things to drive."