The iPhone Wars, Day 1

Part of the fun of settling into a new job is the new tools. In this trade, that’s the laptop and the cell phone. Now, I already have a perfectly good laptop and cell phone, so I probably could have just gone on using those, but where so much of what I do is from home, I find it important to have a clear break between personal business and work. Having separate devices helps me define that line.

My current cell phone is a Nokia Lumia 1020 (Windows Phone 8), which I definitely enjoy. I haven’t had a good chance to take the camera for a full spin, but I’m looking forward to it. I’ve had a lot of PDAs and smart phones in my time: Palm Pilot, Handspring Visor, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7, even an Android. The one I’ve never had, though, is an iPhone.

And it’s not that I hate Apple. My favorite past laptop was my MacBook Pro (Apple has ruined me for any other touchpad). Granted, I’m that weird bastard who loaded Vista SP1 into Boot Camp and hardly ever booted back into Mac OS X again, but ever since then I’ve usually had a spare Apple computer around the house, if only for Exchange interop testing. OS X is a good operating system, but it’s not my favorite, so my main device is always a Windows machine. My current favorite is my Surface Pro.

In all of that, though, I’ve never had an iOS device. Never an iPhone, never an iPad. Yesterday, that all changed.

I needed a business smart phone that runs a specific application, one that hasn’t yet been ported to Windows Phone. I’ve long been an advocate that “apps matter first; pick your OS and platform after you know what apps you need.” Here was my opportunity not to be a shining hypocrite! After discussion with Jeremy, I finally settled on a iPhone 5, as Android was going to be less suitable for reasons too boring to go into.

So now I have an iPhone, and I have just one question for you iPhone-lovers of the world: You really like this thing? Honest to goodness, no one is putting a gun to your head?

I can’t stand this bloody thing! First, it’s too damn small! I mean, yes, I like my smart phones somewhat large, but I have big hands and I have pockets. The iPhone 5 is a slim, flat little black carbon slab with no heft. I’ve taken to calling it the CSD – the Carbon Suppository of Death. Now, if it were just the form factor, I could get used to it, but there’s so much more that I can’t stand:

  • I didn’t realize how much I love the Windows Phone customizable menu until I wasn’t using it. I forget who once called the iPhone (and Android) menu “Program Manager Reborn” but it’s totally apt. Plus, all the chrome (even in iOS 7) just feels cluttered and junky now.
  • Speaking of cluttered, Apple sometimes takes the minimalist thing too far. One button is not enough. This, I think, Windows Phone nails perfectly. Android’s four buttons feel extraneous, but Apple’s “let there be one” approach feels like dogma that won’t bow to practicality.
  • The last time I used an iPod, it was still black & white. I can’t stand iTunes as a music manager, and I don’t like the device-side interface – so I won’t be putting any music on the CSD. No advantage there.
  • Likewise, you think I’m going to dink around with the camera on the CSD when I have the glorious Lumia camera to use? Get real, human.
  • The on-screen keyboard sucks. Part of this is because the device is so much smaller, but part of it is that Apple doesn’t seem to understand little touches that improve usability. On Windows and Android, when you touch the shift key, the case of the letters on the keys changes correspondingly; Apple is all, “LOL…NOPE!”
  • Even the Mail client irritates me, even though I haven’t managed to put my finger on exactly why yet.

So is there anything I like about the device? Sure! I’m not a total curmudgeon:

  • Build quality looks impressive. If the CSD wasn’t as flimsy as a communion wafer, I would be blown away by the feel of the device. It’s got good clean lines and understated elegance, like that suit from the expensive Saville Row tailors.
  • Power usage. The CSD goes through battery very slowly. Now part of that is because I’m not using it, but Apple has had time to optimize their game, and they do it very well indeed.
  • The simple little physical switch to put the CSD into silent mode. This is exactly the kind of physical control EVERY smart phone should have, just like every laptop should have a physical switch to disable the radios (not just a hotkey combination).

This is where I’m at, with a fistful of suck. Even an Android phone would be better than this. I’ve got no-one to blame but myself, and it’s not going to get any better. So look forward to more of these posts from time to time as I find yet another aspect of the CSD that drives me crazy.

“But Devin,” I hear some of you Apple-pandering do-gooders say, “You’re just not used to it yet. Give it time. You’ll grow to love it.”



  1. Rick Gerdes says

    Well let’s see…. I’ve had a Droid and now have an iPhone5. My hands are smaller and the heft of the device fits me perfectly. The Droid’s all feel like micro tablets to me by comparison. Now for full disclosure, I use an iPad for most app work, the phone is for walking around with, texting, and camera work. You have the Lumina so you have more options. That said, the iPhone camera is way better than the last droid’s I had to work with. I listen to music erratically, and when I do,I use Siri to pull up an artist and start playing what I have. I also use the voice transcription for most of my typing. The droid keyboard was better I agree, but Apple is trying to get people to type less and use voice more. Why? I’m betting on the data usage that feeds the carriers.

    Bottom line, I have an Apple TV, iPad, and Macbook Air. I got the iPhone to keep the ecosystem consistent. It’s one less thing to think about. I really liked my Droid, but after two years it was getting twitchy and there was no good fix on the horizon, short of rebuilding the OS myself, which I could do, but that’s work I didn’t have time for.

    My mantra of late has become, ‘just work d@*& it!’ because I have not enough hours in the day. The iPhone let’s me do that. YMMV.

  2. Lanwench says

    A Mophie Juice Pack will increase not only your potential battery life, but the size/heft/”grippability” of your iPhone. I love mine. When I use my phone without it, it does feel VERY VERY SMALL and I’m always afraid it will slip out of my hands. I am not an Apple fangirl at all, but iOS is great. It doesn’t try to do too much, and does what it does, very well. Android drives me batty (and I find the onscreen keyboards awful). PS: I grew to appreciate iTunes once I figured out how to tell it to stop trying to organize my music filing system thank you very much I can do that myself. Have fun with your new toys …I mean, tools.

  3. Shel_TK says

    You ought to have gotten a 4S. That form factor would probably have suited you better. I honestly believe the 5/5S form factor was chosen just to make everybody have to buy all new accessories (and it’s why I haven’t bothered to upgrade from my iPhone 4 [not even a 4S]). I may stick with iPhone for a while yet, mostly because I don’t have a glaring need to upgrade . . . but if Apple doesn’t get with the program and actually innovate when it comes time for the iPhone 6, I may finally be motivated to abandon my app investment and start over with a new Android or possibly even Windows phone.

  4. Drew says

    If the size is a deal breaker for you, the iPhone may not have been the way to go. The camera of the Lumia is considerably better; even that that of the 5S. I don’t have small hands, but I’m also not a linebacker. The size is perfect for me because I typically carry my device in my pocket. Any larger and I would be tempted to go back to the geeky belt clips of yesteryear.