The Verizon iPhone the Modern Day Flying Car?

I was told when I was a kid we’d have flying cars by now. Well, no flying cars. There’s also been persistent rumors of a Verizon iPhone. Screwed again. That’s a shame too, because the specs for the new iPhone are impressive. The 3GS wasn’t enough to compel me to upgrade from my 3G, but the 4G iPhone is something I’d love to upgrade to now. The specs from today’s WWDC:

  • Thinner, though slightly heavier than the 3GS, but with stainless steel construction which doubles as an antenna for the radio equipment.
  • 326 ppi display running at 960×640. This I have to see. It’s shocking to me how much better Bitter’s Droid screen looks over my 3G, but this leapfrogs the Droid, which has a 256 ppi display at 854 x 480 resolution.
  • Forward facing camera, finally, along with a standard rear facing with a 5 megapixel display and LED flash, similar to what the Droid has.
  • Uses the Apple A4 processor, which runs at a 1GHz. It’s the same one the iPad uses, and the iPad is fast. This eliminates one of my primary complaints about the 3G, which is that it’s slow enough to make browsing painful. The 3G is powered by a Samsung ARM CPU at 412 MHz, the 3GS by a 600MHz version. Bitter’s Droid is powered by a chip similar to the A4, the TI OMAP3, which is an ARM CPU running at 550MHz, with a graphics unit running at 430MHz.
  • Much better battery life. Apple is claiming 300 hours of standby time, 40 hours of music, 10 hours video, 10 hours of browing over Wifi, or 6 hours over 3G, and 7 hours of talk time. That’s pretty impressive. A lot of that is because the A4 processor sips power.
  • Apple has finally untied multitasking. Jailbroken phones have been doing this for a while, and the underlying OS, being MacOS, has always been capable of doing it. But previous iPhone OSes have disallowed it because of battery life concerns.

It’s a good release. Apple needed to leap over the competing smart phones rather than merely match them, and so far it looks like they’ve done it. You can bet the competition will be out with bigger and better versions of their products, but it’s a compelling reason to upgrade. The question is, am I willing to put up with another two years of AT&T? Their upgrade offers are attractive, but I’d hate to take the bait, and then find out there’s a Verizon iPhone in early 2011. But perhaps the Verizon iPhone is the modern day flying car after all, and I’ll just be stuck with outdated technology for no good reason. It’s a difficult call.

14 thoughts on “The Verizon iPhone the Modern Day Flying Car?”

  1. I had Verizon for six years before finally switching over to AT&T for the iPhone about a year ago. As much as I like my iPhone, I’m switching back once the contract is up: there are just too many places where I get horrible reception. I may decide to keep the data plan only for the iPhone and just get a regular phone from Verizon, but AT&T’s network access has made me almost desperate to get back to Verizon.

  2. If they just didn’t have people killing themselves in china to make them…

    1. I don’t think it’s completely clear what the exclusivity deal really holds. With AT&T reneging on their iPad data agreements while the iPad is still flying off the shelves, I find it hard to believe that Apple hasn’t considered their options.

      Yes, Apple is sitting on a pile of cash from the number of iPhone (and now iPad) sales. But, in survey after survey of non-iPhone buyers, there’s always a sizable number of customers who want an iPhone, but they will not switch to AT&T because of the service. At this point, AT&T appears to be the only thing holding Apple back from completely dominating the smartphone market.

  3. Isn’t the HTC Incredible or HTC Evo a better current smartphone comparison than the Droid?

  4. Yes, but the Droid is my comparison point because I’m familiar with it. We have one in the household. iPhone 4 compares favorably to the other systems, however, especially on the display.

  5. One significant problem Apple has is that they cant respond as quickly to market forces – now that they have GenIV out, they can’t come out with GenV any time soon.

    In the mean time, the various Droid phones can respond much quicker. Want a marginally better screen? OK. Thats the only significant improvement over the droids….

  6. Everyone has lifecycle issues to deal with. Apple’s problem isn’t that they don’t respond quickly to market forces, it’s that their product is the only one that runs iPhone OS. Google is basically doing to Apple what Microsoft did to them with the Mac. They copied the best parts of Apple’s user interface, and gave their knockoff to the cheap clone makers.

    That’s always been Apple’s persistent problem. They get something on the market that’s light years ahead of what other people are doing, then get cut to pieces by cheaper and more ubiquitous knock offs of their products a few years after their release.

    Apple’s not in a position where they are going to maintain a superior hardware position. They haven’t been in that position since I was in college, and will never be again. Hardware is a commodity now. So whoever has the latest release will have the most advanced hardware… for at least a few weeks until someone else’s product comes out. I have no doubt there will be knockoffs of the “retina” display from the Android phone makers. If forward facing cameras turn out to be useful, every smart phone will have then in six months. The next Android phone will most certainly do 720p video.

    So vendors need a way to differentiate. Apple does it with marketing, and generally superior user interface engineering. Android is a good knockoff, but I don’t find it as smooth as the iPhone interface. I find the apps selection and quality isn’t quite as good either. Apple has generally been goot at beating on developers to follow their UI conventions. Microsoft never bothered much, and it looks like Google is going down that path with Android.

  7. I’d get an iphone if not for two things.

    1. First and foremost is I won’t go back to AT&T. Been there, done that, hated it. Verizon may not have the fastest data or the best phones, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work absolutely everywhere I go, which is more important to me than anything. The best phone on the fastest network is useless if you don’t actually have signal….

    2. I don’t want to play in Steve Jobs walled garden. I shouldn’t have to jailbreak my phone to run the software I want just because it doesn’t carry the “Steve Jobs Seal of Approval.” I’ll stick with Android and run what I want without anybody’s permission thanks much….

  8. They’re never going to sell a CDMA iPhone, is my guess.

    (Two SKUs with incompatible radios? Sales nightmare, support nightmware, not going to happen, most likely.)

    Maybe Verizon once Verizon gets off CDMA.

    (And people should, as Sebastian does, remember that User Experience is far more important than The Latest Iteration Hardware Specs. Hardware matters, but UX matters more.

    And that’s one reason I don’t imagine Android is going to Demolish The iPhone.

    Between a fragmented market [people are STILL shipping Android phones that are version 1.6 and can’t be upgraded, aren’t they?] and the way carriers and makers can and do put broken horrible ugly crap on top of Google’s perfectly decent core, that’s something of a problem.

    (And yeah, the Android platform is “open” for apps. Problem being that with the fragmentation you’re left guessing if that app will even run on your phone or not. You might be able to see if someone else got it to work, and it might say, for the most popular handful of phones…

    It’s like people saying “Hah! Android has Flash! iPhones suck!… who forget that it’s not going to be released until the end of the year, will only run on one of the CPUs Android supports, requires an OS version many people can’t upgrade to…

    I pity the poor fools who buy an Android phone thinking it’ll run Flash soon and find out they won’t ever be able to because they didn’t look at the CPU spec.

    That’s not strictly Google’s fault, but it’s an inevitable consequence of an “open platform”. And it’s a huge cost.)

  9. To me it’s really amazing how much of this is history repeating itself. The question is will Google’s solution end up being the dominant player? Windows sucked too compared to MacOS, but because it could run on cheap, ubiquitous hardware, it took off. Windows had the same UI problems Android has, and the same compatibility and versioning problems.

    The difference this time, I think, is that you’re not really dealing with any entrenched monopoly players like you were with the PC. IBM basically stupidly turned over it’s monopoly on the PC, and thus on the computer market itself, to Microsoft. This time Apple was the first out of the gate with a smart phone that didn’t suck, and they might actually have a chance of retaining a good market position.

  10. Palm seems to have hit a happy middle ground as far as the single/open source thing goes with WebOS (they’ve made some other mistakes, but I think they got that one right). They make the hardware, so they can optimize the OS to the hardware, but they’ve also thoroughly rejected Apple’s “walled garden” approach, which allows a flexibility the iPhone will never have.

    Anyone who can do the programming (and I mean anyone) can develop apps/hacks/patches/themes/etc. for WebOS phones – and the limited number of hardware variations makes it easier for developers to ensure that their apps run on all the phones. Palm has even opened up an “unofficial” feed for the app catalog, and ways for developers to host apps on their own websites instead of the catalog. Just like official developers, “homebrew” developers can get developer copies of OS updates before they’re pushed to the phones, so they have time to ensure compatibility before users run into problems.

    Like I said, they did make a few other mistakes, but Palm seems to have gotten the balance between control and openness right. They also didn’t lock themselves into one provider for more than about 6 months, which is probably Apple’s biggest mistake.

  11. iPhone 4 – it’s got everything you need to guide your home made cruise missile…

    Seriously though…I am wondering if Apple got some $$$ from the military (who uses iPhone’s for various drone control, etc).

    But let’s look at it now:

    Accelerometer – check
    GPS – check
    Magnetometer – check
    Gyroscope – check

    Okay, what am I missing for my guidance unit?

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