For those who haven’t known me for a while, you may not know that before going nomadic I used to be the Director of Competitive Analysis for Palm (the maker of the Pilot, Tungsten, and Treo) and PalmSource (the Palm OS operating system spinoff).
It used to be my job to literally dissect every worthwhile mobile gadget in existence, and I typically carried multiple smartphones in my pockets with cell phone plans from every major carriers.
I sometimes miss getting paid to play with so many cool toys, but I don’t miss the endless juggling and constant shifting from one device to the next.
Now I get to pick just one.
For the past two years, my choice has been the original iPhone.
The great leap forward in user interface that the iPhone represented left every other mobile device looking like a dinosaur, even my beloved Treo. Once the iPhone was opened up to third party developers, there was no looking back.
The iPhone 3G last year wasn’t enough to lure me into upgrading, though Cherie did happily leave behind Windows Mobile (another dinosaur platform) for one. Most of the new features in the iPhone 3G were added to the original iPhone via a free software upgrade, and the 3G speeds would have only been a compelling enough reason to upgrade if Apple and AT&T had allowed tethering.
Ever since the iPhone launched, everyone else in the mobile industry has been playing catch up – typically with extremely disappointing results. RIM continues to do one thing extremely well (mobile email), but Nokia, Samsung, and Motorola have all been left struggling desperately for a hit.
The only non-Apple phone that is in the same next-generation league as the iPhone is the newly released Palm Pre – a stunning achievement by the Palm team.
The Pre has real multitasking (sorely lacking from the iPhone), “Synergy” data syncing with multiple online services such as FaceBook and Google, and a fabulous UI that in some ways raises the bar even on the iPhone. With a bit more refinement and some third party developer momentum, the Pre will soon be even more compelling.
But not (yet) compelling enough.
Though I was sorely tempted by the Pre’s amazing multitasking abilities and super sweet Synergy, the brand new iPhone 3G S has won me over. We stopped at the downtown Chicago Apple store yesterday to get one:
So why did I choose the iPhone 3G S?
- Applications – There are over 50k iPhone applications out now, while the Pre is just getting started and the SDK isn’t even widely available yet. I am an application junky, and I have many daily-use iPhone apps that I can’t imagine being without.
- Compass + Accelerometer + GPS = Augmented Reality – Over the course of the coming year, I expect to see some amazing innovation in this area.
- Tethering – Though AT&T won’t say when they will support it, it is built into OS 3.0, and at least AT&T promises that it is coming. As technomads, the ability to use our phones to get our laptops online is crucial.
- 32 Gigabytes – I used to have a 60GB iPod, and I have felt hampered the past two years trying to cram my media collection into the 8GB capacity of my original iPhone. I am thrilled to once again be able to carry around a decent quantity of music and videos in my pocket. The Pre on the other hand can only hold 8GB.
- Pocket Video Capture – The iPhone 3G S has a very usable 3 megapixel camera, and it at last supports video! I am very much looking forward to having a reasonably decent still / video capture device that I can trust to be always with me.
- 3D Graphics – Before Palm, I used to work in the 3D graphics industry, and I have a fine appreciation for accelerated 3D graphics. Early benchmarks show that the iPhone 3G S is 4x faster than the iPhone 3G when it comes to 3D rendering. Assuming the next iPod Touch (due in Sept) has the same 3D hardware, it will be a killer gaming device indeed. Sony and Nintendo better watch out!
- Future Upgradability – Apple has provided the iPhone 3.0 OS as a free upgrade to iPhone 3G and even original iPhone owners, bringing even the oldest iPhones many of the new non-hardware-dependent features. I expect Apple will continue this trend, and even two years from now the iPhone 3G S will be getting major functionality upgrades. No other phone manufacturers has ever done such a good job continuing to support old hardware. Kudos to Apple!
In all of these areas, the iPhone 3G S is way ahead of the Pre, and light years ahead of anything else out there.
So far, I am loving the 3G S. It is a beautifully refined and polished product, with all sorts of little details and delights that show the intense attention to quality and detail that Apple is known for.
I have found my new ultimate mobile phone.
What is yours?