Tuesday, April 14, 2009

iPhone Isn’t the Smartest Phone

I remember when Steve Jobs did one of his famous rants about how the iPhone would revolutionize the mobile lifestyle we enjoy today. Dressed in his trademark black, on a stage in front of technological savvy Apple worshipers, he went on about how his soon-to-be released iPhone would be the must have gadget, because it could do so much more than any other phone.

Jobs was right, and Apple’s iPhone still is one of the coolest little gizmos I’ve seen, not just because of the technology it comes with, but because it opened up a whole new niche market where companies could create applications for use on this tiny metallic box.

Third-party applications allow people to check their Facebook from their iPhone, locate the nearest Italian restaurant, even make the occasional phone call – imagine, a phone that lets you still make a call!

Joking aside, smart phones have come a long way, thanks to the iPhone. Prior to the iPhone, you had to rely on the usually cheesy applications with limited use provided by either the phone’s manufacturer or your mobile carrier.

Despite all the iPhone’s smarts, the designers gave it a dumb design – especially if you live in cold and wet climates.

There have been numerous complaints about the inability to operate the iPhone while wearing gloves – the phone just doesn’t want to respond to big bulky fingers I suppose.

That’s more of a nuisance than anything else, just take off your gloves and there ya go – problem solved.

However, a more costly problem arises with the iPhone and moisture. Common sense tells us that most mobile electronic devices and water don’t mix. Just ask anyone who has accidentally left their cell phone in their pants pocket, and then washed those pants.

To protect our mobile phones, most have a moisture sensor in them, which will activate and disable key components upon reaching a critical level of moisture. For most mobile phones, these moisture sensors are located in a compartment buried beneath the battery. This makes sense, as the last thing your mobile phone can tolerate, is a wet connection between it and its power cell. Also, the battery itself offers some primitive protection, sort of like a thick umbrella of sorts.

Not so with the iPhone – it’s moisture sensor is located just inside the headphone/earphone port. Although I’m sure that’s a bad spot for water to enter as well, it’s so readily accessible that even the smallest molecule of moisture will activate the sensor, and shut off key features.

These key features include the ability to use the speaker, even the ability to turn on or off the phone, though some have resolved this by severely shaking it.

Once the moisture sensor goes off, the only way to really fix it is to send it off to Apple to be repaired. Apple will repair it; they value your business and want you to enjoy the benefits of their iPhone. But that repair will cost you – under the terms of it, and most mobile phone manufacturers, water damage isn’t covered by your warranty.

This isn’t a problem for most mobile users, because in order to set off the moisture sensor, you really have to have dropped your phone in water – like a sink, a toilet, or even a puddle from a rainstorm.

But because of the poor design of Apple’s iPhone, the sensor will go off simply from a bead of sweat from your hands – this actually happened when a person plugged in an earphone, while at the gym.

This is ironic and sad, because the whole point of our mobile society is to have the freedom to use these electronic gadgets in our daily lives. Yes, if you accidentally drop the thing in the toilet, it’s your own fault for using it there – I hate it when people talk on their phones while in the bathroom.

But sweat is a part of life, you don’t even have to be at the gym to work up a sweat. It could have just been a hot summer’s day, and you wanted to make a call. And when you can’t make a call on a hot summer’s day – away from the pool and other bodies of water – just how smart is this “smart” phone?

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