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iPhone vs PPC-6700 January 10, 2007

Posted by TimTheFoolMan in Communication, Computers, iPhone, Music, PPC-6700, smartphone, Technology.
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Yes, I know the iPhone is six months away from shipping. Even so, Steve Jobs’ keynote address at Macworld yesterday has already shaken up the phone industry (the three largest manufacturers of “smart phones” all saw stock drops of 2-8% yesterday, while Apple went up 8%).

iPhone vs ppc-6700

Until June, few outside of Apple, Cingular, and the FCC will have any “real world” experience with the iPhone, but in watching the presentation yesterday, I noted several ways that this product addresses serious shortcomings in the PPC-6700, my current phone. Since much of the “so what… big deal” talk that’s coming out in response to the iPhone surrounds some of the touch-screen features, and since many of the “oohhhh… ahhhh” features of the iPhone were prime selling points for the PPC-6700, it seems reasonable to compare these two devices directly, far more than any other “smart phone” that I’ve seen on the market.

Lastly, since the price-points are very close ($499-599), the iPhone is clearly aiming at the same market. Instead of posting in the usual way, where I’ll work on an article for several days (a few minutes at a time, I’m writing and editing this as I go. I’ll break this apart using the feature sets that Jobs used yesterday during the keynote, and then close out with what I feel truly sets the iPhone apart.

Before the Fun Begins…
Consider this quote that I just found from Palm CEO Ed Colligan:

Responding to questions from New York Times correspondent John Markoff at a Churchill Club breakfast gathering Thursday morning, Colligan laughed off the idea that any company — including the wildly popular Apple Computer — could easily win customers in the finicky smart-phone sector.

“We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone,” he said. “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”

Interestingly, Palm’s stock closed yesterday at $13.92 U.S., down 84¢. [9:16am]

A Media Player
It’s not hard to imagine using the PPC-6700 as a music player, given that it ships with Windows Media Player [WMP] for Windows Mobile. As you would expect, it’s fully capable of playing videos and music files compatible with the WMP formats. Unfortunately, it’s not clear where Microsoft is going with music, given that the Zune has abandoned the “Plays for Sure” format. At this point, it doesn’t look like the PPC-6700 will be compatible with Zune tunes, specifically because of Digital Rights Management (DRM) technicalities..

Now if you decided to use the 6700 as an media player anyway, the amazing lack of built-in memory (43.5 MB of storage memory… max) forces you to consider upgrading with a mini-SD card. Considering that those are running $60-80 for 2GB card, upgrading the $400 phone doesn’t make nearly as much sense as buying one of the smaller MP3 players (particularly since you can get something like the iPod Shuffle, which is tiny and clips onto your clothes, for $79). It’s true that devices in that price range aren’t going to play movies, but a 2GB card isn’t going to provide enough storage for the 6700 do store anything substantial either.

In sharp contrast, the iPhone appears to be quite capable as a MP3 player, with the 4GB and 8GB versions more suited to music than video (unless you’re talking about loading up a movie or two for a plane flight). And while I’m on the fence about using a touch-screen for iPod-like interaction (I rarely look at my 30GB iPod to adjust volume, skip tracks, or pause the music, since I can feel the ridge of the touchwheel), it is simply not possible for the user interface of WMP to be any less appropriate for a mobile device. Regardless of tactile issues, the touchscreen UI of the iPhone appears superior to the 6700 for music, even if it is unclear if this is a step backward compared to the UI of the current generation iPods.

As a media device, the iPhone is (at least) on par with any other MP3/video player (even the screen is now at a size & resolution that compares well), including the Zune, and is far superior to most. Compared to the 6700… well, at least the 6700 is a phone… right? [10:00am]

A Cell Phone
As a cell phone, the PPC-6700 is… average, based on the following “phone tasks”: Initiating a call (to new, previously dialed, or saved numbers), answering a call, using the speakerphone, and using a headset (wired or Bluetooth). Instead of running through each of these scenarios, and then considering the iPhone alternatives, I’m going to intersperse the two.

First, let’s look at how you initiate a call. Out of the box, I turned on the 6700, pressed the “phone button” (lower left of the joystick), and started punching the touchscreen keys. I mis-dialed the first number. Watching the keynote yesterday, I saw Jobs looking at the screen the whole time, just as I’m forced to do when I dial numbers with the keypad. This is very annoying on my phone, so the “multi-touch” technology of the iPhone would have to do something to make this more usable than a traditional keypad.

Speed-dialing (touching one number and holding it) is even worse. Now, to be fair, there is a work-around for this problem with the 6700: you slide open the keyboard and press/hold the key that corresponds to that particular number. Unfortunately, the keys for the numbers are in a straight line (top row) and there is no tactile feedback there either. As a result, you have to practice a lot to figure out which key corresponds to which number. I have almost given up using speed-dialing on this phone as a result, and would expect the iPhone to have the same issue, though without the keyboard work-around.

Voice dialing is what I need to do instead of speed-dialing. It works very well on the 6700, and even works through my H700 BT headset. I strongly suspect that the iPhone would have similar functionality, but that wasn’t demonstrated. What I would really like to see is context-sensitive speech recognition for dialing numbers. While speech recognition in general has a poor track record, many Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems have proven that if you restrict the possible values to single-digit numbers, the error rate for recognition goes way down. Sadly, the 6700 doesn’t provide this (the processor is not nearly powerful enough), and I saw no demonstration of that in the iPhone.

Looking up a number from an existing contact, or from a recent call is where I see the iPhone and the 6700 separating dramatically. With the 6700, a contact list is assumed, as are multiple numbers, but I find the contact list to be cumbersome in real-world settings, possibly because of the number of clicks necessary to get to a number. Watching Jobs scrolling through the contact list with his thumb, selecting the name with a finger or thumb, and then choosing a number to call… that made me want the iPhone, right there.

Answering a call is pretty straightforward on the 6700, and seems similar to what the iPhone does. The big difference (that I can see) is the “in call” menu for the 6700 is somewhat clunky to manage, and presumes that you’re going to use the navigation buttons at the bottom of the device, instead of using the touchscreen (which would be more intuitive). In sharp contrast, the iPhone puts the context-appropriate options right in the middle of the screen.

The speakerphone on the 6700 is not good. I wish I could put it differently, but I can’t. It’s not loud enough to use in anything other than a very quiet room. For the size of this device, I find that very frustrating (following the logic of “a bigger thing ought to get louder”). During the keynote yesterday, Jobs put the iPhone on speaker, and it was loud enough to be heard, even over the echo of the sound system, and the sounds from the audience.

Finally, the headset that comes with the 6700 seems to suggest that they expect you to use this as a media device, because it’s basically a pair of earbuds with an attached microphone (very similar to what Apple showed yesterday for the iPhone). One benefit to this is that phone calls seem to go on “inside your head” instead of in just one ear. This also compensates (somewhat) for the lack of volume in the headset. Using my Bluetooth headset, volume has never been a problem. The integration between the 6700 and the headset is very good, and I haven’t found any issues there (yet). I would expect the integration between the iPhone and Bluetooth devices to be similar, since current Mac products have handled Bluetooth reliably for years.

As a phone, the iPhone seems equal or better than the 6700. When you consider simpler navigation, and thoughtful touches like the display/touchscreen turning off when you put the phone to your ear, it’s hard for me to come to any other conclusion. [1:04pm]

An Internet Communicator
As an Internet communications device, the connectivity specs of the 6700 are very good: 802.11b WiFi, Bluetooth 1.2, IrDA Infrared, and 1X/EV-DO options. Likewise, it boasts a built-in browser (Internet Explorer), Pocket MSN (for chatting), Pocket Outlook (stripped down version of MS Office Outlook, not Outlook Express), SMS messaging, and SMTP/POP3/IMAP4/Exchange support. At first glance, it has it all.

What it doesn’t have (at least in the Sprint configuration) is integration with Sprint Picture Mail and Email/SMS messaging flexibility. With every other Sprint phone I’ve owned, I could send text messages to e-mail addresses, and Sprint’s SMS/Email gateway would automatically forward them. The 6700 doesn’t even give me that option. Likewise, there is no way to send Sprint Picture Mail. Why do I have a “Sprint Vision” account, when the primary purpose (sending/receiving camera-phone images) doesn’t work?

The only way for me to send pictures from my phone is to first connect to the Internet (using either the WiFi or EV-DO), and then connect to an SMTP server (Sprint’s works fine for this). Unfortunately, responses to one of those accounts don’t automatically notify you, so you have to periodically check those accounts, or embed a note in your message that says:

P.S. I’m sorry, but my lame geek phone won’t notify me that you’re responding to this message. Accordingly, if you respond, please CC my phone at 5555555555@messaging.sprintpcs.com

Likewise, while it’s technically possible to synchronize Pocket Outlook with Microsoft Exchange Server, making that happen when you’re using a security certificate at the Exchange Server (for web access security) is an unbelievable pain. Similarly, much ballyhoo is made of Microsoft ActiveSync, which manages all of the file and data synchronization for Windows Mobile devices. What they haven’t told you is that the error codes you see (and you will see them) are cryptic, and frequently inaccurate.

There is no way to know, without hands-on use, whether the iPhone will be better or worse (in terms of execution) when it comes to connectivity. What we do know is that many of the same features were demonstrated, though the implementation was through Cingular, and therefore different front Sprint. [Updated 10:00 pm]

However, it’s clear that the iPhone intends to support SMTP/POP/IMAP4 mail systems, and given the collaborations with Yahoo (email) and Google (mapping), Apple has two partners that have both been pushing the edge of web service technology. Without question, Yahoo and Google are looking for ways to standardize things like calendars, exchangeable document formats, and so on.

In comparing the connectivity specifications, some obvious pros and cons appear. While the iPhone supports Bluetooth 2.0 (instead of 1.2), it’s cellular data connection is Cingular’s EDGE technology, which is much slower than the CDMA EV-DO networks, and does not have the extensive that Sprint has (for example). While both phones support 802.11b, the iPhone also supports 802.11g, and the correspondingly higher data rate, which becomes significant for the transfer of large files. As far as specs go, it’s a bit of a wash. While the iPhone gets high marks for GSM and SIM card functionality (great for international users)

User Interface
One of my biggest annoyances with the 6700 is one of the key features that the iPhone attempts to address: the stylus-based user interface. First and foremost, I expected a stylus with a smart phone. My old Palm Pilot used one, and I fully expected it. However, in watching the demo, and the videos that Apple has posted, I can see where I might actually use the contact list somewhere other than at my desk.

Several things force me to use a stylus with the 6700. The first is the size of the icons, menus, and interface elements. For example, the contact list is just what you would expect: a simple scrolling list. Unfortunately, scrolling requires you to use the joystick button at the bottom of the phone (rather like an IBM Trackpoint button) or a stylus manipulating a traditional scrollbar. When you look at it, it’s obvious that it was designed by someone quite accustomed to scrolling list boxes on a Windows or Mac UI.

Contrast this with the “touch and flick” method shown in the iPhone demos. Apparently, they’re doing some kind of gesture recognition to distinguish between a flick and a press. I’ve watched and rewatched Jobs do this in the demos, and it’s very slick. Part of my frustration with anyone comparing the iPhone to an existing touchscreen is that there is clearly technology behind this kind of real-time input analysis that we’ve never seen used on a phone, and is most likely similar to what the Apple trackpad (and Synaptics touchpad), but taken a step further. You can see some of this in a brief patent description.

In total, when Jobs described someone as saying “you had me at scrolling,” he really did hit what I think sets the iPhone apart from my PPC-6700, and every other phone, smart or not. Will the magic of “multi-point” make touchscreens usable for keypad data entry? I don’t know, but I can imagine the possibilities. When I first saw the iPod’s clickwheel, it was tough to understand why people were so hyped about it. Then I tried it, and understood. That said, until we can put a couple of fingers on this, we won’t know for certain.

Last but not least, let me state that there is no reason to think that the iPhone’s touchscreen would be any less usable with a protective film over it, just like the one I’ve put on my 6700. All functions work as designed (if not as expected), and when the current film gets too scratched up, I’ve got a dozen more in the package.

Some Will Get It, Some Won’t
From reading various blogs, it’s easy to see that some people would not consider the iPhone, regardless of price or features. The simple fact that so many people like it forces some people toward a contrarian stance. For this group, the battery life will be too short (in spite of the fact that resynching quite naturally suggests docking the device, as I do now with my 6700… which also charges it), the form factor will be wrong (“it’s got to be a flip phone” or “anything other than a slide-out is lame”), or the touchscreen will be a deal breaker (regardless of whether they’ve ever touched it for themselves).

On the other hand, some will flock to the iPhone simply because it’s within Jobs “reality distortion field,” and they refuse to think for themselves. This position is just as bogus as the first, and will be wearing an iPhone on their hip for all the world to see, just as they make sure that their Bluetooth headset is flashing when it’s on (and they refuse to take it off, making everyone else in line at Starbucks wonder who they’re talking to), and just as they choose which car to buy based on iPod connectivity.

Finally, the remainder will look at the features, price, and functionality, and will decide for themselves. This is where I fall. Though I have no way of knowing the worldwide shipping numbers for the 6700, I think it’s safe to say that my current phone has lost a significant amount of its value, even though it seemed a great value at the beginning of December.

Whether or not the iPhone itself is successful, it seems quite certain that, like the Apple Newton (hardly a commercial success), every device that comes after it will be different because of it. That’s good news, no matter what phone you buy.

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Comments»

1. lifewords - January 11, 2007
2. kziel - January 13, 2007

i have the Pocket PC… it sucks ass.i hate it. im getting the iPhone the day it comes out.

3. Tim - January 20, 2007

I’ve posted a follow-up here.

4. cheryl - January 24, 2007

i have the pocket pc and i love it

5. Tim - January 24, 2007

Cheryl, is your provider Sprint? The loss of Picture Mail and the frustrations with the Email-TextMessaging gateway are enough to make me wish for my old phone. – Tim

6. Brandon - January 26, 2007

I look it like this. I HATE IPODS. They are not the best mp3 players in the world but thats only because of itunes. I dont dislike MAC but id rather wait for an answer to the IPHONE when the new PPC comes out. I didnt waist $550 last year for nothing, im gettting my money’s worth out of my phone. I do like the IPHONE but its more of a toy then a phone for business to me.

7. Tim - February 10, 2007

Brandon, I’m not sure I get your point. Why do you hate iPods? Because they’re successful? Are you saying they’re not the best in the world because of iTunes (i.e. without it, they would be better?), or that iTunes is what makes it less than what it should be?

I’m just confused. All of us want to believe we’ve made good choices (not wasted money), but what happens if we do? Lastly, how is it that you’re ready to call the iPhone a “toy” when it’s not even available for sale? – Tim

8. Jim Travis - February 15, 2007

Nice article. I respect your opinion, but for me, the PPC-6700 appears to be the better match for my smartphone needs. For a different perspective see:
http://www.consultpda.com/treoblog.htm#iphone

9. Tim - February 15, 2007

Hey Jim!

First, thanks for stopping by to read the article. This is coming in a close third (in popularity) to my post on Ed Hoculi and the eulogy to my mother-in-law!

A similar view to what I read on your site can be found here, though there’s some further expansion on specific issues. All three of us in the debate own the 6700. None of us are tech “newbies.”

The most amazing thing, possibly just a side-effect of Jobs’ “Reality Distortion Field”(tm), is that only a handful of people have actually touched the phone, and all of them seem to praise it. Virtually everyone else with a “smartphone” (particularly 6700 owners) has written long articles defending their choice.

Sounds like a variation on the end of “The Road Less Traveled” by Frost. 🙂 – Tim

10. Jim Travis - February 15, 2007

Hi Tim:

Most of the articles I have seen from people who have actually touched the iPhone are by quintessential Apple fans who like everything Apple. So I take those articles with a grain of salt. I am not knocking the iPhone in general; I am just pointing out that the PPC-6700 meets my needs better than what Mr. Jobs showed at MacWorld. Most of the iPhone hype is that the iPhone is the best device for everyone, and all other devices are second class. The iPhone may indeed be the best fit for some, but not for me. Everyone’s needs are different.

Currently, the PPC-6700 is the best device available for my needs. If a better device becomes available from any vendor, I would drop the PPC-6700 like i dropped the iconic Treo 700w.

Jim

11. Steve - February 20, 2007

I started out with an IPAQ but got tired of always looking for hot spots to sync my email. I choose the PPC6700 over the Black Berry. It is expandability and has lots of programs available like any Pocket PC.
Last weekend I spent the day reading all the comments here and a few other places and that led me to find and do an upgrade to my PPC6700 called AKU3.3. Wow what an improvement. More stable, faster and some easier controls. It is now the device it should have been from the beginning. Funny thing is, perfection came right after Sprint and Verizon gave it end of life status. By the way, I think the PPC6700 is a pocket PC with phone not just a smart phone. It appears that the smart phones don’t have a stylus or as much power and other features like Wi-Fi.
In response to comments made by others here. The IPOD beats the PPC6700 as a simple music player. The PPC6700 can’t hold as many songs and isn’t as easy to control. But the IPOD only does one thing so it better do it well. By the way, have you ever needed a new battery in your IPOD? Replacing the battery is costly and not simple to do yourself. Style won out over practicality in that design. An IRiver might be a better choice if music is your only need.
Things I like about my PPC6700 are: I can watch a full length movie or 3 with a 1GB MiniSD card. I can listen to any streaming radio station from anywhere in the world. I can get Push Exchange mail (with SSL) faster than a Black Berry and with a more complete wireless sync too. I can also get pop3 mail from other email accounts or go online at DSL speeds to get my WEB based mail. I can use the Citrix client from GotoMyPc to connect to my PC at work and access any tools I need in a pinch while I’m on the road. I can use the PPC6700 as a high speed modem for my notebook computer. The PPC6700 has a keyboard built in that is very comfortable to use. You can send real pictures by email to real computers and smart devices but no, not to phones. Picture mail is a passing marketing fad.
There was one short coming of the PPC6700 mentioned by someone else that I need to respond to. He said that the PPC6700 could not send a text message through the gateway to an email recipient. The PPC6700 can send a real email directly, 3 different ways so it doesn’t have to jump through hoops to do the same task. What’s up with that comment?
I’m sure the Iphone will sell well, not as well as the IPod but it’s just so cute how can anyone resist. But it will be ignored by businesses that currently use Black Berrys or Pocket PCs. Just another fad and what do you do with it when the battery needs to be replaced? I’m assuming that style will win out over practicality again.

It will be a while before a better device lures me away.

12. Tim - February 20, 2007

Steve,

Thanks for stopping by!

Re:SMS/Email Gateway

The problem is, if someone sends you a text message from an email account (##########@messaging.sprintpcs.com), then you can’t simply reply to them. The message comes in from “6245,” and you have to then copy and paste the email address into a mail message, connect up using EVDO or local WiFi, and send it using one of your mail accounts…

OR

…you can forward the message back to “6245” (I’ve created a phonebook entry for this) and make sure to delete everything in the original message except the email address that’s prepended to the beginning. For example, my phone is part of a mailing list. Why can’t I respond back to it?

Why is it that a dumb Sanyo 8500 could do this automatically, and this smartphone/pocketPC/WindowsMoble/choose-your-moniker device can’t?

Re: PictureMail

This may be a marketing fad, but it’s something that my oldest son, my brother and I have used for the past year. Now I have to send the picture to an e-mail account, and hope that they can get to a “real computer” to view something that probably isn’t worth the trouble. Even more annoying, I had unlimited messages on my PictureMail account, so I could send all of them I wanted with no additional charges. Sprint hits me now every time I make an EVDO connection. – Tim

13. Rick - February 22, 2007

I don’t know what 3rd party software or add-ons will be available for iPhone, but I cut my PDA teeth on a used Dell Axim X5 (eBay), found all the additional apps that I need (reading, writing, arithmetic, gps\mapping\travel (metro, et al), camera\photo, ham radio, TCPMP(video\audio), add-on keyboard, programming tools, etc., etc.,… most of which were free… and I was able to travel for two years laptopless.

I tested lots of software before I found the tools that worked for me, but they do work very well indeed.

Now I’ve migrated all that to the Sprint PPC-6700 phone, on close-out at CompUSA for $99.00! It includes the camera, keyboard, wifi and bluetooth… and now I have phone when I travel also. Sweet!

Apple keeps it simple (thus limited). That’s great for many, but not for hackers and grease monkeys.

14. Tim - February 22, 2007

Hey Rick!

While I would agree with “Apple keeps it simple,” I would definitely stop there. Grease monkeys have plenty to mess with under the hood of OS X. The difference is, you don’t have to pop the hood. That’s the same kind of choice I’d like to have with the 6700. I’d like for the out-of-the-box functionality to be there, instead of me having to add it with a bunch of additional software.

Now, if the iPhone remains as it appears now, then it will definitely be going after the non-so-smartphone crowd. If that’s the direction they take (which seems to be their spin on “consumer goods” such as the iPod), then time will tell. Gadget geeks seem to hate the iPod for this reason, but after a few years of playing with tech toys, even a gadget guy like me comes down to “I just want to listen to music… why can’t this thing get out of the way?”

That’s what I want from my phone. If I have to sacrifice functionality that is readily available in all sorts of cheap-o phones, then what have I gained? – Tim

15. Jeff - March 7, 2007

If you load a cab file from a Verizon phone for MMS you can send picture mail. I did it on mine and it works good. To view incoming picture mail I still have to connect to the internet though. The 2gb memory card I bought for mine also cost no where near what you esitmated either, $23 shipped to my door.

Yeah it would be nice if the phone had more base memory or MMS fuctionality out of the box, but I don’t think it’s as bad as you made it out to be either. For listening to music or watching videos I also use TCPMP and it works much better than Windows Media Player.

A lot of your review was dead on though. The interface sucks to use without the stylus, for certain things it might as well not even have a touch screen at all. Trying to dial a number with the touchscreen takes way more concentration than it needs to. Good comparison overall though.

16. Jimmy - May 19, 2007

You can now have the iphone today menu with the 6700 so take that out of the picture and what do you have. and with the AKU 3.5 that is out there the 6700 will stomp out the iphone. MMS is working with sprint and verizon. 1 handed operation is not a problem. Yes it took alot of non manufacture doing but it is there. This phone is the best of all worlds.

17. Tim - May 19, 2007

Well, even with the menu, you still have a phone that does ridiculous things like mysteriously lose the bluetooth connection with my H700 headset, a remainder of the interface that is virtually impossible to operate without the stylus, and a display that is basically unusable in sunlight. Yeah… the best of all worlds.

Give me back my Sanyo 8500. – Tim

18. Alex - June 7, 2007

I have a PPC 6700 and I’ve been watching the hoopla around the iPhone with interest. It’s clear that for some applications the latter will, in fact, be better. For personal users, who just want their iPod integrated into their phone with a good and easy-to-use browser, the iPhone will be great. You’re right that one benefit of it seems to be the ability to just take it out of the box and go.

However, it lacks an attribute that is the main motivation for people purchasing Pocket PCs, of which the 6700 is one of the best. That attribute is flexibility. In part, the same complaint will be heard about the iPhone that you now hear about Macs: that there’s a limited choice of application that can run on it. Not only will the iPhone be the only mobile device running OS-X, it will not even allow you to install 3rd-party apps! Yes, Pocket Internet Explorer is not great. However, it’s several years old and is designed to provide a basic set of functionality. However, if you were unhappy with IE on your desktop you wouldn’t immediately trade in a Windows box for a Mac would you? Same thing here. I switched to Firefox on my desktop. Off the top of my head, PPC-6700 can run Mozilla’s Minimo, NetFront, Thunderhawk, Opera, and PIEPlus. The last two are my favorite (and they include drag vs. press functionality you liked so much in the iPhone!). Media Player? Yes, WMP for Mobile leaves something to be desired. That’s why there’s MortPlayer, TCPMP, PictPocketCinema, RealPlayer etc. And I’m guessing that put together they will be able to play many more music formats than the iPhone.

And then there’s all the other custom software that can run on PPC: I have a Bluetooth GPS navigation system, pretty good real-time games comparable to middle-of-the-road PC games 7 or 8 years ago, strong chess programs, and visual workout log, software to remotely control my PC, and the full Pocket Office suite, just to name a few things. There are thousands of other pieces of software available that try to fully utilize the potential of the 6700. Nothing like that for the iPhone. And Yahoo and Google also work with Windows Mobile (try Yahoo Go and Google Mobile Maps, which can connect to your GPS).

You’re right about the memory aspect. Although there are HD Mini-SD cards with over 4 GB, and possibly up to 32 GB, 6700 doesn’t support them. Again, it’s old technology. That’s why I’m waiting for the 6800 to come out soon. Which, by the way, will also have Bluetooth 2.0 and 801.11g.

And of course, one of the best things about the 6700 is the ability to tether right out of the box with only a few key presses. You start the modem, plug the phone in, start the dialer on your computer and hit connect. Works 99% of the time. I don’t use my home desktop that often, so I don’t even have internet or a landline phone at home. When I need to get something on a full-sized computer, I just plug it in and I have broadband, albeit slow broadbant, internet.

I’m sure the iPhone will have a strong market. I will be better for people who have never had a PDA before and who don’t want to trouble themselves with learning how to use different software, find memory cards, custom software, etc. It will be a great and stylish media player, whose brand adds something to the image of its owner. It also seems to have a great, somewhat innovative, and very-to-use built-in UI.

However, the 6700 is still the best choice for a person who wants to have a flexible platform for mobile computing: be able to work on the road, have a variety of high-quality games, possess choices in regard to browsers, media players and even hardware. Of course, its age is showing in the wireless and storage technologies it’s using, but that’s just a reason to wait a couple months for the Sprint 6800 if you can.

19. Tim - June 7, 2007

Alex,

I apologize if the tone of my response may sound harsh, but I have been bitten by several of the 6700’s… uhm… features lately. I strongly suspect that the issue here is the same chasm that exists between hardcore PC users and “everybody else.” Again, I apologize for the tone this response may take.

I was in the 1% that the tethering didn’t work “right out of the box.” It has never worked, and doesn’t appear that it ever will. This is with a Dell D520 laptop.

Currently, the #777 Sprint EVDO connection doesn’t work at all. (When it tries to dial the number, it says it can’t complete the call. While I’m at it, why are the Internet/networking configuration settings so completely ridiculous?)

I continue to look for how this phone does “Picture Mail” in the sense that EVERY other phone with a camera seems to. Will the 6800 change that? I have posted this question on every 6700 forum that I can find, and everyone says “just send email.” What if I want to send Picture Mail? What if the provider doesn’t provide an email address for the phone, or what if the user has no idea what that e-mail address is? Why did the makers of the OS not get this? Perhaps they were more concerned about opening up Excel spreadsheets and editing them on a screen this size…

I continue to wonder why, when I get an SMS message from an email account, that this phone is not smart enough to embed the sender’s email as the first chunk of the message when I hit reply. No… instead, I have to FORWARD the message, delete everything after the sender’s address, add the Sprint SMS-email gateway address, and then type my reply.

Will it have a polarized screen that will make it even SLIGHTLY useful in direct sunlight? (Interestingly, I regularly confront direct sunglight with my 6700 and my 30GB iPod. I can almost always find an angle of display where the iPod is readable, especially if I’ve got polarized lenses on. I can rarely do this with the 6700.)

I do agree with a couple of points that you made: “[the iPhone] will be better for people who have never had a PDA before” This seems to describe… uhm… MOST of the people I know. Next you said: “and who don’t want to trouble themselves with learning how to use different software, find memory cards, custom software, etc.” Isn’t this one of the main reasons that the iPod succeeds the way it does?

There are a large number of alternative MP3 devices out there that are more flexible, do more, and cost less. None are as easy to use, and none have the level of integration that the iPod/ITMS combination has. I would posit that the penetration of Macs into the PC market is much more complicated than people wanting to expand, use custom software, and so on. Largely, Microsoft was able to define the expectations of the PC market, much the same way that Apple has defined the expectations of the MP3 player market.

Yes, my 6700 can edit Word files and such, and I can do a variety of “mobile computing” tasks. However, as more and more applications become available via the web (i.e. Google Docs and Spreadsheets), this capability (which I have never used) of the 6700 becomes even less important. How much work will I have to do to perform some of the tasks that Apple is demo’ing in the current crop of TV ads? (That is, integration between Google Maps, location-awareness, and the dialing from a search listing?)

To this day, I haven’t (and don’t intend to) added any 3rd-party applications to the 6700. Had I realized that this was “recommended” on a phone with a list price of $499, I would have reconsidered.

A market “definer” can be unseated, but it usually requires changing the rules of the game. This generally comes as a result of there being a “killer app” on that platform that isn’t easily available on others. What is the 6700’s “killer app”? – Tim

P.S. Business Week, apparently looking at the potential market of non-PDA users, is projecting that the iPhone may surpass the iPod in terms of its impact on Apple revenues.

P.P.S. Several people have observed that this article is a bit of reverse “geek bravado” (defined as Wally-like behaviors that prove how smart a geek is, based on how cool his gadgets are), and that I’m basically slamming every 6700 owner for not being as smart as me (by seeing what a poor choice this phone was/is). For the first month of owning the 6700, I thought it was the coolest thing that used electricity. Even before the iPhone came out, I started to have doubts. When I saw the iPhone, I just resigned myself to having upgraded my phone about 8 months too early. Whether I buy an iPhone or not, my next phone will NOT be a Windows Mobile device. I learned the hard way… these guys just don’t get what it is that I want in a phone.

20. Kev - June 10, 2007

Just a comment on the fascination with touch gestures. Yep, it’s very slick for newcomers to see the scrolling / selection, but it’s hardly rocket science to those of us who’ve been programming touch screens for decades.

The computing power needed is nearly zilch. It’s just recently that handhelds had the _graphics_ power to make it look smooth. And of course, it takes a boss who lets you leave in the fun stuff 😉

The wall that the Windows Mobile UI is backed against, is that plain smart phones save money by having just keys and no touch. The iPhone’s programmers could safely ignore this scenario.

21. Kev - June 10, 2007

Oh, and since this is a 6700 discussion, check these vids out… the second one with the scrolling contacts and picsel browser is the best, especially when he does the NY Times:

22. siol2k - July 17, 2007

The Iphone is not worth the hype,its a toy.Its nothing a busniss orianted person would use. The pocket pc maybe a littel bulky but maybe thats because its packed. I love when new devices come out, I do and my research and look at the facts. I have a ppc 6700. You know the shuffel on the iphone, well the ppc 6700 have software you can download that allow you to shuffel on the device http://www.dynamo.com, check it out. I look at it like it this different strokes for different folks .

23. Tim - July 17, 2007

Kev,

I agree completely. It remains to be seen if the fascination with touch-screens and gestures will be a flash-in-the-pan or a sea change.

siol2k,

I agree with the “different strokes for different folks,” but that’s a far cry (for me) from “The iPhone is not worth the hype, its a toy.” It strikes me as odd that there seem to be two camps, both saying opposing things.

The Apple camp (fanbois and “mactards”) says that the low market share of the Mac doesn’t equate to its quality, because the “masses are just sheep.” However, when the iPod dominates the market, or the iPhone launch causes Wall Street types to wonder about Apple “owning” consumer electronics, those same people toss out sales figures and state how clearly this demonstrates the superior Apple experience.

Likewise, the anti-Apple camp points to low market share of the Mac and dismisses it as “irrelevant.” These same people look at the shipping quantities of Windows Mobile or Windows Media Center and proclaim that these devices appeal to “power users.”

My take on this is that the PPC-6700 was an outstanding phone… at the time it came out. For a certain class of user, it is probably superior to an iPhone… for now. For a completely different class of user, the 6700 would have never been acceptable, and the iPhone has greater appeal. Time will tell if the ~700,000 units Apple has supposedly shipped of the iPhone signify a larger market than the one that the 6700 appealed to.

For me, a business-oriented person, the 6700 is virtually worthless. Even if it worked as advertised, it’s limitations as a phone would drive me crazy. The iPhone has shortcomings too, but for my usage patterns, it might be a better solution.

Thanks to both for posting. – Tim

24. Sarad - September 6, 2007

I guess it all depends on what you are looking for. Do you want an PDA with a phone or an IPOD with a phone? For professional SE and parttime EE student, IPhone does not cut it at all. To me, an IPhone is a cool toy but not very useful for my purposes. There are so many software I use like SpaceTime and EE tools, which I cannot imagine being able to run using an IPhone. Besides, I write my own programs and run it on my ppc with .NET Compact framework. So agreeing to what some articles said, depends on what your wants are.

25. James - September 19, 2007

Hi, I would like to let you know on my xv 6700(ppc 6700) it does do the picturugs!e messages and the speaker works pretty good in my opinion and in my opinion the iPhone is horoble b/c i have played with my friends for a few days and it has b

26. Tim - September 19, 2007

James,

You can get picture mail without launching the web browser and opening up a EVDO or WiFi connection? If so, then you have a better PPC 6700 than any of the others I’ve seen. MMS isn’t supported by the base firmware, so you have an exceptional unit! I’ve played with the iPhones too. I’m not sure what part of the experience you’re calling “horrible.” For me, it’s no worse (as a phone) than the 6700, and in most other respects, the iPhone is better. However, I’m still not happy enough with the current iPhone feature set to go out and buy one. – Tim

27. Rita - March 27, 2008

How can the HTC 6700 have iphone menu and the other features… I know that the HTC Touch can

28. Tim - March 27, 2008

Rita,

I haven’t tried it, but there is apparently an update to the 6700 that will provide it with an iPhone-like UI. Given the various issues, I’m leaning toward de-integrating my devices, moving toward a simpler phone for phone calls (and maybe text messaging) and an iPod Touch for everything else. – Tim

29. Rita - March 27, 2008

Thanks


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