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iPhone & PPC-6700: Part 2 January 19, 2007

Posted by TimTheFoolMan in Communication, Computers, email, iPhone, Knowledge Workers, Mac vs PC, PPC-6700, Science & Technology, smartphone, Technology, Windows.
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Recently, I did a bit of a feature comparison between the recently announced iPhone (from Apple) and the PPC-6700 (my version from Sprint, but manufactured by Audiovox). The iPhone runs a version of OS-X and the 6700 runs Windows Mobile 5.0, so they are both running variations of the most popular desktop operating systems. They both have touch screens.

iphone

However, that’s where the similarities end. Here, I’m going to recap some of the complaints that I’ve seen related to the iPhone, point out some things that are seriously wrong with the 6700, and then compare the lists.

The Complaints
After the initial “shock and awe” of the iPhone demo, Apple immediately began taking flak from various critics over the features of the iPhone. Among them were:

  • Apple has come out stating that there will be “no 3rd-party apps” going into the iPhone, citing stability concerns as the primary reason
  • The phone supports POP3/SMTP & IMAP mail servers, but not Exchange
  • The most important feature of the included browser (Safari) seems to be that it zooms in and out, but many phones have browsers, so this is not a big deal
  • Steve Jobs waxed philosophically about the iPhone not needing a stylus, in sharp contrast to virtually every other smartphone [Note: Click that link! It is hysterical!]
  • The design places too much emphasis on the product as a phone, and not enough on PDA features (entering new contacts or appointments), iPod features (not enough memory), or data connectivity (EDGE instead of a true 3G network?)
  • Unknown or unclear costs for hi-speed data connections
  • An overly tight integration deal with Cingular, the provider

What’s Broken in the 6700?
Having now used the PPC-6700 for a couple of months of daily use, including some serious travel, I had already started to feel the familiar sting of an incomplete product. Unfortunately, this product has been on the market for close to a year, and the operating system is (supposedly) very mature. In spite of these things, I’ve already been frustrated with the following:

  • The operating system has locked up several times, even with no 3rd party apps installed, and in spite of me updating the firmware image with the “latest updates” from Microsoft
  • The phone syncs well with Microsoft Exchange Server, but only when you’re not using a security certificate (which is unlikely, because any company that wants you to connect using a device like this has most likely set up Exchange Web Access, which should not be set up without a security certificate)
  • The included browser, Internet Explorer 4.0, is basically useless unless you’re visiting a site built with extremely narrow screens or mobile users in mind (no support for Java or scripting)
  • The stylus comes out too easily (they ship it with two), and is therefore easy to lose (the last flew out as I was walking with the phone in my hand)
  • When the operating system locks up, it doesn’t always behave the way you’d expect, since phone functions may work (I was in the middle of a call during the last lockup), but some features (my Bluetooth headset, the Today menu, and the hot buttons quit working) may not
  • High costs for hi-speed data
  • Very poor integration with Sprint (my service provider), particularly Picture Mail (which doesn’t work) and SMS-to-Email gateway behavior (which doesn’t work without embedding the e-mail address as the first line of the message, and sending to a specific “short number”)

Is the iPhone a Phone? iPod? PDA?
Currently, my biggest gripes with the 6700 are not with the PDA capabilities. It’s a great PDA. Given the storage capacity, it’s clear that it wasn’t intended to be used as a serious media device (you’re limited to whatever storage is available in the mini SD expansion card format), so I can’t really complain that it’s not a suitable replacement for my iPod. Lastly, after staring in shock at a $135 “data access” charge for the month of December (for regular, but not ridiculous Internet use), I’m wishing that this phone would either be dramatically better at Internet communication, or try harder at being a phone.

Unfortunately, the primary purpose of this device is to be a… phone. In that regard, it’s not a very good phone. Look back over the list of my complaints. I have ordered them intentionally. While reading the littany of complaints about the iPhone, I started to realize that every complaint corresponded to areas where the 6700 was going a different direction, and was broken. In some cases, it’s seriously broken.

To that end, if the iPhone is a mediocre PDA and only a so-so iPod, I could live with that. What I really need is what the iPhone seems to be designed for.

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Comments»

1. tiffanytaylor - January 20, 2007

A masterful job of talking yourself into an iPhone (as if you needed an excuse!). 😀

2. Tim - January 20, 2007

I didn’t have to work hard. Using my current phone and then watching the Macworld Keynote Address had already done a pretty good job already. 😉

Ultimately, I think the jury’s still out. Apple could deliver a smashing failure to the marketplace, and given the pre-release hype, that would be difficult for them to recover from (in this market).

On the other hand, my phone is fairly typical of Windows Mobile devices. Based on my experience, the iPhone will have to be really bad to not achieve “middle of the pack” status in this market. – Tim

3. Sven - January 25, 2007

I also acknowledge that I’m not entirely happy with the 6700. But I’m very timid about simply accepting whatever comes out of Apple’s factory. I suppose a real Apple fan might point out that this is why they use Apple, but my 6700 was a much worse phone out of the box than it is now. For example, Tim, you’re not actually using WMP for your mp3 listening, right? Personally, I use Mortplayer because I wanted precisely finger buttons to push (mostly). Similarly, I use mortbuttons (I’m not mort, but I do like his freeware) for a menu interface not unlike what’s shown on the iphone. Not as nice, but significantly the same. As for your internet data charge, Dude, I’m so sorry that that hit you. cell providers are real hardcore about overage. Ask them about getting a flat rate unlimited data plan – mine’s $15, and adding shoutcast + the internet really makes a big difference to my enjoyment of this phone. Finally, I think the people at pdaphonehome.com’s 6700 forum did find a workaround for the picture mail issue. So yeah, this thing’s a bit of a clunker out of the box, but customized it suits my needs nicely, when it works. My big grief is that it does not hold up to my wear and tear, which I did not think was so outrageous.

In any event, it’s not a phone first, at least for me. cell phone technology is only one more of the integrated technologies on this device for me. Really, I’ve got the like-200-minutes? plan. But the internet, so I can Skype-call people on the go as well.

Yeah, that pretty much seals it. I can’t get the iphone, me now thinks.

4. Tim - January 25, 2007

Sven,

No, I don’t use WMP for mp3s, primarily because I hadn’t put in a miniSD card for more storage. People are complaining about the iPhone’s 8GB of storage? I haven’t found anyone locally that’s selling anything bigger than 2GB in a miniSD, and I doubt that anything bigger than 4GB is even available (ignoring that this would be another $150 or so, making the price of the 6700 equal to what Apple is suggesting). I’ll have to look into Mortplayer, even if it’s just to goof around.

Yeah, the data access charge surprised me, but in retrospect, I was able to browse to a couple of pages (while in Maui) that I needed to monitor, without worrying about finding a WiFi spot or hauling out my laptop. All things considered, it was worth it, but completely unexpected.

I’ll check into the Picture Mail workaround. The workaround for SMS-Email is really clunky, but in a pinch, it allows me to “send Email” without having to connect up to EVDO, and with all the benefits of “push mail.”

I suspect you and I are on opposite ends of the spectrum of 6700 users. For me, it IS a phone first (my plan is for 1000 min plus), and secondarily an Internet access point. If it plays mp3’s or movies, that’s OK, but not the point–I already have that functionality in an 30GB iPod.

Regardless, I’m going to watch the iPhone pretty close, even if it’s just so I can make myself miserable with envy. 😀 – Tim

5. Xacs - February 9, 2007

You need to get yourself the Sprint Vision addons ($15/mo for unlimited data). Nice post on the comparisons but I guess your not familar with the EVDO-tethering, TCMP player, ORB and such which really makes the PPC-6700 or any EVDO-PocketPC enabled phone stand out. If your an Apple camper and could afford the hefty price tag your cool; well for the rest of us the EVDO-PocketPC is here to stay. Heres another take on the iPhone hype.

6. Tim - February 9, 2007

Xacs,

My Sprint Vision contract was already in effect with my previous phone, and “expired” in late January. My hefty data charge was while it was in effect. I’m familiar with EVDO-tethering, which is not clear or easy to set up on this phone. It’s a pain.

As for the TCMP and ORB players, why should I have to download and grab an open-source player? Why should I expect to download a bunch of add-ons, instead of it just working out of the box.

How often do you take notes with the stylus on your phone during a call? Sorry for being weird, but the only reason I ever used the stylus on the 6700 was when I was trying to access one of the too-small icons or menu items. Theoretically, I should need a stylus less with the 6700 than with an iPhone, due to the slide-out keyboard, but the only time I’ve used that is for SMS messaging, and not for “taking notes during a call.” I don’t type Word docs from my phone. The 6700’s keyboard is great, but one or two sentences at a time and I’m done.

For the rest of the items mentioned, the fact that you don’t have to add a bunch of stuff, download this, download that, and basically fix the OS is one of the main reasons that the iPod took off, and left other MP3 players in the dust. Yes, among computer nerds, or people with lots of time on their hands, Windows is “no problem” and OS X is “too simplistic” or “takes away too much control from me.”

The “hefty price tag,” as noted elsewhere, is not much (if any) worse than what I paid for the 6700. As for the article you referenced, it’s clearly as biased against the iPhone as you’re suggesting that mine is. DivX? Thanks for the comment and link, but I can’t see any PocketPC phone, running WM5, being anything to get excited about, based on the interface that Jobs demo’d.

Time will tell. – Tim

7. Chris - February 16, 2007

While Teathering the 6700 is complicated at first and not well documented at all it is a feature that I love… the fact the phone can be so versatile when put to proper use is awesome… anything apple makes is usually limited… BUT I will give them the fact that limiting things makes things run faster and more stable… I mean thats why an XBOX360 can run games so fast and stable & so cheap compared to a PC.

I am not a huge cell phone user though… I’m a PDA and internet guy… I SPLIT a 550 minute plan with my wife… and usually half or more of our minutes get flushed down the toilet at the end of the month… most months we use 30 mins each… where as I will send like maybe 200 text messages… and hell last month I played an MMORPG for a week in Orlando via my phone in a hotel with no internet access.

Both devices have a target audience… Windows targets pocket-PC enthusiasts… iPhones will target MP3 & phone people. There is no 1 size fits all phone…. even for people who don’t want MP3’s or internet still face the battles of camera or no camera… black and white or color.. candybar, twist, slide, or clamshell All with payouts… Clamshell protects the buttons nd large screen but gives a weak hinge… candybars have scratched screens but are easy to access and no weak hinge… black and white saves battery power… cameras can’t be taken into govenment facilities causing you to leave a phone behind…

So if people can’t pick a standard phone as “the best” then these hybrid items are even less likely to have a clear winner.

8. Bro - June 29, 2007

FYI on the iPhone… I had already heard this from other sources, for a potential ‘corporate’ user email could be a problem, article from ComputerWorld 6/29/07 reviews concerns

9. Tim - June 29, 2007

Bro,

I suppose we’ll know more in about 10 hours, but the latest reports suggest that Apple is using the webdav (web services) interface to connect into Exchange Server (which presumes that OWA support has been configured).

Given that you can have a “live” OWA session (which apparently keeps port 80 open for responses back from a is-there-a-new-message request), and that several people have already reverse-engineered the webdav protocols, I would think it’s a matter of negotiations between Apple and MS over whether MS wants Apple to go in the front door (license the ActiveSync protocol) or the back. – Tim

10. Richard Ward - August 27, 2007

It took me a while to get used to my HTC Apache (PPC-6700) coming from a basic, older Blackberry (7250). After countless hours of installing, hacking, modifying, etc. I have a “good” backup of the phone that is quick, and does everything I need it to (AOL, MySpaceIM, YouTube, Shoutcast, etc.). I couldn’t imagine myself on an all-touchscreen iPhone or no-touchscreen Motorola Q trying to pull this off. Although the Q is very thin and sexy, I’ll stick with my 6700 until WM 6 becomes more stable (Ahem…6800 users!)

11. Your mama - October 8, 2007

You get a “data access” charge when you use us for PHONE AS A MODEM. Just becuse you have unlimited vision dosent mean that phone as a modem is unlimited. Besides there was only a few phones that sprint had that could use it without the PAM script on the account. 6700 is one of them. Sprint isnt stupid they know the differene between the PAM and vision. And I knew it wouldnt be long before that caught up with everyone. Ive had quite a few customers latley act like they dont know how it happend. And the 6700 is garbage I service at least 20 a day. Windows sux. No matter what decvice you put it on.

12. john - February 16, 2010

dumb a h u don’t know nothing

13. darby770333 - February 16, 2010

I love my audiovox 6700 it a great phone especially with my cricket plan everything unlimited talk text web long distance

14. Tim - February 16, 2010

So John, which of my points are in error? I’m more than happy to be proven that I’m wrong about any of them.

At the moment, I’m using a Palm Pre’, which is light years ahead of anything I’ve used that runs Windows Mobile. Even so, I’ve got more than my share of gripes with it, including it needing a regular “therapeutic reboot.” It makes me feel like I’m running Windows Mobile (or Win 98) when that happens. – Tim


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