24 Real Apple iPhone Drawbacks and Downsides

iPhone isn't that great

There’s enough hype and hoopla about how great the Apple iPhone is. People are even paying others $300 to sit in line outside the store for them overnight – on top of the $599 they’ll pay for the device – on top of the $800 they’ll pay the 1st year to AT&T Wireless for basic service.

After reading some of the press, like in the Walt Mossberg’s WSJ column or David Pogue’s review in the NY Times, etc, I thought I’d jot down a bunch of the cons of the iPhone cell phone for anyone that’s really trying to make a rational decision to abandon their current cell phone or smart phone like the Blackberry or Samsung Blackjack.

Is it worth $500 or $600 + ($60/month + tax) x 24 months = $2196.13+ for the 2 year contract at the very lowest rate plan? You decide.

Here goes for the 24 Downsides of the Apple iPhone:

  • Although it has a 2 megapixel camera, you CANNOT record video clips

  • Although it’s being marketed as web device with the “real internet” with a “real browser” (Apple Safari), it DOES NOT SUPPORT FLASH, which is used on tons and tons of websites out there.
  • Although you can watch up to 10,000 videos on YouTube, you CANNOT VIEW ANY AND ALL VIDEOS FROM YOUTUBE.
  • Although you may be able to use Meebo or other sites as a work around for Instant Messaging, the iPhone DOES NOT SUPPORT INSTANT MESSAGING
  • iPhone 4GBAlthough it is an iPod, and although you can use a bluetooth headset for calls, the iPhone DOES NOT SUPPORT STEREO MUSIC STREAMING THROUGH BLUETOOTH HEADSETS, even if you have have the Jawbone or any other bluetooth headset capable of doing that with a A2DP supported phone.
  • You CANNOT LOAD YOUR OWN 3RD PARTY PROGRAMS onto the iPod. Classic Apple DNA, only proprietary, approved applications may be released by Apple (probably for a fee through iTunes!)
  • You won’t be able to sit in line and pull out your iPhone to play games, because the iPhone DOES NOT HAVE ANY GAMES. Games from the iTunes store are not compatible.
  • Although you can fill it up with 8 GIGS worth of mp3 songs from iTunes, you CANNOT CUSTOMIZE YOUR RINGTONES WITH MP3 SONGS
  • Although it has the “most advanced” interface using your fingers and the touch-screen, you CANNOT USE VOICE COMMANDS OR VOICE RECOGNITION OR VOICE DIALING.
  • The keyboard supposedly isn’t a real bother after you get used to it, but TYPING PERIODS AND COMMAS ARE A PAIN IN THE NECK, requiring you to go to a 2nd screen each time. Given that you use a period or comma in almost every sentence you type, this is NOT CONVENIENT.
  • Even though it has a 2 Megapixel camera, you CANNOT SEND PICS TO OTHER CELL PHONES VIA MMS PICTURE MESSAGING.
  • You CANNOT FREELY USE THE iPHONE ON OTHER CONTINENTS WITH SIM CARDS – you are restricted to AT&T international roaming networks only.
  • You CANNOT DOWNLOAD OR ACCESS ITUNES DIRECTLY from the iPhone, you always have to do it through you PC or Mac’s iTunes program and then sync files.
  • You CANNOT USE IT AS A MODEM like you can with the Samsung Blackjack and my Sony Vaio laptop.
  • The iPhone CANNOT GET REAL-TIME GPS MAPPING like you can on the Blackberry 8800 because it is NOT GPS enabled
  • You CANNOT GO ON VACATION OR ROAD TRIP WITHOUT YOUR CHARGER because it doesn’t have a removeable battery, so you cannot use multiple batteries as back-up or spare
  • You CANNOT LOAD MORE THAN 4GB or 8GB worth of video, music, audio, documents, contacts, email, etc because there is NO REMOVEABLE STORAGE CARD supported
  • The iPhone CANNOT SURF THE WEB AS FAST AS MOST COMPETITOR PHONES like the 3G Blackjack or Blackberry because it does not support 3G (i.e. The NYTimes Site took almost 1 full minute to download).
  • You CANNOT CONNECT TO ALL iPOD DOCKS AND CONNECTORS currently out there – most will work, and a upgrade may be in the works, but for now, you may have to buy yet another accessory to connect the iPhone to speakers, car radio, etc.
  • About connections, not all earplugs/headsets will fit into the jack since it’s reported to be a extra deep connection. Some accessory manufacturers are going to sell $40 adaptors just to get their standard earphone jacks to work with the iPhone properly. Be ready to add $40 to your purchase price!
  • You CANNOT WALK OUT OF THE STORE WITH A WORKING iPHONE – you’ll have to go home and activate it through iTunes.com
  • Since the iPhone DOES NOT HAVE A REMOVEABLE BATTERY, and the expected life is 300-400 charges, you’ll HAVE TO SHIP IT TO APPLE TO REPLACE THE BATTERY EVERY YEAR OR TWO just like iPods. Who wants to be separated from their smart phone for a week every year or two AND have to pay for it!
  • Intelligent keyboard and all, but you CANNOT COPY/PASTE ANYTHING! That’s called a sin of omission.
  • Oh yeah, you HAVE TO LITERALLY PAY AT LEAST $2196+ FOR THE iPHONE for your 2 year contract.  That’s a lot for a cell phone, no?

Am I missing anything? Let me know by posting a comment below!

2010 UPDATE:  Yes, yes, I know the Apple iPhone 3Gs has come out and much of this list is now moot.  Help me verify which ones to cross out above.  Also, let me know if you have any other downsides serious smartphone powerusers should be considering before making the switch.

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Commonly the "go-to" guy amongst his circle of friends and associates for everyday e-life problems or sharing the latest "things you'd glad to find out about," Kenny Jahng provides simple answers & entries in plain english here at esssistme.com. Kendrick Jahng is founder of Big Click Syndicate LLC, providing online marketing consulting & coaching to SMB (small-to-medium sized businesses) as well as operating several online digital properties. Kenny's marketing blog, "Online Marketing Brain Dump," can be found on USAToday.com at http://www.onlinemarketingbraindump.com.

30 thoughts on “24 Real Apple iPhone Drawbacks and Downsides

  1. Sure seems to me like Apple dropped the ball on a lot of this stuff. I’ve always been a fan of Apple gear, but I have never purchased an Apple product, and I never will. Precisely because of the sort of stupid crap you list above, and the ridiculous proprietary formats and functionality. I’ll just stick with my $99 RAZR thanks: it’s a great phone and does everything I need. Plus it’s anodised Aluminium, so it is tough as hell.

  2. Some of these “reasons” are stupid. I’m not an Apple fanboy and don’t really care about the iPhone one way or the other, but this seems very slanted…

    No Flash- the sites that I would visit on a mobile device either don’t use flash or the flash functionality is unnecessary
    No Games- do you really think that there are no games releasing soon; that there will NEVER be games for this?
    No itunes ON the device- why would you need the whole PROGRAM on your phone? You have all your songs, videos, playlists etc…
    Typing is a pain- like EVERY OTHER PHONE?
    No using it as a modem- This 90’s method of connecting is OUTDATED; every antenna or PC card for your laptop/pda is faster and more reliable than this method!
    Doesn’t work right out of the box- oh NOO!!! You have to go home first?!?!?
    No skipping the charger- Who the hell cares? Where are you vacationing that has cell phone reception but no outlets? If you would have to pack “multiple batteries” anyway, what the difference between packing the charger?
    No copying/pasting- the BASTARDS! and I’m always typing the same paragraphs over and over on my cell phone…
    No setting mp3’s as the ringtone- Actually, this one REALLY SUCKS

    Show me a single phone that CAN DO all these things… If you do, then I could make a list of all the OTHER things that phone couldnt’ do…

  3. Mark, perhaps they aren’t real downsides for you, but for someone that works outside the office a lot, these are all valid.
    My Samsung Blackjack can to most of these things, which is why I’m staying with it for now, until the 3G iPhone comes out and they improve a bunch. The whole point of this post is NOT THE FUTURE, when I’m sure some, most, all of these points might be solved on the iPhone, but of course, they’ll be solved on competitor models too. It’s not about the future, since technology will evolve of course. It’s about RIGHT NOW, where the decision point is — do you buy the iPhone and abandon your current smartphone, or choose another phone? Without knowing exactly what the downsides are for a given phone, you can’t make an intelligent choice.

    “Doesn’t work out of the box” ACTUALLY HAS BEEN A DOWNSIDE, because a LOT of people apparently are angry and STILL have yet to have a live phone right now, even though they were the first to buy it on June 29th launch and ran home and activated it on their PC. Buying something for $649.50 ($599 + tax in NY) and NOT having it work 48 hours later doesn’t really make a user feel good.

    “The typing is a pain” is not the point. The point is that specifically the period and comma requires going to another screen. These are 2 VERY common characters in typing, and to make unavailable on the fly without any keyboard shortcuts stinks. It’s a valid comment. Even the Wall Street Journal wrote about it. This one is very unlike Steve Jobs design.

    “No Flash” – sure, you may not go to flash sites or not watch any flash files on your phone, but many other people want to — and can on other phones. The Samsung Blackjack for example has FlashLite that can be installed to watch Flash .swf files.

    “No copy/pasting” – this one is real too if you are someone that uses your smartphone to really email, compose/edit microsoft office documents, on your phone. Powerusers that use their keyboard on their phone as much as the actual phone option need copy/paste. It’s just something that is a part of composing / replying / editing.

    No using it as a modem — actually, using my Blackjack as a modem is MUCH more reliable than trying to find hotspots when I’m out of the office. The comment was NOT about using the modem when you’re home as a dial-up modem. The point is when you’re on the road, business meetings, anywhere else with your laptop, you have either a choice of getting a CDPD or EVDO wireless modem card from the cellular networks or getting a WiFi account with T-mobile etc to get access at hotspots, or drive around trying to steal bandwidth from open unsecured wifi routers. I’ve found it SO much more reliable and easier to just click over to “modem” on my Blackjack and then connecting at near DSL speeds for internet access on my Blackjack. So this one is REAL.

    “No iTunes direct”- I didn’t mean you need the iTune program on the PC, I meant that you cannot browse and download directly over the air on the iPhone. You’re forced to go back to your PC and sync. How often do you sync? How often do you want to sync? Getting new songs should be available whenever you want, when you’re walking around, when you’re waiting in line, when you’re in school, at work, on the bus, etc. Instead, this just becomes another mp3 player where you have to download songs on the pc and then push them to your iPod-iPhone. This is a commentary on the political issues that restrict this feature. It’s not a technological limit.

    “No Games” – I’m not a gamer myself, but if you’re going to call it “the best iPod ever”, then it should be the BEST ever. NOT being able to use any Games you bought on iTunes for your exisiting iPod doesn’t make it the “best ever”. Stop calling it “the best ever” or make it do everything other iPods can do and more. Sure, Apple may allow it in the future, but maybe not — perhaps they have another business model that involves AT&T through another channel. Perhaps, perhaps perhaps. The point is that it’s not supported, there are no alternatives right now, and there are no games period. Again, “the future” doesn’t help if you’re about to commit $2,196 right now for this iPhone.

  4. Very well analyzed Kenny. I will have to agree with you on this one.

    Mark, my guess is that you are a student who uses a phone primarily as an entertainment device and do not personally utilize these features currently, or have no need for text composers, editors, high speed mobile net, 3rd party apps, etc.

    My company’s philosophy is to maintain CONSTANT communication with customers and be able to take care of database updates within minutes, so having a powerful and reliable device would be necessary for my professional stability and responsiveness. I use a laptop currently, and just have a regular cell phone (for many reasons: one being I need my laptop to hook hard drives up to when I repair PC’s)

    While most people will just adapt to Jobs’ keyboard design by not using periods or commas, I would not be able do that.

    I think there is validity in the argument that an iPhone is not intended to be a professional device. But the only flaw with that is to then think why not get a blackberry, which has superior capability, for sometimes even less than $499? And when you do become a successful professional and want to integrate with the rest of the world with a portable device, do you want to have to buy something entirely different?

  5. Fair enough, Kenny… You make valid points, especially with the extrapolations. My personal nitpicking aside, I completely agree with you; AS IS, $599 is too much to spend on the iPhone…

  6. I am currently posting this via my apple iphone. As an owner of the iphone i would have to agree with some of these but also disagree. I admit that the keyboard can be annoying sometimes but overall it is very nice to type on. Also i can see why somebody who uses there phone strictly for business may not want the iphone. But after using the iphone for a couple of days i have found that for me it was well worth the 600 dollars. Most of the things that you mentioned can be annoying but after you get used to them you notice that it really is a great phone. While it may not be for everybody it most certainlly is very fun and much more advanced that mostly all other phones. And even if there are other phones that can do the same things this phone can do them better than most.

  7. I have the phone and it sucks.

    I have already returned it.

    God bless you guys for bringing out the truth about the iPhone.

    Kenneth H. Cox

  8. DAVID – Congrats on the iPhone purchase. Send me a pic of you and your iPhone and I’ll post it on essistme.com!

    I can see how for the people that DO buy the iPhone, most of the downsides may not be as annoying and you can simply live with them – especially after investing so much, it’s in your vested interest to “like” the device.

    Realistically, I understand that most of these are not going to be “deal breakers”. However, there ARE one or two for me personally that are, especially after my Samsung Blackjack as a modem for my laptop — like I’m doing now from a hotel room to post this comment. It not only saves me the $10/day for internet access at the hotel, it also gives me freedom to NOT plan my catching up on my emails, etc based on internet access, but rather plan my days around WHEN I need to work on the computer. According to speedtest.net right now, I’m getting over 716kbs download / 337kbps upload speeds, and that’s pretty much DSL speed — and more importantly fast enough for me to do almost any work I need to on my laptop whenever/wherever I am remotely, away from home/office.

    Being able to watch real live tv by streaming from my desktop tv tuner card through the internet on my Blackjack is also a neat feature that you REALLY get used to…

  9. I’ve tried the iphone and it looks great, the GUI is wonderful but i feel that it falls in the same category of the nokia 7280 (wich my GF have) it’s all “LOOK MY PHONE, SEE HOW COOL I AM!”even if you spend 10 minutes to txt “hello buddy” i find my N95 far superior with much more features and easier to use, besides when it arrived i just slipped my sim into it and i was talking (you can even use it without service too). I think that the deal with AT&T is what will hurt the “Iphone revolution” Unless apple plans to release the gsm version, i don’t see 10 million people switching to AT&T wich has the honor of the worst service.

  10. What if the iPhone is bought for you as a gift and you have no intention of using it as a cell phone, but would still like to use it as an iPod and mobile Internet device, do you still need to activate it?

  11. I had an Iphone and returned it three days later. 15% restocking fee on the phone and all accessories, for being a customer for 6 years from when NEw ATT Mobility was ATT Wireless and before Cingular took them over, it didnt matter, I got treated poorly, I know it is policy but for misleading advertising, c’mon!

    My blackjack by far is the best phone I have used! It does everything I need and quickly for the office!

    Be prepared to purchase a good Bluetooth headset for around 90-150 dollars so you can here people talk! Also it might as well not even have a speakerphone because that sounds like what putting it up to your ear should be like.


    You can watch the battery bar go down when playing music. From halfway dead, it takes 1.5 hours to fully charge. 3 hours when dead.

    The Iphone is very hard to wipe away finger smudges, I did try to scratch at the bottom screen but it is nearly impossible.

    Aluminum looking side of the Iphone scratches very easily, it will look like hell in less than 3 months, not to mention the labeling will rub off if it.

    My Iphone froze so the only way to reset it is to format it via Itunes which means losing your contacts.

    Transferring your contacts is almost impossible, contacts cannot be transferred sim to sim, so att store puts contacts on a flash drive (15 bucks, cant use your own and non returnable even tho it doesnt work) in which itunes cant read, even once you get the contacts on your Iphone, they are NEVER able to be saved onto the sim leaving you with nothing if the device fails.

    YouTube and Safari SUCK!!!!
    Sorry YouTube, it works good on my vista based PC, but as mentioned above, the Iphone is not 3G compatible. You tube videos will download and play after nearly 3 minutes or more download time. Video quality is extraordinary but video skips since it is streamed and on the slow Edge speed.

    Fairly easy to navigate thru menus

    Visual voicemail is nice, the message is on your phone, no calling the vmail system anymore.

    You cant take video clips

    Aluminum looking side of the Iphone scratches very easily, it will look like hell in less than 3 months

    Dont make the mistake I did! You will be sick with this phone.

    There is so much more to tell, if you give me a specific question, I can answer it. Email me!


  12. As a long time Window Mobile user (i.e., iPaqs, Dell Axims, & HTCs) I was finally relieved that I no longer have to use Microsoft’s crash prone and clunky products to help stay productive and entertained on the road. I purchased the 8 GB version of the iPhone and like almost everyone else I was impressed with its characteristics. I know that no phone is perfect, but the iPhone is certainly leading in the smart phone category. Microsoft is probably feeling like they got their a*! kicked and its engineers are probably trying to reverse engineer the iPhone.

  13. Excellent, excellent points.

    But curious as a human being that I am, I went to test the iPhone yesterday.

    I am really, really amazed at how simple it is to use. Really simple, and my finger touched everything.

    And even though it’s bloody huge, it is so lightweight.

    And now i know i committed a sin because I also published iPhone SUCKS in my blog. but now i think i’m falling in love with it.


  14. HAHA Dont worry guys all the drawbacks in software can be solved in curtain applications launched by people who got annoyed exactly the same. >> Like 4 example:
    COSTIMIZING YOUR RING TONES >> A software is developed for that and it is working as good as the iphone built in applications. So u see all this drawbacks have got curtain applications built to solve it.. >>My Advise

  15. Hi,

    Just wanted to thank everyone for the comments and helping me decide not to buy an iPhone :) As for “microsoft hater” well looking at your name instantly i can tell your comment is bias and garbage. I am going to look for a nice blackberry or something like that with a nice full keyboard with easy to use periods and commas. The phone needs to work with youtube since most phones do now says and the ones that dont are dinosaurs as far as im concerned. Good day to you all.


  16. I’m typing this one my T-mobile sidekick 3.

    It isn’t the best phone, but it gets what I need done out of it. I don’t need to spend 500 (200 with the new 3g iphone) to replace this one. I have been wanting an iphone for awhile, and now that the 3g is here, I am drooling even more… however, when I think about it, I’m on a mobile phone browsing the web – I can wait 1 min to get a web page… I’m not that ADD yet. This phone has a much better keyboatd and at least has an attempt at a flash for the camera.

    Also, I don’t have to be on at&ts massivly expensive plan. Maybe, if apple decides they want to release the iphone to other services I might get one… but untill they, this sidekick was cheaper, cheaper to run, and gets all of the stuff done.

  17. So, even with a 10-business-day back-order for the iPhone 3G locally here in Jersey, I am pondering if I should give up my Blackjack and get the iPhone 3G.

    But 2 specific drawbacks are keeping me from jumping in line:

    1) Cannot tether the iPhone as a modem for my laptop. I can do this with my current phone and it has been a lifesaver time and time again to get near-dsl speeds (3G speed, just like the iPhone) for surfind and checking email wherever I happen to be on the road.

    2) No video recording. There have been PLENTY of times when I didn’t have my camera that takes video clips, but wanted to capture a great moment on video vs. photo. My current cell phone does video clips of unlimited length (depends on the memory card storage capacity). The Apple iPhone 3G still does not have video recording. Just a 2 megapixel digital camera. A bummer that doesn’t make sense (i’m sure it is because Steve Jobs wants to make sure the experience is great if they offer it and the battery life would be killed with video capabilities).

    Anyone have other “deal breakers” that I might have missed?

  18. You need to update this now that the iPhone 3G is out.

    You can’t record video, but some apps can.

    You apple is actually bringing Java and Flash to the iPhone. They just announced that.

    You can view way more Youtube videos on it now (something Apple never really mentioned)

    You can use IM through Google Talk as the app (this lets you get to AIM and other stuff too, more is being added as updates)

    You can use workarounds/buy stuff that lets you stream audio to bluetooth headsets

    You can now load your own 3rd party programs – its called the app store

    It now has over 200 games available – many great ones for free (beat that price :-() )

    You can actually use MP3 ring tones – just make a repeating part in Garageband with about the right length, click the share menu, and click save as ringtone. Bang. FREE MP3 RINGTONES :0

    You can use voice recognition and voice dialing as apps, many for free – you gotta pay for the ones on Blackberrys

    Typing commas is a pain, but you CAN JUST TYPE TWO SPACES AFTER A WORD AND IT GIVES YOU A PERIOD AND A SPACE!!!! its a shame that nobody knows this…

    You can send pics via email and now a bunch of social apps, that let you send pics (or sometimes links to pics) to other phones.

    If you want to use your phone in other continents, buy it there!!!! I will still count this as one half CON, because you do have a point and if you live in the US and travel for business, it still stinks.

    You can access iTunes directly via the iTunes Music Store app.
    This only works over wifi, but if you look at the places that have wifi you can use with the iPhone in the US, there is actually really good coverage, and most people have wifi @home/work. Letting people use this over 3G would kill ATTs bandwidth, but they could let us do stuff under 5 or 10 MB, like they do with the app store. I’ll count this as half a CON because its not that bad, but it would be nice to use over 3G/Edge

    You still cannot use it as a modem. Thats another CON.

    You have GPS.

    I does not have a removable battery, but you can bring it on road trips and stuff with other chargers. It gets really good batt life, so that doesn’t matter as much. You get another half CON. Darn.

    There is no removable storage, but there are now 16GB ones, so you just gotta not put everything on it. Thats another half CON.

    It now has 3G. Duh. It’s called the iPhone 3G.

    You only have to buy some new docks and stuff if it doesn’t physically fit. Most of the other stuff will work now with the updates.

    It now works with all headphones and stuff even though it has an extra deep jack for the built in mic in the headphones. Yay apple!!! See, they do listen to what we want.

    You now walk out of the store with a working phone.
    They really fixed the buying process, even though you now have to go to a store. You can start it online and just pick it up in the store after they activate it for you.

    You don’t have to ship it back to apple every year or two. A full charge cycle is all the way down and back up, not every time you charge it. This means that you can charge every night for two weeks and have it only be one charge cycle (estimating all of the usage and stuff). This gives you around eight years. Usually it is about 4 or 5 because you generally only take a week or so to do a full cycle. Do the math. It also is consistent with my other iPods which ive had for about 3 and 5 years respectively and never sent back. The 5 year one charges to about 92% at best now and the 3 year one is still at 99 or 98%.

    You cannot copy/paste anything and that is bad. You’re right. Another CON.

    Its only $1,879 for the two year contract including the price of the phone. Not really a con. Most phones with data plans come near to this range. Especially if you don’t have unlimited data and use it as a modem and go over your data limit.

    So. Lets add it up.

    With the new iPhone 3G,
    20 of your points are proved wrong.
    4 of them still stand.

    There’s only 4 bad things about the iPhone now.

    This means that when apple released the iPhone 3G, they fixed 80% of the problems with the original 2G one. Thats really GOOD.

    The iPhone rocks. It doesn’t work for some people. The whole world doesn’t have to have one kind of cell phone (that’s just what Steve Jobs wants).

    You can stick with your Blackberry and tire out your thumbs on a rubbery keyboard and small crappy web while I type really fast on the smart, adaptive iPhone keyboard and enjoy amazing web browsing capabilities.

    See Ya at the Apple Store when you’re buying your new iPhone 3G.

  19. Now that the Iphone 3GS and 3.0 os are out even more of your points have been proven wrong. I’m using good ol’ iphone 2g and have copy/paste + video recording. What still may suck for some is:
    – non removable battery (i don’t care, battery life is great)
    – non expandable memory (i have 8 gb and that’s more than I need)
    – no multi tasking (it sucks to be in the middle of a game, getting a phone call, answering it, and having to start the game over)
    – i don’t know whether you can do tethering now

  20. @Ignacio – Thanks for the comment. You are correct that new iterations of the iPhone platform have addressed these original issues above.

    I’m glad Apple has been knocking off the limitations one by one with each new version they release. The iPhone 3Gs is really really close to letting me hop onto the Apple iPhone bandwagon. But there are a couple of important deal breakers remaining for me (like the fact that I can do wireless bluetooth tethering for near DSL-speed internet connections on my laptop + my Samsung Blackjack — which the iPhone cannot do still, even if tethered by a physical cord)

    I guess it’s time to revamp this list and figure out what remaining issues are at hand. Thanks for the input!

  21. hi it does support 3g and you can use a free program called iRinger to change any audio(including video format) into a 30 second ringtone hope this helps

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