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The iPhone 3.0 Report: Let the Lame Reviews Begin

You just know that certain members of the media got an early look at both the iPhone 3.0 software and the iPhone 3G S. As a result you are now reading their reviews. Some are raves, some have justifiable criticisms, while others demonstrate that the reviewer or reviewers were clueless.

Just to put things in perspective, I upgraded my iPhone 3G with the 3.0 software shortly after it became available here in Arizona, which, in the summer, shares Pacific Time with the “left” coast. The upgrade itself went flawlessly; they always do for me. However, when I first ventured beyond my home office and attempted to check my email, it failed to update, and that held true until I restarted the thing. Then everything seemed all right, although it will take a few days to digest all the changes and determine if there are any significant show-stoppers.

When it comes to Internet performance, I failed to notice any significant differences within the range of powerful Wi-Fi connections or even where the 3G bars reflected a strong AT&T signal. This despite the promise from Apple of improved Safari handling of Web pages, particularly those rich with JavaScript content. Again, this will take a little time to parse and see if any of my favorite sites appear in a snappier fashion.

I also have hopes that I might be able to upgrade to a 3G S in short order, because of an important change in AT&T’s policy that I’ll get to in a moment.

In any case, after reading some of the early reviews, I was struck once again by CNET’s utter inability to get their facts correct. Now as some of you know, I wrote for them once, several years back. Though I had a good relationship with some off the editors, I was troubled by the lack of respect of others to the process of ensuring accurate content. I ran into situations where they asked me to insert negatives about a product, for example, even if they were either nonexistent or of little relevance. They wanted to make their cherished Editor’s Choice rating an exceedingly rare achievement I suppose. I’ll leave it to you readers to consider darker motives, such as potential advertiser influence.

Indeed, one of their former editors wrote a review of a printer, a Xerox solid ink model, for another publication that contained so many significant factual errors and unfounded conclusions, I wondered how it escaped the eyes of the editorial staff. Doesn’t anyone check facts anymore?

In their coverage of the iPhone 3G S, CNET seems to give it mostly accurate coverage, however. But they continue to rag on Apple for delivering a product with merely average voice quality on regular phone connections. Now understand that the best mobile phone on the planet — whatever it might be if it’s not the iPhone — will sound bad on a saturated network. CNET, however, seems unable to separate momentary connection conditions from the actual performance of the handset.

In any case, one of my acquaintances, a Mac-loving pharmacy manager at a local discount club, recently switched from the BlackBerry Storm on a Verizon Wireless account to an iPhone 3G on AT&T. He remarked how much voice quality had improved. Indeed, I find it little different from the Motorola RAZR and other devices that I credited with excellent call quality. So I really don’t know where CNET is coming from. Then again, maybe iPhones are so popular in the vicinity of their San Francisco headquarters that few will ever achieve a decent connection.

Their other criticism concerns Apple’s lack of support for true multitasking. Lest we forget, Apple’s explanation — or excuse — for the inability to run more than a single app at a time is the potential impact on battery life. Their solution is push networking, which debuted in iPhone 3.0. This feature uses Apple’s own servers to alert you to a message from another program, such as a waiting instant message from AIM. That will, of course, require support from the app developers, and AOL has confirmed that an updated AIM with that feature will be ready shortly.

CNET compared the iPhone 3G S with the new Palm Pre, and the author of the review made a curious remark that, in order to switch from one application to another on Apple’s smartphone, you had to quit the first app and launch the second.

As most of you know, the act of opening any app serves the function of closing the previous one without you having to search for the non-existent Quit command. I wonder what CNET’s writers are drinking, or maybe that’s just another factual discrepancy that their copy editors and fact checkers failed to catch.

Anyway, enough about CNET. There will be other reviews that will be good or bad in quality depending upon the writer’s dedication to the task. Alas, there are far too many hacks in this business who only navigated to technology because there were no other jobs available, or perhaps they hoped to spend much of their time playing with brand new toys with the added benefit of getting paid for it.

In any case, back to AT&T and their upgrade policies. Right now, if you have an iPhone 3G and a plan that costs you at least $99, you will be eligible to upgrade to the 3G S between 12 and 18 months into the contract. After getting tons and tons of complaints, AT&T has extended that policy to accommodate those who acquired their iPhones when they first went on sale beginning in July 2008. As of June 18th, at least so they say, they’ll be able to upgrade too for a limited period of time.

So it may well be that I’ll have a spanking new iPhone 3G S in my equipment arsenal real soon now. Stay tuned.