Matthew Fitzsimmons

iPhone Problems

UPDATE: I've updated my thoughts on the iPhone, since some of these issues have been taken care of. Read about it.

I love my iPhone. I really do. It's an incredible smartphone. But lately I've had an insane number of problems.

The 2.0.2 update seems to have fixed most of the stability issues I had in the past. None of these issues were major, but the phone would occasionally reboot, and some apps would crash quite frequently. These problems appear to be mostly gone with 2.0.2.

But this update also brought its own problems. Four or five times in the course of a week, I had to restore my phone because it would spontaneously reboot and get stuck in boot mode. The only way to fix this was to restore it. Two of these times I did not restore my backup but installed everything from scratch. The Apple Store was kind enough to replace my iPhone for me, and the new one was working great. Until today.

I hadn't synced with iTunes in a couple of days, so I told it to sync before I went to bed last night. When I got up this morning, the phone was sitting there stuck in boot mode. It had rebooted itself sometime during the night and got stuck. It was hot from cranking away all night, and the battery was almost dead even though it was plugged in.

The only fix, of course, was to restore it again. I restored from a backup, and then told it to sync. As it turns out, I had never authorized my new laptop to work with my iTunes account. So, instead of telling me before synching that this was a problem, iTunes deleted all my apps off the phone and then warned me that the computer wasn't linked to my iTunes account. Why can't it warn me ahead of time so I can fix the problem?

When you delete apps off the phone, guess what it does? It deletes all your application data, like preferences and saved games. So, now that I've authorized my computer again, I have to restore the phone from backup again, hoping it gets all my settings and saved data back.

I'd ask for another replacement, but at this point I'm pretty sure that these problems are a result of 2.0.2. Hopefully the 2.1 update that is supposed to come out sometime this month will finally clear up these issues.

In addition to this, there are some other weird things and annoying things about the iPhone:

  1. When downloading an application that you've already paid for, it doesn't tell you that it will be free until you've already gone through a couple of scary dialogs telling you that you will be paying for it. That dialog should come first, so that you know exactly what's going to happen.
  2. When updating an application directly on the phone, it will not put the updated version where the old one is in terms of home screen organization. It puts it in the first available empty spot, which could be several screens away.
  3. The home screen was fine when dealing with a few apps, but it does not scale well to dozens. Perhaps having the ability to list alphabetically and maybe assign categories to apps would help.
  4. Backups take a very, very long time sometimes. Perhaps they should have stuck with firewire?
  5. With the 2.0 software, they added the ability to delete multiple email messages at the same time. That's nice, but why didn't they add this for other, similar apps? Like SMS?
  6. The notification options for text messages are pretty limited. You can't set them to vibrate only without silencing the whole phone. If you tell them to have no audible alert, they won't vibrate either. Also, unlike ringtones, you can't install custom notifications for text messages. This is bad because pretty much everybody finds all but the default notification annoying, so everybody in the office uses the same sound. Personally, I would like to have text messages just vibrate, and everything else be audible, but that isn't allowed.
  7. Apple doesn't provide a way for game developers to suppress text message notifications. This means that most games will pause every time you get a text message. Now I wouldn't want games suppressing my notifications without asking, but I would like to have the option to turn it off.
  8. The App Store update process is really flaky. iTunes will usually incorrectly report the number of available updates. Also, updating on one computer means that another computer tied to the same account cannot use the update feature, because it will tell them there are no updates available. This is a pain since I then have to copy the apps from my computer to my Adina's computer manually.

Still, though. If I were to go back to the Blackberry Pearl, I could also come up with a long list of problems with that device. Same with the Palm I used to have. The iPhone is the best smartphone I've ever seen, despite these issues. Hopefully Apple will get on the ball and address some of these issues soon before I go insane.

September 3, 2008