In June, Apple's smartphone was the editors' choice at CNET UK. How times have changed.
"The iPhone may be the greatest handheld surfing device ever to rock the mobile Web, and a fabulous media player to boot," writes CNET UK's Flora Graham in a mock award citation posted Tuesday. "It may be the highest-rated mobile phone on CNET UK, rocking the pockets of half of our crack editorial team. It's certainly the touchscreen face that launched a thousand apps. But as an actual call-making phone, it's rubbish, and we aim to prove it."
What follows is a litany of complaints no iPhone owner hasn't heard -- or expressed -- before. But to read them in a publication that four months earlier named Apple's (aapl) device the "world's best touchscreen phone" is unexpected. And in Ms. Graham's voice, sort of fun.
To quote a few of her sharper lines:
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- Say what? Call quality on the iPhone is pathetic, and it's mostly because of the tiny speaker. It has to be aligned with your ear canal with the accuracy of a laser-guided ninja doing cataract surgery, or else the volume cuts down to nothing as the sound waves bounce uselessly around your ear shells.
- Dropped calls and data gaps. If, like Will Smith in Enemy of the State, you're trying to avoid the eagle eye of Big Brother, the iPhone could be for you. It drops calls, fails to connect and doesn't even ring sometimes -- not for everyone, but more often than any other phone we're currently using.
- You can't answer if it doesn't ring. Perhaps the worst of the iPhone's problems is its ability to sit there stealthily and ignore incoming calls. With no ring or vibrate to clue you in, your friends and family are redirected to voicemail... or just treated to silence. If you're in a two-iPhone family, it can be a case of the deaf leading the mute.
- The iPhone might burn your face off. According to our ultra-sciencey test, it is extremely unlikely that the iPhone will burn your face off... Nevertheless, pressing a large, flat surface to your cheek is always going to be sweaty... Thus the current trend for people to walk down the street with their phones on hands-free, yelling into the mike at the bottom while they hold the rest of the phone away from their faces.
- iPhone battery life. A couple of hours of Google Maps over 3G and you'll be lost in the woods without even the possibility of phoning for help. Compare that to the good old days when your phone would last a week without charging, and you'll wonder why you ever bothered to switch.
- The iPhone sucks -- so what? If the iPhone is inaudible, unconnected, on fire and out of battery, why is the thing so popular? The fact is, although the iPhone is the worst phone in the world, it's the best handheld computer there is.
At least until CNET UK's editors name a new one.
[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]