Mossberg loves the iPhone

The WSJ's influential tech columnist likes it - he really, really likes it. That's no small feat as Apple navigates the tricky transition from pre-sales hype to positive early buzz. "Our verdict," writes Mossberg in a review that's just been posted on, "is that, despite some flaws and feature omissions, the iPhone is, on balance, a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer." The biggest flaw - and one that's likely to come up in other reviews - is that it only works with AT&T (formerly Cingular). And the iPhone doesn't even run on AT&T's fastest cellular data network, but rather something called EDGE, which is slower than the networks available on other smart phones. On the plus side, the iPhone can use Wi-Fi networks, which apparently is unusual in the smart phone world. Here's more from Mossberg:

The Apple phone combines intelligent voice calling, and a full-blown iPod, with a beautiful new interface for music and video playback. It offers the best Web browser we have seen on a smart phone, and robust email software. And it synchronizes easily and well with both Windows and Macintosh computers using Apple's iTunes software. It has the largest and highest-resolution screen of any smart phone we've seen, and the most internal memory by far. Yet it is one of the thinnest smart phones available and offers impressive battery life, better than its key competitors claim. It feels solid and comfortable in the hand and the way it displays photos, videos and Web pages on its gorgeous screen makes other smart phones look primitive.

The iPhone's most controversial feature, the omission of a physical keyboard in favor of a virtual keyboard on the screen, turned out in our tests to be a nonissue, despite our deep initial skepticism. After five days of use, Walt -- who did most of the testing for this review -- was able to type on it as quickly and accurately as he could on the Palm Treo he has used for years. This was partly because of smart software that corrects typing errors on the fly.

One great feature is the "visual voice mail," which shows you the names or phone numbers of people who have left you voicemail, so you can quickly listen to those you want. "Expectations for the iPhone have been so high that it can't possibly meet them all," he writes. "It isn't for the average person who just wants a cheap, small phone for calling and texting. But, despite its network limitations, the iPhone is a whole new experience and a pleasure to use."

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
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