The arrival of the world’s first iTunes mobile phone has been fraught with rumours of company infighting, technical hitches and delays. Finally the details are out, so how does it look on paper?
Well, to conclude at the beginning (there’s post-modern literary irony in there somewhere) it’s alright. Yup, my jaw never dropped nor did my mouth smirk. “Underwhelming” seems a good phrase.
So what has led to this look warm reaction? Well, at 10.8 x 4.6 x 2.5mm the Motorola “ROKR” is slightly larger than the Sony Ericsson W800 Walkman phone announced way back in March. It is also 5g heavier at 105g, though the display (262K, 176 x 220 resolution) matches up. Battery life is considerably worse given that both models can last 15 hours with the phone switched on, but the Sony Ericsson has the extra option of using the W800 solely as a music player (perfect for The Tube, for example) letting it achieve a cracking 30 hours.
Just like the iPods, there is also no FM tuner on the ROKR (something iPod seem capable of getting away with, but Motorola?) while – needless to say – one is built into the W800. The capacities are identical (approx 100 tracks at 128kbps compression) and both players support MP3 and AAC formats. At least files aren’t transferred to the ROKR over 3G (a point of heavy speculation before today) with it using USB instead. Files can transferred via Bluetooth too (if you are feeling masochistic), while - incredibly - there is no support for Bluetooth wireless headphones.
Last but not least, the ROKR has a pants VGA camera with 4x digital zoom. This can’t even hold a candle to the two megapixel monster featured on the W800.
So, all-in-all, you can probably understand my ambivalence. The first iTunes phone is finally here… and it’s late and dull? Even for style freaks it doesn’t have the visual panache of the RAZR or the upcoming RAZR V3x and gorgeous Q. If you must have one, it’ll be here mid September, initially through Carphone Warehouse with other retailers to follow by the end of the month.
Apple and Motorola fan boys must be pretty disappointed. I can’t blame them either given the quality of some of their prediction designs. Take a look at the artwork below and tell me this wouldn’t have been a truly kick-ass product….?
In related news, Apple has updated iTunes once again. Version Five will feature an improved song randomiser called Smart Shuffle (how do you improve randomising? It’s random!), a new streamlined interface with faster search panel (praise The Lord), and parental controls in case overprotective parents want to shelter the apples of their eye from tracks with naughty words (Wake Up Call: the little darlings hear them all the time at school anyway!).
Oh and by the way, you can now get all the Harry Potter audiobooks on iTunes, along with Madge’s music (she had bravely resisted until now). Grab the latest version of iTunes here.