Ars Technica reviews Apple iPhone 3G: Great consumer device, needs improvements for enterprise user

“In this review, we take a long, hard look at the iPhone 3G, both as a consumer device and as an enterprise device. After all, part of the appeal of the new device is that a number of software improvements have finally made it enterprise-ready, or so claims Apple’s marketing. From a business user’s point of view, however, if you think that the iPhone is a drop-in BlackBerry replacement, think again,” Jacqui Cheng, David Chartier and Clint Ecker report for Ars Technica.

“In our testing, we found iPhone 2.0’s initial Exchange support to be a mixed bag. E-mail performance was on par with the BlackBerry, though the iPhone did seem to update our inbox faster than a BlackBerry Pearl. Reconciliation was far superior on the iPhone, as we routinely had stranded messages on the Pearl after moving or deleting from Outlook. So far, our iPhone 3G’s ActiveSync is keeping messages 100 percent in sync,” Cheng, Chartier and Ecker report.

“The iPhone’s Exchange support loses some of its shiny appeal, however, when you branch out from basic mobile e-mail synchronization. As mentioned elsewhere in this review, Mail’s UI for navigating between accounts and mailboxes hasn’t improved, and you need to tap a frustratingly excessive amount of times just to move between messages in business and personal accounts,” Cheng, Chartier and Ecker report.

“Even worse, there’s still no search. That’s right: after a year of complaints from consumers and getting slammed by the business sector for this, Apple answers this issue with… nothing. No external Spotlight app (as many hoped for searching across other types of data on the iPhone), and no search box like the Address Book received in the iPhone 2.0 update,” Cheng, Chartier and Ecker report.

“Are 3G, the louder speaker, and GPS worth at least $200 plus $10 more per month for two years? Remember that you can get the iPhone 2.0 firmware and the App Store on an older iPhone as well. For us reviewers who are using the iPhone 3G as a personal phone, we feel happy with the decision to purchase it,” Cheng, Chartier and Ecker report. “If you’re a business user, then we feel the answer is no, it’s not worth it. The original iPhone was not made to be an enterprise device, and the new iPhone isn’t either. Although some baby steps have been made, BlackBerry users will find themselves frustrated with the lack of complete Exchange support and may even end up returning their devices, or at least carrying an iPhone alongside a BlackBerry. We already know several who have done this, and it will happen to many more.”

“It’s great as a consumer device, but with enterprise users’ expectations having been raised this time around, we feel it still has quite a ways to go,” Cheng, Chartier and Ecker report.

Read the full extremely detailed and comprehensive review – highly recommended – here.


  1. “We already know several who have done this” – that’s doubtful, since it’s only just out.

    Meanwhile, the lack of landscape keyboard, searching and clunky email are enough to keep me with my first gen iPhone.

  2. Where others see problems, I see opportunities. Everything the folks at Ars Technica complained about can be fixed with software. No hardware update would be required. All it would take is a software update or two to render these complaints as moot. If you’re a third party developer wondering how to cash in in a rapidly growing market of iPhone owners, the article above offers a few very good ideas.

    I have a personal theory of innovation: if I’m thinking of what I imagine to be an original idea, it usually is in late beta somewhere. So, I think it’s not a matter of if but when.

    So, instead of gloom and doom, I can only smile and imagine an even brighter future. Soon. What Apple has done in little more than a year is pretty amazing. And there’s more to come!

  3. This is a reasonable list of issues, which may just keep enough Blackberry users from switching so that I can pick up my iPhone 3G. YES!

    Also, I have to assume that Apple is in fact working on these missing features and that they will eventually show up on both the original iPhone, and the new 3G.

  4. I love the iPhone but it’s clear to me-maybe wrongly-what Apple is doing. There will only be incremental improvements as long as the expectation is that people will line up around the block to buy the next generation.

    The 4G model might have cut and paste, and a 3 mb or 4 mb camera. By 5G Apple will add a search function. By 6G, maybe a user changeable battery, and on and on.

    Apple is a premier sales, and marketing, company, with an unequaled ability to separate consumers from their money. As smart as they are, Apple could easily come out with a phone which would blow everybody else away, NOW. But they won’t for the simple reason that there is more money to be made by making incremental improvements that people continue to get in a lather over, and which they continue to buy over and over.

    If there is ever an introduction of a new generation where there are no lines around the block, and much reduced sales than anticipated, watch out, because the NEXT generation will be a mind blower.

  5. Written by three punters who have never worked in a real enterprise!
    No wonder no one takes ARS serious anymore.

    If you’re going to write about and review things based on what Enterprise Users need and want at least let someone with real enterprise experience do the review and stop making it up as you go.

  6. Apple is making it’s own phone, not a Blackberry replacement or copy. When have they ever modeled their products after already existing product. For what it lacks in comparison to a Blackberry, it makes up for in overall consumer appeal, as is evident from this weekends’ GIANT sheep fest.

  7. I agree, they need to fully implement spot light, and they need to implement the finder, we need to be able to store, browse and view files. Editing can be provided by 3rd party.
    Lastly we must have copy/cut paste

    Those three things are a given. If we can do those, we can upload files to and from the net and download. ofcourse this also opens up the opportunity for viruses.

    But thats computing for u

  8. Not sure what planet these Ars reviewers are from, but we bought 5 iPhones for our company last Friday, and so far they are working great with our Exchange server. If the trial continues to go as well as it has so far, we plan on deploying them to the entire company and turning in all of our currently deployed Palm Treos and Blackberries.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.