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10/31/2006
12:55 PM
Elena Malykhina
Elena Malykhina
Commentary
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Smartphone Frustrations Revealed

We asked you what your smartphone experiences were, and wow did you have a lot to complain about! Nobody's denying that a smartphone is a good productivity tool--in theory. But in reality, the smartphone manufacturers and operating system makers have their work cut out for them. If they want proof, I have over 50 complaints sitting in my in-box that I've compiled into a list. The most common complaints are included here, so read on.

We asked you what your smartphone experiences were, and wow did you have a lot to complain about! Nobody's denying that a smartphone is a good productivity tool--in theory. But in reality, the smartphone manufacturers and operating system makers have their work cut out for them. If they want proof, I have over 50 complaints sitting in my in-box that I've compiled into a list. The most common complaints are included here, so read on.The results of our online poll are in. We asked readers what the most frustrating thing about smartphones is, and over 30% say it's battery life. Go figure. Most smartphones work fine until you try to access an application or download a graphic from the Web. Working in applications will suck the life out of a battery faster than you can type "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" on that tiny keyboard. Twenty-three percent say the small screen size on a smartphone is frustrating, followed by 21% who are dissatisfied with wireless broadband speeds and 20% with the voice quality. "Despite all their advanced features, some [smartphones] perform poorly as phones. That's the main reason I have one, to make and received calls," says one respondent.

Many respondents say the keyboard interface is a big limiting factor because it makes it difficult to enter data into a smartphone. On the other hand, older smartphone models aren't very easy to talk on due to their large size. "It's like holding a brick to your head," says another respondent. Thus, manufacturers are faced with a challenge: People want smartphones that are small enough to serve as phones and large enough for entering data. (Our Smartphone Buyer's Guide details the latest options.)

Some other common complaints include:

- The high cost of devices and wireless data services that are still not as fast or as cheap as cable or DSL.

- Processor speed, which becomes an issue as companies look to use smartphones to replace laptops and want to load custom applications or extend current apps to the devices.

- The need for more robust browsers that will allow the use of hosted applications.

And the award for The Operating System With The Most Issues goes to (drum roll, please)...Windows Mobile 5.0. The popular OS has a tendency to lock up often and requires users to reboot their smartphones. "The fact that the 'close' button doesn't actually close the application but just minimizes it has been a shortcoming since day one," says one Windows Mobile user. Very few of the applications in Windows Mobile cooperate in sharing data, meaning the applications don't interoperate. "The easiest way to make a calendar appointment with someone whose information is in your contact list, is to jot down (paper and pen) the appropriate information (phone number or address), then calendarize the event," says another user.

If you're so fed up with your smartphone to a point where you just want to use it as a doorstop or throw it out the window to see how far it can fly, take advice from this reader: "People don't believe in downtime anymore. Why does everyone have to be so connected all the time?" I know it's easier said than done, but turning off your smartphone for a few minutes may be a temporary remedy for all those frustrations.

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