Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Is iPhone a Music Phone?

The iPhone is a fancy Cellphone with a fancy MP3 player (iPod). But is it truly a music phone? Let's find out by checking it against the features of music phones. Note that I have deliberately left out Cellphone features (Speed Dial, Ring tones, Profiles, etc.) and Music Player features (Playlists, Sync, Storage, etc.), concentrating solely on Music Phone features (as I see them).

1) Dedicated "Music" button. Hmm...a difficult call for iPhone. It has an iPod icon on the main screen, but it is not exactly a dedicated button. The icon is accessible whenever the phone is in ready mode, but inaccessible from inside other applications. Other touchscreen phones have a physical button, but iPhone skipped the feature for elegance. If I were to vote on it, I would say the iPhone barely misses out on this criteria.

2) Earphones/headphones have dedicated music controls. The iPhone uses the standard 3.5mm jacks and does not have a controller with music keys.

3) Remote Music Access. That is, while on call using earphone, if the phone user starts the music player, the person on the other end also hears the audio being played (in addition to the voice). The iPhone fails this one too.

Unfortunately failing all the three criteria, I come to this conclusion that iPhone is just a Cellphone with MP3 player, and not a true Music Phone. And I totally understand iPhone lovers commenting that nobody cares about technicalities when everyone knows that iPhone is the best Music Phone ever, and you can actually 'touch' the music, and whatever. Either way, I am amused that the most talked about 'Music Phone' is technically not a Music Phone.


Marcelo said...

:) While defending iPhone may seem as fan boy, at least some things must be said:

1) Dedicated "music" button : this is true. But there thing is there: double click home button. Music player controls are available. It's not a physical button. but it really answers the question. I, as an user would say to you that you could have place here: Not music playback buttons. It REALLY sucks to simple changing using the screen all the time (no blind use). But again a double touch here brings music even without unlocking. Better than most of phones, worst than any phone with hardware music playback controls.

2) Did you used iphone? the headphone do control the music dude :) one touch // play pause, double touch skip forward. Again no music, but it's there, and because of the Hype almost every costumer watched the promo videos, where they show how to use. You can answer calls, mute, and control music with the headphones.

3) So you really want to play the music while on the middle of a call? :) that's a funny use case. Does my Nokia does that? Funny I will try!



Ambuj Saxena said...


I think you misuderstood me on quite a few points. By "Dedicated music button", I was not referring to music controls on-screen. What I meant was a dedicated button that starts the music player when pressed. You will notice that music phones have a physical button in the keypad (or on the side of the phone) that brings up the music player. The iPhone has it in the home screen, but if you are inside an application, you are out of luck. Also, I wouldn't be talking about playback buttons as they are music player features, not a special music phone feature.

After you posted this message, I checked again for iPhone earphones. They are indeed the regular 3.5mm earphones with no music player control. What "one touch/double touch" are you referring to? Do mean mean touching the iPhone screen or touching the earphone/headphone?

Actually playing music while on call is something I do quite frequently. If I buy some music and want to share it with friends and family who don't bother to go online, I play a sampler directly from the phone. If they like it, they know exactly what to buy. And the sound quality is excellent (as compared to playing it on computer and recording via the microphone). If your Nokia is a music phone, it will. If the phone says it is "music edition", it certainly will.