Of iPhones and MacBook Pros

by Chris Howard Jul 29, 2009

Recently I was holidaying and it gave me a good chance to measure up the iPhone and the MacBook Pro. Again the iPhone proved to be my preferred computer platform but it has slipped a little.

Of course, the term computer has many interpretations. What with the choice of ultrasmart phones, netbooks, laptops and desktops, it's not easy any more to define a computer. Each of those has their own strengths and weaknesses, and applications they are and are not suited to.

So even to say "Which would you turn to first", is the wrong question. After all, you might first want to know what the purpose is. If it's to do some serious video editing, the desktop would win. If it's to check email, the weather, play a game or browse the web then the iPhone would.

So, it is a mistake for me to say the iPhone is my preferred computer platform - well, on its own. I must qualify it by emphasising the word "preferred". The iPhone is the computer platform I prefer to use, the one I most often use first.

I found while away that the iPhone definitely is my computer of choice. I love my MBP. It's a thing of great beauty*, light and the perfect size for my laptop needs. 
But if you made me chose, I'd take the iPhone. And not because it's a phone, but yes, the 3G data is a major factor. Though even if I had 3G on the MBP, I'd still choose the iPhone.

Maybe looking at how I used it while away would help. During the five days away, I used my iPhone and MBP for the following things:

- Email

- Web

- Games

- Internet

- Weather

- Google Analytics

Usage: 90%


- Illustrator

- DVDs

- PDFs

- Games

Usage: 10%


The most interesting thing while away was I didn't feel any strong desire to go online on the laptop. I could have easily popped down to the local Maccas for free wifi but found the iPhone gave me as much information as I needed.

It's not all iPhone roses

I am noticing a frustration creeping in with browsing on the iPhone. It's only my observation, but I'm certain the thing runs slower since upgrading to 3.0 and on the web, frustratingly so. For example, http://www.theage.com.au has a lot of content and was always slow. But it's so much slower since 3.0 that I am looking at reading other news sites. And I am finding I'm putting off reading that site and some others until I am back on my MBP. I definitely wasn't doing that before 3.0.

I'm also not as committed to writing on the iPhone as I used to be. That's quite speciifcally because of the tiny window you have to write in once the keyboard is visible. 

MBP design flaws

The MacBook Pro has its problems, specifically two major design problems. One is the glossy screen. It's a mongrel. Sure it looks as sexy as heck and makes photos and design work really sparkle, but I'm so often adjusting it to get rid of light reflections it drives me up the wall. And it's hard for two people to view because it might look good for one, but the other often sees reflections. This makes it a pain when showing work to clients.

It doesn't matter who you are or how you use your MBP. There will be times when the glossy screen is a pain, such as outside or inside with your back to a bright window.

The second design problem is those razor edges. They are very uncomfortable to lean on, which does happen quite a lot when using it in your lap.
To whoever designed the MBP with a glossy screen and sharp edges, I wish upon you a thousand paper cuts, one a day for about three years.

All in all, the iPhone is still my preferred computing platform. What really wins it for me is it's there all the time, I can just pull it out of my pocket. I just hope though that Apple can fix the slow browser. (One way would be to allow images, javascript etc to be turned off.)

*A friend brought over her brand new Lenovo. It was intensely shocking and ugly. It looked like a brick, and amusingly, my 14 yo thought it was from the '90s, since it looked like my Dad's old IBM laptop from 1997)


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