The HTC S710 Smartphone is the best phone I've ever had. The synchronisation with Exchange still blows me away, with email, contacts and appointments moving seamlessly from my desktop to my portable device. The screen is beautiful, the slide out keyboard superb and the call quality is always good. I can use it to watch movies, listen to music and make it into a modem for my Vista computer. Battery life is excellent. I can write and run C# programs on it from Visual Studio 2005. Truly it is the most effective mobile device I own. There is only one thing wrong with it.
It is not an iPhone.
The iPhone is not a particularly wonderful phone to be honest. It needs quite a strong signal before it will talk to people. The voice quality is OK, but nothing special. The camera is quite good in spite of the limited resolution, but won't take movies, and it can't send a picture in an MMS. The iPhone doesn't have that lovely "type in a bit of the name and I'll find the rest from Contacts" thing that the Smartphone has. Exchange sycnchronisation is non-existent and the synchronisation with Outlook is OK but I have to do it by hand now. I have to use the (in my opinion) horrible and counter intuitive iTunes to get music on it. I can't put my programs into it. It won't connect with a Bluetooth stereo headset. I can't plug my favourite headphones in because the socket is stupidly designed. Thing is, even with all these faults, I love it.
The touch interface is wonderful. Rather than faffing around with a stylus, you can use those things on the end of your hands called "fingers" to control everything. Because the surface is glass, rather than a flimsy plastic membrane, I have no issue with touching it because I'm fairly sure I won't damage it and I can always wipe fingermarks off. The screen is enormous and the browser superb, put it together with the intuitive design of the software and you have the first proper mobile web experience that I can live with. The music player delivers the goods and actually makes album artwork interesting again.
I've been using it for a while now and it is so nice to use that for the moment I've decided I can live without all the useful bits of the best phone I've ever had.
As someone with a huge respect and affection for Microsoft stuff I sincerely hope that somewhere in a lab. in Redmond there is a Smartphone looking something similar to this. The Deepfish project certainly gives me hope for the future, as does the Microsoft Surface. At TechEd I was waving the iPhone around and telling people that this is the way that phones are going, like it or not.If there is something like this coming along, please, please, please get it into the shops as soon as you can. An iPhone that does all the things that my S710 can do would be the stuff of legends.
Apple devices are always surrounded by hype which I've always taken with a big pinch of salt. However, in the case of the iPhone I think that it is pretty much justified. One thing is certain, and that's that you will be able to split mobile phone history into "before Apple" and "after Apple".