Cool iPhone makes user feel totally out of touch

April 08, 2008|By TIM ROWLAND

After owning one of those celebrated Apple iPhones for a couple of weeks, here is my review of the hottest technological gadget of the year:

1. It is really, really cool.

2. I am really, really not cool.

My suggestion is that if you wish to have your uncoolness pointed out in a good strong light, get an iPhone. Not only do I not really need most of the iPhone's features, the more depressing matter is that I can't even figure out what a lot of these features do.

You've seen the signs at the amusement park rides: "Must be this tall to enter." AT&T outlets need some kind of yardstick, "Must be this cool to posses an iPhone."

I had talked big when Apple introduced the phone last summer. "Yeah, gotta get me one of them." Since then, I had prudently refrained, however, correctly fearing that its abilities would outstrip mine. But when I lost my old phone, Beth called my bluff and trucked me to AT&T. Since that time, I've just been sitting with it in the corner, whimpering.


Switch it on by brushing your finger across the screen and 17 colorful icons appear on the bright screen allowing you to do all manner of things that I never do. I'll be honest, I would usually use my old phone to do something totally nuts: like make a phone call. But even that was a rare occurrence, considering that I'm pretty anti-social.

Now, I will play around with all the features, but it's more along the lines of a chimp tapping his finger on a selection of colored blocks -- it amuses him, but he's not sure why.

True, I can check my stocks from anywhere. But I don't know, when I'm out turning my compost heap the urge to check up on Kinder Morgan shares never hits.

At any given moment, I can tell you what time it is in Tokyo. As I write this, I can tell you that it's 34 degrees in Plattsburgh, N.Y. But now that I know that, what do I do?

I could listen to music when I'm outside, but I like to hear the birds. I could watch movies if I liked movies, which I don't. I could text, except that I think the whole idea of texting is stupid. I can surf the Web, except that my goal is to spend less time online, not more. I can check my calendar, but nothing's on it. If you stop me on the street, I can show you a photo of Opie or the alpacas, but no one cares.

I like the camera, but I can never remember that I have a camera on my phone because it's incongruous; to me, that's like having a toaster that also vacuums.

In short, I fail miserably when it comes to doing the things that cool people do.

One of the early complaints I heard about the iPhone was that it lacked sufficient storage capacity. So I loaded every single photo and every single song from my computer onto the phone, only to learn that I had used up about 2 percent of the gadget's hard drive. That makes me feel like a pathetic, cultural illiterate, whose multimedia collection is so skimpy that it doesn't even make a shirt pocket-sized device flex its muscle.

I wait for people to call, so I can whip out my new phone and show everyone how cool I am in public, but no one ever does. This is probably a side result of the fact that I haven't given anyone my number. I'm not even sure what it is myself.

Even with all that, I love -- absolutely love -- the iPhone. What does that say about me? That's the one question the iPhone can't seem to answer.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or via e-mail at You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on

The Herald-Mail Articles