iPhone calling

The year’s most hyped technology product finally went on sale last week: the Apple iPhone.

There’s been plenty of coverage, too, even if those of us based in London have had other things on our minds the last few days. An interesting take on Apple’s new handset/computer/music player comes from Californian Robert Scoble, who compares the iPhone to the Nokia N95. Overall, the iPhone comes out ahead, although the N95 is by no means a bad device.

Some of the criticisms about the iPhone, including a relatively low-resolution camera, no 3G support (just EDGE) and its lack of a video capture mode are no doubt justified. But there is another question that doesn’t seem to have been answered. Will the iPhone support Voice Over IP, for Internet calls?

The Mac comes with iChat, which allows IP-based voice and video calls to other iChat users, and there are third party SIP ‘softphones’ for the Mac too (I use one in the office, and it works well). VoIP support is useful in the office, at home, and especially on the road. But mobile networks both here and in the US have started to disable VoIP capabilities, including on Nokia’s N95.

There are some third-party developers working on iChat software for the iPhone (using Java). It would be good to see support for VoIP added when the phone eventually makes it to Europe.

Meanwhile, if you can’t wait, iPhones are already on sale on eBay for between £420 and £450. But there are no guarantees that the phone can be unlocked to work here, even if you are willing to pay such an inflated price.

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About stephenpritchard
Freelance journalist specialising in business and technology, based in London (UK).

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