Walt Mossberg’s review of Samsung’s Instinct phone in today’s Wall Street Journal is the kind of article that almost makes me ashamed to be an Apple fan. As an iPhone enthusiast, I’m always interested in reading about competing products — and am always secretly delighted when reviewers point out that the iPhone still reigns supreme — but Mossberg’s iPhone cheerleading has crossed the line.
It’s not that he simply compares the Instinct to the iPhone; given the similarity of the products, one would expect that. It’s that his review reads much more like a preview of iPhone 3G with a quick comparison to the Instinct thrown in for good measure.
The opening paragraph gives us a good idea of where the article is heading:
The parade of iPhone lookalikes continues. Soon after Apple announced the first iPhone a year ago, factories in Asia, at the behest of U.S. phone carriers, were asked to respond to the sleek, touch-screen device. Some already have reached America; more are coming.
No mention of the actual product being reviewed. But it gets better. A little further down, Mossberg devotes two entire paragraphs to the upcoming iPhone:
The price of the new iPhone’s base model, which comes with 8 gigabytes of memory, is $199, a 50% price cut from the comparable first-generation model. Yet, it now works on AT&T’s fastest data network, promising anywhere from two to five times the speed of its predecessor. It also has GPS for tracking your location, and fully supports over-the-air synchronization of email, contacts and calendars — through Microsoft Exchange in corporations or via a similar new consumer service from Apple called MobileMe. And you’ll be able to download directly to the phone a whole universe of third-party programs, from productivity software to games.
On the downside, the new iPhone’s camera remains very basic and still can’t capture video. For people who prefer physical keyboards, the iPhone will still fall short. It continues to include only a virtual onscreen keyboard. And the iPhone remains locked to a single carrier in the U.S., AT&T, which will charge $10 more per month for unlimited data consumption on the device.
Compare that to his in-depth discussion of the Instinct’s email and web browsing features:
But I found its email system and Web browser to be less sophisticated than the iPhone’s or the BlackBerry’s.
That’s it. No discussion of the features, weaknesses, or any other hint as to why he considers it to be less sophisticated. Does he mean it’s not as easy to use? Does he mean it doesn’t work as well? Does he mean it’s not as pretty? Guess you’ll have to buy one to find out.
I’m sure there are a lot of WSJ readers who prefer Sprint to AT&T (just based on coverage and reception) and would have appreciated a more substantive look at the Samsung Instinct. Mossberg would do well to remember that not everybody’s in the position to switch to the iPhone.