Is the iPhone a MID?

Updated on 01 April 2019 by


70 Comments For This Post

  1. Steve 'Chippy' Paine says:

    New article: Is the iPhone a MID?

  2. Peter Murphy says:

    RT @chippy New article: Is the iPhone a MID?

  3. Ian Boyd-Livingston says:

    Sure, the iPhone is a MID. My kit for meetings/cafe stops is now iPhone, moleskine, pen: (via @chippy)

  4. says:

    put a spork in it, the mid definition is done…

  5. Vakeros says:

    I never heard the phrase put a fork in it. I do know the one about “put a cork in it.” This of course means metaphorically to put something in your mouth to stop talking – because it has been talked about enough and everyone is sick to death of talking about it.

  6. Vakeros says:

    TSO, I really appreciate you, but the way the vote is going shows that even enlightened people on this site don’t seem to know…

  7. Vakeros says:

    If you are Intel you are confused – as they tried branding MID as an Intel Atom powered device. This is similiar to Centrino, but as it was a market segment rather than combination of CPU and other capabilities, others hijacked the terminology so that even Intel end up calling the iPhone a MID.
    For the rest of us whether it has an Atom inside doesn’t seem to matter, it is the rest of the definition that counts.

  8. says:

  9. says:

    i was trying for a variation of this:

    basically the mid definition right now is so blurry that it’s useless, the same the umpc have gone, and netbook is going.

    its become a buzzword plaything for the worlds marketing departments.

  10. Vakeros says:

    It is a buzzword, and it needs it definition tightening. Anything portable with Internet access is a MID. I don’t see laptops or netbooks as truly mobile – because you need a bag to carry it. So I see MIDs as POCKETABLE being the Mobile part of the definition. This means about 5.6″ max screen size and that’s using a coat pocket. Maybe book size is a better comparative.
    The other part of the definition is the Internet. Here we come back to Chippy’s FIE definition. iPhone and other smartphones allow Internet access. But is it FULL Internet access.
    The rest of arguments, like input or background apps aren’t relevant to whether it is a MID, but only relevant to how GOOD a MID it is.

  11. says:

    im fearful of a definition that includes proprietary plugins.

    as for physical size, a pocket book or paperback could be more accurate then just a book (those things come in all kinds of sizes).

  12. valto says:

    iPhone have totally replaced my netbook usage scenarios, also at home. I use laptop/desktop only for creating stuff and iphone for everything else.

    The beauty of this is, when learn to live with iPhone for “web consumption” you can really do it anywhere. Also I have dropped from 3g to 2g network, to gain batterylife. Rarely do I need 3g, since so much what I use it optimized by apps. Twitter, email, cal, reader, linkedin, facebook, etc.

    And now having native skype…

    All so simple, the apple way

  13. Dawid Gatti says:

    “No”: why? Because the iPhone doesn’t have something really important: background application. So it misses a lot of key functionality that background aps allow to do.

  14. Ben says:

    Absolutely. Anyone who doesn’t think so is fooling themselves (and for what reason?). The iPhone/iPod Touch is a MID, and one of the best currently on the market. MID makers need to strive to reach the same level of usability in their devices.

  15. turn_self_off says:

    just a quick test to see if the posting system is broken or something

  16. turn_self_off says:

    interesting, there seems to be a post or two of mine hidden away…

  17. Chippy says:

    Checking spam system…

  18. Chippy says:

    Spam system trapped them. Free now. (see above)

  19. ppx10102 says:

    may be?

  20. ZSX says:

    I don’t think anyone is going to argue that you are getting the full internet experience on the iPhone, but Intel’s definition aside, you can access most of the web on the iPhone. To that end, most portable devices with modern browsers, including but not limited to Opera Mobile, Opera Mini, MicroB etc., can be considered MIDs.

    The full internet experience (java, flash, silverlight) is only available on UMPCs.

    So I guess the question really is, how much of the internet do you need to be able to access before a device stops being considered a MID?

  21. stevejobsmultitouchedme says:

    Just because it’s not the MID that you want doesn’t mean it’s not a MID.

  22. MiKeN says:

    Most definitely a MID. It’s an excellent media player and browses the internet great (going through Google Reader is faster on my iPhone than my Aigo). There is a huge app store to support the iPhone with applications (how many MID’s can you install programs freely?) for everything such as dictionaries and to-do lists and silly applications such as iPint. It’s in a small package, has a very responsive touch screen and a wimpy camera (what most MIDs have). I just wish it had a better camera and a keyboard. OH, AND its a phone to…

  23. Brian says:

    After using the OQO 02 for a year I have just bought an iphone. Boy, I could have used this a year ago. I probably would still have bought a UMPC – not an MID for composing, editing, etc. Whether or not I would have let Verizon rip me off for two years of 3G on my OQO, is probably debatable. The biggest thing that needs to change is people using a non-phone paying 4.5-5 times more for the same 3g connection that you get on an iphone or other mid-smartphone-whatever category. Realistically it will cost 1,600.00 for the Service over two years. That is the cost of another top notch UMPC right there. Maybe I will cancel and get the Everun Note. Using My iphone for mainly emails, light browsing, and of course – Youtube, Weather, and the Wall Street Journal.

  24. LeeN says:

    Wikipedia says… maybe. It needs a citation to a description that it needs to be bigger then a smartphone (Although my N810 was smaller then my friends old sprint smartphone, or was it that his smartphone was bigger then it should be :/ ).

    Hey doesn’t this mean that the N810 wimax edition is actually the first wimax MID, and not Samsungs Mondi :P

  25. turn_self_off says:

    sadly, the N810w was pulled from market all to soon…

    not that nokia being almost unknown in USA helped. hell, the USA tech press seems to be ignoring about 1/3 of the smartphone os market (symbian)…

  26. midtoad says:

    No, because it doesn’t have functional text input – despite having bluetooth, it doesn’t support the use even of Apple’s own bluetooth keyboard. Typing up this short note on the iPhone would take at least three times as long without the use of a real keyboard.

  27. EC says:

    No while I hate the lack of real keyboard on the iPhone the speed at what someone is able to type on it has to do with the USER and not the device! I for one type tripple the speed on my Sidekick than on a “normal” (huge) keyboard.

    Now I have to raise the question though is there some rule that says that in order to be an MID it has to have a real keyboard or that you should be able to type as fast on it as YOU personally happen to do on a fullsize keyboard?? Is a manual or automatic (whichever less common for you) less of a car just because YOU don’t know it as well? Should electric cars be not called “cars” because they don’t fit YOUR drivng habits or the fact that there is no electrical “recharging infrastrcture” in place on a large scale currently??

  28. Jeff Moriarty says:

    I work for Intel in their Software and Services Group (not Marketing) and am the community manager for the Atom software development community. I’m finding this discussion very interesting – especially how close the voting is. I appreciate all the candid input!

  29. Steve 'Chippy' Paine says:

    51% think the iPhone is a MID. Interesting comments too.

  30. ARM Connected Mobile says:

    51% think the iPhone is a MID. :JB RT Interesting comments too. (via @chippy)

  31. Andrey says:

    “No” IPhone is CHAINED to PC by Itunes and you are not MOBILE. For example in case of Nokia n810 are absolutely free of PC.

  32. Techni says:

    UMPCs are just as chained to PCs. MS even called them companion PCs

  33. Andrey says:

    Absolutely not chained !!!! Looks like your teoretical experience. In real life during my long trip this year I could live without PC two months using only N810 and I did not have any problem with my normal daily activity both business and private including any downloads from internet (youtube, music, films and text files as well as any USB-host operation with cameras and memory cards and even new software installations). I would lile to glance at person which will be able to survive for s long period of time wiht so called “IPhone MID”. Kidding….

  34. Jeremy says:

    Of course it’s a MID.

    As for the arguments I’ve heard against it:
    You can’t multi-task- Last time I checked, I could play music and use virtually any other app at the same time.
    No full internet experience- Bah, whatever. Just because Adobe hasn’t created a mobile version of Flash yet, so what. They’re working on it. Steve Jobs didn’t want to have the battery sucked dry in an instant by the desktop version of Flash… that’s the true reason Flash doesn’t currently appear on iPhone. It’s only a matter of time until this is fixed.
    No Atom processor- Are we really going to limit the term “MID” to devices that are equipped with Atom processors? C’mon, that’s a pathetic excuse. If that were true, then the trademark symbol should appear after the term “MID”. Granted the Atom processor is a more powerful processor than other devices carry, but competitors DO exist.
    No functional text input- Hmmm… interesting argument. But this is where the lines between MID and Smartphone truly blur. Several phones today have full QWERTY keyboards, and I often find myself trying to use my MID device more like an iPhone. Therefore, I’m not sure this is a qualification.
    It’s chained to a PC- It’s chained to the PC to the same extent that any other MID is… you have to interface with a PC in some form (even if transferring via a USB key) in order to upgrade the OS or firmware.

    By the most generic definition of “Mobile Internet Device”, many other devices would qualify, even a netbook (borderline). However, the most interesting thing about the iPhone is that I find it’s changed my net usage patterns. I no longer fire up the PC to perform basic internet tasks or often check e-mail (similar to the “netbook usage” described above).

  35. turn_self_off says:

    but you cant leave a IM, twitter or other similar app in the background while surfing the web.

  36. Jeremy says:

    True, but this is merely a function of the OS. If enough people call Apple and complain, the programming model might change to allow more apps to function as background apps. At this point, only core OS apps are allowed to do so, since I know this also works with the web browser (via streaming audio/video… Flycast does this).

  37. turn_self_off says:

    i dont think that will happen, as apple is selling it as a “we know best, and multitasking is bad for you, mkay” kind of thing.

    in the end, it allows apple to treat third party apps like second rate citizens…

  38. Bob Deloyd says:

    Hell I thought it was a Smart Phone!

  39. Chippy says:

    Just to let you all know i’m really appreciating the input on this. There are plenty of comments that I want to respond to but i’m going to hold off for a few days and come back to it.

  40. Arthur says:

    It may be a MID but it’s not a very good one. No ability to pair a keyboard with it, come on Apple. I for one make to many typos with the on screen keyboard for it to be of much use for anything longer than a few words. I have just purchased a BB Bold, and now I find myself using that more than my Iphone 3g.

  41. CGI says:

    Having owned and sold my itouch… no. Its not a full internet experience. Someday it will, but not yet.

  42. anon says:

    I have not owned or used an iPhone but it certainly is a shining example of a good software suite and user interface, so it offers something to learn from when designing a proper MID for things you can’t do on the iPhone, like content creation and things you can do on a UMPC. As it’s mostly a phone it doesn’t make any compromises on its portability – weight and size to gain an excellent battery life, or sacrificing some battery capacity and increasing the size to give it a physical keyboard.

    It gets many things right for many people and provides a good reference point, but some of its (artificial) limitations (software, connectivity) mean it’s not suited for others. Of course as these mobile devices are very personal things, you can’t please everyone. Longer on-line battery life should however please every single user!

  43. Will says:

    I think ANYONE who owns an iPhone or iPod Touch would agree that it is a Mobile Internet Device. I’d even dare to say that it is the first popular TRUE mobile computing device, something you carry with you ALL the time. The rich APIs (especially in 3.0) have allowed developers to create some truly rich applications.

    Sure it can’t handle Flash (at the moment) but the content of most websites can be viewed on these devices. Most of my internet browsing is now done on my iPod Touch or Samsung i780 (a WM phone).

    Multi-tasking, meh. I think everyone knows its coming and I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple introduced multi-tasking in iPhone OS 4.0 in 2010. The notifications system in 3.0 will allow IM, twitter and similar applications to “run” in the background but it is only a stop-gap measure and Apple knows it.

    With far more powerful, low-power, ARMv7-based chips coming from Qualcomm, TI and Freescale, we’ll be seeing an explosion of converged devices combining the functions of a mobile phone, music/video player, PIM and internet browser on lightweight operating systems like Windows Mobile, iPhone OS, Symbian and Android. Netbooks and UMPCs are fun toys to play with but are not carry-around-everywhere devices.

    As far as Intel’s current definition of a MID… an Atom-based, sub 7″ device with 3G but NO phone: FAIL. Unless carriers make a real effort on marketing them and heavily subsiding them (ie. $0-$100 upfront on a 24-month contract at $40 per month with 3G or Wimax access), they will remain an extremely niche product.

  44. turn_self_off says:

    meh, i would say that its the first big screen phone thats been sold towards the jeans rather then the suits, at least in usa.

    and thats where i see most of the iphone hype coming from, usa.

  45. Steve 'Chippy' Paine says:

    As the poll worked it’s way across the US Timezones, the poll results shifted. 55% think iPhone is a MID.

  46. Techni says:

    I’d say no, simply because it mobile safari crashes far too often. My PSP makes a better web browser

  47. Chippy says:

    Something i’m hearing a lot. Someone on ‘Twit’ (I think Kevin Rose) said that his crashes every browsing session.

  48. EC says:

    I feel I use my iPhone quite frequently and the Safari only crashed in the past before I updated OS to more current or at times due to some app I’ve installed off cydia on my jailbroken 1st ten iPhone, also it can happen if/when I have the maxium (8) browser windows open or close to it with “heavy” content. Also like ANY computing device a full power cycle can do miracles at times!

  49. Wolle says:

    First I’ve owned only Nokia phones – my last was a N95. Now with the iPhone I would never change back – why?

    1: Internet-browsing experience never feelt any better. Okay, flash is missing sometimes but in direct comparison to the Nokia N95 browsing (slow, page rendering terrible etc). Simply the iPhone gives me the best browsing experience I’ve ever had in a mobile formfactor.

    2.Don’t care much about background apps.I only do one thing a time, while I’m on the run.

    What I really do miss is the possibility to get my video files copied over without converting them for hours and hours in a proper format.
    But all together its getting very close to the all-one-mobile device was allways looking for.With the 3.0 Firmware it even comes closer.

  50. Wolle says:

    Sorry I*ve forgotten to mention: I owned also a N810 – not for long. Slow cpu, slow browing etc etc…

  51. turn_self_off says:

    remind me, do the iphone render the whole page in one go, or does it render only the visible area?

    and when you say slow, are you talking about the time between page content starts showing up, and when you can start to scroll the page?

  52. EC says:

    Yes it renders the whole page unless (just like on your desktop) it’s a several pages long blog “homepage”, until you zoom in.

    Your question reveals what is so true for so many who diss the iPhone they’ve never owned one many times never used one. Now to give my defense of the iPhone (now!) some more credibilty look up my own active critique of it (ecsk2) on various sites prior to myself using/owning it!

    Yes it has serious lackings some of which finally have been addressed (C&P) some not (real keyboard) but all in all it has raised the bar for mobile computing.

  53. Abdullah Ahmed Abdur-Rahman says:

    well i think it certainly is a mid cause it’s good at surfing the web it’s fit for that job with pinch scroll that stuff and reliable speed.

  54. andrey says:

    I think that the results of vote is just NOTHING, NOTHING and NOTHING. Tens of millions of IPhones have been sold in the world and even UMPCportal would ask is IPhone a CAR or a JET a lot of funs will say Yes… Yes IPhone is like a nice car…..

  55. Reggie Ramos says:

    interesting discussion at UMPC Portal whether the iPhone is a MID or not. comments left me thinking maybe it is

  56. EC says:

    While I agree that the iPhone has serious limitations (and therfore carry multiple devices, out of which my other device can fully multitask) I felt compelled to speak up here!

    You CAN keep applications running in the background now with the “backgrounder” app I installed when I installed Skype, while it’s compatibility with Skype is being worked out currently it does work with most other applications, the fact that it’s only available from a 3rd party non Apple approved source really doesn’t make the device less an MID. (BTW shouldn’t it be *an* MID due to the “emm” I D or?)

    Typed on my iPhone while being mobile and on the Internet, is this an MID, nah? :)

  57. EC says:

    So much for “reply threaded” while using the iPhone view on here :(

  58. EC says:

    I’ve commented on this site about iPhone and MID before and I will do so again with similar statements to my own and that of those (mainly owners or users of he device) who already did so on here:

    Is the iPhone an MID?

    A. There can’t be a YES or NO answer to this as it becomes a subjective thing due to so many factors!

    B. It might very well fill some or all of what some expect to do with the Internet when on the go, for me that is some but in a more userfriendly and smoother fashion than any other device I’ve had before with compareble size and battery time.

    C. It all boils down to what someone needs and or wan are and expectations, but just like any product MIDs are also compromises between what mainstream might want/need, pricing, available & tested solutions etc etc, just like you either buy a car for offroading or the racetrack, you can get a “crossover” which can handle both to some extent but neither with grace.

    D. Opinions on this subject are just that opinions, biased by someone’s experience (perhaps of very early first version OS’) or lack there of.

    Personally I feel the MID term has become just like the PC term all too much assosiated with a certain type of product where in reality it represents a large family of products to which for instance umPC belongs ;) similarly the iPhone is part of a larger MID family!

  59. Vakeros says:

    I think part of the advantage to the vote is to try to see if there is a real definitive idea of what “a” MID is (I pronounce it as a word, not as a set of letters.) I don’t agree that it is subjective. You can define objects, if it has two wheels it is a bicycle, for example – but I do agree within a broad definition you can have many sub-divisions. The problem with MIDs is how can you sub-divide it? Can it make phone calls or does it have a keyboard are theoretical sub-divisions, but don’t really have a name (you could say a MIDphone is a smartphone.) This shows how MID is a broader term than smartphone, unless as part of the definition you reject phone call capability. I don’t think you can, as Chippy asked, if you use VOIP then is it less a phone than one which uses GSM?
    The problem as seen here is that there still isn’t a clear definition, and unless manufacturers sign up to it it will remain blurred. Historically, we can state what a MID was, but now….

  60. EC says:

    I want to point out that I personally enjoy the votes AND ppl explaining why for them it is or isn’t an MID (since it’s an abbreviatin not a word I guess it’s an M I D no?), I wasn’t trying to say the vote wasn’t possible on the contrary I enjoy when ppl share how they use tools. My point was more around the debate in the comments trying to promote ones ideas for others to embrace the same idea that’s where I feel it’s all subjective and lacks any point. Two wheels is a bicycle, what about mopeds, motorcycles, scooters, those bicycles with added on motors or better yet in this context a bicycle with an electrical engine within the center of the wheel, bicycle or not?

  61. Vakeros says:

    All forms of bicycle. In programming you have the idea of inheritance. You have the base idea and then things get added.So mopeds, motorcycles are all forms of bicycle – as is the push-bike and what people generally think of as a bicycle, the one you pedal. So I see a MID as a whole grouping of devices, which include most smartphones. I actually see it as a sub-set of UMPC, because a UMPC requires a Full OS – however I can also see the logic behind calling a UMPC a MID.
    How you pronounce MID could be a whole different debate – normally you pronounce each letter on their own, as in U M P C. Occassionally you get abbreviations which are spelt the same as real words such as Federation Against Copyright Theft – because the way people are, most would pronounce their abbreviation as “fact” and not F.A.C.T.

  62. EC says:

    ..cont’d sorry I was Mobile on my Internet Device :) when typing the above out so I got preoccupied with other things (as happens when you’re on the go :)).

    Anyway I was going to comment on the VOIP and such, no I do not consider or all my desktop a phone just because it has Skype on it, just as I did not call my Windows desktop a phone/fax etc when it had a phone/fax/modem card in it in the 1990’s. I believe it’s all about UI really. For instance my cordless Skype (Philips) phone, I do relate to as phone, since it looks and works as one (and nothing else).

    Like I said though MID is more like the “PC” term where it covers a family of devices. In that sense MID is perhaps more appropriate than UMPC which has the “PC” in it that has for marketing and whatever reasons got more and more associated with ONE OS in particular, whereby if a pocketable computer doesn’t run Windows it’s not looked at as an UMPC.

  63. EC says:

    All forms of bicycle, ok but not everything with two wheels (even in a row) are bicycles as I pointed out, and motorized bicycles are not legally bicycles anymore though they look like one :)
    Motorized bicycle (“LEV”):

    See what I mean, it even has (just like MID) a THREE LETTER abbreviation , so to be specific all TWO WHEEL devices as you are talking about are all VEHICLES (although not all bicycles).

    Mopeds and Motorcycles are NOT bicycles!?! Most modern such devices, do not have ANY pedals nor do scooters in most cases, not sure where you are :)

    How to pronounce is clear from what it means and that it is an ABBREVIATION and NOT a WORD!

    Some abbreviations are yes a play with letters/words, though they are STILL abbreviations.

  64. EC says:

    Can you get the FULL CAR EXPERIENCE from this thing? :)

  65. JoMo says:

    I think the better poll question is:
    Does the iphone give you the FIE – full internet experience?

  66. EC says:

    Well though Apple has emphasized that it *does* I think the opinions on that are also very divided, and while I do feel it renders the web a lot better than any other device in similar size or/and battery time, obviously it lacks several things to give the same experience. For one how would you get the same experience as on my 2×24″ or 40″ (TV) on my a 10th of the size, the 3.5″ screen?

    Now on the other side of this though Intel does mention “full internet” I don’t know if I can call it “FIE” on my Aigo even with Windows XP it has.

    So like I’ve said before, there’s going to be compromises when you want to make something that was designed and used mainly for/on stationary devices in a mobile setting, in this case the Internet.

    Is there any mobile TV that gives you the Full TV Experience?

    Is there any mobile gaming device that gives you the FULL DESKTOP gaming experience?

    Is there any mobile computer (Laptop/notebook/netbook you name it?) that gives you the FULL DESKTOP experience?

    I mean while I want as more (if NOT MORE) than the next person all these things in my pocket and FULL DAYS battery at that, I respect the fact that can not be changed, that there WILL be compromises in a mobile device, the question is WHICH compromises will I accept and which not?

  67. Robert Najafabadi says:

    The iPod touch is a MID but iPhone is multimedia smartphone

  68. EC says:

    So you’re saying that the iPod touch which has no WWAN, hence no internet access on the go, *IS* an MID, but the iPhone with 3G WWAN is not an MID?

    I have to say this is the most confusing statement yet on here, since they are next into identical aside from the phone/3G WWAN part (and GPS yes).

  69. Apple iphone netbook says:

    The Apple rumor mill is once again running overtime on the topic of netbooks. If you believe the reports, Steve Jobs is himself leading the charge. My take: Whatever Apple does, it won’t be a netbook in the usual sense, I also bet that Apple, if it does anything, will itself avoid using the n-word to describe it.

  70. EC says:

    @Apple iPhone netbook

    Most likely it will (would?) follow in the footsteps of the iPhone not being called and rarely referred to as a “smartphone” by Apple & others, though being just that in many ways, yet not quite.

    Having some new more or less revolutionary solutions (most everyone wants to copy afterwards) but yet lacking some basic stuff one has come to expect from such a device (C&P, full real keyboard etc etc.)

    I’m sure whatever Apple does bring out (when it does) will follow this model for good and for bad?

    How about Apple buy OQO “back” since it was started up mainly by former Apple employees, it’s different enough to match Apple’s “think outside the box” and could benefit from a device of this nature/size I believe. But then again has Apple ever done that? Bought up a company and more or less relabeled it? Don’t know what happened to NeXT products…?

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