Neither was the 286, the 486, or the Nvidia GTX 280 if you are always going to look at tech like that. It was amazing and a huge advancement when it was produced. You can't look back and say "oh that sucks" 5-6 years later.
I don't know about the Nvidia example, but both the 286 and 486 were damn nice boxes in their day, if you could afford them. The 286 was much better than the XTs, especially once the clock speeds ramped up. And the 486DX was a big win over having to pair a 386DX with a slow, expensive Weitek or 80387 chip.
It was a revolutionary device, but it had poor ergonomics, terrible acoustics, lackluster RF performance, tons of bugs, and numerous omitted features that were already standard in run-of-the-mill feature phones. And although it wasn't the hardware's fault, its exclusive carrier was universally acknowledged to be the worst in the US. Using the original iPhone to make calls was like using a shortwave radio from the 1920s -- a lot of unlikely things had to work just right before you could get through.
All of these things got better, of course, and at an impressive rate. Tesla seems to be on the same path, thankfully.
486s were fantastic machines on Day One in all respects except price. I don't know where s/he got the idea they weren't. The original IBM AT I didn't have direct experience with.
How did it have "poor ergonomics"? "Tons" of bugs? Can you name a few? Omitted features..like a keyboard? So it was "only" available on a top 2 carrier? I'd ont remember calling being substantial worse than other phones at the time. I still get occasional drops. I think you missed this one pretty badly.
I think my biggest ergonomic complaint was the earpiece speaker aperture. If I didn't hold it within about 0.001 degree of the sweet spot, I couldn't hear what the caller was saying. (I could go off on a rant about how there was a very good reason why telephones fed a small sample of the caller's voice back to the earpiece as a sidetone for 100 years, but it would apply to all cell phones, not just the iPhone.)
I was (and am) fine with no physical keyboard, but omitting a GPS chip was just plain goofy, considering how nice the Maps application was. Others were complaining about the first iPhone's lack of cut and paste functionality relative to some other phones, the inability to replace the battery or add external storage, the inability to use third-party applications, and the substandard camera.
Bug-wise, if you could get Safari to avoid crashing back to the desktop for more than 30 seconds at a time, you were way ahead of me.
All of this stuff got better in the next generation. It was Apple's dedication to fixing the phone's shortcomings that really made me a dedicated iPhone user.
Hindsight bias. These didn't become complains until many months after launch. What phones had GPS, cut & paste (?) or a Maps application at the time? Except for BB and maybe Bada, the other "smart" phones only offered primitive low-res Java apps. The Nokia N series was the only one with decent cameras, everyone else had VGA 640x480 toys.
I also bought a 1st gen iPod touch on the week it was released and never had any serious issues with Safari other than browser compatibility.