The iPhone is a somewhat over-hyped combination cell phone and psuedo-PDA based on a limited version of MacOS X from Apple Computer. In the US, this phone presently requires service by AT&T Wireless to function. The combination of a phone with PDA characteristics has been dubbed a SmartPhone. T-Mobile, Orange Mobile and O2 have been tapped for iPhone mobile service in European locales. This smartphone has some very innovative software features but, at the same time, compromises other physical features in order to give the iPhone its sleek look.
The iPhone features a multi-touch touch-screen that allows you to pinch the screen with two fingers to zoom in (or for other purposes). The touch screen is simultaneously both a blessing and a curse. The touch aspects work quite well, but due to the size of the virtual buttons as well as the on-screen keyboard, can be quite difficult for input accuracy. Thus, mistakes are commonplace when trying to type on the on-screen keyboard. A November 2007 User Centric study showed that iPhone users suffered 5.6 errors per message using the touch screen when compared to Blackberry's best rate of 2.1 and worst rate of 2.4 errors per message using a tactile keyboard.
Other features include limited exterior buttons forcing control of most of the functionality of the iPhone through the touch interface. The iPhone also includes Edge and WiFi, but restricts access to iTunes through Wifi only. The iPhone screen is 2" by 3" (3.5" diagonal widescreen) with a 480-by-320-pixel resolution at 163 ppi. The iPhone senses orientation and auto-rotates the screen based on orientation. The iPhone presently supports a maximum of 16GB of memory even though Apple offers an iPod Touch model with 32GB.
The cell phone portion includes a GSM Quad-Band radio allowing for use both inside and outside of the US. The iPhone is also Bluetooth capable for headsets and may eventually allow the use of a Bluetooth keyboard.
At present the main applications on the phone are static. This means you can't officially add new applications to the phone without hacking the iPhone with an application like JailBreak. Once Apple releases the official SDK for the iPhone, new applications will become available and will likely install through iTunes.
Applications in the iPhone include Safari, Mail and Calendaring among others.
Apple released this first version (sometimes dubbed 1.0) of the phone with specific limitations in place. Whether or not these design issues were intentional is unknown.
Both the battery and the SIM card are not user replaceable. If the battery dies, you must send your iPhone back to Apple (or take it to an Apple store) for battery replacement. There is a replacement program directly from Apple. The cost for battery replacement is $79 plus $6.95 for shipping. The phone is locked to AT&T's network due to a 2 year exclusivity contract between Apple and AT&T, thus, precluding the use of any sim card than AT&T. Apple has done much to prevent unlocking of the iPhone including causing some phones, that had been previously unlocked by applications such as JailBreak, to become bricked after a firmware update. An unlocked version of the iPhone was released in France due to requirements by France, but this version of the iPhone is restricted to working with sim cards issued in France.
The iPhone 1.0 does not presently work with Microsoft's Exchange mail server effectively precluding it from being widely adopted by corporations as a corporate cell phone solution. This leaves the Blackberry (among other smartphones) firmly seated in this corporate phone role. However, the iPhone does support the POP and IMAP mail protocols to allow reading of email on the phone.
iPhone plan details
The iPhone plans, at least in the US, are covered by AT&T Wireless. Apple worked a deal with AT&T to provide a specific cell phone plan with unlimited Internet service for a monthly fee of $59 per month. There are also other plans. Note that when you place the iPhone in the cart on AT&T's or Apple's web site, the per month charge is not readily disclosed in the cart. You are likely required to pick your plan at activation. To purchase an iPhone requires a 2 year contract commitment with AT&T with penalties for early termination. Non-US locales may have different requirements.
iPhone pricing scandal
Initially, when the iPhone was introduced there were two models available, the 4GB model at $399 and the 8GB model at $599. After two months, the price of the 8GB model was slashed from $599 to $399 and the 4GB model was discontinued. The 4GB model could still be found at $299 or less after this point. This rapid price drop and discontinuation angered many iPhone purchasers and caused quite a stir in the media. As a result, until November 30, 2007, Apple offered a $100 rebate for any iPhone owners affected by the price drop. While this $100 rebate seemed like a good idea, it didn't cover the entire amount that early adopters lost. Some people called this the 'Early Adopter Penalty'. Lawsuits then popped up by various people claiming damages in many different ways because of the price drop.
Where to buy
In the US, iPhone is available for purchase at the Apple Web Store, at an Apple store directly, through AT&T Wireless web site or directly from an AT&T store. Outside of the US, the carriers include T-Mobile, Orange Mobile and O2.
A 3G iPhone is expected to be released in 2008.
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- ZDNet Article describing Early Adopter Penalty. Retrieved on 2008-01-09.
- Google search for iphone price drop lawsuits. Retrieved on 2008-01-09.