I'm still working on getting Apple PR to send me a review unit to really put through its paces, so don't consider this a "real review" just yet. But I did get about 15 minutes of hands-on time with an iPhone over the weekend. My first impression? Really cool gadget, but actually a little lacking in the phone department.
Yeah, it makes calls just fine, but look at what iPhone lacks that most other new mobiles take for granted: Voice dialing, speed dialing, stereo Bluetooth, Bluetooth file transfer, USB mass storage mode, media player hardware buttons, MMS messaging, Instant Messaging, and 3G data support for starters. There's already a third-party Web-based IM solution, and expect Apple to address at least some of the most missed features in forthcoming software updates. But launching iPhone with this many phone features missing just doesn't make much sense to me.
iPhone's form factor is great - about the length and width of a Treo, but thinner than a RAZR, super sleek, and topped by what might be the best display currently available on any phone. If you've been waiting for a phone with a roomy widescreen display for video watching, this is it. One big problem, though - Apple decided to recess the headphone jack deep enough into the phone's housing that most third-party headphones won't fit into it. Build the first "iPod phone" but don't make it compatible with favorite headphones that music lovers have already spent hundreds of dollars on? Wow. That's a big drag, Apple.
The multitouch functionality works pretty well, and flicking my way through contact lists and photo albums was cool, but I wonder if the novelty wears off after a week or two, leaving you wanting old fashioned buttons that let you quickly drill through your phone book to get to the "C's" or "S's." Apple says you need to spend some time learning to trust their virtual keyboard and predictive text system - I'd be this is true, but in the five minutes or so I spent trying to get the hang of it, I was left semi-frustrated. A widescreen keyboard mode is available only in Safari (Web browsing mode), but I'd expect an software update before too long that enables this roomier version of the virtual QWERTY pad across all of iPhone's applications.
Web browsing was at least neck and neck with the best mobile browsers out there, but slow over AT&T's EDGE network. The AT&T branded Nokia N75 features a very similar web browser (based on Safari, in fact) but it's compatible with the carrier's 3G network for much faster browsing.
Got questions about iPhone? Drop me a line and I'll answer what I can ... Or better yet, head down to an Apple or AT&T store to get your hands on one for a few minutes. It's a pretty amazing little device, even if it might not be the "perfect phone" that so many people were counting on it being. At least not just yet.