The iPhone: Lots to Love, but Flaws Too

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Setup: Using an iPhone

Setting up the iPhone was a smooth process. The first step, if you haven't already done so, is to install iTunes 7.3. I plugged in the included USB 2.0 dock, and iTunes immediately greeted me with a screen to walk me through the activation and set-up of the iPhone.

The whole process took 15 screens. Once complete, the iPhone is recognized as a device, and you're given a tabbed row of options for managing specific aspects of your iPhone--the same as you'd see when your iPod was connected to iTunes.

In fact, the entire process of setting up the iPhone--choosing what folders to sync, for example, for your music, photos, podcasts, and video--will be familiar to current iPod users. And, perhaps more importantly, the process won't be intimidating to newcomers to the iPod universe.


What's dramatically different about the iPhone is how it operates. There just aren't many pesky buttons. The phone's navigation is almost entirely accomplished via its multi-touch screen. The sole button on the face of the phone conveniently returns you to the friendly, fun home screen. A power button up top, and a ringer button and volume controls at left round out the buttons.

I fully expect terms like "slide" and "pinch" to quickly become part of the popular lexicon: These handy maneuvers let you navigate the iPhone's multi-touch screen with ease. You'll slide your finger to the right to unlock the phone; and slide again to scroll through menus. I was surprised by the often dizzying speed with which I could scroll--scanning through an album of several hundred photos was effortless.

The touch screen is one of the iPhone's huge assets--suddenly, navigating in a tight space is not only viable, but also fun and enjoyable. Aside from scrolling, there's pinching and tapping--the former for resizing screens (ie, in the Safari Web browser), the latter for selecting options and zooming in on content, such as photos.

Friendly Menus

That navigational ease applied to other elements of the phone as well. The screen has an internal sensor, and will auto-rotate content depending upon how you're holding the iPhone--and what application you're in.

The main menu, with its dozen bright, colorful icons for features and applications, and four primary icons for phone, mail, Safari, and iPod below, is both visually engaging and brilliant in its simplicity.

Adding contacts is visual as well; plus, I appreciated the high level of customization the contacts application offered me via its "add a field" option (for example, add a nickname, department, date reminders, or note). When entering contacts, make sure to hit Save, though, way at the top of the screen--the contacts app lets you exit without prompting you to save your record, which can be very annoying to discover after you've spent time entering details.

There are other flaws, too. For example, while you see a battery gauge, the iPhone doesn't give you a way to see the actual percentage (or, better yet, time) remaining in your battery's life.

Another annoyance: Tap the phone icon and the iPhone shows you the Contacts screen, not the keypad. Getting to the keypad requires another tap--definitely annoying if you're not calling someone already in your Contacts list.

-- Melissa J. Perenson

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