The iPhone: Lots to Love, but Flaws Too

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The iPhone comes with preloaded settings for Yahoo Mail, Gmail, Mac Mail and AOL mail, and support for POP3, IMAP and Exchange mail. I was easily able to setup access to my Gmail account and (to my surprise) a Lotus Notes account at PC World (mail only, however--no calendar or contacts).

During setup you're given the option to sync your address book (Mac OS X, Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail or Yahoo), calendar (iCal, Outlook or Outlook Express), mail settings (Mac Mail, Outlook or Outlook Express) and your IE or Safari bookmarks. Syncing went quite smoothly for me, although we had no calendar to test.

You've Got Mail

Mail, like almost everything on the iPhone's lovely screen, displays beautifully. The inbox is as handsome and functional as any we've seen, taking full advantage of the iPhone's relatively abundant screen real estate; the same goes for the messages themselves, whether they're plain text or image-rich HTML. Some may quibble with Apple's decision to segregate all accounts, so that you have to navigate to a different inbox for each one, but moving between accounts is easy and intuitive.

The iPhone automatically and easily displayed images sent as e-mail attachments--up to a point. When a colleague sent a couple of large photos, the iPhone spent quite a few minutes with a "Loading..." notification in the body of the received message; eventually, instead of rendering two 3.5MB images, the mail client provided links that downloaded each image separately.

On a minor note: I like the way deleted messages swoosh into the trashcan at the bottom of the mail screen. It's one of the many small touches that make you feel like the iPhone works hard to justify its high-end price tag.

Wi-Fi and EDGE

Wi-Fi setup on the iPhone went relatively quickly, although here you have to get the keyboard taps just right; If the predictive text entry can help you with your WEP or WPA security codes, your codes aren't secure enough. I had to make several tries to nail a longish WPA password--but once you get it, you'll never have to input it again as the iPhone will store it.

I ran DSL Reports' speed test and got a download speed of about 2 mbps using Wi-Fi. Using AT&T's EDGE network, however, speeds were more like 80 or 90 kbps. (Obviously, your results may vary.) The difference is perceptible when loading large Web pages, but EDGE is certainly usable for Web browsing if you're not in a huge hurry.

I still wish Apple would have supported AT&T's 3G HSDPA service, though; you can't count on being in range of a Wi-Fi network when you're downloading big image files or Web pages, and Wi-Fi will drain battery life very quickly.

-- Yardena Arar

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