I took the sim card out of my old formerly-Cingular phone and inserted it into the shiny new iPhone.

I plugged it into my computer.

iTunes came up said it found an iPhone and asked me to activate it. iTunes listed the phone number attached to the account asked a couple questions to verify who I was. The software waited for an activation message, which arrived less than five minutes later.

Then I made my first iPhone-to-computer sync.

Most of the phone is very well layed out. It’s easy to use, and the cover flow looks really nice, though it’s mostly Eye Candy, that I could do without.

It’s an iPod, Safari web browser, e-mail client and, of course, cell phone all in one.

In the built-in iPod, when you find a music album you want to listen to, clicking on it flips the album around, and on the back is a list of all the songs in that particular album. A little flick of the finger sets things in motion, and that feature makes it so easy to scroll through a long list of items.

I would even venture to say it works better than the old iPod spining wheel paradigm.

On the Safari, web-enabled portion of the iPhone, I find I do a lot of zooming in and out and a lot of moving the page around to find what I’m looking for. Pages often load slow and lag.

Google maps seems to fly, though. The satellite images take time to load, but the streets load fast enough that you can scroll around and only have momentary pauses waiting for the details. The directions on the maps application is hit and miss.

The weather app is fairly straightforward. It lists weather for up to the next five days downloaded of the Internet. Stocks also available and look like the OSX widget ported over to the mobile device. Similarly most of the applications feel and look like they are widgets recompiled to run on the iPhone.

This makes me wonder if, when Apple talked about a SDK for the iPhone, they were just going to allow people to recompile widgets to run on it.

YouTube, is still mostly bare. It runs nice, but since they have to convert all their videos to the compatible format, you don’t get as many results as you would on an actual computer. I expect this will get better once YouTube has converted their video’s from flash to the h.264 format.

The on board camera acts like any other camera phone, but takes higher quality snapshots. It’s still not designed for more than quick pictures, with few options beyond pressing the click button.

The photo app is one of the better features. It is extremely easy to use and looks nice. It allows the user to move picture saround and zoom in and out. It’s nice that if your looking at a picture and you want to show someone across from you; just flip over the iPhone and it automatically flips the image so it’s not upside down.

On the flip side, if you have an image in your library that isn’t oriented correctly it will display it incorrectly, and if you try to rotate the iPhone to compensate it will keep rotating the image. I had to go through all my images and make sure they were all oriented the right way.

The pinch and stretch functions work nice for zooming in and out to see the details of the image.

There is a calendar application, which works nicely. It feels like iCal, just on a smaller screen.

Text entry throughout the phone works surprisingly well. I hit the wrong keys every so often, but the iPhone figures out what I wanted to type and corrects it for me. If it suggests something wrong the user can ignore it. The magnification for moving text around is good too.

The mail application doesn’t work well with Gmail. It only supports Pop3, and because of that it has quickly gotten annoying. It downloads all your messages new and old, and they all appear as new messages on your iPhone. This makes it hard to tell if you actually got a new message.

The text app, looks and feels like iChat, only instead of using AIM under the covers, it is using SMS messaging. With AT&T’s default policy of 200 text messages this could easily run out and become expensive.

I’m hoping that people will discover a way to use AIM instead which would be free, with the standard unlimited data package, providing the same features of SMS.

Now, finally we have to remember that iPhone is still A phone.

The contact list is a sorted list of names that can be synced directly from your computer, which gives you the names and addresses wherever you are. They scroll like the iPod, so it’s really easy to find someone. It also adds two ways to sort them; either by groups, or the user can add their favorites to a smaller list.

The iPhone does feel weird holding it up to your ear. The included headphone/microphones work nice to compensate. Voicemail is purely digital. It feels like the messages are downloaded over the data connection and stored on the phone, instead of calling in to retrieve your messages.

So is iPhone a good deal?

I found it to be a lot of fun. Whether it is worth its price tag or not is up to the user. I will note though there are more pricing issues with it than just the initial expense. AT&T removes any discounts the user has from their account upon activating the iphone. They also will not allow you to insure the iPhone. I admit Apple Care is great, but if you drop it yourself, you may be on your own and out $500-$600.

About The Author

Bradley Ouellette is a Blast staff writer who's been with us since the bitter beginnings when we were an attic and basement operation on Mission Hill.

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