June 28, 2007 4:00 AM PDT
FAQ: Do your homework on iPhone Eve
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How do I type on the iPhone?
The absence of external buttons means the iPhone is reliant on a touch-screen QWERTY keyboard. This is bound to throw off those who are familiar with the hard keyboards on other smart phones, but most of the early reviewers said they learned how to work the keyboard after some practice.
The keyboard is laid out in the same fashion as a regular keyboard. There are slightly different keyboards for composing e-mail, sending text messages or browsing the Web. Apple recommends typing with one finger for a while until you get used to the touch screen, after which you can jump in with two-thumbed typing well-known to BlackBerry addicts.
Can I really get the same Internet experience on my iPhone that I can on my PC or Mac?
That depends. If you're in range of a Wi-Fi hot spot, you'll access the Internet as quickly as the connection that services that hot spot. The display isn't the same, of course, but access speeds should be excellent as long as the access point isn't hooked up to the world's slowest Internet tube.
But outside of Wi-Fi range (about 120 yards for 802.11g), you'll feel like it's 1996 all over again. The iPhone uses AT&T's EDGE network, which reviewer David Pogue of The New York Times declared "excruciatingly slow." EDGE is akin to dial-up speeds, but it's more widespread in the U.S. than faster 3G cellular data networks.
I can still make calls with this thing, right?
Yes, hence the name. When you press the Phone button on the screen, the iPhone brings up your contact list. Touch a name to bring up the contact page, then touch their number to dial that person. If you need to use the keypad to dial a number that's not in your contacts list, there's a keypad button at the bottom of the screen.
You can do all the standard phone things, like three-way calling and putting people on hold. You can also access the iPhone's other applications while you're on a phone call by pressing the Home button underneath the screen.
One interesting feature on the iPhone is the visual voice mail, which displays your voice mail messages like an e-mail inbox, so you can see who called without having to listen to your messages in succession. And you can skip the message from your boss to listen to the message from your spouse (or vice versa).
What kind of battery life should I expect?
Apple has said the iPhone's good for up to 8 hours of talk time, 250 hours of standby time, 6 hours of Internet use, or 7 hours of video playback. Of course, you'll probably be doing all of those tasks in fits and spurts. The early reviews reported battery life pretty close to what Apple said to expect.
But just like the iPod, there's no removable battery on the iPhone. One day, it will start to lose its charging capacity just like any lithium-ion battery, and you'll have to return the device to Apple for a battery replacement.
How much will it cost?
Two models are available, one with 4GBs of storage for $499 and one with 8GBs of storage for $599. But that's just the beginning.
You'll need to sign a two-year contract with AT&T. There's a $36 activation fee. Three special iPhone data plans are available ranging from $59.99 a month to $99.99 a month, depending on how many minutes you need. All include unlimited data, though.
The iPhone comes with a stereo headset, a dock, a USB power adapter and a few other goodies. But while it uses the same 30-pin dock connector, The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg said in his review that not all iPod accessories will work with the iPhone, and that you might not be able to play music in your car equipped with an iPhone jack. Your existing iPod headphones also might not work because the headset jack on the iPhone is deeply recessed, Mossberg said.
Where can I get one?
Apple retail stores and company-owned AT&T stores will start selling iPhones at 6 p.m. local time in the U.S. on Friday. There are about 150 Apple stores in the country, and all of them will have unknown quantities of iPhones, along with a line of hopeful customers outside some of the larger stores. Get there early if you want one this weekend.
If you'd rather buy at an AT&T store, make sure you consult this store finder at AT&T's Web site. Not all stores marked with the AT&T logo are owned by the company; some are franchises.
Are there any iPhone exit strategies?
What, you're sick of it already?
You don't have to activate your iPhone in the store, you can actually take it home and do it from your home PC or Mac. So if you wait in line for three days, drop $600 on the iPhone, then get home and decide you don't like it, you could resell the thing on Craigslist or eBay (perhaps for a healthy profit) or return it within 14 days.
But if you wait until you activate it, you've got 14 days to make up your mind. Perhaps not coincidentally, that's exactly as long as the select group of early iPhone reviewers had to deliver their verdicts on the device. After 30 days, you'll have to pay AT&T's $175 termination fee to get out of your contract.
Unfortunately, this current iPhone is also not upgradeable. The SIM card found in other AT&T phones is locked on the iPhone, and you'll have to buy iPhone 2.0 or 3.0 if you want to connect to faster cellular data networks, once those become more prevalent.
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