A couple days ago, I stopped by a AT&T store and I spent about fifteen minutes playing with an iPhone. It wasn’t a religious experience or anything, but it was pretty cool.
I happened to be there when the store opened at 10 am, so there was no one else in there when I arrived. They had a couple of iPhones leashed down at a display up front, so I went and played for a few minutes before I had to go on to scheduled meetings for the day. I tinkered with the phone for about five seconds, mostly because I am familiar with the way phones work and to me, it’s the least exciting feature of the iPhone. I didn’t mess with the mail program since it looks like Apple’s Mail software, which would mean that I probably couldn’t do much in the way of try it out without actually setting it up. I forgot to look at the iPod features for some reason. On the home screen, there are some buttons/options that I would never use, things like checking stock prices, and I didn’t bother to figure out if there was a way to configure the preferences on the main page (there probably is).
What I mostly played around with was the browser, which is very VERY nice. It works like they advertise. You enter in a URL with a tiny thumb keyboard (a touchscreen/virtual keyboard of course) and a very tiny but surprisingly clear of a web page comes up, basically as it would display in Safari. You tap twice on the part you want to magnify and it zooms in to that portion. Then you can move around this magnified image to different parts of the web page, sort of like the way you can move around a map on the web. When you tap a box where you can enter text, you get a cursor and a the tiny thumb keyboard. I actually commented on my previous iPhone post with it.
So while I’m still not going to go out and buy one, I would think about it seriously if my phone contract was up.
Two other things though:
When I was in the store, this guy came in, and, kinda determined-like, he went right up to the store clerk dude standing next to me and said “I want to know if this thing can replace my Blackberry.” So the clerk hands him the other iPhone and starts to point out some features, but determined dude just starts clicking away. Literally, two minutes later, he announces that no indeed, this is no replacement for his Blackberry and he storms out. Obviously, he was trying to prove a previously made conclusion, though he might be right: if all you need is a phone and something to check your email, then a Blackberry might be a better choice. If you want what amounts to a really little computer with a phone and an iPod, then the iPhone might be a better choice.
Second, jill/txt has a really good post here that links to another post about a dude who figured out how to make an iPhone work the way I want it to work– not as a phone at all but just a wifi mini-computer with an iPod– and that also lists some of the things the iPhone won’t do that most European cell phone users are used to doing with their phones. Kinda interesting.