Located on the left spine are a volume rocker and a nifty ringer mute switch, something all phones should have and which is a popular feature of Palm Treos. On the bottom end, you'll find a pair of speakers and the jack for the syncing dock and the charger wire. Unfortunately, the headphone jack on the top end is deeply recessed, which means you will need an adaptor for any headphones with a chubby plug. Is this customer friendly? No.
Unfortunately, the iPhone does not have a battery that a user can replace. That means you have to send it to Apple to replace the battery after it's spent. (Apple is estimating one battery will last for 300 to 400 charges -- probably less than two year's worth of use.) No, you don't need a removable battery in a mobile phone, but like many things missing on the iPhone, it would be nice to have, especially for such an expensive phone.
Contrary to earlier reports, the SIM card is removable via a small drawer on the top of the iPhone, but it's still unclear whether you'll be able to swap SIM cards in and out of the iPhone. If that's the case it's troubling, as it completely defeats the biggest advantage of using a GSM phone with a SIM card. Some people have multiple phones and like to change the SIM card between their different handsets. Also, it looks as if you can't use the SIM card to import contact information from another handset.
The iPhone's phone book is limited only by the phone's available memory. Each contact holds eight phone numbers, email, Web and street addresses, a job title and department, a nickname, a birthday and notes. You can't save callers to groups, but you can store your preferred friends to a favourites menu for easy access. You can assign contacts a photo for caller ID and assign them one of 25 polyphonic ringtones. We should note, however, that there's no voice dialling and you can't use MP3 files as ring tones.
Other basic features include an alarm clock, a calculator, a world clock, a stopwatch, a timer and a notepad. There's a vibrate mode, but it's a tad light.
The calendar offers day and month views, and you can use the calendar as an event reminder or to-do list as well. The interface is clean and simple, though inputting new appointments involves a lot of tapping. There's no week view, however.
Bluetooth and wireless
The iPhone offers a full range of wireless functionality with support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The Wi-Fi compatibility is especially welcome, and a feature that's absent on far too many smart phones. When you're browsing the Web, the iPhone automatically searches for the nearest Internet hotspot. Bluetooth 2.0 is also on board, which delivers faster transmission and a longer range than Bluetooth 1.2. You also get a range of profiles including file transfer, but an A2DP stereo-Bluetooth profile is not among them -- another item that's not necessary but would be nice to have.
Though Apple CEO Steve Jobs has explained the iPhone's lack of 3G support by saying the chipsets take up too much room and they drain too much battery, we'd like the option anyway. Yes, the Wi-Fi network is great when you can get it, but EDGE just doesn't cut it for all other surfing. EDGE Web browsing is so slow it almost ruins the pretty Web interface.
Messaging and email
For your messaging needs, the iPhone offers text messaging and email. As on many smart phones, a text-message thread is displayed as one long conversation -- a useful arrangement that allows you to pick which messages you'd like to answer. If you use another function while messaging, you can return to pick up that message where you left off. We just don't understand, however, why Apple doesn't include multimedia messaging (MMS). Sure, you can use email to send photos, but without MMS you can't send photos to other phones -- pretty much the entire point of a camera phone.
The iPhone's email menu includes integrated support for Yahoo, Gmail, AOL and Mac accounts. You can set up the phone to receive messages from other IMAP4 and POP3 systems. You can read -- but not edit -- PDF, JPEG, Word and Excel documents. Worse: you can't cut and paste text when composing messages.
Sandwiched between all the iPhone's features lives Apple's most amazing iPod yet. The display, interface, video quality, audio quality -- all of it is meticulously refined and beautiful. Unfortunately, it's trapped within a device that will cost you more than $1,000 (£500) a year just to own. CNET recently reviewed a Rolls Royce that had a top-notch umbrella hidden inside its passenger door. Buying the iPhone for its iPod feature is much like buying the Rolls Royce for its umbrella. Regardless, the iPhone is an exciting glimpse into what Apple hopefully has planned for its sixth-generation iPod.