Then there's the small matter of typing. Tapping the skinny little virtual keys on the screen is frustrating, especially at first.
Two things make the job tolerable. First, some very smart software offers to complete words for you, and, when you tap the wrong letter, figures out what word you intended. In both cases, tapping the Space bar accepts its suggestion.
Second, the instructional leaflet encourages you to "trust" the keyboard (or, as a product manager jokingly put it, to "use the Force"). It sounds like new-age baloney, but it works; once you stop stressing about each individual letter and just plow ahead, speed and accuracy pick up considerably.
Even so, text entry is not the iPhone's strong suit. The BlackBerry won't be going away anytime soon.
And Pogue on AT&T's EDGE network:
The bigger problem is the AT&T network. In a Consumer Reports study, AT&T's signal ranked either last or second to last in 19 out of 20 major cities. My tests in five states bear this out. If Verizon's slogan is, "Can you hear me now?" AT&T's should be, "I'm losing you."
Then there's the Internet problem. When you're in a Wi-Fi hot spot, going online is fast and satisfying.
But otherwise, you have to use AT&T's ancient EDGE cellular network, which is excruciatingly slow. The New York Times's home page takes 55 seconds to appear; Amazon.com, 100 seconds; Yahoo, two minutes. You almost ache for a dial-up modem.
Ouch, that line about dial-up data speeds hurts. Overall, though, Pogue likes the iPhone and declares it the "most sophisticated, outlook-changing piece of electronics to come along in years." So far, it looks like the iPhone isn't all hype, but neither is it the cure for cancer or the source of world peace.
Now, when will I get my hands on one? Will AT&T actually have an iPhone ready for me on Friday? Will anyone actually be able to buy an iPhone on Friday? What do you think?