Some Hands-On Time With the iPhone – David Pogue

The day of the iPhone launch, David had meetings with Steve Jobs and then Phil Schiller, Apple’s director of worldwide marketing. He basically played with the iPhone the entire hour.

Here are some of the things you can’t tell without actually handling and using the iPhone.

* The phone won’t be available until June, so some of its software isn’t finished yet. As I tapped my way into obscure corners of the phone, Mr. Jobs pointed out a couple of spots where only a placeholder graphic was available.

* Both in the onstage demo and during my hands-on hour, the Web speed was OK—not great, but OK. But all of this used the phone’s built-in Wi-Fi, not Cingular’s notoriously slow Edge network. I couldn’t help wondering how bad the speed will be when you’re connecting over the cellular airwaves. (Here again, though, I was playing with a prototype whose software will undergo a lot of
fine-tuning between now and June.)

* I tried out the camera. It was really cool to frame a shot using the HUGE 3.5-inch screen; it’s rare to find that big a screen on any camera. The refresh rate felt typical of a camera-phone to me, but Mr. Jobs said that it would be much smoother by the time the phone is done.

* The Web browsing experience is incredible. You see the entire Web page on the iPhone’s screen. You double-tap any spot to zoom in. Or you use the two-fingered spread-apart gesture to “stretch” the image larger, or pinch your thumb and forefinger on the glass to zoom out again. The manipulation is seamless, smoothly animated—and useful. Using Google Maps to get you driving directions and maps, for example, is just light-years simpler and more powerful than on any other machine, thanks to this “rubber Web page” stretching technology.

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