The iPhone is now available, and while popular, anyone who is willing to plunk down their cash or plastic for one can get one, especially if you have an Apple Store nearby. I picked up mine last night at an Apple Store after failing to find one on launch night at an AT&T store while we were on a family vacation. The process of buying one was painless, although I had the challenge of waiting while they looked in the stock draws at the back of the store (none there), the back stock room (none there!), and then finally in "the cage" (whatever that is) where they found them.
The purchase took all of 5 minutes once they found the iPhones, using the little handheld Symbol point-of-sale devices. Since activation happens using iTunes, I was done and headed back home to activate it.
The activation process was simple and straight-forward (I was already an AT&T customer), and a few minutes later, the iPhone was ready for me to use. A minute or so later and my Treo told me that its SIM could no longer register (since I had replaced it with the iPhone). I sync'd the iPhone to my Mac, it sucked down the e-mail accounts, Safari bookmarks, my contacts, and my calendar, and I was ready to go.
Setting up voicemail was simple, except that it didn't work the first time, and then the passwords were a bit messed up during the creation of the visual voicemail box. Eventually, after calling the voicemail box directly, I got it straighten out and I was ready to use it.
I have a few initial thoughts: First, and as often mentioned, it's very small, fits nicely in my hand, and has an astounding interface. For the most part, functions are simple to find and perform, but may take a few extra pokes with your finger. I find it strange to not have a stylus to use, and I am adjusting to the soft keyboard. I've managed to sign a few e-mails with weird words, since of course the built-in dictionary doesn't recognize my initials (ssh) that I typically use as a signature.
A fairly major annoyance for me is that I have yet to discover a way to select multiple e-mail messages so that I can bring my Gmail account current on the iPhone. Since Gmail forces the use of POP, the iPhone wants to download the last few days' e-mail. In my case, that amounts to over 1000 e-mails, meaning that I have to delete all of those emails individually!
Once I bring that current, I think it'll be OK.
Another area of concern is with outbound e-mail. One of the client accounts I use requires a non-standard port, and I haven't discovered the way to configure that, yet, either. This is an Exchange account that is set up in Apple Mail but is not on the sync list for the iPhone. I'm not clear why that is, either.
All of that said, the iPhone sync'd well each time I sync'd it, handles the e-mail that's configured just fine, and has exceptional audio clarity for the phone.
The proof will come over the next couple of weeks, however. Unlike gadget guys, I'm the pragmatic technologist. I am unconcerned by the "wow factor," the "geek factor," the "cool factor," or any other aspect of this device unrelated to what it can do for me. I want a phone that works well and doesn't reboot. I want a phone with great bluetooth that allows me to hear clearly. And I want to be able to get the full Internet with e-mail, as well.
Over the next couple of weeks I'll report my experiences here. I am hopeful that I won't suffer the frustrations that have plagued my use of a Treo 650 over the past two years. Regardless of the outcome, I'll be sure to let you know!