An iPhone FAQ

Why would I want it? To begin with, it looks great, and it's thin (11.6-millimetres). And its 3.5-inch display can switch from vertical to horizontal orientation as you change the way you're looking at it. Plus, of course, there's the Apple iPod cachet. And, in case you didn't realize, it plays music just like an iPod, with a four-gigabyte model (at $499 US), and one that holds eight gigs of music ($599).

So it's song-filled and attractive, but what's unusual about it? Lots of phones these days let you play music. And I already have an iPod. First of all, the iPhone has no keyboard and has no eye-boggling plethora of buttons. There's just a lonely home button on the front, and a few buttons on the side. You make your way around by screen-based icons and buttons. Also, your finger substitutes for a stylus. And it operates on a as-yet-undetermined variant of the OS-X operating system.

No buttons? How do I make a call on the iPhone? You click on the Home button, a main window at the bottom left pops up, and you give it a tap. You can then either type a number on the virtual keyboard, or turn to your list of contacts, recent calls or favourites and choose a number.

What do the buttons on the side do? There are a pair of volume controls, and a ringer switch. On the top are the audio connectors and a sleep-wake toggle button.

There has to be more than that. What else does it do? You can use it for e-mail, for SMS messaging, as a PDA, head out onto the Web (using a version of Apple's Safari browser), and, oh, yeah, Google's search and Google Maps are both integrated.

If I use it for e-mail and sending messages, then I'll have to be able to type. And that seems like it could be a struggle on a phone with no physical keypad. A lot of people do find it harder to type without finger-feel, but Apple says it has error correction built-in to the iPhone, so that mistakes will be corrected automatically. And when you press down on a key it enlarges, which will help hunt-and-peck typists at least.

Does it have a camera? Natch. Two megapixels. And the phone has photo-management software included.

Can I put my own applications on the phone? No. However, Apple might allow developers to come up with new apps, but they would have final approval over what could be loaded on the phone. This has annoyed a lot of Apple buffs who want the phone to be wide open to customization.

So, where can I get one? Well, you can't. Not yet. It's coming out in June in the U.S., but there is no word yet on a Canadian carrier. However, here there are only two options: Rogers Wireless and Fido (also owned by Rogers), because they operate on a GSM network, which is what the iPhone, at least initially, is designed to do. And Rogers is keeping its corporate lips firmly sealed as to the possibilities.


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