By David Pogue
Talk about hype. In the last six months, Apple's iPhone has been the subject of 11,000 print articles, and it turns up about 69 million hits on Google. Cultists are camping out in front of Apple stores; bloggers call it the "Jesus phone." All of this before a single consumer has even touched the thing.
So how is it?
As it turns out, much of the hype and some of the criticisms are justified. The iPhone is revolutionary; it's flawed. It's substance; it's style. It does things no phone has ever done before; it lacks features found even on the most basic phones.
Unless you've been in a sensory-deprivation tank for six months, you already know what the iPhone is: a tiny, gorgeous hand-held computer whose screen is a slab of touch-sensitive glass.
The $500 and $600 models have 4 and 8 gigabytes of storage, respectively — room for about 825 or 1,825 songs. (In each case, 700 megabytes is occupied by the phone's software.) That's a lot of money; then again, the price includes a cellphone, video iPod, e-mail terminal, Web browser, camera, alarm clock, Palm-type organizer and one heck of a status symbol.
The phone is so sleek and thin, it makes Treos and BlackBerrys look obese. The glass gets smudgy—a sleeve wipes it clean—but it doesn't scratch easily. I've walked around with an iPhone in my pocket for two weeks, naked and unprotected (the iPhone, that is, not me), and there's not a mark on it.
But the bigger achievement is the software. It's fast, beautiful, menu-free, and dead simple to operate. You can't get lost, because the solitary physical button below the screen always opens the Home page, arrayed with icons for the iPhone's 16 functions. (more. . .)