Tech Toy of the Month: Apple iPhone, part I

It is perhaps the most anticipated technology gadget in history. It promises to change cell phones in the way the iPod changed mobile music players. It is the Apple iPhone ( While it has not yet been released as of this writing, I will attempt to explain what the iPhone will be in as simple terms as possible.

The iPhone is of course a cell phone. It will only be available on the AT&T network (formerly Cingular) at least through the year 2009 (barring any changes in contract between AT&T and Apple). So if you are with any other wireless provider (Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon), you will NOT be able to get an iPhone unless you switch to AT&T. To be released on June 29th, the iPhone will cost $499 for a 4GB version or $599 for a 8GB version (both prices require a 2-year contract).

The iPhone will also be a fully-functional iPod, playing music, photos, and videos. For many people, the integration of a phone with an iPod will be very compelling. However, the initial cost may be prohibitive for those casually considering a phone/iPod combo.

The main feature most people will immediately notice about the iPhone is the large touchscreen display, along with the fact that there are no hard buttons. While the touchscreen feature looks very nice, the lack of hard buttons may be a concern to some people. Time will tell if the touchscreen interface will be intuitive enough to make up for the lack of hard buttons. One feature that people will notice is the fact that the iPhone can sense when it is rotated and will rotate the display accordingly. In other words, if you want to view the display in widescreen mode, you simply need to rotate the iPhone in your hand. Words really don’t do this feature justice, so make sure to see this feature in action on Apple’s web site.

Apple is touting that the iPhone will be the most advanced mobile Internet device to date. Apple is using the Mac OS X operating system from its Macintosh computers, along with its Safari web browser, as the operating system for the iPhone. Apple is promising a fully-featured web browser on a phone, the same one in use on desktop computers. This feature, along with the rotating display, should allow users to see web pages the way they were designed to be seen. Other mobile devices must reformat web pages for display on their screens.

The iPhone has Wi-Fi wireless networking for fast Internet speeds in public hotspots or other Wi-Fi networks. The iPhone can also connect to AT&T’s data network for Internet access. Basically, this should allow users to be able to get on the Internet almost anywhere, as long as they are in Wi-Fi network or within AT&T’s cellular network.

Since the iPhone is not yet available, I will do another article on it sometime after it released and I have the opportunity to read reviews and have had a chance to test the device myself.

For all things Apple, Marcel is your expert.