iPhone initial impressions and SIM questions answered

After spending 24 hours in line, I now have my 8GB iPhone in hand and am performing extensive testing. I ran through every application and setup some aspects of the device in this first look. More extensive photos and screenshots will be coming later this weekend after I get a couple hours of sleep and dive into the device some more. Feel free to post questions of things you want me to check out and I'll try to add that as well.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

It seems that my 24 hour iPhone line wait was worth it at my local AT&T store as I was able to buy 8GB iPhones for my family. BTW, I was called and interviewed by the local radio station, KOMO 1000, and they actually ran a short clip over the air, which it turns out was the way my co-workers all found out why I really took a vacation day on Friday. They ran out of 8GB iPhones as I endured their slow computer system in the store so a rough count put that at about 15 8GB units at the store, followed by an undetermined number of 4GB units because I took off as soon as I had my bag sealed iPhones. Some schmuck was walking through the line 30 minutes prior to the doors opening telling us that his "inside connection" told him there were only 6 iPhones at this store and we shouldn't wait in line. Oh yeah, then how come he was at the end of the line when the doors opened. Thankfully, no one was discouraged by his lies.

Initial activation: So after 24 hours with about 1 hour of sleep I went home, opened up the very cool packaging, had to update my MacBook Pro (prompted to do this when I connected the iPhone using the dock and USB connection), and then activated the iPhone. I went for a new number and will port my T-Mobile number if I decide to keep this iPhone after a longer trial period. Activation went flawlessly and was fast so I was all set after less than 10 minutes. I then synced over some podcasts and an episode of The Office. I use Entourage with a 4smartphone hosted Exchange account so I also synced my Entourage calendar. I had to export my Entourage contact list to Address Book and then sync to the iPhone as I couldn't find a way to do this directly from Entourage. I understand that PC owners can use Outlook and this may be a cleaner solution.

Phone calls: I then placed a couple of calls with the iPhone and calls on my end were clean and crisp while people on the other end reported the same experience. One guy even said it sounded like I was on a land line and he could hear my daughter in the background. I just had an iPhone to iPhone call with a buddy and he sounded crystal clear and said I did as well, maybe there is an iPhone to iPhone sensor :) The speakerphone was fine and people on the other end said it did sound a bit different, as expected, but was still clear. The proximity sensor worked very well and the display backlight shuts off when it gets close to your face (very cool technology here).

Form factor: The form factor is awesome! Much smaller than I thought it would be and VERY solid feeling. There is a plastic area on the back lower part where the antennas are located and this makes perfect sense since you tend to hold it up top during a call.

Music and video: Music played well and cover flow worked just like you have seen in the videos. The Office looked awesome in full screen landscape mode and was a great experience. I watch video during my 2+ hour daily commute so this experience may help push me over the edge in keeping the iPhone.

Web browser: The Safari web navigation experience takes a bit to get used to after using S60 and Windows Mobile for many years, but actually is very fluid (when connected via WiFi). So far every site I have visited worked well, but I have many more to test out.

E-mail: I setup Yahoo! and Gmail accounts and also an Exchange account with my hosted Exchange service. The current Exchange option uses the IMAP protocol, which my provider supports so it was quick and easy to get all my email working. I still want to see a Microsoft ActiveSync Exchange solution though so I can wirelessly sync my calendar and contacts too, which also backs everything up to a server.

Other iPhone applications: Google Maps, Stocks, YouTube, Photos, Clock, Calculator, and Notes all work well and appear as you have seen in the videos. Again, I'll go into each in more depth with screenshots in my full review.

Settings: Unlike S60 and Windows Mobile, there are minimal menus and way to access settings in each application. Instead all of the settings are managed from a single Settings "channel". There are lots of options here and again I'll post shots of each page in my more extensive look. I hope to work on this most all day and get it up for you later tonight.

SIM card experiences: I then popped my T-Mobile SIM in the iPhone and this appeared on the display:

Incorrect SIM: This iPhone must be used with an approved SIM.

However, even with the T-Mobile SIM in there the WiFi DOES work. So it seems you may be able to get it "unlocked" and activated with an AT&T SIM and then use it as an iPod and WiFi connected device after that.

The AT&T SIM (also with the 3G logo on it) was then popped it into my unlocked T-Mobile Dash. That works fine so the issue of taking it out and putting it into another device has been answered. I don't have a 3G unlocked device to try out though so I can't confirm 3G connectivity. I did run a dslreports speed test using a 200k file and saw 159 and 170 kbps test results in my house where I see the Dash showing a full signal.

Navigation: It is also taking me some time to get used to no Back button and you have to tap the screen in the upper left for most applications to go back. It would be cool to have the single bottom button act as Back for a single press and Home for a press and hold, what do you think about this idea?

I will post a more extensive review after further usage, including testing away from a WiFi connection. Please feel free to post questions of things you want me to check out and I'll try to add that as well.

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