And Jobs said, let there be the iPhone…

Ah. I received my big birthday present early this year. Now, just so y’all know I’m not spoiled silly, I kicked in $450 towards what I got — which is, obviously, if ya read the dang title, an iPhone.

Here are my first impressions after playing with it for a day or so.

First, it’s like all Apple products. Sleek, beautiful, well-designed, and horridly overpriced. Then again, this is a new kind of phone…if you can even call it a phone.

First, the great parts.

The number one thing I love about this phone is that Apple has finally delivered a working, easy-to-use, full-featured web browser. Browsing the web on the iPhone is a snap, given its zoom-in capabilities and everything. It’s quite something to behold.

The higher-end model holds 8 gigs (that’s the only thing that makes it higher end) versus 4 gigs for the lower-end model. But if you’re going to get an iPhone, get the dang higher-end one and do things right.

The iPod mode of the device works like a charm, although it only has, at most, 8 gigs of storage (which is fine for me but I know a lot of people with 20 gig iPods who have filled them all up already).

Emailing works equally as well. Navigating between modes is a snap. Setup is easy. Learning the whole thing is a snap — like all Apple products, it’s scarily intuitive.

Despite complaints about AT&T service, it’s been just fine for me. No dropped calls yet. Although I wish Apple had allowed us some choice in our carriers, I would have certainly preferred Verizon. You have 30 days to test your AT&T service and cancel without a fee. After that — it’s $117 to cancel service (ouch, I know).

It’s a slim phone, and it looks like it might not be such a great shape to use as a phone, but it works just fine. Sound quality is excellent. The earbuds are, well, typical earbuds, but there is a built-in speaker that doesn’t do a half bad job.

Everything works through iTunes, and works simply. It’s great.

Now, some of the downsides.

The “virtual keyboard”, while not that bad, takes some getting used to. The auto-complete function helps a great deal. You’re not going to be writing a novel on this thing, but then again, it’s not really meant for that. You’ll get used to the keyboard if you get one and you’ll eventually be doing just great with it, though.

There is no speed-dial per se, although you can add contacts to a list of favorites and do “one-touch” calling — sort of. It takes more than one touch, more like four or so. There is also no voice-dial ability, which is a shame.

And, of course, like almost every Apple product, it’s overpriced. The price will drop, certainly, and I urge those of you less obsessed with gadgets than myself to wait and pick it up after it’s gone down $100 or so. Plus by that time they’ll have a newer model out and — although I have yet to run into any bugs (*knocks on wood*) that will undoubtedly be a more stable product. I believe the next model is coming out near Christmas (big surprise there).

Like every other Apple product, another big downside is their incomprehensible stance on proprietary software. You’re not going to be able to download great apps right away; you’re going to have to wait for people and apps to meet Apple’s approval. Not necessarily a bad thing, but certainly annoying.

It could also stand to have its max volume set a little higher.

Now, finally, the big one: you can only get service through AT&T. So far, my calls have gone through smoothly without a hitch or a drop (*knocks on wood again*). Even if you love AT&T’s service (which not too many people seem to, if you read the posts across the web) you have to admit that Apple could have done a lot better by offering service from a few different companies, especially Verizon, which is a perennial fan favorite (and the make of my last cell, which worked perfectly fine — I’ve had the most trouble with Sprint service). I heard that Apple originally presented the idea to Verizon and Verizon turned it down — why, I have no idea.

These are minor complaints, though. You’ll either love or hate the iPhone. Personally, I think it’s surprising how much it lives up to the hype. It really is a brand-new sort of thing, a phone/PDA the likes of which you’ve never seen before. Me, I love it. But it’s not for everybody and yeah, it’s got that big-boy adult toy-like feel. But who cares? We all know that whoever dies with the most toys wins, guys!

Bottom line: if you’re a gadget freak and an Apple fan, go get one. If you’re satisfied with your current smartphone, wait until the price drops and they release a second model. If you only use your phone to make calls and don’t care about anything else, this is definitely not for you, despite the fact that the phone aspect of the iPhone does work very well.

But if you’re a gadget-freak like me? Hey, I spent all last night into the wee wee hours of the morning fiddling with it — and then I dreamed about it all night (no joke). Get it. You won’t regret it. The casual user should, however, as I have said, simply wait for a price drop and a second model.

Anyway you look at it, though, Apple has dropped a bomb on the smartphone community; one which is going to change the dynamics of things for a long time to come.

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