So, I got an iPhone.
I didn't mean to, but on Friday night as I came home from work, I realized that the Apple store would be open until midnight and their web app showed that they had some iPhones still in stock. I walked over, since it's only a couple of blocks from the shuttle stop and my apartment, thinking that if they had any left, I'd get one.
The store was packed with people trying out pretty much every Apple hardware type, but there was a huge crowd around the demo iPhones. As I walked in the store, I asked one of the greeters if they had any left. He didn't ask "Any what?", man, he just knew. Freaking Apple, how do they do it? This was 11 PM on a Friday night, and a computer store was packed!
Anyway, there were loads left so I bought the 8 GB version and went home. Total time in the store: less than 10 minutes, most of which was spent in line waiting to pay. Given my neighborhood, I was hoping that I wouldn't get rolled and end up as the first iPhone theft victim.
I should be so lucky, given what happened next.
Descent into customer service hell
I took the phone out at home, plugged it in, answered a couple of questions through the iTunes software, and it told me there would be a slight wait for activation. Given it was the first night, I figured it could take awhile.
Saturday morning rolls around, and still no activation so I call up AT&T, a company that I've never had a good experience dealing with. They said that there servers were under a huge load, crashing regularly and it could take some time. Remember that this is a company that is carrying potential 911 calls. Yeesh.
By Saturday afternoon, I was getting impatient and called AT&T again, and the tech this time said that according to his records, everything was fine on their end but that they were waiting for Apple to send the activation signal... it felt like a pretty hand-wavey excuse. No dice. All evening the iPhone sat there like a futuristic alien artifact that a lowly human-ape-thing like me couldn't figure out.
On Sunday morning, I'd had enough. I went to the Apple store and started complaining loudly to the first Apple person I saw. He quickly sent me over to the manager who, as luck would have it, had managed several AT&T stores for a few years. He actually called AT&T back, sat on the phone with them and me for almost an hour when he realized that AT&T had messed up my account and that it was stuck in limbo and would never get activated. Apparently, AT&T has customer data in several databases, so when you call them up, no one person can help you because they only have access to one part of it! The Apple manager told the AT&T drones what to do, and suddenly my activation was actually making normal progress through the queue.
Monday morning at 4:26 AM my iPhone was activated. AT&T's performance was a symphony of incompetence, but it was finally done. The first call I made on it was to AT&T to complain and dare them to charge me "Activation Fees". Did I mention that on Saturday during all the messing around their phone support guy was doing, they deactivated my old phone so I had absolutely no phone service for a couple of days (since I have no land line at home)?
Oh, you guys are expecting a review...
The iPhone is absolutely incredible. It feels amazing, has a brilliant screen, the "touch, drag, flick and scroll" interface is actually addictive! It was like a game. In fact, I bet there could be an entire industry of downloadable games based on the touch interface. There was no lag in any of the graphics effects.
Call quality is fine, but the web browsing was excellent: I was reading Gmail and Nullstream in Safari without any degradation. No crippled mobile versions of the web with the iPhone. Zooming in and out and rotating the device worked very intuitively on web pages and maps. The keyboard was easy to do one finger typing, but 2 thumbs typing was hard for me to be accurate. The phone fits in my pocket and is so slim and light that I didn't notice it and carried it around all day. There's no way I could do that with my old phone.
There are probably hundreds of much more detailed reviews on the web you can read, but bottom line: I'm definitely happy with my purchase.
Both photos above are of my iPhone and my 80 GB iPod.