Although Apple's iPhone may be feature-packed and great to use, it, like every other product, has limitations. And that's why we're putting it through our Ten Things You Should Know buyer's guide series so new buyers and people who don't live and breathe the iPhone (your parents, your co-workers, or your wife) can be just as well informed as you. Here are the Ten Things You Should Know Before You Buy an iPhone.
1) Not all iPod Accessories and headphones will work with the iPhone: Unless your accessory specifically claims that it works with the iPhone, you're going to have mixed results when you plug in. Some work (but prompt you to turn on Airplane mode), some don't. So far our test show good results.
As for headphones, if you've got an L-shaped plug or a fat plug, you're out of luck. Thanks to the recessed headphone jack, you're going to actually have to buy an adapter to get some of your regular headphones to work with the iPhone.
2) AT&T is Evil: You know this. Being stuck on AT&T for two years is going to be horrible. This is the company that had managers forcing customers to buy accessories with the iPhone just so they could meet their sales quotas. Plus, their reception and customer service leave a lot to be desired.
3) No video recording or MMS: The iPhone's 2-megapixel camera is great if there's enough light, but there's no video recording at all. None. This is odd, since the iPhone has so much video playback capabilities in its iPod "app," but don't expect to make movies with this thing. And since you can't record video, you can't send any video messages (MMS) either.
4) No Instant Messaging: The SMS app may look great with its iChat-esque bubbles, but there's no IM app to be found anywhere. With the Helio Ocean and the Sidekick both featuring on-board multi-client IM apps, and Windows Mobile and Palm smartphones able to add them on later, there's no excuse for not having an IM client.
5) Not for business use: BlackBerry enthusiasts need not apply. In addition to the keyboard being totally different (we're already typing fast with two thumbs, but less "adaptable" people may not pick up on this as fast), there's no push email except for Yahoo Mail. There is Exchange support, but it's just using IMAP access. Good luck getting your IT department to hook this up.
6) It's not a full iPod Replacement, and it has no games: With 4GB or 8GB of storage, this is essentially an iPod nano. It's definitely not an iPod Video, both in terms of storage and functionality. You can watch videos, sure, but there's no TV out, and not nearly enough room to keep all the TV shows and podcasts you keep downloading. Plus, all those 5G iPod games that you thought were going to make it onto the iPhone? Nope. No games at all.
7) It's not a smartphone: As much as Apple wants you to think their "open application development" using webapps is actual apps, it's not. You can get some stuff done using webapps and Safari, but as of right now, support sucks. Until people start developing apps specifically customized for the iPhone's quirks, you won't be doing anything super fancy. And of course there's no way for you to get "real" Cocoa-based apps onto the iPhone.
8) The data connection is slow: Although the iPhone has both EDGE and Wi-Fi, you're probably going to be using EDGE most of the time. Why? Because if you're in Wi-Fi range, you're usually at home or at work, when you've got an actual computer in front of you. When you're outside driving or walking, you'll be on EDGE. If you're on EDGE, expect emails with large attachments and Web pages to download slowly. Unlike other gripes, this is something they can't fix with a software update. Real time traffic is nice though.
9) There's no GPS: The iPhone may have a Google Maps application with turn by turn driving directions, but there's no actual GPS in there. You're going to have find your current location yourself, plus tell the phone exactly when you're turning. Like the data connection, a software update can't fix this.
10) There are no custom ringtones: You can't use your own ringtones (whether they're MP3s, downloaded music, or iTunes tracks) as ringtones for your phone. Luckily for us, since the default ringtones are pretty lousy, custom ringtones may be coming soon.
As you can see, the iPhone has caveats galore. Even though we're still enjoying the iPhone, any prospective buyers should be aware of these limitations before throwing down $500 or $600. Many of these problems (video recording, MMS, Instant Messaging, custom ringtones) can be fixed with a software update, but if any of the other features are important to you, you may have to wait until iPhone 2.0.