Some lingering iPhone questions I haven’t heard answered anywhere…

So I’m thinking about getting an iPhone, but a few potential dealstoppers keep coming up and I haven’t seen much info on it even though it’s coming out in less than two weeks. Maybe some of you readers can help.

  1. Is there an airplane mode where phone functionality is shut off? The one place I find myself watching tv/movies on my iPod is on planes. Given the simple interface, so far I haven’t seen or heard that there are preferences menus that’d let you easily shut off your wireless phone functionality and just use the device as an audio/video player inside aircraft where phones are prohibited. Most smartphone/PDAs have this option.
  2. My existing iPod dock on my computer and the car charger/adapter I already have will work fine, right? When it was first announced, I believe Jobs said the iPod connector on the bottom was standard, but I’ve heard about companies making iPhone adapters for cars and I’m sort of unclear if I just simply use my existing Belkin iPod charger in the car (which also has audio out that I wire into my car stereo). I hope it all works.
  3. The interfaces all look fantastic, but is the music player going to be something I can use by feel? Currently I use an iPod in my car and I place it on a mount right next to my steering wheel. I barely have to take a finger off the wheel to change songs and I barely have to glance at the iPod to do it, letting me keep my eyes on the road. Given the iPhone interface, will I be able to change songs by simply clicking on the right side of the screen? Or am I going to be required to use CoverFlow at 65mph?
  4. Has AT&T announced their data plans for it? I can’t believe it’s less than two weeks away and no one seems to know if it’ll be $40 a month or $50 or $60 or more for unlimited data and a few hundred monthly minutes. They really do seem to be rushing this to market if they’re not openly sharing the plan pricing in advance.
  5. I’ve heard that every AT&T Wireless store in the US should get about 20 phones to sell on the first day, but I’m still concerned about availability. How is the 4Gb/8Gb split going to be in their inventory? 50-50%? Is the 6pm launch really going to happen? Should I line up in the afternoon? Can I get all my credit check/plan forms filled out before 6pm so I can just have the phone and leave the store at 6:01PM?
  6. Is there going to be a “turn off CSS” option in Safari for the iPhone? Sideways scrolling blows and I’m not going to use safari much if I have to point and drag all over the screen to read anything. I actually like my Blackberry Pearl’s browser because it ignores CSS and displays text versions of sites that are easy to read and navigate quickly. (also, I hope there’s a Gmail app coming soon for the iPhone, I’m not even going to use the default email client)

34 Comments

  • I asked someone about airplane mode at MacWorld Expo in January and they told me it does have that feature. As for the adapter, I suspect it’s just due to the shape & size, similar to adapters for iPod mini & nano in the beginning when most stuff was made for full sized iPods.

  • I think you’re not alone in these questions; there’s a lot that remains unanswered as we draw close to the launch.
    Nothing has been announced about data plans, or splits of inventory, or airplane mode, or actual functionality for Safari. I’m guessing we won’t learn anything until post-launch as some intrepid souls commit themselves to two years of Cingular in the name of information.

  • The one thing I want most from an MP3 player, speaking of driving & distractions, is a voice operated interface. For years now, I’ve been able to press a button on my cell phone & say “dial Robin,” and the phone would (more often than not) dial Robin. Why can’t I press a button & say “Play Erasure?” I mean, other than the fact that I’m not super gay & thus don’t have any Erasure on my ipod.

  • As for the airplane mode: Ignore the flight attendants. The FAA makes them state and ‘enforce’ a lot of stupid / misleading / blatantly wrong policies. Pay them no heed.

  • 1. I believe there is, yes. No one has seen the “Settings” section of the iPhone yet, though.
    2. The dock connector itself will work, but it might not fit in your dock. Other connecting devices should work, but again, they might not fit if they have surrounding plastic, etc.
    3. Absolutely not by feel. You won’t have to use coverflow, but you’re not going to be able to blindly change music on this thing–there’s no tactile feedback. You’ll be flip foward/back play/pause once you get used to the position of those buttons, but choosing music won’t be doable by touch alone.
    4. No announcements yet. This is something I kept asking of Apple at WWDC… basically, the answer I always got was that details would come on launch. To which I said that was offensive and ridiculous. To which they replied that it was, but it built excitement.
    5. No idea on this one, but something tells me that in popular areas, the distribution won’t only be 20 phones. Again, I don’t know, but I got the impression that Apple believes everyone who wants one will get one. But yes, I would stand in line.
    6. This is a great question that wasn’t asked. I’ll try to find out.

  • Great points — I’ve read somewhere on the official site that they’re requiring a *new* signup for a two-year-minimum contract with AT&T. Let’s assume that they cheapest, most bare-bones contract is for $50 a month — that’s a $1700 iPhone. Phew.

  • Correction Anil: a $1700 tax writeoff for internet professionals.

  • Sideways scrolling would indeed blow…but I was lucky enough to play with an iPhone for a little bit and was happy that I didn’t see any sideways scrolling on any of my most visited sites thanks to that whole turning-the-phone-for-a-wider-view thing.
    Also, I really liked throwing the page around. Almost always landed where I was hoping it would.
    Hard to make the call for buying without knowing the data plan price, though. Probably still get one – my phone is busted (mic broken) and I’m eligible for an upgrade.

  • 3. Dont be a friggin idiot. Stop using anything whilst you drive a car. You shouldn’t be controlling anything whilst driving. Pull over. Change. Continue.

  • As a RIM employee, can I suggest that you stay with the Pearl? :)

  • I’m excited that Apple is getting into the phone biz, and I hope to have a 2nd/3rd/4th gen iphone at some point. But, the genius of the ipod was being able to have _all_ of your music right there in your hand. The benefit of having Apple making phones is to help combine devices–your phone, pda, and ipod–into a single device. So why only an 8gb iphone? Did I miss something? Hasn’t iTunes been successful enough for Apple to consider that folks might have more than that in music alone, not to mention what they’d like to have in pictures, ringtones, mobile docs, etc on their phones?
    Also, I’m pretty scared that an iphone wouldn’t survive half of my day, due to battery life. When I travel, I often spend my airport time (particularly waiting in the long security lines, then in the Southwest seat group lines) making phone calls and such. Then, I use my ipod to listen to music, podcasts, or even watch video during the flight. When I land, I usually have to make a bunch of other calls. My ipod is nearly dead by the end of the flight if I’ve watched a video, and I can just imagine how long I could do that if I’d been making 90 minutes of calls first. It’s not like I can plug in just anywhere in the airport, or on the plane for that matter. Am I alone in this fear?

  • Well, Scott I agree that the storage size available at launch could be greater. Good new is that Apple has just released that the battery life is going to exceed their original stated times at MacWorld Expo. They’ll certainly come out with larger capacity iPhones in the future just as technology makes more storage possible all the time. I think the tradeoff they were attempting was to give the iPhone as much storage as possible but still fit it in a small case and minimize power usage. A larger conventional hard drive (one that has spinning platters) would give more storage, BUT add significant weight, size and power requirements which would also require a larger heavier battery. So for those primary reasons, I think Apple made a good choice in employing flash memory similar to the current iPod nano.

  • There’s also this to keep in mind, especially since they’ve switched to glass instead of plastic.

  • Given that Apple announced this product months ago, they really should put more specs on the web site. Maybe they want to reduce the hordes at the launch. If I lived in the USA I would buy one anyway for the things I know it can do.

  • Well, good news, Matt. Check out Apple.com: the airplane mode is in the settings. The huge and very long walkthrough (20 mins) shows several neat things, including that one. Points 1 and 2 seem covered.

  • These are great questions.
    I’ve always struggled with the current iPods in terms of navigation while driving. Playlist and Podcast navigation is spotty via a head unit that talks to the iPod. A navigator is required to do it risk-free. And then you are subject to the navigator’s choices.
    Maybe shuffle play and a remote that is duct-taped to the steering wheel?

  • The current AT&T Wireless pricing model has phone minutes in one category and MEdia Net (data, SMS, video) in another.
    The cheapest unlimited-data MEdia Net plan is $20/mo, on top of whatever rate you have for phone minutes. There are more expensive MEdia net plans, but they only add more and more text messages.
    It’d be … interesting … if they try and have different data pricing for iPhone users than they do for the rest of their customers.

  • Kevin,
    That’s true for regular phones, but they already have separate “BlackBerry” and “Smart Phone” plans, some of which cost *more* than the regular phone data plans. Wouldn’t seem such a stretch that they’d add an “iPhone” plan. Here’s one of the BlackBerry plans:

    With PDA Connect for BlackBerry® Connect, email messages are automatically delivered to your Nokia E62, Palm® Treo™ 650, Palm® Treo™ 680, or Nokia 9300 device. You can easily send, receive and reply to emails and calendaring at your convenience. Customers can use BlackBerry® Connect on the Nokia E62, Palm® Treo™ 650, Palm® Treo™ 680, or Nokia 9300 with BlackBerry® Enterprise Server (BES) email functionality; the Nokia E62 and Nokia 9300 also support BlackBerry® Internet Service (BIS).

    All for the low-low price of just $49.99/month *more* than you are already paying for voice service!

  • They’ve announced iPhone plans now, and they’re $20 more than the equivalent no-data plans. $60, $80, or $100/month for 450, 900, or 1350 rollover daytime minutes. All the data stuff is “free.”
    So that’s better than I expected, though I’m slightly surprised that the plans top out at 1350 minutes.

  • There are higher plans available, click “more minutes” near the bottom of the chart on this page:
    http://www.apple.com/iphone/easysetup/rateplans.html
    they top out at 6000 mins. for $219

  • I’m surprised to see the SMS isn’t unlimited, especially considering how the iPhone treats SMS like iChat.

  • i bet there is some sort of inter-carrier costs involved with sms, and that made unlimited sms not (seem) worth offering.

  • will safari be able to download files into the internal memory card for later Mac retrieval/sync ?

  • I was told by a cingular retailer that none of the iPhone plans would offer high-speed data, so all the web based apps would be running at dial-up modem speeds. I’d like to hear/see how fast web pages and google maps actually take to open.

  • @federico, I haven’t seen any mention of a feature like that, and would be quite surprised if you could. There’s no removable media so you’d have to go through iTunes. It begs the question: What happens when you click on a link to a .zip, etc in Safari?

  • Yahoo page will fully load for 2 minutes on your iPhone. That’s what Mosberg from Wall Street Journal said.
    So, yes, this phone is design around media and internet so it ”screams” internet .
    Without 3G network, hardly so.
    Wi-Fi is not allways there nor universal.

  • Ah, the tax write-off. That’d be nice.
    I should become an internet professional someday… :-)

  • Yes, there is an airplane mode. It is indicated by a little airplane icon when it is enabled. :)

  • Yeah, Todd, but my questions were written a couple weeks ago, before they released details on airplane mode, rate plans, etc.

  • I just loaded yahoo.com using EDGE. It took 24 seconds to fully load, and about 5 or 6 before I started seeing the structure of the page, text, and some images.
    The rest of the time was taken up loading 3rd party ads, big photos, etc. Nothing that stopped me from starting to read.
    I’m in Seattle.

  • ok matt, sorry i didn’t take note of the date. :)

  • Almost everything has to be done in portrait mode, only a few functions work (photos, web) in landscape mode.

  • I have another question that i’ve not seen answered anywhere! Please help if you can –
    Can the iPhone be used completely when only in landscape mode? (or does it need to be portrait for certain functions?)
    Thanks in advance!

  • It will sound like a stupid question but i just bought an iphone and i can t tell how many internal memory it has.I have a memory card 256mb in it but i can t see the internal memory:(((.Do i need a program like itunes for ex. to use my internal memory???I see you people already know this plsss someone help me in this….thanks a lot:(

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