iPhone: The $1,975 iPod
Apple's and AT&T's high-price gadget is a heartbreaking triumph of greed over genius
It doesn't help that iPhone isn't tunable. No two people hold iPhone exactly the same way, and your angle of view makes all the difference when you're poking at a small target on iPhone's screen. This really shows when you're using the on-screen keyboard. Its keys are huge, which is both boon and bane. The large keys are easy to read, and pressing one makes a flag pop up above your finger that echoes the key you pressed. This is necessary because you can plant your finger squarely on a key and have iPhone register the key next to it. Once you get used to the technique, you learn that if you slide your finger to the proper key before lifting it, you can get the right letter. I found that keys toward the sides of the display register erroneously more often than others.
iPhone attempts to counteract this effect by presenting word-completion options that cover many "missed by one key" typing errors. It's like the correction that Microsoft built into its block-handwriting recognizer, but you shouldn't need a facility like that with a keyboard. iPhone's keyboard is very cool to watch, but despite the invitation to do so, you can't set upon it with thumbs a-blazing. You just miss too many keys.
iPhone supports BlackBerry-like contraction substitution: Type a contraction without an apostrophe and iPhone will add it. However, it lacks a modifiable shortcut dictionary. And while iPhone tries to provide correction for missed keys, it doesn't flag or correct misspelled words, and most of its normal word completion suggestions are nonsense.
Safari does not allow a Web page to sense finger motion using standard events, so drag, slide, and drag/drop operations require special effort while other devices with touchscreens will mimic a mouse well enough to permit these actions in a desktop style.
iPhone offers no clear way to select, copy, or paste text in edit fields, and repositioning the text cursor in a multiline edit field requires two-finger scrolling in a tiny space above the pop-up keyboard.
While Safari works considerable magic to make some HTML controls, like combo boxes, easy to use on a small display, this does not extend to other types of controls that may be too small to hit while at a zoom level that lets you see an entire form or grid of controls. In one common annoyance, aiming for a button with an adjacent text field ended up selecting the text field, which pops up the enormous, opaque QWERTY keyboard. For Web pages, a translucent keyboard that passed finger gestures to the underlying page would be a major improvement to iPhone. However, on pages with multiple text fields, iPhone's text window presents Previous and Next buttons so that you can hop from field to field without having the keyboard pop up and down.