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Apple iPhone Basics and Features

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apple iphone
image copyright Apple Inc.

The iPhone 4 and its predecessors are more than just fancy cell phones. With their range of features – from phone to web browser, from iPod to mobile game device – the iPhone is more like a computer that fits in your pocket and your hand than any cell phone.

iPhone Specfications

Physically, the iPhone 4 differs a decent amount from the iPhone 3GS and previous models, all of which were broadly similar in shape.

While the overall presentation of the iPhone 4 is similar to its predecessors, it's different in that it's no longer tapered on the edges, includes a glass face on the front and back, wraps the antenna around the outside of the phone (which has caused antenna some problems), and is slightly thinner.

All iPhones offer a 3.5-inch touchscreen that employs multi-touch technology. Multi-touch allows users to control items on the screen with more than one finger simultaneously (thus the name). It’s multi-touch that enables some of the iPhone’s most famous features, such as tapping the screen twice to zoom in or “pinching” and dragging your fingers to zoom out.

Other major differences between the iPhone 4 and earlier models include use of the Apple A4 processor, the inclusion of two cameras, a high-resolution screen, and improved battery life.

Both phones use a trio of sensors to produce some of their best usability features, though neither model offers expandable or upgradeable memory.

iPhone Features

Because the iPhone is like a mini-computer, it offers the same wide range of features and functions that a computer does. The major areas of function for the iPhone are:

Phone – The iPhone’s phone features are solid. It includes innovative features like Visual Voicemail and standard features like text messaging and voice dialing.

Web browsing – The iPhone offers the best, most complete mobile browsing experience. Though it doesn’t support the standard Flash browser plug in, it doesn’t require dumbed-down “mobile” versions of websites, instead offering the real thing on a phone.

Email – Like all good smartphones, the iPhone has robust email features and can sync to corporate email servers running Exchange.

Calendar/PDA – The iPhone is a personal information manager, too, with calendar, address book, stock-tracking, weather update, and related features.

iPod – A shortcut description of an iPhone is a combined cell phone and iPod, so of course its music player features offer all the advantages and coolness of iPods.

Video playback – With its big, beautiful, 3.5-inch screen, the iPhone is a great choice for mobile video playback, whether using the built-in YouTube application, adding your own video, or buying or renting content from the iTunes Store.

Apps – With the addition of the App Store, iPhones can now run all kinds of third-party programs, from games (both free and paid) to Facebook and Twitter to restaurant finders and productivity apps. The App Store makes the iPhone the most useful smartphone around.

Cameras - One major change in the iPhone is the inclusion of two camera, whereas previous models only had one. The camera on the back of the phone shoots 5-megapxzel still images and takes 720p HD video. The user-facing camera allows FaceTime video chats.

iPhone Home Screen

With the release of iPhone firmware – the software that runs the phone - version 1.1.3, users can re-arrange the icons on their home screen. This is especially helpful once you start adding programs from the App Store, as you can group similar applications, or the ones you use the most often, together.

Of course, being able to re-arrange icons also leads to some unexpected events, like all the icons on your screen shaking.

iPhone Controls

Though the iPhone’s coolest control features are based around the multi-touch screen, it also has a number of buttons on its face that are used for control.

Home button – This button, at the bottom of the phone right below the screen, is used to wake the phone from sleep and control some onscreen features.

Hold button – At the top right corner of the iPhone, you’ll find the hold button. Pressing this button locks the screen and/or puts the phone to sleep. It’s also the button used to restart the phone.

Volume button – On the left side of the phone, a long button that moves up and down controls the volume of music, video, and the phone’s ringer.

Ringer button – Just above the volume control is a smaller rectangular button. This is the ringer button, which allows you to put the phone into silent mode so the ringer won’t sound when calls come in.

Dock Connector – This port, at the bottom of the phone, is where you plug in the cable to sync the phone with a computer, as well as accessories.

Using iPhone with iTunes

Like an iPod, the iPhone is synced with and managed using iTunes.

Activation - When you first get an iPhone, you activate it through iTunes and select your monthly phone plan using the software.

Sync - Once the phone is activated, iTunes is used to sync music, videos, calendars and other information to the phone.

Restore and Reset – Lastly, iTunes is also used to reset data on the iPhone and restore contents from backup if problems cause you to need to erase the contents of the phone.

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