Couple's Verdict on iPhone: It's a Split Decision

FOXNews.com reporter Courtney Friel and her husband, WWOR-TV reporter Carter Evans, picked up a pair of Apple iPhones the day they came out.

He loved his, but she hated hers — so much so that she took it back for a refund and is now happily pecking away again on her BlackBerry.

What's right and wrong with the iPhone? Ask no further:

COURTNEY:

I remember first hearing about the iPhone when Steve Jobs debuted it in San Francisco in January. I was watching the coverage on FOX News and thought, "Uh-oh, another new toy my husband is going to want."

Carter is also a TV reporter and was assigned the iPhone unveiling for the local news that day. You could see the twinkle in his eyes during his live shot. From that point on, he was stoked. The six-month wait began.

CARTER:

OK, I admit it. I'm a geek. If that's the label I get for loving the iPhone, I can live with it.

I'm a big Mac fan, so when I first saw the revolutionary handset after its debut in January, I knew this phone would be big.

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COURTNEY:

I never really got hyped up about the iPhone, but Carter and I decided we would both get one. Geraldo Rivera asked me to cover the June 29 launch for his "At Large" show.

I went to the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in New York to interview the insane folks who had waited in line for days. I got excited after seeing all the commotion. I couldn't get the iPhone then and there because the line was too long, so Carter brought back two to our house.

Instead of opening the box, I went to bed because we were going to the beach early the next day, but Carter stayed up all night like a kid at Christmas playing with it.

CARTER:

Courtney and I both got our iPhones the day they came out in June. The hype was unbelievable, so of course everyone wanted to check out my new toy. For weeks, people would stop me on the street just to have a look.

COURTNEY:

We showed them off to our friends all weekend, and on Monday when I returned to work, Shepard Smith's producers were looking for someone to talk to about his or her iPhone on "Studio B."

I volunteered, and I admit — it was the coolest show-and-tell ever. People would stop me at FOX and on the street to ask me to show them how it worked. Someone at a gas station actually congratulated me on getting the iPhone. I felt special.

CARTER:

Now that I own one of these little gems, I'm getting an idea of where the future of wireless communications is heading.

I barely use my laptop anymore because I can do almost everything on a slick little device about the size of a deck of cards, but thinner.

The big difference between the iPhone and other smartphones on the market right now is that smartphones are phones with computer-like functions. The iPhone is a computer that just happens to be a phone.

E-mail, Web browsing, Google Maps, YouTube — it's all there and very useable. It's also an amazing iPod and spectacular video player. Oh, and did I mention you can make calls on it, too?

COURTNEY:

But then the problems started settling in.

I am a textaholic and my fingers are very dexterous! The iPhone's keyboard was awful. The letters were way too small and that "prediction" function does not work.

I need physical buttons to push so that there is no mistake in what I am trying to write. I don't have time to waste, especially when I am sending important messages to my best friend about life and shoes!

Seriously, we text for 20 minutes straight before realizing we should just pick up the phone and talk to each other.

CARTER:

I've got no problems with the "soft" keyboard — it works a lot better than I expected. You control everything on the phone by tapping, flicking and pinching images with your fingers. It's a completely different computing experience.

Even when my clumsy thumbs hit the wrong key, Apple's text-correction software almost always figures out what I meant to type. You've probably seen the commercials. It really is that simple.

There are, however, some major issues.

COURTNEY:

Turning the iPhone sideways when it was on the Web and expanding the screen with my fingers was cool, but the loading took forever. The fact that Apple and AT&T put it on the old EDGE data network instead of on a faster 3G system is ridiculous.

The iPhone never asked me if I wanted to join random Wi-Fi networks around the city. If I wanted to get Google Maps (super neat), the weather, time zones, stocks or e-mail links, it was sooo slow — like the dial-up days back in '97.

This factor did not help when I was trying to show it off. It was great to have the YouTube videos, but again, they couldn't load and play properly on that slow connection.

CARTER:

First and foremost, Wi-Fi is great if you can find a hotspot, but when you're on the road, you've got to rely on AT&T's EDGE data network, which is painfully slow. Remember dial-up? Enough said.

For a $600 phone, I don't care what Apple and AT&T say: There is no excuse for not making the iPhone compatible with the blazing fast 3G networks, except maybe planned obsolescence.

COURTNEY:

I liked the photo album a lot, but the iPhone's camera took bad pictures. There was no video camera. No instant messenger. Plus the device got super-dirty.

The phone reception was bad. People would call me and the unlock screen wouldn't work, or would freeze, and so I would miss my calls.

CARTER:

The good news is that because the iPhone is a little computer, most of the complaints, except the EDGE issue, can be remedied with a simple software fix.

I fully expect an update in the next couple of months that will take care of these seven iPhone sins:

1. Still pictures only, no video.

2. No chat program.

3. You can't cut and paste text.

4. No voice dialing.

5. You can't rotate the screen in the Mail application.

6. The speakerphone is way too quiet.

7. No third-party applications.

COURTNEY:

If nothing else, I thought, I can at least use this as an iPod.

But then I'd be running on the treadmill at the gym and would want to scroll through to another song — and each time, I would have to slide the unlock key.

I could never get back to the screen with my songs, so I'd have to revisit the home page and start the whole process over again — all while attempting to run, which messed up my pacing and frustrated the heck out of me.

CARTER:

Now let's talk about durability. Like all of Apple's products, the iPhone is fairly rugged, but consider this a warning: Don't toss it around like you did your old phone.

Apple outfitted the iPhone with a glass screen to withstand all the tapping and touching. It's optical-grade and tough enough to survive some pretty serious drops, but somehow I broke mine after about a month.

AT&T does not sell handset insurance for the iPhone, so if you break it and it's not covered by Apple's warranty, you've got a $600 paperweight!

COURTNEY:

Overall, I just thought the iPhone was too big of an investment for me to not be happy with anything about it, and Carter did not want to hear my complaints.

Five minutes before the Apple store closed on the day my two-week grace period was up, I returned it and paid my 10 percent restocking fee.

CARTER:

When I called AppleCare about my cracked screen, they sent a loaner iPhone the next day with a prepaid shipping box for my broken phone. Two days later, they sent me a brand new iPhone for free!

Unfortunately, the FedEx man also delivered some bad news with my new iPhone. The plain brown box it came in wasn't even labeled "Apple" — but somehow he still knew it was an iPhone.

Why? Because he's been delivering lots of replacements!

He even guessed the problem: "Broken screen?"

Not good.

COURTNEY:

Now I use my work BlackBerry for everything. It is simpler, but all I care about is the texting anyway. Good thing text messages are free!

Just because the iPhone wasn't for me, though, doesn't mean it isn't for you.

CARTER:

I certainly don't want to steer you away from an iPhone. I still love mine and believe the pros far outweigh the cons. If you've been thinking of getting an iPhone, don't let these issues stop you as long as you can afford it.

It's new technology, so it takes a little getting used to — but the iPhone really is the phone of the future.