If you hadn't had enough already about the iPhone, Denise Pappalardo wrote for PC Advisor that AT&T Wireless "has been among the least-satisfying service providers," according to the annual customer satisfaction survey in Consumer Reports magazine.

Note to self, as my carrier, Cingular, is now "the new AT&T."

"Consumer Reports said customers complain about static and busy circuits. "Frequent service-related problems were compounded by the company's relatively low mark for helpfulness in handling customer questions and complaints," according to the magazine.

"The consumer journal also points out that the iPhone will not run over AT&T's highest-speed 3G network based on high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) technology. The iPhone will only run over AT&T's 2.5G Edge network."

So far the service has been fine with my Cingular 8525 Pocket PC phone running Windows Mobile 5... the speed isn't blazing when I visit a web page or download mail. In my recent interaction with AT&T customer support, I've found them to be pleasant enough, 'though they lack a reasonable IVR implementation on their 800 line. 

The Cincinnati Enquirer notes that customers said "It looks like a great device but the word on that might change. I might get one but I want to wait until it's on the market for awhile to see what the feedback is."

Chris Null, founding editor-in-chief of Mobile PC magazine is quoted as saying that "people are correct to be hesitant to shell out that kind of money for a first-generation device. At the same time, Apple has learned a lot since the first iPod came out."

IMHO, $600 is a lot for a phone, and an instance where mobile phone insurance is an almost must. Not a plug for it, just a note that I'm pretty hard on phones and have treated my 8525 with kid gloves and it continues to perform after more than six months. But I also invested in a form-fitting silicon case as well as a nice belt case to protect it, along with screen protectors. If you're getting a new device, especially one at this end of the price range, those precautions are a must.

And if your carrier no longer offers insurance (I've heard that many don't) consider one of the mainstream high-tech equipment insurance companies: I personally have used Safeware in the past and found it to be reasonable and the customer service agents helpful.