Is there like a "complete idiot's guide to iphones" or something?

Sorry if this has been done before, I did search.

Anyway, I will be getting my first ever smartphone (iphone 4) in a few weeks and really have no idea what they do, or what I need to do to use it. I know what “apps” are, kinda - they are little software programs that do nifty things, and you download them from…itunes, is that right? And they cost money, but not much, like a buck or two? And do I have to install itunes? Hate that program with a passion (I use winamp to manage my ipod). Must I use itunes or are there other/better programs I can use to download apps from the apple store or whatever it’s called?

Does the phone come with apps already installed, and if so, are they good, or are they like the bloatware that comes pre-installed with a new computer? Then you have a big hassle deleting them and replacing them with better programs, or even in some cases, reformatting the whole machine to get rid of them, is that a problem with iphones?

Again, I did search, but there is a bewildering amount of discussion/argument about which are the “best” apps. Is there a list of the, say, 10 most essential ones? How many apps can a phone have?


You could go to the Apple website and download the iPhone 4 user guide and read through it. It’s pretty close to being an idiot’s guide. This idiot found it helpful, at least.

Your iPhone will come with a number of apps installed (Safari, Calendar, Mail, etc.). You can’t delete them. (OK, you probably can, but I’m guessing you would have to jailbreak your phone to do it.) I just stick the ones I never use on the last “page” of the home screens.

The number of apps you can have is limited by how much storage you have on your phone. Apps take up space, just as your music, photos, and other data do.

You’ll get as many opinions on the “best” apps as the number of people you ask. It varies greatly depending upon how you use your phone. Many apps are free. And there are many free apps that tell you what the other free apps are. (A lot of developers will make an app free for a period of time to promote it. You can sometimes get pricier apps free this way.) A lot of apps have a “lite” version that is free, which can be a good way to try out an app to see if you want to buy the full version.

This site seemed to be well-organized for the beginner.

You don’t need iTunes unless you want to put music from your computer onto your iPhone. You can run it entirely without hooking up to a computer at all, all the backups and updates can be done over a wifi connection and through iCloud. However, if you have a music collection then your best bet will be to use iTunes… But you could do it just a single time, get your music onto the iPhone and then never connect it again.

None of the apps that come preinstalled can be removed, but they aren’t really what I would consider bloatware, they provide the basic functionality (phone, calendar, contacts, messaging, camera, weather etc). You can add apps through the AppStore, these can be added and removed as you wish and cost anything from free to £50 (I think that’s the most I’ve seen an app go for recently).

There are user manuals on the apple site that will walk you through the basics of using the iPhone if you need more help.

You should not consider the iPhone as a PC, you don’t get direct access to the operating system or file structure, so concepts like formatting or reinstalling the os don’t make much sense. I’ve never jail broken any of my iOS devices, but if you do you get more options for installing apps and the customisations you can do to your phone, I’ve never seen the need myself though.

I downloaded an app called iPhone Secrets Tips and Tricks from Intelligenti. It was actually really useful.

Not an answer, but a tangential question…are you getting it from your carrier (rhymes with Sprint) for free? I am considering doing the same thing. If so, what plan did you go with?

I am considering doing the same thing, BTW because my 6 y.o. phone no longer holds a charge.


Get help. I’m pretty computer literate, but I had a hell of a time figuring out how use the damn thing. It is not intuitive, like a Mac is.

It is neither a computer nor a phone, and you have to use it the way Apple wants you to use it.


The 3G was my first Apple product and had it sussed out in about an hour, and then found out the rest over the course of a week or two of use. I thought it was extremely intuitive, whereas it took me about two months to acclimatise to my MacBook Pro and the difference between how a windows system works and OSX.

Is there an Apple store near you? They’ll have various gadgets set out so you can try them, and staff to show you how they work. If not iPhones, then an iPod touch, which is essentially the same thing minus the ability to make calls.

My kids both figured out how to play games at age 2 without help. You’ll do fine.

How did a “complete idiot” like you decide what kind of smartphone (iphone 4) to get? My question would have been, “Is there a complete idiot’s guide for someone who doesn’t even know what the options are?”

Not only that, a member of staff will show you how to do things if you ask.

The first thing I had to do was forward an existing text message to someone. I had to google instructions for that on my computer.

I hadn’t realized that I wasn’t “texting” anymore-- I was “having conversations”.

iPhone: The Missing Manual

I haven’t found a found a book that covers IOS 6. I’d suggest getting the phone with IOS 5 if possible until Google maps is released for 6.

I have a bunch of albums stored on my PC as MP3s. Is there any way I can put these on my iPhone 5 and play them without using iTunes?

I’ll be very interested in this answer, because it speaks to what I was saying about the iPhone not being a computer. You can’t really store “files” other than JPGs in your photo album (or tunes in your iTunes).

I tried to store some PDFs, but got frustrated trying to do so and just converted them to JPGs. But even then I had to send them to myself and save them from an e-mail. I wasn’t able to move the files from my computer to my iPhone the way you can do the opposite. I just assumed that once you hooked the iPhone to your Mac, you’d be able to see the phone as just another device or drive.

Of course I could be wrong…

You can manually manage the music on an iPhone:

However, I’d strongly recommend regularly syncing with your computer, so that you get backups and can add files to your apps. You can do that wirelessly, but you need iTunes do do it. And if you’re syncing to iTunes anyway, you might as well use it to sync your music too. You can import your MP3s to iTunes without moving them from their original location on the disk.

PDFs I store in iBooks in various collections. I download them or email them to myself and then “open in iBooks”, you can do the same in various apps that read PDFs too. All done directly on the iPhone and iPad.

To sync using iTunes you just drag the PDF to the books tab.

Thanks for the link. However, it sounds like this would still require using iTunes on both my iPhone and my PC. Also, I don’t understand the recommendation to regularly sync with my computer. Why do I need to do this? As far as backups are concerned, I use SugarSync for my PC, and I’m under the impression that iCloud backs up my iPhone. I have too many MP3 files to fit on my iPhone, so I certainly can’t import them all.

What Apple really wants you to do is use iCloud, so there is no sync’ing needed.

For those looking at the 4, 4s or 5, I strongly recommend ignoring the “free” tag on the 4 and spend the money to get the 5. All reports show it being a far superior phone, and two years from now you’ll have far more ability to recoup your costs on it. And if you keep for its lifetime, it’ll be supported for a longer period.