It took two trips to the Genius Bar and one phone call to Apple tech support, but my iPhone 3G e-mail problem has been solved.
The problem: My iPhone 3G would send and receive e-mail for a brief period of time. Then, it would stop. The spiral that appears at the bottom of the Mail program's screen, next to 'Checking for mail...,' would spin without end.
When told of the problem, the first Genius shrugged and said it must be a problem with AT&T (my main ISP). The second Genius told me to go home and restore the iPhone with backup. If that didn't work (it didn't), restore the iPhone without the backup. If that didn't work (it didn't), bring the phone back to the store for a swap.
I had made a third Genius Bar appointment to return my iPhone for a swap. But before going, I decided to call Apple's telephone support. The person I spoke to, Isaac, seemed to get the problem right away--that somehow, the iPhone's Mail program wasn't playing nicely with Outlook on my Vista PC, to which I sync the iPhone's e-mail settings, contacts, and calendar. He e-mailed me the steps he recommended to resolve the problem, and they worked.
Here are the steps:
-- On the iPhone, delete all e-mail accounts.
-- Reset the iPhone's network settings (Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings).
-- Disable Wi-Fi (some e-mail accounts don't work properly if set up the first time with Wi-Fi in use, he explained).
-- On the iPhone, manually re-add the e-mail accounts. (When setting up my sbcglobal.net e-mail account, which is now an AT&T Yahoo service, I was advised to choose Yahoo as the service provider.)
-- Disable e-mail syncing with iTunes.
I followed these steps last Friday and have experienced no problems since.
But I have just begun to experience another problem. Some Calendar entries I've added to my iPhone never make their way into Outlook. I guess that's the next thing to deal with/figure out.
The iPhone 3G launch has been compared to Microsoft's bungled release of Vista; see this USA Today article for more on that. That's going a bit far, in my opinion. Yes, the iPhone 3G/MobileMe launch could have gone a lot more smoothly. Yes, my iPhone 3G experience has not been flawless. Aside from problems syncing with Outlook, there are things about the iPhone I wish were better. The battery doesn't seem to last very long; I really wish there were a copy and paste function; etc.
All that said, if I had it to do over again, I would still buy an iPhone 3G. But I probably would wait a few more weeks for the lines outside Apple stores to go down and for the initial bugs to be identified and fixed.