"The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to the iPhone," Damon Brown

Pros: Walks you through your iPhone’s functions in easy language
Cons: Rather lacking in helpful information; too much “fanboy” attitude; the manual has more information
Rating: 1.5 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Alpha Books.


A book such as Damon Brown’s The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to the iPhone can really only have two possible purposes: to give a potential user information to help them decide whether and what to buy, and/or to provide information to a user that goes beyond the manual in helping them to make the most of a gadget. Unfortunately, this book succeeds in neither of these goals.

The closest Mr. Brown comes to discussing whether one should buy the iPhone is a small suggestion that it might not hurt to wait to buy it until some of the inevitable first-round kinks are worked out. Other than that, he mostly spends his words raving about how utterly cool the iPhone is and how no one could possibly not want it. He ignores such basic and essential information as the fact that you must send your iPhone in for servicing in order to replace the battery, something that users might want to know before deciding whether to plunk down their money. His information on battery life is also over-simplified to the point of uselessness; he simply states that you get “about 5 hours of use” when in actuality the battery life is highly dependent on what you’re using the phone for and, according to information easily available on the web, can range from 6 to 24 hours.

As for providing additional information to users, well, let’s just say I did a quick comparison of this book to the actual iPhone manual from Apple. The manual does a far better job of exploring the programs available on the iPhone and how to use them in depth. For example, Brown’s information on using the iPhone to check your email is limited to a brief paragraph or two saying you can use it with such services as Yahoo! and Gmail, while the manual explains in-depth how to access your mail. In fact, the only thing I saw better information on in the book was the use of iTunes in creating playlists and buying music. This hardly seems like the best use of space given that iTunes is one part of iPhone’s package that most users are likely to already be familiar with.

Normally I’m very pleased with the Complete Idiot’s Guide line; the majority of the books are surprisingly informative, clear, professional, and interesting. However, this one certainly doesn’t live up to my impression of the series. It clearly was created to capitalize on the iPhone craze, and offers almost nothing to either folks trying to decide what they want or to those who are getting their iPhone and could use some extra help. You’re better off doing a quick Google search to find any additional information not included in the manual.

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3 comments on “"The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to the iPhone," Damon Brown
  1. Lotus says:

    I love the “Idiot’s Guides”, they are so comprehensive. I am currently looking for the “Guide to Critical Reading”…the book store didn’t have a copy in stock so I will probably order it online.

  2. Lotus says:

    Forgot to mention…sorry this book didn’t live up to the usual standard of the Idiot’s Guide.

  3. heather says:

    Lotus: I’ve read & reviewed a bunch of both CIGs and “for Dummies” guides. I’ve found the latter to be quite scattershot in terms of quality; some are great while some are terrible. The CIGs, in contrast, are much more consistent in quality; this is only the second I’ve found that I didn’t like. I hadn’t heard of the Guide to Critical Reading—sounds like something I should pick up!

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