So You Got a Verizon iPhone. Now What?

Maybe you just wandered into a retail store, since lines apparently either remained small, never formed or quickly disbursed, or maybe you pre-ordered your Verizon (s vz) iPhone (s aapl) and it arrived today. However you got it, you’re now the proud owner of an iPhone 4. What now?

Initial Setup

Presumably, you’ve already activated your iPhone in-store or at home by plugging it into a computer and opening iTunes. Once that’s taken care of, you can get started making the iPhone your own. The following is pretty basic information, so feel fee to skip ahead if you’ve already performed your first sync with your new iPhone.

When you first plug your iPhone into your computer using the USB cable that came with it, you’ll be asked to register the device. Doing this will make it easier to get support for your device should you need it down the road. Go ahead and follow the on-screen prompts in iTunes to register your device.

iTunes should ask you to specify a name for your iPhone, and let you choose what to sync from your computer to the device. You can choose to sync music, videos, photos, contacts and calendar information from your computer. If you’re not sure you want to sync something, make sure the box is unchecked before proceeding, since you can always opt back in after the fact.

Note that if you’ve previously synced another iOS device with your computer, iTunes may ask you if you want to use backups of that device to set up the new one. This is fine if your device has the same storage capacity and you want all other settings to remain the same, but if it’s a backup of your spouse or partner’s phone, or you’re not absolutely sure you want the same settings on your new iPhone, choose to set yours up as an entirely new device.

Once your iPhone is set up, you can specify what content you want to sync from your computer to your device. Navigate through the tabs on your iPhone’s screen in iTunes to choose which apps, photos, books, music and videos you want on your phone. If you need more information about basic setup, consult Apple’s official support resources on the topic.

Syncing Email, Contacts and Calendars Over-the-Air

You can do this through iTunes, as described above, but there are also untethered solutions that will work wirelessly over the air. Basically, you can either sync using Apple’s MobileMe, which requires an annual $99 subscription, or you can use Google (s goog), which is free.

The MobileMe method is probably the easiest, but it’s also costly. Decide whether or not you need extras like an online gallery, cloud disk storage, and personal website hosting before choosing this option. If you do go the MobileMe route, follow these directions to get email, contact, calendar and notes syncing set up between your iPhone, other iOS devices and your computer(s).

With Google, things are a little trickier. Luckily, Google provides great step-by-step instructions for getting email, contact and calendar syncing between your Gmail account and your iPhone running smoothly. This will also work if you’re using Google Apps with a third-party domain, so long as your Google Apps administrator will have to have enabled Google Sync.

I’ve seen some wondering how to copy over contacts from BlackBerry (s rimm) devices. Unfortunately, this isn’t a straightforward process. There’s a method involving Outlook as a middleman (which should now work for Mac users, too, if you have Microsoft Office 2011 (s msft)), and one from TiPB (save yourself some scrolling and search the page for “blackberry”) that involves using a temporary hosted Exchange account to move over your data. The good news is, once you switch from BlackBerry, you’re not likely to want to switch back.

Apps, Apps, Apps

Much of the fun of owning an iPhone comes from being able to use apps. To start with, there are a few essentials that I think everyone will use and enjoy:

  • Facebook. Free and provides access to Facebook. Recent additions brought location check-in features, complete with special deals.
  • Twitter. Like the above, it’s free and provides iOS-optimized access to one of the most popular social networking tools around.
  • Reeder. A great RSS reading application that links to your Google Reader account. This is almost exclusively how I read blogs these days.
  • Skype. Free, and now with video-calling capabilities between other iOS devices, computers, and even TVs. FaceTime is built-in and does the same thing, but Skype will allow you to talk with a wider potential group of people.
  • Flashlight. I use this anytime I need to get up during the night to use the bathroom. It turns on your iPhone 4’s camera flash, making it usable as a flashlight.

There are no shortage of suggestions for great iPhone apps, but these are some that I think almost every user will get plenty of use out of. For more, check out some of our app and game roundups and reviews. And if you’re already well-versed in the ways of iPhone, feel free to share your own suggestions for new Verizon iPhone owners in the comments.

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