RIM's BlackBerry killed the PDA market. They were long dead before the iPhone was even a rumor.
As for the merging of PDA and cell phone, A Handspring Visor + VisorPhone Springboard module from 2001 is, well, a lot like an iPhone. To see the failure of a product like the Newton (a poor dynabook imitation) as pioneering is to ignore a lot of history.
The iPhone has a fantastic interface.
Not from a UI design perspective. From the ridiculously clunky suite of gestures to the overloaded home button, the iPhone UI is a giant pile of failure. It succeeds at doing very few simple, but common, tasks well: selecting an application and quitting the same. It's a gigantic mess from that point on.
Even the earliest iPhone had a quick, responsive interface with excellent graphics.
I'll grant you "responsive" but the display was average at best -- and quickly became one of the worst on the market due to some really stupid UI decisions on Apple's part.
They were first to bring multitouch gestures to a mainstream appliance.
I love the "mainstream" qualifier here -- with a subjective term like that, you'll never be wrong. Ignoring the long history of multitouch and the incredibly poor use of multitouch gestures in iOS (poor then, worse now), are you sure that's a place you want to praise Apple?
As you pointed out they got rid of hardware keys without using garbage like "grafitti". They put a lot of work into a better interface and it shows.
Apples on-screen keyboard is exactly what you found on low-end PDAs 10 years ago. I should note that Apple's keyboard was, and continues to be, one of the worst on the market. I don't know that I've ever seen anyone defend it against the (clearly superior) alternatives past and present.
I'm not an Apple fanboi,
Sure about that? You're giving Bonch, BasilBrush, and SuperKendall a run for the biggest Apple fanboi title here.