Three brand-new iPhone owners I know have asked me about this in the last week, and I've heard the Apple Store has gotten more than a few walk-ins who think their iPhones are busted because of this. So, what better way to start out the New Year and our new iPhone 101 series -- for new iPhone owners -- then with this little how-to.

The iPhone has a hardware mute switch, which lets you quickly and easily turn the ringer off and put the iPhone into vibrate-only mode. It's located on the left side (facing the device) directly above the volume rocker. When the ring/silent switch is in-line with the volume rocker, the ringer is on. When the ring/silent switch is offset from the volume rocker, the ringer is muted (and only vibrate is on).

A bell will flash briefly on the screen when the ringer is on, a bell with a line struck through it will flash briefly when the ringer is muted.

(Note: the iPhone will still sound alarms, play iPod music, and allow apps like games to make sounds even when the phone is set to silent)