Pinyin is comprised of the English alphabet with tones. Therefore having these to lean on when presented with thousands of new characters is very comforting. Plus, pinyin is ultimately the closest thing you are going to get to an alphabet, therefore it is in your best interest to learn how to use it as it contains every sound in Mandarin Chinese.
So definitely start with pinyin to aid in learning characters. The ultimate goal is to be able to read and write characters but learning pinyin will make this process more accessible.
This pinyin chart (from Chinese Ebook) is just a snapshot of the various sound combinations. I touch base with this table when I’m not happy with my pronunciation of a certain word.
It’s as easy as taking the character’s pinyin and then referencing this chart as either a review or a tool as a beginner learner.
It also serves as a tone practice tool. I click on them to listen then repeat with each tone as I find it necessary to revise my pronunciation.
As a reminder, no amount of chart practice can replace human interaction or conversation whether it be online or through voice chat or a call (being safe).
Natural speech is hard to perfect through technology unless people are involved so this is a good supplement at best.
But as a long-time learner, I really suggest that absolute beginners should focus on pinyin and not think about characters until much later, and only when you are at an intermediate and advanced level you should incorporate the written characters.