Apple iPhone will change the way we talk

Amid rampant rumour and feverish internet gossip, Apple has finally launched the iPhone, undoubtedly the most highly anticipated mobile handset of the year.

Unveiled last month at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, proclaimed the iPhone to be 'revolutionary and a magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone'. Jobs also introduced the iPhone as a widescreen iPod, internet communicator and mobile phone all-in-one device. While Apple has included some stunning new features (more on that later), cut through Jobs' hammy hyperbole and you realise that while the iPhone has some deficiencies, it still remains a highly desirable phone.

At the centre of the iPhone is an entirely touch-screen-driven user interface, with no sign of mechanical keys whatsoever. This enthused Jobs to boast: 'We are all born with the ultimate pointing device - our fingers - and iPhone uses them to create the most revolutionary user interface since the mouse.' This means text input will revolve around an onscreen QWERTY keyboard. Apple is also using its own, yet unproven, OSX operating system. But if it follows on from its desktop counterpart, it will prove highly intuitive.

There are 4GB and 8GB models available and both sport a two-megapixel camera and let you sync with iTunes for playback of music, films, TV shows, podcasts, music videos and audiobooks - all downloadable from the iTunes Store. Sadly you can't download content direct from your iPhone. The lack of 3G/HSDPA support is rather disappointing, so it's left to EDGE and built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for connectivity options.

Full internet browsing is carried out via  the Apple Safari for iPhone web browser and you can also sync your bookmarks  stored on your computer. The 3.5-inch 320x480-pixel resolution widescreen is primed for watching TV and web browsing and Apple has embedded an accelerometer that automatically detects the position of the phone and rotates the screen from portrait to landscape mode and vice versa accordingly. Other advanced built-in sensors include an ambient light that adjusts the display brightness to suit the environment, which saves battery life, while a proximity sensor turns off the display when the phone is lifted to your ear, again saving juice and preventing inadvertent touches. These clever touches highlight Apple's attention to detail and go beyond the current crop of smartphones in terms of user-experience. Another Apple invention and industry first is the Visual Voicemail feature that lists your voicemails so you can listen directly to any message without having to listen in sequence.

The iPhone will be available in the US from June on a two-year contract with the Cingular network, costing $499 (£327) for the 4GB version and $599 (£394) for the 8GB model. We have no pricing and contract details for the UK launch yet.

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