iPhone mania – techno hype or genuine innovation?

"I just don't get all this fuss about the new iPhone," lamented one of my colleagues in the office late on Friday. "I mean, I get hi-fi, and I really enjoy my home cinema system at home, but a phone's just for making calls isn't it?"

Well Jonny, I'm sorry to contradict you, but if the queues outside the Apple store in Kingston on Saturday morning were anything to go by, you're clearly in the minority. I'd popped into the Bentall Centre to do a spot of shopping (and no, not to buy an iPhone – sadly, I'm on Vodafone) and had to barge past the queue snaking along the first floor to get to the other (non-Apple stores).

And guess which was the most-read item on whathifi.com this weekend? No prizes for discovering it was our exclusive review of Mr Jobs's latest creation.

However, not everything went quite as smoothly as Apple might have hoped. As you'll have read already, our own Tom Parsons got very agitated with the ordering process when trying to get his new 3G iPhone online, and judging by the reports in this weekend's newspapers, early customers were left fuming when the computer system linking Apple's stores to 02's network struggled to cope with the demand.

So why all the hoopla? Well, it seems as if the iPhone is the must-have accessory, credit crunch or no credit crunch, and anything else just won't do.

I'm not an iPhone owner, but I do have an iPod Touch. So, keen to get a flavour of what the new iPhone can do, I downloaded the new iPhone 2.0 software from iTunes (it cost me £5.99) and loaded it onto the Touch. Simplicity itself.

And here's the thing. Once you've upgraded to 2.0, there are some brilliant free applications you can download to your iPhone or Touch. Apple Remote allows you to control the music on your Apple Mac computer or Apple TV using the iPhone/Touch as your remote. It logs on to your home wi-fi network and enables you to select, play, pause, shuffle and skip the songs on your computer from anywhere around the house. Very neat.

I've also downloaded NetNewsWire (an RSS reader) and have a choice of zillions of internet radio stations to listen to via the Tuner app. A free eBay app lets you watch, bid on and search for items in real time, and if you fancy something to entertain you on those long train/plane journeys, Super Monkey Ball is a great puzzle game.

Oh, and did I mention there's another app that means you can keep in touch with all your Facebook friends too?

Of course, the only thing my Touch can't do is make phone calls. So for that I need my Sony Ericsson W580i. But frankly having to take two items with me every time I leave the house is a bore. Looks like I'll have to buy an iPhone after all, Jonny!

Andy Clough

Andy is Global Brand Director of What Hi-Fi? and has been a technology journalist for 30 years. During that time he has covered everything from VHS and Betamax, MiniDisc and DCC to CDi, Laserdisc and 3D TV, and any number of other formats that have come and gone. He loves nothing better than a good old format war. Andy edited several hi-fi and home cinema magazines before relaunching whathifi.com in 2008 and helping turn it into the global success it is today. When not listening to music or watching TV, he spends far too much of his time reading about cars he can't afford to buy.