All hail the new iPhone! The debut of Apple’s cell phone at the MacWorld conference and Expo in San Francisco in January was equivalent to a consumer electronics rock star basking in the attention of adoring fans on the convention floor. As the iPhone rotated on a pedestal inside of a small, glass display case–no one was allowed to touch it–the tech paparazzi pushed and shoved to get a closer picture.
Does the iPhone deserve all this attention? The answer is yes. Once this innovative device hits the market in June, it will undoubtedly appeal to consumers who love feature-laden cell phones. Apple’s foray into the lucrative cell phone market just may reinvent the phone, as the company claims, and completely redefine what you can do on a mobile phone.

The iPhone is a breakthrough handheld device that combines three products–a mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with enhanced features, and an Internet communications device with e-mail, Web browsing, maps, and searching capabilities. The best feature is not so much what it has, but what it doesn’t have: too many buttons. The front is dominated by a touch screen that is operated by your fingers alone. Other cool features include unique sensors that change the display when the device detects that you’re using the phone. The ambient light sensor adjusts brightness and saves power, and the accelerometer knows when to switch between landscape and portrait orientation.

The iPod feature set is what makes this device stand out from other smart phones in its category. Touch controls allow you to browse and select your choice of music, audiobooks, videos, TV shows, and movies–all displayed on the beautiful 3.5-inch widescreen. Apple’s graphic intensive Mac OS X operating system really shines with the device’s Cover Flow feature. With a flick of your finger, you can browse through a dramatic display of album artwork from each artist.

Another great feature is the Visual Voicemail. Rather than forcing you to call your voice mail and waiting to browse through multiple messages to hear the one you want, Visual Voicemail displays all the messages you have in a list, similar to an e-mail in-box.
Apple announced that Cingular (soon to be AT&T) will be the sole iPhone carrier. Both Apple and Cingular stores will sell the phone starting in June. The 4GB ($499) and 8GB ($599) models–with flash memory capacities and a 5-hour battery life–come with two-year contracts.

Considering the multimedia-friendly feature set, one of the iPhone’s drawbacks is that its supports only 2.5G EDGE data networks, instead of the 3G compatible networks used by phones with broadband digital media features. However, this may change in the future.