Well the iPhone was release into UK stores last Friday, and despite already owning the Neo1973 - I thought it'd make sense for me to look at the apple iPhone first hand to see what all the fuss is about.

It's nice.. really nice. I don't think such loving and streamlined design has ever been put into a phone before. There's few places for dirt to get in, no annoying plastic memory card covers that fall off 4 months into an 18 month contract - and the screen is scratch resistant. It's a nice piece of kit. It's an iPod touch, with phone & text capabilities.. however, get the iPod touch and save yourself £710. That's the extra you'll be paying when you get the phone added to an iPod touch - is it really worth it?

Well, in my opinion no. One of the things I _hate_ about the neo1973 is also a 'feature' on the iPhone. I've got to being good enough at texting to be able to do it in the dark - without looking at the phone - and be 99% sure I've dialed the right combination. I know the important numbers in my phonebook in my head, so that it's quicker to dial the number than to search for the contact in the address book. What do I rely on the most to do this - tactile feedback. Without having physical buttons to press, the phone take more of my concentration. It's a good job that driving with a mobile has been banned in the UK - with the iPhone they'll have to ban walking with one too.

The other thing that's annoyed me is the marketing. I went through the Manchester Arndale the other day, and paid a visit to an absolutely jammed apple store. Well done apple - that's great. They had 8 iPhones for people to play on, and there were lots of "apple geniuses" about to help people out. Great - good customer service.

Later in the day, I returned to the Arndale centre, with my flatmate, who wanted to take a look at the iPhone in the CarPhone Warehouse. As we approached the store, there was a crowd of about 10 people outside in navy O2 t-shirts with a big security guard standing guarding the shop. It looked as though there'd been a fire alarm or something and the shop had been evacuated, as there didn't appear to be anyone near it. As we got closer, I realised the shop was still open, so we went in and had a look.

If I was from Nokia, LG, or any other handset company, I'd be quite annoyed with O2. In the middle of their shop was an 'apple orientated' display - which looked like it was a little bit of the apple shop in the middle of an O2 store, rather than an O2 promotion. It had 6 iPhones (bearing in mind the main apple store only had 8 ) which had six guys looking at them (I realised later that two were customers and four were employees). I had to ask an employee to get off their phone so I could have a look.

I did have a little play and got bored quite easily, so stood their whilst my flatmate had a look at all the features, and compared it to his iPod touch. Anyhow, I started talking to two of the assistants about the iPhone. I asked them what it was like to text on without a keypad. Their response was to tell me they knew absolutely nothing, and I had to explain to one of them that you had to press the key at the bottom to go back a menu after she spent a good minute working out how to get to the text screen.

It was a complete waste of time. I asked them if they worked for O2 or apple - and were very pleased that they could tell me they were 'O2 Angels.' Fantastic. I thought I'd give them the benefit of doubt and decided to ask them about the Viewty - a review of which I had read the week previous in Stephen Fry's column in the Guardian. "What's that?" asked one, and "It might be over there" said the other - gesturing vaguely at a wall full of other phones that O2 sell. Nice.

As I walked out of the shop, I noticed that the people hanging round were also O2 angels - dressed in their O2/apple t-shirts to make it look as though there were actually any customers in the shop. Surprisingly enough no one could give me any figures on how many iPhone they'd actually sold... but there were still plenty available in the shop.

They're just to expensive for too little extra. Take my advice and get an iPod touch and a nokia 6630. There just isn't any reason to pay the extra £710 for an apple iPhone. There marketing is well over the top, and I certainly haven't got £1000 to spend on a phone for 18 months. Especially with only 200 free minutes and 200 texts - it's a bad deal. The only good thing is the unlimited data transfer* - which is linked to a nice "fair use policy."

Please don't tell me I'm being unfair on apple - I love the iPod.. but the iPhone iThink iCan't iAfford.