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Stores gear up for iPhone frenzy

But is the iPhone worth the hype?


An iPhone in hand

The iPhone’s stunning touch screen display.

Carphone Warehouse, Apple and O2 are gearing up for a customer stampede as the clock ticks down to tonight’s UK launch of the Apple iPhone.

There is expected to be huge demand for the £269 handset, which will go on sale just after 6pm at Apple, O2 and Carphone Warehouse stores and via their websites.

Carphone Warehouse has said it will keep all 783 of its UK stores open on Friday night until the last customers leave.

Each shopper will be limited to two iPhones, on a first-come, first-served basis, and extra staff have been drafted in to meet high demand.

Which? review

Which? reviewed the iPhone earlier this year after it went on sale in the US.

We put the phone through its paces and looked at everything from the music player and camera to the sound quality of the phone calls.

The iPhone has a stunning 3.5 inch touch screen display that is very clear — even in bright sunlight.

Touch screen

The phone’s top layer is made of glass, which in our initial tests proved resistant to scratches. It does draw smudges although these aren’t distracting on most functions and can easily be wiped clean with the provided chamois-like cloth.

All the major applications, such as phone, mail, iPod and camera are accessible from the front screen. Virtual keypad ‘buttons’ for dialling are very large and more than adequately spaced.

You control the iPhone’s built-in 4GB or 8GB iPod by gliding your finger over the interface. This presents you with a Rolodex-type display of album covers that you can flip through.

You can move from the iPod to most other iPhone functions and the music continues to play. There’s also a flight mode allowing you to use the player even when the phone is turned off.

Sound quality

Sound quality through the iPod-style headphones is very good and they have a built-in microphone so they can double as a headset for phone calls.

Alternatively you can use Bluetooth headsets (though only in mono) or connect your own set although you’ll most likely need to buy a special adapter.

But when it comes to phone calls the sound quality when listening to calls is only fair, although calls from the iPhone – heard on another phone – are good. However, most comparable smartphones perform better.

Apple claims that the iPhone provides eight hours of talk time and this was confirmed in our tests. It also offers up to six hours of web browsing, seven hours of video playback and 24 hours of music.

Battery life

However, as with the iPod, and unlike most mobile phones, you can’t replace the battery yourself should you experience any problems. Instead the entire phone has to be sent back to the manufacturer to be professionally serviced.

You can read more about the handset and use an interactive guide in our Apple iPhone report.

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