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At last, the iPhone cometh

Apple shocked probably a good portion of the mobile industry on Tuesday evening when it ended months of speculation and rumour with the unveiling of the iPhone.

Naysayers were forced to eat their words [this reporter included] as head honcho, Steve Jobs, took the wraps off the gadget at the packed-to-the-rafters, MacWorld Expo in San Francisco.

And what a beast it is: combining a music player, phone and full internet browsing in a typically sexy Apple designed package. A 3.5 inch widescreen display offers touchscreen access to a widescreen iPod, capable of playing music, movies and displaying photos, as well as a phone and a rich HTML browsing client.

Wifi, Bluetooth and EDGE capabilities allow for speedy surfing and email access with built-in Safari, Google and Yahoo search and a full QWERTY soft keyboard.

In terms of extra hardware the device boasts a 2 megapixel camera, built-in speaker and microphone. Stealing an idea from the gaming market it also employs a motion sensor that detects when the device is rotated from portrait to landscape and switches the display accordingly. It also detects when it is raised to the ear, switching off the display until the call is finished.

But European users are going to be waiting almost a whole year to get their hands on the goodies and Asian fans even longer.

Apple expects the iPhone to begin shipping in the US in June, with a 4GB model priced at $499 and an 8GB model for $599, each with a two year service contract on Cingular Wireless. The device will not hit European shelves until the fourth quarter and will not make it to Asia until 2008.

The only caveat remaining for all those sceptical that such a device would ever make it to market is the little disclaimer on the bottom of the Apple website: “This device has not been authorized (sic) as required by the rules of the Federal Communications Commission. This device is not, and may not be, offered for sale or lease, or sold or leased, until authorization (sic) is obtained.”

It is highly unlikely that it will not be authorised though. After all, Apple has been denying its existence since 2005, bloggers have been arguing about it for years and every handset manufacturer on the planet must, surely, be petrified of its arrival.

Well now it’s here… the iPhone, Apple’s long awaited foray into the mobile handset market has arrived. telecoms.com has been following the rumours since they began and over the next few days, we will be looking at exactly what this funkiest of gadgets means both for the operator community and the consumer.

In the meantime, here’s a look back at what’s been said about Steve Jobs’ evasive gadget.

Obsessive hipsters speculate on “iPhone”

iPhone launches…kind of

Analyst comments stir up iPhone rumours… again

Has Apple started iPhone production?

iPhone expected within 12 months

Apple seeds speculation over iPhone

Apple patents stir more iPhone rumours

There is no iphone Softbank insists

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