Sounds like a broken record to me. What’s that you say? Why, it is the constant bashing of Apple. But fear not o lover of fruit, for there is some praise and good info coming your way.

The iPhone. By now you have surely heard of it, and I must say that aesthetically, it is a sight to behold. It’s beautifully large, has an intuitive touch screen, uses the GSM cellular network, has 8 gigabytes of flash memory and plays music. It’s clearly an impressive device. When you get a chance, look it up, as it is quite pretty. It also runs OS X, so anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of a Mac computer should be able to use this phone without much instruction.

Enough with the phone though, as I do have some concerns with the overall package of the device. First off, what was Apple thinking when they signed the deal to make the iPhone exclusive to Cingular? Furthermore, what were they thinking by making it exclusive for two years? We all know that, at least for the Santa Barbara/Goleta/Los Angeles area, Cingular’s network is by far the worst, and by making it so only Cingular customers can get the phone they are losing a lot of potential customers. Moreover, will you be able to unlock the phone so you can use it on any network? Many cell manufacturers have exclusivity contracts with new models, but also have phones that are unlocked so consumers who have another service can still use the phones.

Another nit that I must pick is the touch screen itself. While being an impressive feature, its usability does leave questions. Primarily, how does one protect the extremely sensitive and fragile screen from damage? Normal non-flip phones get scratched and damaged pretty easily from normal use, so it boggles my mind as to how Apple will be able to ensure that the phone will not need to be replaced, due to damage to the touch screen six months after the phone is purchased. Some of the most fragile electronic devices made use touch screens, and usually, they are on computer monitors. I really want to know how Apple has engineered the structure of the phone to prevent the device from being twisted, which will surely crack the touch screen. Also, with eight gigabytes of memory, in addition to the operating system, and the touch screen, how long will the battery last? My Samsung flip phone lasts over two days on a full charge, and it has one gigabyte of memory, which is full of songs and photos.

Finally there is the price. In order to be one of the first few with an iPhone, you will need to pony up $499 and agree to a two-year contract. God knows what it would cost without the two-year contract. The price can be broken down, though. An 8 gigabyte iPod shuffle will set you back $249 and the typical smart phone is priced similarly. However, for less than that price, I can get my hands on the Treo, which runs on the Windows mobile platform and is available from a variety of carriers.

Fortunately, the iPhone is still a ways away from the market. This will allow Apple to address the aforementioned issues. With a few more months of work and engineering ahead, hopefully Apple will release a product that will completely realign the cellular phone market in the way that the iPod turned the MP3 player market. If you are thinking about plopping the half grand down on the phone when it comes out, my recommendation would be to get the most comprehensive insurance policy that Cingular provides for the phone. That way, when the inevitable cracking of the screen occurs, you will have an avenue of restitution and not be left out in the cold.