West Coast Report On iPhone Mania

I've been at the Apple store in Palo Alto, Calif. all morning watching the crowds snap up the new iPhone. Some people spent the night in line but there weren't nearly as any people as there were on June 29, last year when Apple released the original iPhone. Still, there are plenty of people in the store and still lined up around the block. It's a party-like atmosphere, especially when someone walks out with their new phone to an ovation from the waiting customers and Apple employees. While I haven't had a chance to put it through all of its paces, I've been using the phone all morning mostly to do radio interviews with CBS stations. The call quality is excellent -- a noticeable improvement over iPhone 1.0. I was able to use the phone to browse the web using both the WiFi network at the store and (after turning off WiFi) the AT&T 3G network. As advertised the phone is faster than the previous model though not any faster than phones from other companies that also use 3G networks from Sprint, Verizon and AT&T. In fact, last night I played around with the Samsung Instinct from Sprint which uses an event faster 3G network than the iPhone.

As infectious as the party is, it's important to remember that this is still only a gadget. It won't end cancer, stop wars or bring about peace and prosperity. And, despite Apple's lower price tag of $199 for the eight GB model and $299 for the 16 GB version, it remains an expensive gadget when you consider that the minimum cost to use the phone with a data plan is $70 a month.

While a few hours of using the phone in the store isn't enough time for me to formulate an opinion, I have to say that my first impression is pretty positive. Walt Mossberg from the Wall Street Journal who tested the phone for a couple weeks told me that he found the new phone than the phone it replaces.

I look forward to taking the phone on the road to put it through its paces and share my experiences right here on CBSNews.com

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