Yes, I've touched it.

Okay, so maybe touching the iPhone 3G is not as impressive a feat as it was to touch the first iPhone when it was announced back in January 2007. But still, for the next month I've got one up on most members of the general public.

With that in mind, let me tell you what I found.

Fundamentally, this new iPhone feels very much like the old iPhone. It's apparently lighter than the old one by a minuscule amount, but in my hand it didn't feel any different from the current iPhone. The biggest cosmetic changes are on the back panel, which is now shiny plastic instead of metal.

The back panel is curvier than the one on the current iPhone, and the recessed headphone jack has been replaced with one which lies flush with the iPhone's body, meaning the days of iPhone headphone adapters are gone forever (Unless you want to use a microphone with a clicker, in which case you'll still need one).

The iPhone 3G's edge buttons are now silver metal, rather than the black plastic on the current model. The buttons had a sharper edge than I'm used to, though I only pushed them a couple of times.

"It feels great in the hand, but in the same volume as the current phone, we've packed in great battery performance for a 3G device," Bob Borchers, Apple's senior director of worldwide iPhone product marketing, told me.

That plastic back should also improve the range and signal strength of the iPhone, for Wi-Fi, cellular, and even GPS purposes, which is good news for anyone who has had signal issues with their current iPhone.

GPS functions

When I asked about the new GPS features of the iPhone 3G, Borchers explained that iPhone's Core Location function - which uses Wi-Fi and cellular tower locations to compute a location on current iPhone models - will simply add GPS to the mix. Since GPS only really works well with a clear view of the sky, the combination of the different location-finding approaches give the iPhone three different ways to figure out where you are. And photos will be geo-tagged - in other words, when you take a picture, the picture will contain metadata indicating exactly where you were on the globe when you took it.