This article, Recover Lost Data From Your iPhone, in its "Method 1" suggests a promising method to backup iPhone's entire state, that is iOS settings, apps, email settings, media files, that is everything to the least detail, using Unix/Linux dd utility that makes an image of the iPhone's hard drive. This allows treating iPhone backups akin to snapshots of a virtual machine or global restore points, which is very useful. However, despite of the article's title, it doesn't explain how to actually restore an iPhone's state from a file produced by dd utility.
Any ideas how to restore from dd hard drive images? Or maybe suggestions about better methods to save/restore iPhone's entire state?