The original iPhone, released in 2007, was a “game-changing” phone and multimedia device. It didn’t really bring anything new to the field, but as is typical of Apple, it showed up with an unprecedented level of style and polish. It was an attractive, slick device, with a beautiful screen and a great UI. It was a fantastic iPod with a great web browser, some cool applications and hell, even a decent phone. Since then, many other phone manufacturers have been trying to copy it. While many had it beat in terms of features, no one had been able to touch the iPhone’s “cool factor” and match it’s excellent UI (with the possible exception of the recently released HTC Touch Diamond, which comes pretty close).
On June 9, 2008, Apple announced the successor to the Iphone, the iPhone 3G. It is pretty evident that Apple has raised the bar. Not only does the phone look good, it now has the specs to back it up. In fact, it has just about everything I’d want in a PDA-phone:
- Small form factor
- Beautiful screen
- Quad band phone (works worldwide)
- 3G connectivity (fast Internet)
- Tons of storage (8GB or 16GB)
- Wi-Fi (free Internet at hot spots)
- Decent 2.0 megapixel camera
- Supposedly great battery life
- Same (or better?) slick UI and iPod features
- Just $199 for the 8gb model
Just looking at the spec sheet, the phone is extremely tempting. However, if you read between the lines and take note of what’s not on the spec sheet, there are a few serious issues:
- Apple would have you believe that despite all the great features, they have reduced the price: the 8GB model is just $199. But don’t be fooled: the phone can only be bought with a 2 year (or 3 year?) contract that must include a phone plan AND a data plan. Moreover, the plan which will be at least $10/month more than the previous iPhone contracts, which adds up to $240 over 2 years. And the AT&T contracts aren’t cheap to begin with: it’s minimum ~$40/month for the call plan and ~$40/month for the data connectivity. That’s at least $80/month, or nearly $2000 over 2 years. But you didn’t really think it would be cheap, did you?
- The phone does not have a physical keyboard. The original iPhone used an on-screen (touch-sensitive) keyboard and in my opinion, it just didn’t work very well. I would make a mistake every 4th letter while typing and had to go quite slow. I hope they’ve improved it in some way for the new phone or it’ll seriously hamper usability.
- It doesn’t look like the phone will support copy & paste. Along with the keyboard issue, this is another huge gap in the UI. I imagine it’s tough to do copy and paste on a touch screen (without a precision stylus), but I’m sure they could find a reasonable way to handle it. If these guys can hack up a crappy 3rd party solution, certainly Apple could improve on it?
- No bluetooth profiles? The original iPhone, and possibly this new one, only let you use bluetooth for connecting a headset. However, stereo bluetooth and A2DP are not available, so you can’t stream music wirelessly. Moreover, there is no bluetooth tethering, so you can’t use your iPhone as a modem for your laptop. Finally, there is also no bluetooth file transfer.
- Screen is not VGA. This is a relatively minor issue, especially given the iPhone’s excellent UI and web browser, but it would’ve been really nice to have a 640x480 screen.
So, will the iPhone be worth the money? Is ~$2000 over 2 years worth the convenience of having access to your music, Internet and GPS everywhere you go? I’m not sure. I guess the first step is to wait for the reviews to start cropping up. The iPhone 3g will be out on July 11, so keep your eyes open.