News has it that people started lining up out side the flagship Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan around June 27 to be among the first to buy the new second generation iPhone from Apple on July 11. The line has grown slightly in the days since then. Meanwhile, no one is lining up outside the AT&T store in Times Square. AT&T being the sole carrier for the iPhone in the US.
What’s All The Hubbub?
Of course, the first generation iPhone was wildly popular with its touchscreen interface, digital camera, iPod functionality with audio and video files, PDA (personal data assistant) features, fantastic web browsing features, and Apple style cachet.
Not so popular was the $400+ price tag, limited battery life, no voice dial feature, sluggish Internet access, headphone accessibility, lacking business email and calendar functionality, and the touchy touch screen. You may remember Steve Jobs quickly resolved the first problem with a steep price drop, much to the chagrin of the early adopters, but he later appeased them, too. Some of the remaining problems will be addressed with the new second gen iPhone coming out this week.
Also unpopular was the fact that the phone was only available for the AT&T network. That remains the same. Stories abounded about iPhones being hacked to work elsewhere, and subsequent software upgrades from Apple that deactivated the hackphones. What’s New? The new iPhone has a few new features not available on its predecessors. Some of enhancements are just improvements on the original:
- 3G: The new phone has improved Internet access now because its can now access the faster 3G (or third generation) wide area cellular telephone networks with high speed Internet access.
- GPS: The global positioning system is a new feature which allows you to see where you are and where you’re going, though it s not as fast as the units available for cars, so don’t toss out your Garmin or TomTom just yet.
- Improved Operating System (v 2.0): Most reviewers state this is the biggest improvement with synchronization features for corporate and calendars through secure Microsoft Exchange servers. The absence of this feature kept many businesses from adopting the first generation iPhone. The new system also allows the integration of third party (non-Apple) applications available for download through an App Store. First gen phone owners will be able to upgrade to 2.0 when it’s released on Friday.
The Downside Early reports have it that the battery life is shorter on the new phone, and since the battery is internal and can’t be swapped for a fully charged battery, you need to keep a close eye on the battery life, particularly if you are a heavy email, text messaging, and Internet user. Walt Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal reports he experienced about 4 hours and 30 minutes of talk time; almost three hours less than the first generation phone. Also, 3G access is only available in 280 US cities. Those locations without 3G access can just switch off the 3G system and double the life of the battery while using the slower data network of the original phone. The Cost The new phone costs either $199 or $299, versus the original’s $399 or $499. The price depends upon the amount of internal memory (storage) you choose: 8 GB (gigbaytes) or 16 GB. So you can can save as much as $200 over the original. The catch is, AT&T has raised its unlimited data access rate by $10 a month to $70 a month before taxes and fees. Additionally, there is no text messaging plan included either; that’ll be an additional $5 a month (It was free on the original phone). So you’ll pay $240 more on the two year contract than you did on the old phone, or a total of $360 more over two years if you get the text messaging plan. The Competition Hot competition is coming from Sprint and Samsung with their Instinct phone. It has many of the same features as the iPhone (looks, 3G, Internet and email, camera, video recording, touch screen) and at $129, it costs about $70 less, though it’s not likely to steal away the Apple faithful. Additional Reading:
To buy, or not to buy? That is the question.