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iPhone 3G

So, the Apple WWDC happened on Monday, and the iPhone 3G was announced, as everyone expected. Many of the predictions came true, some didn’t. One thing is for sure, a lot of confusion remains, and some information is still unknown, or at least only partially known. Here I will try to hopefully dispel any of the misinformation, and remove some of the confusion about what was announced, and what remains to be seen.

First, 3G. The phone has high speed connections, and is now worthy of being called a 21st century phone. It was also a requirement for Apple to sell this phone in many other countries, because let’s face it, many countries expect all their phones to be 3G. One thing to remember obviously is that 3G mostly applies to data, not calls. So that’s mostly useful if you are a heavy web user over the cell network, or want to download videos and such.

Then, there’s GPS. That one was predicted on blogs by many people, but some were skeptical. The main issue people bring up with GPS is battery life. For those who watched the keynote, Steve Jobs showed a slide with the battery life times for talk, data, web browsing, and so on… and then he started talking about GPS. It’s likely that this was intentional, because GPS will probably be a heavy hit on battery life.

The form factor stayed very similar. The phone looks very much like iPhone version 1, except for a few minor details. The back is made of plastic, and that’s probably to improve the reception. It may scratch more easily, but it’s probably a good decision since talk quality is more important in the end. The headphone jack is also fixed so all headphones fit, finally!

Firmware 2.0 is also a big deal. Enterprise support, while it may have seemed boring during the keynote, is actually very important for Apple. The main reason people stay attached to their business phone is because of Microsoft Exchange support. Now the iPhone will be just as wired as any other phone, and that will bring in a lot of new customers. The App Store is also a nice addition, and so is the new Mobile Me service.

The biggest surprise came when Steve announced the price. At $199, it’s a big price drop. The original iPhone started at $599, then dropped to $399, and the iPhone 3G is going to be $199. Now the picture is more complex than that. For example, the contract with AT&T will require a more expensive 3G plan, which if counted over 2 years, will bring the price higher than the original iPhone. However, you do get 3G, so it’s still worth it. Compared with some other AT&T plans, such as the Blackberry ones, it’s cheaper.

Finally, the part where we don’t have all the information is on how the transition will go for people who have a current iPhone and who want to upgrade. What we do know is you will be able to keep your phone number and SIM card. In fact, AT&T will provide a tool to switch your SIM from the old phone to the new. However, you will have to take a new 2 years contract. We know they will force people to activate phones in the stores, so it’s not known if things like Jailbreak will still work.

In the end, is the new iPhone worth it? It depends. Many current iPhone users will line up on July 11, and buy the new one. Apple will get a lot of new customers too with the new features, both in hardware and in software. I personally won’t be getting one, even if Canada is getting the iPhone (along with 22 countries, 70 before the end of the year) for several reasons. First I’m not a fan of contracts. There are rumors that the phone will be available without a contract, but no one knows in which countries yet (not the US, that’s for sure) and rumors say it will cost $800. Comparatively, my $250 Nokia E51 does everything the iPhone does, albeit it doesn’t look as cool and doesn’t have nearly as big a screen. I’m also not a big fan of on-screen keyboards, but that’s a personal preference. I do admit the iPhone is looking better and better, and Apple is now truly a big contender in the field.