Multi-Editorial: What Do We Think of iPhone 3G?

Multi-Editorial: What Do We Think of iPhone 3G? 1

After a year of teases and speculation, Apple yesterday formally announced the iPhone 3G, a faster, GPS-enhanced version of last year’s iPhone. Planned for release on July 11 at a starting price of $199, iPhone 3G will be available in the same 8GB and 16GB capacities as today’s iPhones, and sold in black or white plastic versions. Once the dust settled from the announcement and data service prices began to emerge, we asked our editors to offer their opinions on the new models. Here’s what they said.

Multi-Editorial: What Do We Think of iPhone 3G? 2Charles Starrett, Senior Editor, United States: “Personally, I was a little underwhelmed. Given how much I use the iPhone away from Wi-Fi, I will definitely be getting the 3G model, but that doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed by the lack of a better camera. That said, I think Apple is really focused on building market share for their OS X iPhone platform, and from that point of view today’s announcement of a slightly improved, more accessibly-priced iPhone makes perfect sense. True, the two-year cost may have gone up, but most consumers only care about the cost of entry, not the lifetime cost of the product, and the more iPhones Apple can sell this year, the stronger a pull it will have with developers. I expect to see larger improvements in the iPhone’s feature set (stereo speakers, a better camera w/flash, etc.) in the next full-sized iPhone update.

A larger problem for Apple will be deciding what to do with the iPod touch, as the initial purchase price of the iPhone is now lower than that of the iPod touch at the same capacities. My bet? Expect larger capacity, cheaper iPod touches in September.”

Multi-Editorial: What Do We Think of iPhone 3G? 3Jeremy Horwitz, Editor-in-Chief, United States: “For purely professional reasons, I’ll get an iPhone 3G, but I’m not impressed by how Apple handled the new hardware’s introduction. By the time the keynote rolled around to the iPhone 3G debut, it seemed like there really only three new things to say about it—real-world 3G performance, GPS, and pricing—and each of those things has turned out to be less attractive than people initially expected. Since when does Apple mention a potentially breakthrough feature like GPS but fail to show off cool software to use it, like Maps plus turn-by-turn directions? Is iPhone 3G seriously only going to get 2.8x the old iPhone’s transfer speeds, or is Apple just stating a lowest common denominator number to lower expectations in territories with slower networks? And what’s the deal with mandatory $30 per month U.S. data plans, regardless of whether you’re in a 3G-ready area or not? My guess is that international users will jump on board this time en masse, but U.S. customers may want to wait out the initial launch period for a bit. Higher-capacity versions are inevitable, and last year’s early adopters all know how that turned out. Waiting for a little while might give Apple and AT&T a chance to improve their software and data packages.”

Multi-Editorial: What Do We Think of iPhone 3G? 4Jerrod H., Contributing Editor, United States: “The iPhone 3G’s hardware is a modest but worthy evolution of the first. In particular, the GPS will be fantastic when utilized in creative ways by developers. To me, however, the real news isn’t the 3G iPhone itself, but the fact that it’s priced to fly off the shelves at Mach 6. At these prices, Apple will firmly establish OS X iPhone as a lasting development platform (and have no trouble meeting the 10-million mark). I plan to buy a 16GB black model, and since my 8GB original won’t sell for much anymore, I’ll keep it and unlock it to become my international travel device. Until now, I’ve been keeping my current iPhone in an ‘Apple-sanctioned’ state. Finally, mobile me looks to be a fantastic—if extremely overdue—upgrade to .Mac. Hopefully, the backend infrastructure has improved as well, bringing better transfer speeds and reliability.”

Multi-Editorial: What Do We Think of iPhone 3G? 5Jesse Hollington, Contributing Editor, Canada: “Being up in Canada, obviously the biggest news for me is the announced Canadian availability of the iPhone 3G. Beyond that, the announcement was pretty much what I expected. The price drops were possibly the biggest surprise, but this has made it obvious that Apple is going after the cellular phone market in a very big way now, and has obviously focused on getting as many iPhones into people’s hands as possible. The new unit is a relatively small hardware upgrade (3G and GPS), but considering the price drop is somewhat understandable, and still provides a phone that will appeal to the average user.

The MobileMe enhancements have been a long time coming, as I had anticipated this type of wireless sync .Mac upgrade with the original iPhone release last year. Time will tell if it offers any real value, or if it’s ‘too little too late,’ but it may offer a nice option for mobile professionals other than the traditional route of hosted Exchange services. The only real downside here is that I would have expected a basic ‘MobileMe lite’ subscription to be included with the purchase of an iPhone, since otherwise it’s just another ‘Apple tax’ to get the full value out of the device. Will I be upgrading? The short answer is yes, but the incentives go beyond just a shiny new iPhone with 3G capabilities, since most of the other features are going to be delivered to the current iPhone models as well. The storage increase to 16GB, and possibly the need to pick one up to get onto a proper ‘iPhone plan’ in Canada are going to be more of an incentive than merely having a 3G device.”

Multi-Editorial: What Do We Think of iPhone 3G? 6Dennis Lloyd, Publisher, United States: “Like most people, I’m excited about 3G and GPS. Although the 3G speeds are not as fast as other phones on the market, this feature alone is significant enough to warrant an upgrade. The current EDGE network drives me crazy when trying to browse web sites while on-the-go. I drive a Honda Element with no in-car navigation, so the GPS feature will eventually come in handy as well. So yes, I’ll definitely be buying one on July 11.”

Multi-Editorial: What Do We Think of iPhone 3G? 7Bob Levens, Contributing Editor, United Kingdom: “I would have liked to see an increase in size to 32GB and a replaceable battery—not too much to ask. I have managed to trim down what I carry to fit onto a 16GB iPod touch, but I have to wonder where all these apps that are being developed are going to be kept. It still has a crappy camera, too.

Ask me again for my thoughts sometime in July. I am going to wait to see how O2 prices the PAYG (pay as you go) option before making any decisions. I still feel that for me, the monthly tariffs are too high for my personal use, but I might be tempted by the PAYG. The fact that O2/Apple are even considering a PAYG package here reinforces my suspicion that sales were disappointingly low in the UK.”

Those are our thoughts – we’d love to hear yours. Share them in the Comments section below!

  1. Certainly valid complaints about an underwhelming update. And the sleight of hand with the price drop, AT&T subsidies, and higher data plan prices (and presumably no SMS included) is shady. Probably won’t stop me from buying one, though.

  2. Some features that are still embarrassingly lacking:

    * Proper bluetooth implementation – why cant we send and receive pictures with each other? Why does it not support stereo bluetooth?
    * Better camera – from the keynote it was obvious that the sample images they used must have been taken on some fantasy uber iPhone because with the current camera there is no way you could get that sort of quality.
    * MMS – Sure MMS is a costly technology compared to sending an email with attachments – but why cant I at least receive MMS messages natively without having to log in to a website?
    * Storage – 8GB and 16GB were a bit disappointing.

    Also amusing to note that BBC Newsbeat reported the device as thinner, because in the keynote it was reported as “thinner at the tapered edges”, when actually it is thicker, and that it come with Sat Nav – when actually it comes with a GPS enabled map application, which although supporting directions isnt exactly the sophisticated Sat Nav like TomTom. (i don’t expect this out of the box, just annoyed to hear the BBC report so shabbily).


  3. As an Apple investor I am very happy w/ yesterday’s products and business strategies.

    Jobs described Apple’s plans one year after iPhone 1 shipped. It’s been a powerful roll out so far, and I see another few years of growing power and profitability.

    Apple’s dominance of mobile will be irrefutable by Jan 2010 and we should see Apple trading above $350.

  4. I’m very excited about the updates, specifically the price. I did not buy original iPhone because I wanted to wait for some of the things I thought were missing. Excited as I am, I can’t help but be disappointed with no upgrade to the camera, no MMS, and no copy/paste. These are all things I currently use on a daily basis.

  5. MAC is so good at promoting, and every one just falls on there tail.
    But Apple/MAC needs to do better.
    Yes the phone is great looking, but what’s new, faster internet ?, is the camera much better ? why is there no video call’s ? Actually the new things is still OLD. Can I change my battery ?, No the iPhone is the same old phone, wit a faster internet, still stone-age technology, in this business
    No Apple, has done this again. People like my self got the first one, and was happy with the internet and mail, but in a business you need copy / Paste, but this are you still not getting. Apple’s discussion forum, is no good, all you will hear is ” the iPhone does not do this or that” so get the new iPhone 3G and get ready to get disappointed

  6. It was a pretty anti-climatic keynote all round for me. I am so accustomed to my jailbroken and unlocked iPhone that I already take for granted a large number of the so called new apps. A large number of really quality apps and games have been available for months now on installer .app and it is hard to get that excited about the official release though it must be said some of the games looked good.

    The 3G iPhone itself was also a bit of a disappointment. Yes 3G is great and so is GPS but what about the terrible camera? Maybe it has been improved even if it is still 2 mega pixels but somehow I doubt it and what about a front facing camera and a native iChat app for Wifi iChat Video conversations?

    I can live without 3g video calling as it has never worked very well but iChat Video struck me as a no brainer given how the iPhone has taken over from my laptop as my browser/computer of choice when I am at home.

    I can only assume that they left it out so that they can roll out another version as an upgrade in version 3.

  7. Mr. Starrett’s comments are on point. The iPhone 3G is not intended to attract existing users, though it very well might do that. It is solely being pitched as a means of getting a few million more users into the fold, and the lower entry price point is the straw that stirs that drink.

    Once Apple hits its coveted 10 million mark, it can start overhauling the hardware. Again, you can very easily compare this track to that of the iPod, which is so successful that it has become iconic. The iPod’s evolution didn’t really occur until it had penetrated the market to a great degree, and once that happened, the features–video playback, high-volume storage, high-fidelity audio–began to arrive quickly.

    This iPhone is very much like the second-gen iPod, a subtle progression. I expect subsequent versions to represent leaps of larger scale. We’ll get that 50 GB iPhone with the 6-megapixel, flash-equipped camera soon enough. This development is merely a bridge to that destination.

  8. not much to say actually.. meh..

    I expected 32GB, I expected release that day of 2.0 to at least get a lead in for the existing 1.0 users..

    I will not be upgrading, I like my iphone gen1, and I save 10 bucks a month, until the iphone gen3 shows up.

    1) c/p
    2) removal battery
    3) at least 32GB
    4) Stereo Bluetooth
    5) Voice Dial

    would like an SD Slot, for easy file transfers…

  9. >> We’ll get that 50 GB iPhone with the 6-megapixel, flash-equipped camera soon enough. This development is merely a bridge to that destination.

    Good notion.
    This seems a fast, change business models, realign for market domination, kind of launch.
    Sell more, than sell (again) better iPhones.

  10. I’m so glad I got my 16GB iPhone in April. I’m very happy with it, and I’m only paying $20/mo for the data plan. Plus, we have a family plan and my husband gets a great postal service FAN discount on the main line, and the iPhone line is only another $9.99/mo.

    I feel sorry for the folks who only have the new phone as an option.

  11. For me and probably many others, i don’t really care about the 3g feature. I would only buy the new model it it doesn’t require a 2yr contract from AT&T for $399 (8gb) max. I bought a refurb 8gb iphone for $249 two weeks ago from and am very satisfied with it. Why? No strings attached to the worst company ever and its ridiculous prices. It is currently unlocked and is used with T-mobile and its $5.99 internet plan. If Apple wanted more iphone penetration, release a retail version without contracts!

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