6 million units sold in 12 months - this is how successful the original iPhone is, though it's only available in US and a few European countries officially. Apple now has become one of the largest smartphone providers. The first generation iPhone was exciting and revolutionary. However, we didn't get a chance to touch it here legally (although the unlocked iPhone is on sale everywhere, I don't feel comfortable to own one). It also lacks of some important features, such as 3G and GPS. But now, the second generation iPhone will be here with almost everything you can imagine!
The new 3G iPhone, announced by Apple CEO Steve Jobs on 9th June, will ship on 11th July in 22 countries, including New Zealand. Thank god, we'll finally have a real iPhone in NZ! But should we queue up on 11th July when the iPhone 3G becomes available? Before we dig into the features and evaluate the value of the 3G iPhone, let's take a look at the brief history of iPhone:
- 9th Jan, 2007 - The iPhone is announced by Apple CEO Steve Jobs
- 29th Jun, 2007 - The iPhone goes on sale in US. The 4GB version is sold for US$499 (NZ$670) and the 8GB model costs US$599 (NZ$800)
- 5th Sep, 2007 - Apple lowers the price of the 8GB model to US$399 (NZ$535) and the 4GB model will be phased out
- 9th Nov, 2007 - The iPhone goes on sale in Germany and UK
- 5th Feb, 2008 - Apple unveils the 16GB iPhone
- 6th Mar, 2008 - Apple announces the iPhone SDK, that allows independent software developers to create and sell programs for iPhone
- 6th May 2008 - Vodafone announces plans to sell iPhone in 10 countries
- 9th Jun, 2009 - Steve Jobs unveils iPhone 3G. The new iPhone will be available in 70 countries this year, beginning with 22 countries on 11th July, and we're one of them!
Apart from the truth of finally having it here, now let's check out what features the new iPhone has. Apple claims that the new iPhone is three devices in one - a Phone, an iPod and an Internet device.
iPhone 3G as a Phone
As a phone, the new iPhone 3G has all the ordinary features that a modern smartphone has. But it adds a few new features over the original iPhone. Now, it supports Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, which gives you push contacts and lets you access your company's Global Address list. In other words, iPhone enhances the function and image of being a business phone, in order to compete with Blackberry and other business smartphone providers.
But for the rest of us who don't use Microsoft Exchange, Apple has announced a new service called MobileMe. With MobileMe, you can store all your emails, contacts and calendars on an online server and pushes them down to your iPhone, iPod touch, Mac and PC. When you make a change on one device, the server updates the others. The MobileMe service will cost US$99 (NZ$135) for one-year subscription with 20GB of combined email and file storage.
Although the 3G network will make video calling possible, the 3G iPhone doesn't come with a secondary camera on the front. So you won't be able to make normal video calls. Some people think it's very disappointing, but personally I don't care so much. I have the video calling functionality on my Nokia N95 8GB and my old Nokia 7390. But I have only tried once a couple of years ago and never bothered again.
iPhone 3G as an iPod
As an iPod, iPhone functions the same as an iPod touch. Nothing special to discuss here, but we'd like to the see the 32GB iPhone in the near future.
iPhone 3G as an Internet Device
Similar to the original iPhone, the iPhone 3G comes with Safari web brower, Mail and Maps applications. But this time, we'll get the 3G speed and GPS support. Under 3G network, the web download speed will be at least 2.4x times faster than the EDGE/GSM network.
with the A-GPS (Assisted GPS) solution, the iPhone 3G will be a navigation device to guide you home. In addition to A-GPS, the iPhone 3G uses signals from GPS satellites, Wi-Fi hot spots and cellular towers to get the most accurate location fast.
Reading emails on the phone is one of the most popular smartphone uses. With iPhone 3G, not only the big screen makes emails easier to read, but also supports rich HTML, so iamges and photos appear alongside text, plus you can open attachments in PDF, Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint formats.
Overall, the iPhone 3G delivers UMTS, HSDPA, GSM, Wi-Fi, EDGE, GPS, Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, 2 megapixel camera and fabulous Apple software in one compact device. The new iPhone will also be available in 2 colours - Black for the 8GB model and Black or White for the 16GB model.
The new iPhone 3GB will support 17 languages, including English, French, German, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish and many more. The battery life is 5 hours talk time on 3G and 10 hours on 2G network. The standby time is up to 300 hours.
After reading the above, you may ask that, if the new iPhone is so good, why it's so cheap? It's a combination of lower component costs, cheaper materials and changing of business models. Apple is using plastic instead of metal on the new iPhone's case. Apple and AT&T also drop revenue sharing model. Instead, AT&T has subsidized a portion of the handset's cost. I'm assuming Vodafone has the similar business model with Apple.
Now you should know better about the new iPhone 3G. Are you ready to buy one? For myself, it's definitely an attractive toy to have. The phone price isn't too bad. But I'm waiting to see the service plan price and then make the decision.
Lastly, what would we like to see more about the iPhone? Maybe a better camera, like the 5 megapixel camera on Nokia N95; a bigger storage option, like the 32GB iPod touch; and a secondary camera for video calling, like we can find on most 3G phones.