As expected, we got 3G, GPS, and lower prices. But some of the most exciting iPhone rumors—such as videoconferencing and additional iPhone models—failed to materialize. Also: Details on rate plans, contracts, and battery life. First of all, let’s talk turkey—specifically, the $299 price tag for the 16GB model and $199 for the 8GB version. Now, in a moment, you’re going to find me grousing about what’s missing in the new iPhone, but from the feedback I’m getting so far, people are thrilled about the lower prices. While $199 isn’t exactly cheap for a phone, it’s a bargain when you consider the features packed into the iPhone 3G. Expect lines around the block when it goes on sale July 11.
That said, AT&T just announced that the data plan for the iPhone 3G will run you $30 a month, a $10 premium over the original’s EDGE-only plan, so keep that in mind while you’re calculating your savings. And yes, you’ll need to sign a new two-year contract with AT&T, even if you’re a current subscriber.
Anyway, the iPhone looks pretty much like the iPhone of old—and while Jobs crowed that the new iPhone is thinner “at the edges” than the original, the iPhone 3G is, in fact, about 0.2 inch thicker than its predecessor. That said, according to the specs, the new iPhone is about 0.1 ounce lighter than the EDGE-only model.
About the glossy black (or white) backing … I’m not thrilled about it. The beauty of the old brushed-metal finish was that it was practically impervious to scratches—indeed, my old iPhone, which I bought last June and lives sans case in my pocket, has nary a scratch on the back. We’ll have to wait and see how the new glossy backing holds up, but I’m not optimistic.
On the 3G front: Yes, the new iPhone will access data twice as quickly (at least) over AT&T’s speedy HSDPA network than the original did over EDGE. Another advantage: You’ll be able to browse and access data when you’re on a voice call, even if you’re not in Wi-Fi range.
But one of the chief advantages of 3G is that it’s fast enough for music and video—though for now, there’s no word on whether we’ll be able to download songs, podcasts, or videos from iTunes over AT&T’s 3G network. Still, that could change with a future firmware upgrade.
In terms of battery life, Steve Jobs is promising an acceptable 5 hours of talk time using 3G (which allows for simultaneous calls and data use, compared to voice-only over EDGE), along with 7 hours of video and 24 hours of music. In my experience, real-world battery life is almost always less than what they tell you in the specs, but I’ll give Apple the benefit of the doubt. Of course, the battery is still sealed in the iPhone case—a major bone of contention for many users.
GPS-wise, I’m excited. Live tracking of your position on the iPhone looks awesome—watch out, Garmin—and you’ll also be able to tag your photos with GPS coordinates. Oh, and Loopt has already announced a social-networking app that’ll use GPS to pinpoint your nearest buddies. Finally, Jobs said that the iPhone turns GPS off automatically when it’s not in use so as not to drain the battery. Nice.
As for rumors that didn’t quite come true, take videoconferencing, which was the hot topic over the weekend thanks to a slew of (clearly faked) fuzzy photos. The thought was that the new iPhone would have a front-facing camera for video-enabled iChat, but no dice.
Another rumor: Wireless music and video syncing with iTunes, similar to what the Zune does with its PC software. Prying eyes thought they found hidden Mac OS code that would make wireless iTunes syncing a reality. Guess not.
And as far as a range of iPhone models goes, well … as I predicted, Jobs is keeping it simple: 8GB and 16GB versions—no 32GB model, which is particularly disappointing—in black and white flavors. No “thin,” EDGE-only iPhone, as some thought, and notably, it appears the original EDGE-only iPhone has been purged from the Apple Store. That said, the original iPod eventually spawned a whole range of iPod Nanos, Videos, Touches, and what have you, so we may see the same thing happen with the iPhone eventually.
And speaking of the iPod Touch … no new models or prices. You’ll be able to download the new 2.0 firmware to the Touch for $9.95, but that’s about it.
On the services side, I’m pleased with the upcoming MobileMe, the revamped version of .Mac, which will now allow for push, over-the-air syncing of contacts from Address Book, events from iCal, e-mail and photos with the iPhone—and yes, Outlook users on Windows are included. Yes, MobileMe is still $99 a year—but that comes out to a little over eight bucks a month, not bad considering the 20GB of online storage (twice as much as you got with the old .Mac).
And let’s not forget the App Store, which is coming in early July. We saw just a handful of games and applications during the keynote, but I’m excited already—especially with the games, which look amazingly polished for something on a cell phone. I’m expecting office suites, multimedia applications, IM, and social networking apps … you name it. This’ll be huge.
And one more thing … there was no “one more thing” in Steve Jobs’ keynote, dashing the hopes of those looking for a Mac tablet or redesigned MacBooks. This marks the second major keynote in a row where “one more thing” was nowhere in sight (three if you count the iPhone SDK roadmap address in March). Interesting.