To 3G or not to 3G? That is the question.

26 06 2008

With over half of the time between the iPhone 3G product announcement and for sale date of July 11 behind us, I have made up my mind on whether I’ll be upgrading my original iPhone to an iPhone 3G. I actually made my decision almost immediately, then I changed it, then changed it again, and probably a few more times.

As usual, Steve Jobs and Apple made me want the latest and greatest, in this case the iPhone 3G. The product was long rumored, and it was practically a forgone conclusion that the announcement would come at WWDC. In typical fashion, Jobs introduced the product touting all of the great improvements and neglecting to mention any possible downsides.

There were a number of factors I considered:

  • The brand new factor: Since I have had my iPhone in September, I have never felt that there was another device out there that I would prefer to have. What a great feeling! Once the iPhone 3G is on the market, that may not be the case. But since it’s still an iPhone, it won’t be so bad.
  • 3G: One of most anticipated features of the iPhone 3G was of course the 3G capability. Sure that will make data transfer, downloading, using certain applications, and other functionalities faster, but at what sacrifice? Battery life? Apple says no, but that is yet to be seen for sure. Price? Yes, the data plan will cost $10 more per month. That’s easily covered by skipping other things if it is that important.

    The speed difference is not important to me. Sure, some things take longer to do than I’d like, but as more and more Web sites are optimized for mobile devices, and specifically the iPhone, that speed won’t be as important. I’m not a heavy mobile surfer, and I use the data more for e-mail than anything else.

  • GPS: GPS is very cool, I have to admit. Every time I use a unit, it boggles my mind that it knows exactly where I am. That accuracy is great, but it is also a little bit weird. GPS on the iPhone makes little sense for me since the times I find myself in unfamiliar surroundings, I already have a GPS unit in the (rental) car. No way am I going to substitute the handheld iPhone for a GPS unit and try to drive simultaneously.

    The buzz surrounding the built in GPS sure are the location aware features. Twitter can know exactly where I am, Facebook can know exactly where I am, the photos I take can be tagged with location, I can find people near me using my phone… who even knows what else will come out of this? There’s a cool factor there. There’s also a scary factor there. I don’t think I want or need the world to know exactly where I am at any or every moment. For those times I do want that added information transmitted, the original iPhone’s location finding will work just fine.

  • Price and capacity: It is inevitable that the price will go down and the capacity will go up on a device like this. I didn’t expect, however, that the price would go down to the level it has! That’s still at least $199 plus a new contract plus a higher monthly rate that I would be paying. Sure I could sell my current iPhone, but it’s not in perfect condition. I could work the warranty to get a new one, but I’m still at the mercy of what the market will offer for it.

    It’s pretty easy to predict, given Apple’s history and the history already of the iPhone, that there will be a higher capacity model within the next year and probably an even further updated phone in that time frame or one not too much longer than that.

  • Software: Software is the key piece. The iPhone 2.0 software is on its way, and its new features are going to be great for me. Specifically, the Exchange support will be awesome. The app store will be great too. Since the 2.0 software will be available to all iPhone owners, I’ll get it on my original iPhone. If Apple had limited 2.0 to the iPhone 3G, that would have been a big factor.

So, if you haven’t already figured it out, I am not going to upgrade. At least not yet. By all means, if you are not already an iPhone owner, you should get the iPhone 3G! If you are an iPhone owner, weigh your options, but keep in mind that there will be something bigger and better right around the corner and you aren’t lagging too far behind as it is.

iPhone owners: are you planning to upgrade?