I’ve had the money in my wallet since July 11, but I refuse to spend it on iPhone 3G. And this really, really surprises me.
As the second generation iPhone went on sale, I wrote down several concerns — or predications, depending on how you look at it — and waited a month for everything iPhone 3G to shake out. I wanted to use hindsight to tell me whether I made the right or wrong decision not to upgrade from the original iPhone.
So far, I have no regrets. And here’s why.
$200 less is $40 more
I may be one of the few people in the U.S. who believe this, but I don’t think Apple and AT&T should have subsidized iPhone 3G, which allows Apple to sell the 8 GB model for $199 and the 16 GB phone for $299 in exchange for more expensive two-year service contracts.
I can save $200 when I buy iPhone 3G, but the changes to the AT&T service plan actually cost more over the lifespan of the new contract. I’d rather take the hit up front and save money on my monthly bill.
Subsidies cheapen the product
People outside the U.S. are used to paying for non-subsidized or lightly-subsidized phones for more favorable contracts or the ability to use the phones on different networks. That won’t fly here as Americans are hooked on free or $50 cell phones in exchange for ridiculous two-year contracts.
Subsidies cheapen the product. Look what happened to Motorola’s Razr, which went from must-have to everybody-has — and the quality seemed to tank with it.
No more “free” text messages
I find it morally wrong for AT&T to take away something that’s included in the original iPhone plan — 200 “free” text messages — only to begin charging for them in the iPhone 3G plan.
Suddenly the $10 extra a month I would spend on the iPhone 3G data plan is actually $15 as I would be charged $5 for those same 200 text messages.
Charging for something that was given away for “free” — or, more like it, built into the cost of the service contract — smacks of opportunism, greed, and taking advantage of text-hungry youth.
Speed is relative
Apple says iPhone 3G is twice as fast, yet people I know who have owned both iPhones report that iPhone 3G is only slightly faster. Is this really the reason to upgrade?
Not for me. I try to use Wi-Fi as much as possible, and Wi-Fi and 3G have scored close in various benchmark tests. When I’m out and about on the slow-as-molasses AT&T EDGE network, yes, I want to slit my wrists, but I try to keep things in perspective. EDGE works fine for checking email and updating Twitter.
Another reason not to upgrade is AT&T’s still-in-its-infancy 3G network. It produces advertised speed in certain cities and metro areas but not in others. Will I get true 3G speeds — what I pay for — throughout my day or am I just paying for that potential?
GPS baby steps
I am interested in having a phone with true GPS capabilities, but iPhone 3G has not delivered this — yet. There is no turn-by-turn support. And the social, location-based network softwares like Loopt and Yelp are in their infancy, bound to improve as iPhone 3G’s GPS improves.
So why rush to upgrade? For now, triangulation-based mapping suits my directions and location needs just fine.
What wasn’t upgraded
I didn’t think Apple would deliver video capability with the second generation of the iPhone, but I was hoping for a slightly improved camera. When neither of these happened, out went another excuse to upgrade.
And while I am not a proponent of cramming every possible feature and function into the iPhone, it would have been nice for disk support so I could carry a few important files with me — and not having to rely on third-party software solutions to provide this capability.
Battery life sucks
I have not met one person, or read an article or blog post, where someone says iPhone 3G’s battery life is improved. Apple says so. But when you factor in the energy-sucking 3G chip, the GPS, and the additional processing required from the third-party applications, there’s no way iPhone 3G’s battery is better than the original.
And it wasn’t the best to begin with.
Apple bit off more than it should have
I thought it was a lot to pull off then — rolling over .Mac to MobileMe, rolling out iPhone 2.0 software update, opening the Apps Store, and introducing iPhone 3G. As it turned out, Apple has been experiencing issues with all of these, including cracks in the hardware.
I’ve never been one to wait, but I had the feeling this might be the time to do so.
Tired of waiting in lines
Waiting in lines is fun at the Apple Store — the day before or the day of an event but not afterward. The build up and excitement is gone. All that’s left is frustration — do they have any in stock today or not?
The original vs. the copy
To me the original iPhone was a piece of art, perfectly sculpted, pleasing to look at, well balanced, high tech but simple, and highly desirable. iPhone 3G is still elegant but, with its all-plastic case, it feels cheaper, more like a copy of the original. (One reason to upgrade, though: The plastic case is supposed to have improved reception and voice communications significantly.)
If I didn’t already own an iPhone, I’d have stood in line and bought iPhone 3G. It’s still a great product, and the platform and ecosystem that’s being built by Apple will continue to evolve and mature.
But having owned an iPhone for more than a year, the justification to upgrade — surprisingly — just isn’t there. As long as I don’t accidentally drop my iPhone in the toilet (which I once did), I guess I’ll be waiting for iPhone 3.0, not 3G.
Illustration credit: cnet.