7/9/08
10:35 am

MacMost Now 103: Should You Upgrade Your iPhone?

Gary Rosenzweig looks at whether it is worth upgrading to the new iPhone 3G. It has faster Internet, GPS and comes in a 16GB version. But it has poor battery life, would require a new case, and costs more in the long run.

Video Transcript (Click to Expand)
Hi this is Gary. Well, we're less than two days away from the release of the IPhone 3G. If you're like me you're pondering the question, "should I or shouldn't I upgrade?". Let's go and take a look on this episode of MacMost Now.
So here's how it's going to go down on Friday. All Apple stores, a hundred and eighty-five of them, and AT&T stores, are going to be selling IPhones starting at 8 A.M. When you go in, a sales assistant is going to go ahead and sign you up for an AT&T plan. It's going to take about twelve to fifteen minutes. You have to sign up for a plan, at least you do in order to get the two hundred or three hundred price tag on the IPhone. You're going to need with you some sort of ID, Social Security number, and all that. They're going to have to run a credit check to sign up for the account. I'm not sure if you need that if you already have an existing IPhone account. Now, they say that they're going to have enough in stock to handle everybody and that's the way it worked last year. People waited in line, but, in the end, everybody was able to get one, even people that walked in hours after the line had gone away. Later on, you'll be able to check on the Apple site and see whether or not there is an IPhone available in the Apple store near you. So what's new in the new IPhone? Well, the big new feature, of course, is 3G, as in the name of the phone. That means you'll be able to access the internet faster, at least where AT&T has a 3G network here in the United States. Now, also, there is a slightly different shape to the phone and it's a plastic instead of a metal back. People were reporting in early reviews that the reception is better. It's unknown whether that's because of the 3G chip or it's because of the plastic back, allowing a better access to the antenna. Another big new feature is the fact that you can get a sixteen gig IPhone, but of course that's the three-hundred dollar version, not the cheaper two-hundred dollar version. Another feature is of course, GPS, being able to use the satellite positioning system to go ahead and find your current location. And besides that, that's really the only new features, unless you include the fact that the new IPhone is cheaper. Of course that is cheaper for people buying a new IPhone and never had one before. If you have an existing IPhone, it's basically an upgrade price. Now these new features actually have some drawbacks. For instance, the 3G chip means the battery drains faster than the old IPhone with the edge chip in it. Also, the change in the shape and the back of the IPhone means that all that money you spent on a cool IPhone case is now going to have to be spent again to get a new IPhone case when those are available. Another disadvantage of the new IPhone is that you're going to have to change your AT&T plan. You're going to have to re-up for two years and you're going to have to pay fifteen dollars a month more, that's ten dollars more a month for the unlimited data and five dollars a month if you want to keep two hundred text messages per month. The cost of text messaging really bugs me on the AT&T plans. I mean, you're getting them at two and a half cents per text message with the five dollar plan until you hit two hundred messages, then you're paying twenty cents per message. Or if you go with the basic plan and have no text messages paid, you're paying twenty cents right up front. That is incredible! A hundred and forty bites costing you twenty cents? I mean, think about it. If you were downloading music at the same price rate, you would be spending thousands of dollars just to download one song. Now of course you can spend twenty bucks to get unlimited text messaging, but that seems sort of ridiculous with thirty dollars being unlimited data and twenty dollars being unlimited text messages. I mean, you'll probably use more data the first time you view a YouTube video than you will in text messaging an entire month even if you're doing it constantly. If you do the math you can see that the upgrade cost is pretty steep. It's two hundred dollars for the new phone and you already spent, say, five hundred dollars on your old one. then you're going to spend fifteen dollars a month extra which means three hundred and sixty dollars over the course of two years. So that's five hundred and sixty dollars total to upgrade from your existing phone to the new one.
So I've almost talked myself out of upgrading here. Another thing to consider is the fact that there's going to be a lot of cool new features added to the IPhone come Friday, but guess what? They're going to be on the old phone IPhone as well. Upgrading to the IPhone 2.0 Operating System, and getting the ability to download third party applications is really going to be the big news on Friday, and it doesn't matter if you have an old IPhone or a new IPhone. You will be able to do all that. And let's not forget MobileMe, which reportedly will be out tomorrow. And the IPhone 2.0 software should allow you to have your contacts, calendar, and email automatically updated on your IPhone wirelessly. So the bottom line is the IPhone is still a great device, whether it's the old IPhone or the new IPhone. So if you don't have one, this is going to be a great time to get one. But if you're upgrading, it's a really tough choice. You're going to have to spend a bunch of extra money and only get a few new features. And if you don't really use GPS, and your internet network in your area is already pretty fast, then it may not be worth it. So, something to think about. On Friday, I'll be getting my new IPhone 3G and I'll be reporting several times that day on the lines at the local stores and also on what the new device is like. I'll see you then.

Comments: 2 Responses to “MacMost Now 103: Should You Upgrade Your iPhone?”

    Roy
    7/9/08 @ 11:43 am

    You almost talked me out of upgrading as well. However, in spite of how little sense it makes, I am upgrading anyway. Not sure I’ll do it Friday, and no chance I’ll fight crowds to upgrade.

    Like you said, the software upgrade is more exciting than 3G and GPS.

    Thanks, I appreciate the podcasts and tutorials.
    Roy

    Daniel
    7/10/08 @ 12:34 am

    Very good and sensible review! Very helpful I thought for new and current iPhone users.
    I myself will hold off on updating. With so little hardware improvements, added costs and contract, I’m very happy with my first day release iPhone. Besides, knowing Apple, in a few months there maybe a 32BG iPhone and more space I can use!

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