Steve Jobs may have launched the iPhone 3G on Monday, and we may have gotten a hands on with it already, but in typical Apple fashion, there’s still a lot of stuff left unsaid. How does activation work? How will first-gen iPhone users bring an iPhone 3G onto their plan? Does the GPS work for driving? How much will games cost on the App Store? We’ve got answers. Lots of them.
What’s changed between the first generation and the iPhone 3G? Honestly? Not all that much. The iPhone 3G has all the features of the first one, plus faster 3G data downloads, GPS, and a better battery life. Externally, the phone’s casing is slightly changed, with a thinner edge and thicker middle, but a flush headphone jack and solid-colored back make up the only other major differences visually. Everything else from the screen to the number of buttons and switches on the outside are the same.
How much will it really cost me over 2 years?. That depends on how many minutes you use and how many text messages you want to sign up for, but at AT&T’s lowest plan price of $39 a month for 450 minutes, plus a mandatory $30 data charge and $5 for 200 text messages, you’re looking at $1975 over the course of two years. Before tax and other fees. Here’s how it stacks up against the old iPhone and against other 3G smartphones on Verizon and Sprint. In Canada the phone is $199 on a 3yr contract and a special price of $30 a month for the largest download package available.
When can I buy it? If you’re in one of the first countries to get the phone, which includes the US, Canada, the UK, Spain, Japan and Mexico, it’s July 11. Otherwise, it’s still unknown. Come July 11, there’s going to be a gigantic line of people wanting that phone. You’ll have to wait not only for people in front of you to buy a phone, but activate it too—which is now mandatory and takes about 10-15 minutes. If you can wait, we’d recommend going after July 11.
How fast is the 3G over 2G (EDGE)? During the WWDC keynote, Steve Jobs showed a demo that compared the iPhone 3G vs. the old iPhone when downloading a large web page with lots of images. Apple’s site lists the result of that matchup as 20 seconds vs. 48 seconds, which is 2.4x faster. We’ve got a explainer about the details of 3G as well, if you’re interested.
How does the GPS work? We’ve got a great tutorial on how the iPhone‘s GPS works. Long story short, it’s A-GPS, or assisted GPS, which means most of the time it uses the cell towers and Wi-Fi to help triangulate (but doesn’t necessarily need help). If you’re looking to use the iPhone 3G as a GPS in your car for navigation, there’s a catch. There’s a restriction in the SDK that prohibits developers from using the phone for “real time route guidance”. You can still use Google Maps to help guide you if you’re lost, but it’s not as smooth a system as a real GPS. TomTom may have an iPhone 3G guidance suite already in the works, despite the SDK restrictions.
Will the added 3G and GPS hurt my battery life? Apple’s improved the battery life compared to the old version, which ups the talk time on 2G (same as the first iPhone) from 8 hours to 10 hours. On 3G, you get half that. So yes, your battery life will be significantly degraded when you’re using 3G instead of 2G. Apple still hasn’t provided numbers on how much GPS use will degrade your talk time.
What about that rumor that the iPhone 3G has a front camera? Yeah, not so much. Apple didn’t say anything about that during their keynote, and there’s been no evidence of it yet. There’s a weird anomaly on the demo iPhone that Apple’s Phil Schiller was using on stage during the event, but it’s probably just a weird fingerprint.
Does the iPhone 3G finally have MMS/picture messaging? Unfortunately not. Not officially, anyway. There are third-party apps already available that give your iPhone a sort of MMS functionality, but it’s not great.
Can I tether the iPhone 3G to my laptop to get on-the-go internet? Not out of the box, no. The old iPhone was able to be hacked into doing this, but EDGE speeds meant that people only really used it in emergencies. With 3G, it’ll be much more useful. We’ll keep an eye on this one.
How durable is it compared to the first-gen? Our hands-on will tell you more about that, but from what we heard, the new backing is a lot more fingerprint-smudgy than the first.
When will the iPhone 2.0 software be released? At the very latest, July 11, when the iPhone 3G is launched. There are rumors that it can come as early as June 27, but Apple hasn’t given any official word yet.
What’s MobileMe? It’s Apple’s replacement for .Mac, which manages your email, calendar, contacts, pictures and various other things. It’s useful for iPhone users because it allows you to sync stuff automatically between your phone and your various computers. Any changes you make on one device gets pushed to the other ones.
Are there limits to what kind of applications I can download in the App Store? Not really. A good 71% of iPhone applications will be free, with the rest starting at a price of $0.99 going all the way up to $999. You can pretty much download as many apps as you have space for on your phone. The largest applications will be 2GB, but we don’t think there are going to be very many at that weight. The Sims for iPhone, maybe, if EA ever decides to release that.
Is there going to be iChat? Apple unveiled the AIM application back at the last event, but as far as we know, there hasn’t been any talk of iChat (like the one on OS X). As such, we wouldn’t count on any iChat Video chat either.
Do I need to sign a new two-year contract with AT&T if I buy a new iPhone 3G? Yes, but the good news is that your old contract gets ripped up. If you signed yourself into AT&T’s grasp back when the iPhone was launched, you’ll only have to stick with them for another two years starting now, not three. It’s as if you’re an entirely new customer. Rogers customers must sign up for a new three year plan.
Will activating a new iPhone 3G brick my old iPhone? Definitely not. You’ll be able to give your 1st gen iPhone to someone to reactivate via iTunes on a new plan.
What are European iPhone plans looking like? You’ll have to check your local provider, but from what we’ve been hearing, O2 in the UK and Telefonica in Spain will get free a iPhone 3G if they sign up for an 18-month plan that’s at least $88/month.
What happens a year from now when Apple releases an even better iPhone? Nobody really knows, but it’s likely that they’ll just do what they did this time and have you buy the phone and renew the contract for another two years.
Will there be cases for the iPhone 3G when it launches? Yes. All accessories are available at http://northcentralcommunications.ca
If I somehow get hold of an iPhone 3G and shove in a SIM from my old iPhone, what happens? That’s a pretty damn good question. We’re not sure. If the iPhone 3G is straight out of the box, it’ll need to be activated. If it somehow already got activated (or, hacktivated), you might be able to just use it on your old iPhone 2G plan. We’ll keep an eye on this. Thanks Moe.
Does the iPhone 3G work like an iPod with iPod accessories? Yes, it works just like the first iPhone does. Most iPod accessories will support the iPhone 3G, but some speaker docks might have some GSM interference static if it isn’t shielded correctly.
Can I use the iPhone 3G on Telus or Bell? Nope, never. Not even if you unlock it.
If I buy my friend’s old iPhone when he updates to iPhone 3G, can I use it as a cheap iPod touch without activating it? Yup! Everything but the calling features should be active, except it will say “No SIM” at the top.
What are the chances of Apple releasing an iPhone with increased data storage before the next-next gen iPhones come out? Pretty damn likely. I’d expect a 32GB iPhone some time late this year or early next year.
I’ve got international roaming on my AT&T plan now. Can I take the iPhone 3G to various countries, including Japan? We don’t have official confirmation of this from Apple yet, it’s likely that your phone will work in Japan. The iPhone is Quad-Band, which means it works on GSM/EDGE on the 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz frequencies and UMTS/HSDPA on the 850, 1900 and 2100 MHz frequencies. Because of the reports that Apple’s using Softbank to distribute iPhones in Japan, we can deduce that you should be able to roam just fine. From Wikipedia:
SoftBank Mobile currently operates both PDC (Japanese 2G) and W-CDMA (UMTS 3G) networks. SoftBank’s 3G network is compatible with UMTS and supports transparent global roaming for existing UMTS subscribers from other countries outside Japan. Subscribers of GSM networks having roaming agreements with SoftBank Mobile can also roam on the SoftBank 3G network by using UMTS handsets.
After I activate my iPhone 3G, will I be able to sync all the settings from my old iPhone onto it? Yes. When you activate the new phone, iTunes will ask you if you want to sync the old existing data onto it. Do a sync with your old phone before docking your new one and you’ll be set.
All iphone accessories available at http://northcentralcommunications.ca