Why I’m disappointed with the iPhone 3G

iPhone 3G

A week ago today the iPhone 3G was announced at WWDC and I’ve been following the developments ever since. I was in London for work at the time, so I decided to wait a few days before blogging about it…

Well time’s up and frankly, I’m disappointed with the iPhone 3G :/

Now don’t worry, I’m still going to purchase the iPhone 3G on July 11 (probably the white 16 GB model), because I like my iPhone, and with 3G and the App Store, it’s finally what the original iPhone should have been from day one :)

And therein lies rub #1. The iPhone 3G is really just a minor improvement over the original iPhone. Sure, GPS is useful and SDK 2.0 is a significant update over what Apple shipped with a year ago, but look at all that’s still missing:

– Cut & paste
– Video recording
– Bluetooth/USB tethering (DUN)
– Bluetooth stereo audio (A2DP)
– Bluetooth file/contact transfer (ObEx)
– Voice dialing
– MMS

Of course, some of these missing features (video recording) can be addressed by third-party developers via the App Store. Some are not important to me (MMS). But some are essential to a 3G device (tethering), and I don’t see Apple approving alternatives like JoikuSpot anytime soon. Furthermore, the missing Bluetooth profiles (A2DP, ObEx), being low-level, are likely impossible to implement using SDK 2.0.

As for the camera, I was not expecting much, but it’s unfortunate that the hardware was not improved. Where’s the auto-focus and macro? Where’s the proper 2-stage shutter button and the flash? Look at the difference these features make, even with just a 2 megapixel sensor!

And here lies rub #2. Now that Apple and AT&T’s revenue sharing agreement is apparently over, where’s my optional, unsubsidized, unlocked iPhone 3G? I don’t care if it costs $200 more, I want to be able to swap my AT&T SIM for a prepaid foreign SIM when I’m travelling. There’s no major customer attrition risk for AT&T since it’s the only 3G network compatible with the iPhone 3G in the US.

Whatever happened to keeping things simple? An unsubsidized and unlocked iPhone 3G would be as simple as inserting a SIM, and simple is Apple’s mantra. But with the subsidized and locked iPhone 3G, it’s not even clear who amongst existing AT&T customers will be eligible to upgrade to the iPhone 3G, other than existing iPhone customers.

Since the iPhone 3G is subsidized like all other locked AT&T phones, will I be able to use any AT&T SIM with the iPhone 3G or will it, like the original iPhone, only function with the SIM used during activation?

Then there’s the artificial pricing for the iPhone 3G data plan. I’ve never been duped by AT&T’s arbitrary pricing differences between data plans, like MEdia Net Unlimited ($15 per month, $20 with 200 text messages) and PDA Personal ($30 per month, $35 with 200 text messages). Both data plans provide the same service and work with any device, 3G or not.

So why is AT&T pricing the 3G iPhone data plan differently than the original iPhone data plan, other than pure profit?

Yeah, I’m disappointed. Sosumi.

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11 Responses to Why I’m disappointed with the iPhone 3G

  1. retrocactus says:

    You make some excellent points. I too was a little disappointed to find it only marginally improved over the first generation. I think the telling signs that the camera and possibly other aspects of the phone weren’t going to be improved were the job postings at Apple for mobile camera engineers among others.

    Like you, I’ll still be getting an upgrade in July….although here in Canada, it remains to be seen how much it will cost me to go ‘legit’ since I’m currently using an unlocked iPhone on my carrier up here. At least in the US, AT&T has published the upgrade path details. No such luck up here….yet at least.

  2. universalmachine says:

    The lack of voice dial is the real deal breaker for me, especially considering that handsfree devices will be required starting the beginning of next month in California while you are driving. It’s already hard enough to dial using speed dial with real tactile buttons, let alone a touchscreen. This should be priority number 1 for apple as it is a safety issue, and since they have had voice recognition and synthesis working in their OS for years already. How hard could it be for them to port that tech to the iPhone? I think I’ll wait for about 7 months for version 2.5, and get the 16gb for $199, as long as it has voice dial, that is…

  3. mikecane says:

    Apple is moving slowly. I hope not as slow as Palm moved. Or Android OS phones could eat their lunch!!

  4. flo says:

    tethering: don’t know about the US, but I know that at least in other countries you’ll be able to get a dual sim for free, so that you can use that in an 3G data card, which in my opinion makes more sense anyway.

  5. I was pretty dissapointed too. Apple could do a lot better on improving the device, but they are treating all of the good features that could be implemented like commodities. They are just controlling the supply so they can release another version in a year and charge more!

  6. Its all marketing I think. Make all the money you can you know.

  7. I was considering upgrading to the 3G iPhone but I went for the HTC tytn ii instead. In the UK the iphone is limited to the 02 network and there’s limited info on whether a contract free model will be available.

    The killer feature for me though would be dual SIM slots. I already have a mobile broadband SIM as well as my normal phone SIM. It would be great to have a device that allowed me to swap between HSDPA services and my mobile phone network without having to swap SIM cards

  8. Dan says:

    Hi,
    I am in kenya and wondered whether the iphone 3g will work here if i buy it from US or any other country where it will be launched. I also don’t understand the whole locked,unlocked and subsidized iphone. How much will it cost me if i am to purchase the iphone 3g and be in a position to use it in kenya? I don’t mind the 3G technology as long as my SIM card will work plus the other features of the phone

  9. yflcsandi says:

    i am asking the same question as tnkgrl–will i be able to use the iphone with the cancelled original service plan ($70) on another of at&t data plans, for e.g. the pda personal ($35) plan?

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