What Smartphone Users Are Saying About the iPhone 3G S

UPDATED: The consensus: The technology itself looks very attractive. But there are some problems with the overall package that bother a number of people. Most of the difficulties with the iPhone stem not from the device itself, but from the telco that comes with it: AT&T Wireless, which directly affects pricing.

It's not a scientific survey by any means, but a collection of comments from eWEEK readers who also are smartphone owners indicates that it's a mixed bag as to how many of them will buy a new Apple iPhone 3G S when they arrive in stores on June 19.
The consensus is that the technology itself looks very attractive. But there are some problems with the overall package that bother a number of people.
It also appears that most of the difficulties with the iPhone stem not from the device itself, but from the telco that comes with it: AT&T Wireless, which directly affects pricing.
Apple launched the new iPhone 3G S on June 8 and said it will be in stores on June 19. The new device, which runs the new iPhone OS 3.0 operating system, is more than simply a beefed-up version of the iPhone 3G-it is almost an entirely new product.
For newcomers, it is priced at $199 for a 16GB edition and $299 for a 32GB version. AT&T charges $30 per month for the data connectivity, and the phone plans range from $40 to $100 (nationwide coverage) per month. Text messaging and other features will bring extra charges.
For existing iPhone/AT&T customers, it's another story entirely. If those folks want to upgrade their phones to a 3G S, they will have to pay a $200 premium on each of the new models: 16GB ($399) and 32GB ($499).
Without an AT&T contract commitment, the iPhone 3G S costs a whopping $599 for the 16GB model and $699 for the 32GB model. That's what most people consider pricey for a smartphone, no matter what it can do.
When you buy an iPhone, the connectivity service is for a two-year period. In exchange for committing yourself to it for that length of time, AT&T provides a discount on the new phone. And it will give customers a second discount when the contract is up.
Before that contract ends, however, you're out of luck if you want to upgrade to a new phone; no discount allowed.
Thus, there is a huge disparity in pricing between what the newbies get as opposed to the loyal old-timers. It's similar to signing up for a broadband cable TV contract: There are always lower-priced, incentive-driven promotions for new subscribers that existing customers cannot get.
Upset commenters on AT&T's support forum had plenty to say about this. "If you are a loyal iPhone user like me, contact AT&T through e-mail, phone, whatever-let your voice be heard. Let them know you will not be quiet," one user wrote.
When it comes to device value, however, it's hard to argue with Apple about the iPhone 3G S. Just about everything inside it has been upgraded; one example is its spiffy new 3-megapixel camera/video recorder that appears to be only slightly lower in quality than an average SLR (single-lens reflex) camera. It does appear to be superior to most other phone cameras, especially due to its video-editing capability. That alone might justify the extra $200 cost for an existing iPhone owner, who won't have to purchase a separate camera.
The list of downloadable applications-Apple exec Phil Schiller said the iPhone App Store has more than 50,000 now-is startling. One example is new standard security software that enables the user to wipe all the data off a lost phone remotely. The list of options is long; go here for a listing of some of the new features.
There are weaknesses in the iPhone 3G S. For example, it still does not support Flash, and it still uses a proprietary USB-like connector instead of a standard brand. There's apparently lots of income in forcing users to buy specific Apple connectors to replace lost ones.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 10 years and more than 3,500 stories at eWEEK, he has distinguished...