Five reasons to buy the Apple iPhone 3G

Australians can get their hands on Apple's newest iPhone when it launches on July 11. The good news is, the iPhone 3G has more features and capabilities than the original model.

Finally, the wait is over. Australians can get their hands on Apple's newest iPhone when it launches on 11 July. The good news is, the iPhone 3G has more features and capabilities than the original model.

Many consumers waited for this second-generation phone, but that doesn't mean the first-generation iPhone didn't sell well. In fact, the iPhone moved 6 million units worldwide, well enough to make Apple extremely competitive in the smartphone market.

Regardless of whether you have been waiting desperately for the iPhone to launch in Australia or not, Apple's announcement probably got your attention. It certainly has tongues wagging everywhere. Apple is once again in the spotlight, and that has everything to do with the iPhone 3G features the company recently revealed. Should you queue up when the iPhone 3G becomes available on 11 July? Read on.

1. Price

The original iPhone was innovative and ground-breaking, but it also was an expensive toy. Sure, American technophiles and the masses lined up to procure the original iPhone, but at $US599 and $699 for the 8GB and 16GB models, respectively, the audience remained somewhat limited. As time passed, as the models' prices dropped and as the device's reputation spread, the iPhone picked up more steam. But even Steve Jobs himself admitted that about 50 per cent of people surveyed who didn't buy an iPhone said that they didn't because of price.

With Apple's iPhone price drop, announced Monday, you will pay significantly less money up front at the time of purchase: The 8GB iPhone will sell for $US199, just one-third the price that the 4GB iPhone sold for at launch a year ago. The 16GB model will sell for $US299. Although Australian pricing has yet to be announced, you can expect it to be similarly competitive.

2. 3G browsing speed

One of the biggest drawbacks of using a mobile phone for Web activities is the lag time. Much as point-and-shoot digital cameras frustrate their users with seemingly interminable shutter lag, mobile phone users roll their eyes at how long it can take for a Web page to load.

The first-generation iPhone notably omitted 3G wireless in favour of the more widely available — and significantly slower — EDGE connectivity. A year later, 3G seems even more necessary than before, as Web pages grow more graphically intensive.

Now that a 3G-capable iPhone has been unveiled, it's hard to imagine going back to not having 3G. According to Apple, Web pages will load up to 2.8 times faster. That's a compelling argument, as we'd much rather get the information we want sooner, rather than twiddling our thumbs and reaching for a cup of coffee.

The catch is that 3G wireless data pricing in Australia has been expensive, though Optus and Vodafone are yet to announce and plans or data pricing information for the iPhone 3G. We wait in anticipation and hope they can manage to be competitive.

3. Greater international support

From a multilingual keyboard that you can change out on the fly to a user-removable SIM card (a SIM-card ejector comes with the iPhone 3G), new features in this model make it much more viable for international use. Whether you need to access the Web while overseas, or you want to swap out your SIM card, this model is better than the original.

4. Applications galore

Apple's approach to application development may pay off in spades. Developing applications appears simple, limited only by the constraints of developers' imaginations. Distributing the software through iTunes is genius — turning to a single repository to procure content is far easier than scouring the Web for random Symbian, Palm, Windows Mobile or BlackBerry applications you may want to download.

There is tremendous potential for useful — and downright fun — applications to come out of the development process now that the iPhone software developer's kit is available. The potential for future applications, coupled with the iPhone's existing programs — its iPod video and audio capabilities, its photo album, its easy e-mail, its Google Maps and YouTube applications — makes the iPhone 3G a unique offering in the mobile arena.

5. iPhone: Still at the head of the class

For all the hype and assertions that the iPhone was a game-changer, the truth is, not much has changed in the landscape of the mobile phone universe in the past year. It's almost as if Apple is so far ahead in its innovation and thinking that it has a seemingly insurmountable lead over its competitors, and is in a realm of its own as a result.

The reality is, none of the so-called iPhone killers have come close to challenging the iPhone's media handling and ease of use. That could change in the coming months as more mobile phone vendors introduce updates to their lines (RIM, for example, is rumored to be working on a touch-screen interface, though its next flagship model, the BlackBerry Bold, does not have a touch screen). In the meantime, however, Apple will just be building on its solid head start.

Admittedly, not everyone will want — or need — to buy an iPhone 3G. For one thing, the much-anticipated iPhone 2.0 software upgrade that will enable the App Store for downloading applications, announced earlier this year, will be free to all first-generation-iPhone owners.

Furthermore, some people may want to hold out for a more substantial hardware upgrade, such as additional storage, a better camera, or other heretofore unimagined hardware bonuses.

We may queue up for an iPhone 3G. Or we may be patient and wait for the next big thing — which would be inclusion of features like 32GB of memory and an upgraded digital camera.

Additional reporting by Ross Catanzariti.

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