iPhone not made for Australia?

As a self-confessed Apple fan boy, I own an original 2G model — such as was my impatience in waiting forever for it to arrive in Australia (like every other bit of technology of course).

Now that the iPhone 3G has been here for a good few months and the initial hype has died down, the attention has turned away from the phone itself and onto mobile data. My question is: does Australia (and particularly it’s mobile carriers) deserve the iPhone?

Make no mistake — the iPhone is a pretty impressive device. While it lacks some incredibly basic features (picture messaging the standout), its full touch-screen interface, particularly the Safari web browser, is definitely appealing. The iPhone provides the closest experience to browsing the web at home, on your mobile. (Well, that’s what Apple tells us – it’s a load of crap, as nothing comes close to browsing the web on your PC. But hey, it’s still pretty damn good for a phone!)

My concern is this — mobile data in Australia is a) slow b) expensive and c) still in its relative infancy. Taking into account the state of the Australian market, the iPhone has come far too soon. Many consumers are unable to take advantage of its Internet capabilities. Ridiculous excess data charges, low data limits and slow connections, despite the presence of 3G technology, are all hampering the iPhone experience.

A quick look on AT&T’s website (Apple’s exclusive carrier provider in the US) shows that every AT&T iPhone plan includes unlimited data. The carrier charges higher monthly prices for higher voice minutes. As an example, for US$90 per month, an iPhone user receives 450 anytime minutes, 5000 night and weekend minutes, unlimited data, unlimited text messages and free visual voicemail. In the words of Borat…very naiceee!

The closest equivalent here is not Telstra, Optus or Vodafone, but Richard Branson and the team at Virgin Mobile (ironically they are owned by Optus). They offer the iPhone for $70 per month (plus handset repayments). This plan includes $520 worth of calls and text (at expensive rates) and 1GB of data per month.

So, the conclusion? We get shafted, yet again. Do Australian mobile carriers really deserve the iPhone?

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
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