The Top Five Reasons Not to Upgrade to the New iPhone 3G
I’ve had my new 3G iPhone for about a month now and I thought I’d take a few minutes to write some of my thoughts and reflections on the experience for people who might be considering upgrading to the new 3G iPhone. First a little background though.
I’ve been critical of the new iPhone ever since first learning the details about it. I felt that after existing iPhone users had shelled out $600 for original iPhones less than a year ago that Apple should have done more for existing early adopters via an upgrade path. I’m not saying that they had any obligation to do more, but just that I thought it would have been the right thing to do. The easiest thing that they could have done was simply allow existing iPhone users to migrate to the new phone on the same plan rather than requiring them to adopt a new more expensive plan from AT&T.; I do recognize that Apple made a gesture in the form of a $100 store credit for early adopters, but at least in my case after going through the work of securing my credit online, the Emeryville Apple store refused to honor it turning the positive gesture into more of an insult than anything.
Originally I was not planning on upgrading to the new phone. But when my old phone was dropped and broken this provided the entry to try out the new iPhone 3G. My experience with the new phone so far is that it is very similar to old phone. But for people with a working first generation iPhone I do not feel that upgrading is worth it after a month of hands on experience and here are my reasons why.
1. AT&T;’s 3G network sucks. One of the main reasons to upgrade to the new iPhone is for the alleged faster speeds associated with AT&T;’s 3G network vs. the first generation iPhone’s Edge network. Unfortunately, when you can get a 3G connection (and surprisingly in a major city like San Francisco this is probably less that 50% of the time) the page loading speed is barely noticeable over the old AT&T; Edge network. I just loaded my Flickr Recent Activity on my iPhone on AT&T;’s 3G Network and it took over 90 seconds to load. This is simply unacceptable. By contrast my Verizon EVDO card on my MacBook can load the same page in less than 5 seconds.
2. The battery life on the new iPhone sucks. On my old iPhone I could always get at least one day’s use out of the iPhone on a full charge. Several times when I’ve been using my new iPhone the phone has died before I’ve had a chance to recharge it again at night. Using the web seems to drain the battery the most, but then again using the web seems to be one of the main selling points of the new iPhone. It sucks when I need to call my wife to pick me up from the BART station at the end of the day and have to boot up my Mac, EVDO and skype to make a telephone call because my iPhone is dead.
3. Wifi is becoming more ubiquitous and will continue to become more ubiquitous over the next two years. Even if you felt that you were going to get better speeds from 3G and have a better experience than I have, with wifi becoming more ubiquitous over the course of the next few years you may find yourself with less and less of a need for 3G anyways. Yesterday the top story on Techmeme was that Delta Airlines was going to begin offering wifi on all of their flights. On Monday I signed up for the new AT&T; Uverse fiber internet connection at home. Along with that service I was told that I’d have free access to all AT&T; wifi hotspots. On the AC Transit buses that run to the East Bay where I live they already broadcast wifi. BART is currently running an experimental wifi program and already has a beta wifi program available where users can use free BART wifi at some stations.
Wifi is only going to get more available and when using wifi the new iPhone really has no advantage in terms of internet speeds over the old iPhone.
4. When you upgrade from your old iPhone to a new 3G version you no longer get any free SMS messages. The plan with the original iPhone offered you 200 free SMS messages per month. With the new iPhone you have to buy a seperate SMS plan. These new plans run $5 per month to $20 per month.
5. $10 more per month for the new iPhone’s data plan is a rip off. Given that the 3G network is inaccessible at least 50% of the time with AT&T; in a major city like San Francisco, the $10 more per month to pay for your new iPhone is a ripoff. People like to point out that the new iPhone is a lot cheaper than the old one, $199 — but when you do the math over time it will actually cost you much more. Because you are going to be required to keep AT&T; as your service provider with the new phone for at least two more years, you are committing (between the extra data plan charges and a $5 per month SMS charge) to pay a minimum of $360 more for your phone service over the next two years. Because there is a chance that you might keep the phone longer than two years you could end up paying even more — about $540 more for three years. It would be one thing if the new iPhone was that much better, but unfortunately it is not.
So there you have it. My advice? Only upgrade if you break your old phone like I did. Otherwise stick with your first generation iPhone. It’s almost every bit as good as the new one and a heck of a lot cheaper. One positive note for the new iPhone — the headphones do tangle a lot less than the old ones.