I’m Thinking About Not Upgrading to the New iPhone When it Comes Out

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Like a lot of people I’ve been eagerly awaiting news on the new iPhone. I love my iPhone and it’s definitely been the best phone I’ve ever had. That said, there’s a good chance that I won’t be upgrading when the new iPhones come out. I still haven’t decided 100% or not yet, but in my book the upgrade path seems like a pretty crappy deal for the Apple faithful who purchased iPhones from the beginning.

The best that I can tell, the only thing I’d be getting with a new iPhone is faster internet speed. Apparently the 3G speeds are about twice as fast as the Edge network speeds (which royally suck). Other than this though I don’t really get anything. There’s no GPS in the new phones. There’s no video. I don’t use my iPhone for corporate email so I don’t benefit from that. And I’m just not sure a slight boost in speed is really worth the upgrade price.

Now I’m not 100% totally versed on how the upgrade deal is going to work yet, but from what I’ve read it seems like I’d be eligible to upgrade, but would need to buy a new $199 phone, plus pay $10 extra per month, plus lock into a new two year contract.

So let’s do the math. $199 (plus California sales tax I’m sure) = $215.92. Then I’ve got to pay an extra $10 per month for 2 years or another $240.

Now, I just checked my history on my iPhone for the last week and in the last week I accessed 46 web pages on my iPhone. I should use my iPhone’s browser more but AT&T;’s network just sucks so bad that I hardly ever do.

Interestingly enough, of those 46 pages that I loaded in the last week, 28 of them were loaded at McCarran Airport on Sunday in Las Vegas where they had free wifi. So in the last week I really would have only benefited from a faster internet connection for 18 pages. Now right now it takes anywhere from about 15 seconds to 15 minutes for a page to load on my iPhone. I just tested a load page on my iPhone in order write this post and it took 63 seconds for my iPhone to load my Flickr Recent Activity page in downtown San Francisco.

So best I can tell, assuming I use the iPhone internet stuff the same way I am now, in the last week I would have saved about 9 minutes of waiting time with the new iPhone. 9 minutes per week is about 468 minutes per year or about 8 hours per year in internet browsing savings time.

So in order to save 8 hours of internet load time per year I’m going to have to pay $455.92 more than I’m paying now over the next 2 years. As much as I love my iPhone and Apple products, I’m just not so sure that this is a good deal.

Of course with a faster internet connection I might use my iPhone’s browser a lot more often and the deal might be better because of that, but what if the 3G really is only 2x faster than edge? Or what if, even worse, it’s barely faster at all? And what if free public wi-fi gets easier to hop onto over the course of the next 2 years and so the extra speed boost from 3G doesn’t get used as much as I think it might. Already lots of places like Starbucks are talking about free wifi.

A lot of people say the new iPhone is cheap, but I’m not sure it’s so cheap for people looking to upgrade who already shelled out $600 to buy an iPhone the first time. I know, Apple gave us $100 rebate back, but even after I activated my $100 rebate when I tried to use it at the Emeryville Apple store to buy Photoshop CS3 they refused to honor it so I still feel like I paid $600.

I’m still up in the air on whether or not I’m going to upgrade. Maybe I’ll just do it anyways just for the excitement of the new phone and all, but then again maybe I won’t. I would have thought that Apple would have treated it’s existing early adopters better than that.

Update: Apparently GPS is included in the new iPhones. That might make things more interesting. Still not sure it’s worth it though.

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  1. Brian says:

    The new iPhones DO have GPS.

    Pretty much worth the upgrade right there.

  2. Donavon says:

    As brian said, the new iPhone’s DO have GPS. Though I’m with you on everything else you said. I refuse to re-up my contract just to get the new phone at this point, particularly since the monthly cost is $10 more for 3G.

  3. Aaron says:

    I’m also thinking about not upgrading. Like you, I’m very curious about the true 3G speed. It would be nice, for example, to make use of video streaming over the cell network (think Media Center plus Orb).

    Overall though it does seem like a crappy deal. I was expecting many more improvements that were noticeably absent…..better camera, better screen, A2DP, front-facing camera, video, and more.

    Anyway, seems like a good deal for an iPhone newcomer, but not great for an existing iPhone owner.

  4. dssstrkl says:

    I’m kind of in the same boat. I use the browser, mail and Twinkle (jailbreak location-aware twitter client) all the time, so the 3G is really nice. My question is, what kind of deal will I get on a family plan when I add my old EDGE iphone. Right now, that’s $50/month just for data! I’m not really comfortable with spending $120+ a month, so I’ll just have to wait and see.

  5. $455.62 / 16 hours = $28.495 / hour of wasted time on EDGE vs 3G.

    Surely you make more than $29/hour.

    Sounds like a steal! 🙂

  6. PLM says:

    I have some questions about the GPS functionality. What happens when you have no cellular coverage? Do the google maps stop loading? Do you have to get the Tom Tom software to have usability when you have no cellular connectivity? It doesn’t appear to replace your handheld GPS but it would be nice for urban, spur-of-the-moment GPS needs.

  7. Hawk says:

    I used to use 3G on my 8525. It was *remarkably* faster – when I had actual 3G signal – than EDGE.

    In the bowels of sams club with 1 bar… you’re still talking *minutes* for a full page load of a typical website that isn’t mobile-optimized.

    Also, while they subsidized the initial price, AT&T; also upped the data plan price *and* removed SMS from the package, meaning you have to add another X dollars for the SMS package of your choice.

    However, I think the whole App Store thing is going to be awesome, any way you slice it, 3G or no. Sure, I could jailbreak my phone, but I’m past that stage in my life. (No offense meant to jailbreakers.)

  8. arex says:

    I hear ya. I have the Nokia e61i and I haven’t seen a huge difference in features that are really pulling me in. Sure I don’t have 3G, but I’m geotagging, geowalking, and such already (sure, via a BT GPS puck). Honestly, like aaron, I was pretty disappointed with the announcement. I thought there would be more features as all the rumors rambled about.

    Oh, and what’s with the added service price tag on the 3G version?

  9. nicerobot says:

    GPS is the clincher for me. I’ve wanted GPS to track my rides for a while and haven’t been motivated to shell out the cash for a second device I’d have to tote around (that got old years ago). Loopt seems useful and fun. The phone still has a ways to go before it’s virtually perfect but with 2.0 software, 3G and GPS, it’s made a great leap.

  10. Bryan says:

    I, too, am considering NOT upgrading to the new phone. $200 is a very nice price–but the real cost is the cost of going with a very non-Apple approach to the whole thing. It’s back to the good old wireless carrier pricing structure and contract, no online/iTunes activation, and general pain in the butt. The $30 data plan is bogus. That price should be going down. It really is a shame that Apple has gone in a direction that does not respect and represent the Apple way.

  11. PXLated says:

    Speed probably depends entirely on “specific” location. I have Verizon EVDO and it’s great when available (major metros only from my experience) but you’re lucky to even get 1x in many parts outside – you need to be connected to a “native” Verizon tower and they are far and few between here in my area. I’d kill for consistent EDGE.

  12. PXLated says:

    I should add, the coverage maps are virtually worthless in determining if you will actually get EVDO.

  13. Not only is there GPS in the new iPhone, the camera application auto-Geotags the photos you take in metadata.

    Brian Lam told us this yesterday after he got some hands-on time with the phone.

  14. Jack says:

    I don’t understand why it’s a good deal for iPhone newcomers? Yes your getting the phone for $200 less but it’s costing you $10 more a month or $20 a year. I think the best deal is to pickup a used iPhone on Ebay cheap from someone dumping their old phone for a new iPhone 3G and then signing up for the old AT&T; plan, or jailbreak the phone and use whoever you want for service.

  15. TranceMist says:

    The killer app for me would be if I could use the iPhone as a 3G modem for my MacBook Pro, which I know AT&T; doesn’t want you to do.

  16. I likely won’t be upgrading as well, for reasons similar to the ones you mentioned. I’m actually more excited about seeing what the 2.0 software and Mobile Me have to offer. Both of those are accessible on the first generation iPhones as well as the 3G versions.

  17. Brian says:

    I can’t comment on if it’s worth the upgrade, but 3G will be a big difference. I am looking forward to being a new subscriber even though ATT is not as good as Verizon where I live (SF).

    3G will be many times faster than EDGE. The theoretical limit on EDGE throughput is about 236Kilobits/sec, but in reality it never breaks 200. The average is usually around 180-190. HSDPA is currently about 1.0-1.4Mbps (5-7 times faster). But the performance of all 3G networks (meaning both EVDO and HSDPA) is considerably more variable than EDGE, and it can be really different depending on the city and your location. In other words, even if you live in a 3G city, I would expect the performance to be frustratingly inconsistent.

    ATT has been making a lot of claims about the 3G network upgrades. They are saying people should be getting up to 1.7 now and 3.6 this year (3.6 is probably the limit for the new iphone 3G chip). I think I remember hearing a claim that they will be at 7.2 in 2009. Obviously, they are making a lot of noise about the network upgrades because of the 3G iphone launch. I’ll believe it when I see it.

    Brian E

  18. Anonymous says:

    It’s just a cell phone! Why is it even news that there’s one new Apple product you might not buy?

    iPod, iPhone, iCan’tBelieveIPaidAppleAgainForTheSameProductIBoughtSixMonthsAgo. Yez’re like a frickin’ cult, yez “Apple faithful!” 😀

  19. Derek says:

    FWIW – when i first got my Samsung Blackjack, it was stuck in EDGE only one. After a bit of tweaking and some calls to AT&T; I got 3G turned on. Trust me, it is more than 2x faster. I seriously have wondered how all the iPhone users out there live with such a slow connection, especially with such a rich UI.

  20. ChiliMac says:

    I won’t be upgrading.

    1) Because it has a SUCKY CAMERA! I want to use my phones camera when I don’t have my regular around.

    2) No video.

    3)Faster internet isn’t that important to me. EDGE in Chicago isn’t to bad and I’m usually near a computer.

    4) Don’t need GPS. In Chicago if you can remember where Lake Michigan is you can make you’re way around.

    5) I think the plastic backs look cheap also.

  21. Everyone keep in mind that 3g speeds can reach well beyond the current 2.8x the speed of Edge. Its currently a network limitation not a limitation of the hardware or 3g itself. AT&T; has promised 7 mbps downloads over 3g next year, and they already have 20 mbps downloads over 3g working in their labs.

    With 3g and true GPS, the new iPhone seems like a fairly significant upgrade to me over the old model, this however will be my first iPhone so I’m pretty excited about it.

    Someone asked about GPS when there is no celluar signal. The old iPhone found your location by triangulating cellphone towers and wi-fi hotspots… This wasn’t always the most accurate, although it can be useful inside of a building where GPS may not work. The new iPhone has *real* GPS meaning if you are outside it can find a satillite, it doesn’t rely on a cellular signal.

    – Bryan Campbell

  22. Aaron says:

    Hawk –

    Is that true about dropping SMS? Seriously? That’s absolutely ridiculous if true. Talk about nickel and diming.

    Jack –

    I suppose it’s a good deal for newcomers “relatively speaking”.

    They purchase the phone for $200 and pay an extra $240 for the 2 years, which is $440 total (not including standard service). For that, they get all of the iPhone features including 3G and GPS.

    However, us existing iPhone owners pay the $440 just for the upgrade to 3G and GPS. We’ve already shelled out $400-$500 for the existing features. Granted, we can sell our used iPhones at a great loss and recover some of the $500, but it seems like we’re still paying an awful lot just for two more features. That’s how I see it anyway.

  23. Bryan says:

    I think the Apple faithful need to speak out LOUD on the pricing model of this new iphone, because it is totally jacked up, backward, and so non-Apple. Just as with the $200 price cut and eventual $100 refund on the first gen iphone, Apple users need to revolt on the way Apple is changing its approach with iphone 2. The iphone is groundbreaking, its plan is not. Here’s a good entry on the NY Times web site: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/11/new-iphone-pricing-model-is-a-step-backward-for-consumers/index.html

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