Well, I'm passing on the 3G phone that came out today. Not because I think anything is wrong with the phone itself, I think its quite brilliant, but mainly due to the pricing plan AT&T has rolled out for it. Essentially, to keep everything as is, my payment would increase $15 a month. When you take into account the $200 discount I got from my original iPhone (thanks Apple and Amex!) the incentive to start to pay more for the new phone diminishes. I'll run down the primary benefits of picking up the new phone today, v.s. keeping my old one.
With the iPhone 3G, you get 3 main things, 1) 3G networking 2) GPS and 3) new firmware and access to all the shiny new applications you can download. Starting from the rear, the new firmware is available to original iPhones, so the benefit is shared by both. GPS, while it is going to be incredibly nice, it has already been found to be a location identifier, not something that is going to replace the GPS unit in your car. It has the potential to be very useful, but its a tough call if the $160 more the iPhone 3G will cost over time wouldn't be better spent on an actual GPS unit. Leading to the paramount benefit of going for the 3G, faster downloads. This was a tough call for me, I'd love the faster data transfer because that is the probably tied with phone calls for the number one thing I do with my iPhone. Ultimately, what tipped the boat for me was battery life. My current phone has an excellent battery life, when I first got it I was able to load it up with movies and watch them all on a transcontinental flight. Due to its age, the battery can't do that now, but its still impressive. Since 3G is an energy hog, I think the battery would become the biggest issue for me down the road. Sure, those blazing fast downloads will be fantastic for the first 6 months or so, but once that battery gets some age on it, the energy consumption of 3G will become more apparent. Looking at how I use my iPhone, I need it to last 11-13 hours of on and off use for my work day. Currently, I don't have any problems with that, but I do know in 3-4 months I'll probably have to look into getting a new battery. Since I generally hold onto my phones for a long time (I've only owned 3 over 10 years)I know that the 3G iPhone will not age as gracefully as the original. For a lot of people, the 3G and GPS will be worth it, and for me it is a close call, but the increase cost for ownership is just too much.
So, I've decided to stick with my original, its treated me fantastic for the past year, and I know I'll hold on to it for at least another year. When the third generation of iPhones roll out sometime in the future, I have confidence the battery issue will be resolved, and it will most likely balance on price and cost of ownership for me. Unfortunately, due to the crush of activation requests, my newly adopted 2.0 firmware on my iPhone can not be activated. Despite all my effort to stay outside the fray, I've been dragged into it. Now all I can hope for is that I can get my phone back up and opperational sometime tonight.