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  (Source: Apple)

iPhone 3G  (Source: Apple)

iTunes App Store  (Source: Apple)

iPhone 3G 16GB in white  (Source: Apple)
Apple swings for the fences, again.

When it comes to announcing a new product, Apple knows how to set the stage and get people excited right up until the official announcement. Nowhere was this more obvious than with the launch of the original iPhone. The fervor surrounding the mobile handset didn't settle down when the first generation iPhone was announced in early January 2007 -- it continued until the eventual release of the phone in June of that year.

Speculation on the follow-up, the "3G iPhone", has been building ever since the first generation model was revealed -- but things really started getting a bit uproarious over the past few months. Case makers began leaking dimensions for the upcoming phone, supposed "leaked" pictures of the phone were drooled over by nearly ever gadget site on the web, and leaked firmware was picked over with a fine-tooth comb.

Apple today finally announced its next generation crowd pleaser. Apple is looking to address the shortcoming of its first effort this time around and further expand its popularity (Jobs previously stated that he wants 10 million iPhones sold within the first 18 months – it already surpassed the 6 million mark during its first year).

First things firsts – the worse kept secret about the second generation iPhone is its 3G capabilities. The first gen model was widely criticized for its slow EDGE cellular broadband capabilities. Apple is now matching the competition with the iPhone 3G. The iPhone 3G has tapered look with thinner edges, solid metal buttons, a black plastic backing, flush headphone jack [thank goodness], and vastly improved audio.

The faster cellular connectivity of the iPhone 3G allow for download speeds nearly as quick as WiFi and speeds that are 2.5 times as fast as EDGE. The iPhone 3G also sports better battery life than its predecessor. The iPhone 3G now supports 2G talk time of 10 hours, 3G talk time of 5 hours, 7 hours of video, 24 hours of audio, and 5-6 hours of high-speed web browsing.

Another big addition is fully integrated GPS tracking. IPhone 3G users can now get positioning information from WiFi, cell towers, and now the hardware GPS.

Apple also confirmed early speculation that price breaks would be in store for the new lineup of iPhones. The Cupertino, California-based company confirmed today that the new 8GB iPhone will be priced at $199 with a new two-year contract when it launches July 11, while the 16GB iPhone (which will be available in white at a later date) will set you back $299 under the same terms.

The iPhone 3G will be rolled out in 22 countries on July 11 (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and the U.S.).

Apple first announced the Software Developer Kit (SDK) for the iPhone in early March along with the 2.0 firmware update. The SDK allows third-party manufacturers to create their own applications for the iPhone and iPod touch and upload them to the new iTunes App Store.

Developers are charged a $99 fee to publish each application to the iTunes App Store -- Apple also takes a 30% cut of the purchase price for each application sold to customers to cover hosting and processing fees. For generous developers that provide their apps for free on the iTunes App Store, the aforementioned hosting and processing fees are dropped.

Jobs noted that applications that are less than 10MB in size will be downloadable through the cell network – applications larger than 10MB will have to be downloaded through a WiFi connection of through the desktop iTunes application. Automatic updates for applications will also be pushed through to the device.

A number of applications were on display that were developed using the SDK including SEGA’s Super Monkey Ball (which will be available for $9.99 from the iTunes App Store), an integrated eBay tool complete with bidding and search, and a news reader provided for free by the Associated Press. The latter tool will send local news to you based on your location, save images, video, and text for offline viewing, and even allow you submit news as it happens.

The 2.0 software -- which is available not only for the iPhone 3G, but also to the original iPhone and iPod touch -- adds a number of new features to make the devices more corporate friendly. These include push email/calendar/contacts between an iPhone/Mac/PC via MobileMe, auto-discovery, global address lookup, Cisco IPsec VPN, Certificates and Identities, WPA2/802.11x, and remote wipe.

Other features include contacts search, bulk delete/move for emails, a new scientific calculator, and the ability to save images to the Photo Library. Microsoft PowerPoint documents are now supported as well.

IPhone users will receive the 2.0 software update for free, while iPod touch users will have to pay $9.99. The update will be available next month.

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Very Impressive
By JasonMick on 6/9/2008 3:15:24 PM , Rating: 5
I have to admit the iPhone's initial shortcomings left it with little appeal to me. However, they have virtually erased all the points of criticism.

I think perhaps the most significant accomplishment is squeezing in 3G talk time equivalent to the prior 2G talk time. Thats impressive.

The price, the new background features, new apps, and the new push features just sweeten the deal.

If this is everything they say, their only problem may be keeping up with demand...

RE: Very Impressive
By FITCamaro on 6/9/2008 3:24:02 PM , Rating: 5
I think their bigger problem is being locked into AT&Ts service.

RE: Very Impressive
By Master Kenobi on 6/9/2008 3:53:00 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, I would like to see this on Verizon's network (My carrier) and I would like to see it with bluetooth headset/voice dailing.

RE: Very Impressive
By eyebeeemmpawn on 6/9/2008 3:57:48 PM , Rating: 2
I think their bigger problem is being locked into AT&Ts service.

especially if you live in Vermont.

RE: Very Impressive
By HrilL on 6/9/2008 7:31:41 PM , Rating: 2
I think perhaps the most significant accomplishment is squeezing in 3G talk time equivalent to the prior 2G talk time. Thats impressive.

That is not the case at all. You got 8 hours of talk with the old phone. The new one will get 10 hours on 2G(Edge) and 5 hours on 3G. 5 < 8 You also get less surfing time with the new one. 6 hours on the old one and 5-6 hours now. while you do get more audio time on the new one 24 hours vs 18 on the old one.

My #1 complaint about the old one was how you could only use the large keyboard in Safari and not for text messaging or email. Don't if the 2.0 update will fix that. But since my iphone was stolen last month I am happy to only have to pay 200 to get a new one and not another 400. Although if the 16GB model came in black like the new 8GB 3G one and not white I would rather have that as 8GB is not enough for everything I want to put on there and with applications to add as well. It is even smaller.

RE: Very Impressive
By Reclaimer77 on 6/10/2008 12:30:50 AM , Rating: 3
I honestly fail to see whats impressive about the iPhone. I know I'm wasting my time looking for value in an Apple product. But so far heres what I know about the i-phone.

No SD support stuck with 4,8,16 fixed gigs of storage.
Can't record video
Can't voice dial.
Can't instant message.
Can't copy and paste text.
Can't record voice memo's
Can't send MMS messages
Can't customize ringtones with own MP3's.
Can't change your own battery.
Can't choose your own provider, or ANY provider but AT&T

This wasn't billed as a phone, Jobs made it out to be some all in one wonder device. But its pitifully lacking in features that even common hybrid phones have as standard.

The big draw, the touch screen, is non intuitive and at times you find yourself just wishing you had a full keyboard made up of BUTTONS like the Nokia E70. Its a tap and pray screen that quickly turns smudgy. Lack and buttons and no voice dialing also bring up safety concerns while driving a car. You can't dial phone numbers in the iPhone without staring at your screen.

I don't get whats so impressive about the iPhone. I'm sure its a good product to those who enjoy it. But there are better and cheaper products on the market who don't force you to use one provider. And who do allow the community to develop applications for it, unlike Apple.

RE: Very Impressive
By JSK on 6/10/2008 1:39:53 AM , Rating: 2

Trillian Astra on the iPhone?

RE: Very Impressive
By Master Kenobi on 6/10/2008 8:15:21 AM , Rating: 2
Blackberry 8800 user here. It does all that :P

RE: Very Impressive
By kelmon on 6/10/2008 9:40:26 AM , Rating: 2

Seriously, none of the "can't do" aspects that you listed are as important as the addition of GPS, at least not for me. I would also note that you can quite easily add your own ringtones without paying Apple.

No, the iPhone is not perfect (I'd cite the crappy camera as the biggest issue) but it's going to be device that does everything that I need and that's the most important thing. No doubt I'll be kicking myself when the iPhone 3 is released, but next month I will buy one and it's the addition of GPS that really pushes me over the edge. I'll be fascinated to see what the addition of GPS does to the existing GPS market for the likes of TomTom and Garmin. Apparently TomTom is releasing map software for the iPhone...

RE: Very Impressive
By HrilL on 6/10/2008 1:47:55 PM , Rating: 2
While some of your points are true. A lot of them are supposed to be added in the 2.0 update. Also if you hack the phone many of those things you want can be added. As for the space you will also be able to have 20GB of space on that can be accessed from the iphone. Instant messaging has been there from the start. its called a WEB app. You can use which supports AIM, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ and Meebo chats. As for the Keyboard I never had any problems with mine. And it didn't get that smugged either. I always kept it clean. And I tend to have clean hands so It didn't get dirty that often. I could see this as being a problem if you tend to have grimy hands. You can Customize your own ringtones you just need to get the free software online.

The battery is still one of its biggest flaws though. I had to charge my phone every night most of the time.

Its browser is better then anything I've used on any phones so far. You can do everything you can do on a PC pretty much. I used to use it all day long bored at work or on trips. Although it does lack flash support but that may be added later (Hopes)

Oh and if you turned off Bluetooth and wifi + change the screen darker you can get another hour or so out of the battery But it does make it hard to see in the bright sun. Indoors and at night it looks fine.

RE: Very Impressive
By Reclaimer77 on 6/10/2008 4:17:07 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, I'm honestly not trying to sound condescending. But after a year they made some common features standard. Some common features requiring a work around or download. And some common features requiring a " hack " to activate. Is that basically the deal ? All that AND I can't use Verizon ? What actually works out of the box on these things ?

Seriously, no thank you. Besides the service issue, I just don't have that much faith in batteries. So let me get this straight, I have to send Apple my phone which is probably LOADED with personal information, every time the battery goes dead ? How trusting ! No. No thanks.

If the Iphone came out 5 years ago, it would have been the coolest thing on the planet. But today there are just too many good similar and better products on the market that don't force me to make so many compromises at such a high premium.

RE: Very Impressive
By HrilL on 6/10/2008 5:03:17 PM , Rating: 2
It is sad apple hasn't added more common features but the truth is a lot of iphone users don't even use the ones it already has. I know a few other people with them (mostly girls) and they have said they never use it for music and videos. Hardly ever use safari and never use email. They use it for a phone and text messaging and that is about it. I asked why they even had an iphone then and they said because its the coolest phone to have.

Honestly I don't have much faith is MAC users in the first place. These are just the people At&t wants to have as customers. They don't mind getting ripped off and they'll hardly use their service.

Myself I was using 300-600MB of data a month but since I found out you can tether the phone to a pc I'll be using much much more. Although this does break the terms of service I don't care. Used to do it with my old phone and never had any complaints. Also in the TOS it says if you use more then 5GB a month they'll start to charge you more for the amount you go over 5GB or you can Cancel. Seems like a good way to get out of a 2 year contract.

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke
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