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An Apple fan bends over inside his tent in Denmark.  (Source: Engadget)

New York was a zoo, but an orderly one.  (Source: Engadget)

Chicago wasn't too crazy, but there was a solid contingent of fans outside.  (Source: Engadget)
Today marks Apple's biggest product release of the year

Many people across the country have caught a fever, and the only medicine is more iPhone.  Large lines formed outside Apple stores in major cities across the U.S., in anticipation of the 8 AM release of the long-awaited 3G version of Apple's iconic smart phone. 

The launch was truly an intriguing global phenomenon.

The lines were shorter than the original iPhone release at Apple's 5th Avenue store in New York, according to initial reports, but the crowd exuded a much stronger sense of desperation.  Apple employees were on hand to start wild rounds of cheering, whipping the crowd of Apple lovers into a frenzy.

In New Zealand, first to get the iPhone due to time zone mechanics, huge crowds formed.  The typically sedate Kiwis went wild, some of them camping out, forming crowds as the moment approached.  Japan was among the next to get the phone, with even larger crowds of up to 1,000 forming.  Reporters spotted many of the ever-studious Japanese youth reviewing textbooks while they waited.

Across Europe, in Sweden, the Netherlands and elsewhere, similar excitement was seen.  In Europe iPhones were delivered by armored car and handed off to the store manager.

The exception seemed to be Canada.  In the normally busy city of Calgary, the Canadians seemed somewhat apathetic towards the launch, perhaps due to recent dissatisfaction with Rogers, Canada's leading service provider who picked up the cell phone.  Or perhaps it was the hailing storm that pelted the city overnight.  Nonetheless, citizens reported small crowds camping out over the course of the night.  Quebec was similarly quiet.

One curious phenomena that arose was the iPhone EDGE model fire sale.  Patrons of the iPhone were offering their obsolete models for as little as $50 to would be buyers.  While some might be wary, it seems that it might be a fair deal for some, living outside AT&T's more limited 3G coverage, but within the EDGE network coverage.

Finally getting their sweaty palms on the new iPhone, Apple fans were perhaps a bit surprised to discover it looked amazing like...  their old iPhone.  Perhaps among the cuts that dropped the price from $399 to $199 was the removal of the chic aluminum casing.  In its place is a shiny black (or white, optional on the 16GB model) plastic, a magnet for fingerprints. The move to plastic may also have been made to deal with Apple's ever growing list of radio frequencies supported -- GSM, EDGE, HSDPA, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS.

In the end, the phone still looks pretty much like an iPhone, and people report the plastic to feel solid, and not at all flimsy.  The phone is now curved, fatter at the center and thinner at the edge, a popular design trick to give the illusion of thinness.  Unfortunately, this means that when tapping out an email on a table, the phone rocks back and forth.

In a move that angered some, Apple replaced the old dock, which is no longer compatible with the iPhone.  After Apple "sells" customers on the iPhone, they are in its clutches and it slams them with a $30 fee for their new phone.  Another minor gripe is that the phone does not automatically detect GSM or 3G networks, the user must configure it themselves.

The new phone sports noticeably better quality on 3G and GSM, according to early adopters.  Battery life weighs in close to expectations from Apple with 10 / 5 hours talk on GSM / 3G (respectively), 5 hours 3G data, 6 hours WiFi, 24 hours music and 7 hours video.  The camera is reported to be slightly sharper, but unimpressive, overall.

Music fans will be happy -- the iPhone now has a flush 3.5mm jack.  This will allow normal headphones to be used.  The speaker, which many complained was too quiet, has also been pumped up. 

IPhone tests have showed it to be a speedy performer, with data rates of 300 - 500Kbps in the U.S. and 700-800Kbps on faster foreign networks.  The GPS is also very fast, supplementing satellite acquisition with cell phone tower triangulation.  Also the GPS uses Skyhook's proprietary WiFi-based location system, the only known phone on the market to do so.  Microsoft Exchange, now supported, works well for email, but can only support personal/corporate coexisting accounts, not personal/enterprise.  PowerPoint presentations now can open automatically on the phone as well.

In other iPhone related news, the 2.0 Firmware for the iPhone/iPod Touch which enables the new Apps feature and such goodies as Nike+Apple was leaked for free.  It has now been officially released for $9.99, but it is still floating around for free.  There have been some reports of problems with the free version.  Expect a rapid crackdown from Apple as well.

All in all it was a busy day for Apple worldwide.  No real surprises, no riots, but still the iPhone launch was an impressive display by Apple of its market might.

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RE: Only Apple
By mondo1234 on 7/11/2008 11:51:26 AM , Rating: 3
If it makes cell phones better and more competitive, let them buy! I think it is great regardless of who makes them.

RE: Only Apple
By daftrok on 7/11/2008 3:49:03 PM , Rating: 2
But they didn't fix the main issues. Now some people would say once again you can't remove the battery. But so long as you allow the phone to discharge its battery to around 20% and unplug it once its fully charged you can keep using the same battery for years and years. But I have some issues with the iPhone that just will not stand for me:

1) No Picture messaging. Seriously what the hell.
2) No Video recording.
3) Forced AT&T activation.
4) Expensive plans.
5) No AIM/MSN support
6) No Google Docs or MS Word support (I could have sworn they would have made an app for Google Docs. For those of you who don't know, Google Docs is like a basic version of MS Word, Powerpoint and Excel, but surprisingly good for being online)
7) No landscape keyboard (it only does portrait)
8) Lamentable audio/video support

Fix these issues, then I'll get it. GPS and 3G isn't gonna do it for me.

RE: Only Apple
By daftrok on 7/11/2008 4:00:31 PM , Rating: 2
Just to clarify Number 6, support means reader AND writer.

RE: Only Apple
By Spivonious on 7/11/2008 4:50:30 PM , Rating: 1
Your battery comment is wrong. A battery only has so many charge cycles, regardless of how far it was discharged.

Lithium-ion batteries last the longest when discharged completely, so charging it at 20% would shorten its lifetime.

The iPhone battery has something like 250 charge cycles until half-life. If you recharged it daily, it would have less than a year before the battery lasted half as long as it did new.

RE: Only Apple
By sprockkets on 7/12/2008 1:14:48 AM , Rating: 2
Wrong. Lithium Ion benefits from frequent charging and not deep cycle charging. Look it up.

No matter what you do though, Lithium ion batteries will lose capacity just by time passing, whether you use it or not.

RE: Only Apple
By Spivonious on 7/14/2008 11:23:59 AM , Rating: 2
D'oh! I got them confused with NiCads. Sorry about that!

RE: Only Apple
By mondo1234 on 7/11/2008 9:23:48 PM , Rating: 2
I thought the 3G and GPS were the biggest gripes (not including the battery replacement)?

1 & 2 = Apple should fix, but can't you email pics in gmail from safari?
3 - Verizon had a shot and turned it down. Its not sold unlocked like the n95, but its cheaper.
4 no more so than verizon
5 you can pick up aim for the iphone
6 Quickoffice is coming out with a version for the iphone, its the same that is one the nokia
7 landscape kb works with Safari only
8 I transcode for ipod video all the time w/o problems. I dl mp3's from alot of paid sites w/o a problem. I am sure someone will come out with other codecs for the iphone just like OSx.

I am using Windows Mobile on my phone right now and it isn't heaven either. My next phone will either be an iphone or BB. Its just time for change. Maybe this is it, maybe not. I think this is great to stir up the industy, thats all....

RE: Only Apple
By cmdrdredd on 7/12/2008 12:06:26 PM , Rating: 2
I agree 100% with Daftrok. That coupled with the "I don't care about current subscribers" attitude that AT&T takes really makes me hate the whole iPhone craze. They'll jump through hoops and subsidize the price of the phone for new subscribers who want to sign a contract they can't get out of, but if you just want the phone and you want to transfer your current service to the iPhone and add the media package they charge you $200 over the advertised price as a way of saying "Thanks for being a customer for 8 years"

RE: Only Apple
By Oralen on 7/12/2008 5:08:04 PM , Rating: 2
You forgot one issue, although it only concerns the place I'm from:

In belgium, where it's forbidden for operators to subsidise the price of a phone to force a contract...

The Iphone is priced at 615 €, with taxes... That's 976$, folks.

And if you want to take advantage of what makes the Iphone stand out, namely internet access, you still need a data plan. About 75$ per Month.

It's not Apple's fault, of course, but still.

A little bit pricey for a phone...

Guess I'll have to pass.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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