The recent buzz on the wireless telephone front is the iPhone. It certainly seems to be chock full of features. What will these features be and are they worth the extra costs? On June 29 many found out.
The basics: Only AT&T service will work, so if you don’t like AT&T service there is no point. Also, take a look at the coverage area to be certain you will even get service (http://www.wireless.att.com/coverageviewer/). If AT&T service is acceptable then there are many features and benefits to iPhone ownership, including the ability to play media, both music and movies purchased through iTunes. According to Apple, “you only need to decide how many minutes and SMS text messages you need.” Obviously this new phone will do SMS and voice plans, however, what else are you buying?
The features: Voice calls like any other phone are a simple function included. Visual voicemail is included. What is visual voicemail? That is a fancy way for saying you don’t have to listen to messages in a row, but can ‘visually’ pick the message you want to hear from a list. SMS messaging is made better by a full, visual keyboard that you can use to send messages as well as storing the messages sent and received much like a instant message conversation. Photos come organized and easily viewable gallery-style with zoom and pan features. You can sync your photos with a computer or take them with the 2-megapixel camera included. iPhones come with the ability to play media, both music and video as expected in an iPod-style interface. Email, Contacts and Calendar work much like you’d expect in a smart phone. Something you might not expect is that you will need iTunes to setup your account according to Apple. An Internet browser, mapping software – much like Google Earth (http://earth.google.com), many widgets – weather, stocks, etc, and the much advertised YouTube player built-in.
Taking a lesson from iPod’s early days Apple includes a durable glass top surface and a better battery according to InfoSync.
iPhone will be sold in the US through Apple’s retail and online stores (www.apple.com), and through Cingular’s retail and online stores (www.cingular.com). iPhones can be purchased through any Apple retail store or AT&T retail store. But you must activate it with an internet connection, a major credit card or iTunes account and a valid social security number, according to Apple.
The device itself comes in three models: 4gb version for $499 or an 8gb model for $599. One-time cost.
Activation will cost $36. One-time cost.
A 24 month contract must be signed. While the service cost is reasonable for a decent plan on a smart device, 24 months of it might be worth calculating. “Individual plans cost from $59.99 for 450 minutes, $79.99 for 900 minutes and $99.99 for 1,350 minutes” according to Apple. Recurring costs: $1,439.76 for the $59.99 plan, $1,919.76 for the $79.99 plan, and $2,399.76 for the $99.99 plan.
Lets put together some of the costs and see what it really looks like:
Activation fee: $36.00 + (cheapest phone) $499.00 + 24 months of the cheapest plan $1,439.76 = $1,974.76 and that’s the cheapest assuming you don’t ever go over your minutes and it does NOT include any taxes and fees applied and does NOT include any songs you might download. If you went top shelf for everything that total becomes $3,034.76 (not including taxes, fees and music).
Roll over minutes are included. Unlimited mobile-to-mobile is included. Family plans are also available and special rates might apply if you are already a customer.
Visual voicemail and unlimited data come with every service plan. Don’t need it? Too bad, you’re getting it.
The bad side: Nothing about any games. It will probably not support any alternative formats for music or video. It has maps, but not a
GPS. No known word processor or spreadsheet applications at the moment. Many other smart devices already carry these features. It also lacks in expansion capabilities, but perhaps we will see them in Apple’s iPhone 2.0?