TiPb vs TiPb: Top 5 Reasons Why I'm NOT Upgrading to iPhone 3G

Now that the iPhone 3G has been officially announced and the details have been released, we are holding the first ever: TiPb vs TiPb. In the two articles we will detail reasons why we SHOULD upgrade and why we SHOULDN’T upgrade to the iPhone 3G. No hard feelings, No blood spilled, just good old fashioned point-by-point debate.

More so than any other Apple release, the iPhone 3G was probably the worst kept secret in the history of Apple. There was plenty of speculation, some wild (video conferencing) and some tame (black casing). Some were right, some were wrong.

I flagrantly participated in the rumorpalooza. I was excited for every nugget of news even though it didn't contain a kernel of truth. So maybe I hyped myself into thinking the iPhone 3G was going to be the be all, end all device that the iPhone was. After my initial excitement subsided, I realized, hey, the iPhone 3G isn't a necessary upgrade! I could wait a little until all the kinks are worked out, so these are the 5 Reasons Why I’m NOT Upgrading to the iPhone 3G.

Read on for the 5 Reasons to NOT upgrade!

5. Form Factor

Honestly, Apple did a great job in making plastic look sleek. Though we haven’t seen too many ‘real-life’ pictures yet, from the looks of it, it is much better than expected. But it ain’t no iPhone. One of my favorite things about the original iPhone was the aluminum back—no other phone could even come close in terms of construction to the original iPhone’s build quality. The tapered edges in the iPhone 3G seem to be consistent with the design direction of Apple’s new product line but I have my concerns—is it going to spin wildly when I lay it down, flat on its back? Will it be impossible to keep steady?

Actually, could I even lay it down flat on its back, without getting scratches? Do you guys remember your first iPod? It looked great coming out of the box with it glossiness but after just minimal usage, that thing was SCRATCHED. Scratches going every which way, some small, some big, and all with unknown origins.

And honestly, there wasn’t much you could do about it. With plastic, daily usage caused scratches on those plastic iPods. Will it do that to my precious iPhone? Looking at my iPhone now, it’s just as beautiful as the day I opened it.

4. GPS

I like GPS technology a lot and I think there are incredible uses for it in the real world, but in the end, I’m a maps guy. Give me a Thomas Guide and I’ll find my way. I have one of those GPS units in my car for emergency purposes but I NEVER use it. Call me old-fashioned or resistance-to change even but I think there are few things as rewarding as reaching your destination the way Lewis & Clark used to (okay, not quite. I’m not that good at reading winds or anything).

The My Location feature in Google Maps is plenty good for me. Even though I live in Los Angeles and driving is the only form of transportation I know (walking? People do that?), the coverage and cell towers that triangulate my location is plenty good. Sure it doesn’t give me pinpoint accuracy but I like to take in the surrounding cross streets and intersections.

For me, My Location is good enough because in a sense, it turns your map book to the right page and section. Using My Location it feels as if you are constantly learning more about your surroundings. Using GPS narrows your perspective and focuses you on the dot, instead of what is around you.

GPS on the iPhone 3G is going to be great, I have no doubts about that. It’s probably the best mobile device to be equipped with GPS, but for me, its not going to change my lifestyle by leaps and bounds. Some people, constant travelers come to mind, need the exactness of GPS. Right now, I don’t.

3. 3G

Have you seen AT&T’s 3G Coverage map yet? Yeah, I know. They don’t actually offer a nation wide map because they don’t want you to know that it is very, very sparse. I am lucky enough to be in an area that has 3G but I also use a lot of Wi-Fi. And even when I’m on EDGE, the EDGE speeds are manageable enough for me. Whenever I pitted my iPhone against Verizon Ev-Do network, the speed difference wasn’t that dramatic for me. It was faster, to be sure, but the difference wasn’t game-changing.

A lot of the things I do, 3G isn’t quite necessary for me. I’ve played with some 3G phones and their battery life is horrible. Apple has a tendency to sometimes, over-state their battery performance, so I’d rather take the current battery over the iPhone 3G’s. When AT&T improves their 3G network, maybe I’ll change my stance. But I feel as if even though 3G is pretty much in every phone, the network is still in its infantile stages.

2. Price & AT&T Control

I’ve been over this already, but it’s worthy of another mention. I was absolutely floored by the pricing of the iPhone 3G and was already convinced to upgrade. But that’s before nasty AT&T (I’m very anti-AT&T these days) decided to take over control of the iPhone 3G. The iPhone 3G will cost a current user $439 over the lifetime of the deal, its not exactly the $199 steal it’s painted out to be.

Sure, $10 dollars a month isn’t a big deal monetary wise and it’s better than handing over $399 in one lump sum or living in Canada (zing!), but I think the precedent AT&T is setting with the hike in data plans is highly disappointing.

I enjoyed the first iPhone because though it was carrier-locked, it seemed free of the usual BS behavior of carrier-locked phones. I didn’t have a carrier branded phone layout, I wasn’t forced with a AT&T MediaNet store, I didn’t have to scratch off the AT&T logo sticker and I was paying $20 a month for data + 200 SMS. It was as if Apple was only using AT&T services as their playground—I was having fun and had no idea AT&T provided me the service. Using an iPhone was a treat from Apple, not anybody else.

Now? AT&T is hiking up prices, reverting the activation process, fining people who don’t activate under 30 days and who knows what else. All the misinformation that is floating around is so confusing that it seems as if AT&T is changing the rules while we play the game. The 3G playground? Tagged in Blue and Orange, branded by AT&T. Someone blow up the Death Star, please. I'll stay in my current sandbox, thank you.

1. What They Didn’t Update

Apple couldn’t re-invent the phone two years in a row. It wasn’t possible and it also wasn’t necessary. Unlike other phone making companies like RIM, Palm, etc. there was minimal need to change the form-factor, OS, or anything of that sort. The iPhone UI is best-in-class and the form factor has spawned thousands of iClones, a year later and the iPhone is still the leader in innovation, 3G or not.

This wasn’t the iPhone that iPhone users wanted. It’s the iPhone that RIM’s, Palm’s, WinMob’s users needed. 3G & GPS are no longer checkpoints that Apple can’t fill out. As Apple & iPhone users we usually have dreamy scenarios for upcoming products. We want video conferencing even though it hasn’t matured yet. We want an iPhone nano because we love the iPod nano. But the reality of it is, the iPhone 3G isn’t as important a release as the original iPhone was.

A lot of our astute readers are realizing that the iPhone 3G isn’t the must upgrade we imagined. Like the iPod Photo that updated the iPod Click Wheel, the difference is big at first glance: color screen/3G & GPS, but it isn’t the completely revolutionary tool that the Video iPod and the iPhone Next will be.

Final Thoughts

The real game-changer is firmware 2.0 and luckily, all iPhone users will be able to use it. The AppStore is going to completely change the iPhone experience more so than 3G and GPS will because our personal needs will be met by varying apps. Not everyone needs 3G and GPS, but everyone will find a need for different third party apps.

I’m not saying that I’ll NEVER buy an iPhone 3G. I think it’s a GREAT deal for those who don’t currently have iPhones and need 3G & GPS in their daily lives. Just don’t expect me to be in line with you guys come July 11th. I’ll probably come around at some point in time, probably when I get to hold the iPhone in my hand and ‘race’ the iPhone 3G with my original iPhone. But until then, I’ll be more than happy with my beautiful, getting better with age, original iPhone.

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TiPb vs TiPb: Top 5 Reasons Why I'm NOT Upgrading to iPhone 3G


I could not agree more with this article. Especially the plastic casing... that is the biggest disappointment for me. I was all set for a black one until the reports how smudged up and scratch prone it is. White will be my color. Should slow down finger prints at least...

Sometimes I have my iPhone laying on the kitchen counter, listening to tunes. A single tap can change tracks, etc. Will 3G owners now require two hands to do the same thing; one to press the control, and another to keep the device from rocking?

Agreed. This is more of a nice-to-have rather than must have upgrade. All the better though, it means I'm only committed to AT&T (ugh!) for one more year on my original iPhone. I would expect the revolutionary upgrade to show up next year when original iphone owners will have their contracts expiring. Assuming, of course, that a large enough base of us do not upgrade to the 3G.

The thing missed by most is that this wasn't the upgrade for current owners. The 3rd generation is the upgrade for current owners, guaranteed. This was the upgrade to make the non-owners finally buy one.
Rumors and hype are an evil thing. They make people expect too much. While current owners gripe about what's missing, I guarantee you they would be just as upset if it was a complete and revolutionary overhaul of the original device.
It is a lose-lose for Apple. They make it a limited upgrade to attract NEW users and the current users moan to no end. Had they made it a revolutionary upgrade that changed it all up and added tons of new stuff, the existing owners would cry that they are now forced to upgrade in only a years time.
There is no such thing as pleasing society for these, and other similar, reasons.

I do agree with your premise that the iPhone 3G isn't a huge upgrade opporunity /for people who already own an iPhone/. But let's not gloss over the important point that Apple has hardly made a dent in the total user base of phones... a LOT of us said "no" to the original iPhone because it just wasn't sufficient. Lots of gloss, not a lot of substance. And while 3G, GPS, and flush earphone jacks aren't eye catchers, the SDK is most definitely. So the question or a non-iPhone owner (99.999% of people) who now can be served well by the device (plus third party software) is... do I buy an old iPhone or go with new one?
The only real design decision that could drive me one way or the other is the case, honestly. The aluminum LOOKS cool but forced a huge compromise in antenna placement, design, and frankly performance. The drive to fix those compromises is largely what led to a decision to change the material. And I completely applaud that decision, coolness factor be damned.
Now... will the plastic chosen perform well in the wild? Well, that's another question entirely. Color wise I'd opt for black, but scratch wise I'd opt for white. Since phones do get dropped, I'd probably also be inclined to get some form of ruberized, fitted sleeve for the iPhone... much like I did for my newest iPod Nano. And who cares what material it's made of if the phone's gonna wind up in a protective sleeve anyway?
To whit, I'd have preferred Apple tossed shiny into the waste bin and just put a ruberized surface on the phone from the start. It's one thing I was glad to see Palm do with some of the Treos... but they didn't do it globally. There are tradeoffs between pretty-to-look-at and pretty-to-look-at-after-you-use-it-in-the-real-world... and it's no accident that there is a healthy market for mobile device cases, sleeves, etc.
It's easy to poke holes in Apple's strategy for incremental improvement in devices... just remember that some of us didn't find the earlier version(s) all that enticing and these later versions may indeed up the bar enough to make them interesting/useful. :)

Very nice article. I'm not upgrading either, but am really excited about Mobile Me. I'm one of those guys who is going to use it as a mini exchange server for my small business. I got my iphone in June of last year on the opening weekend. For me it was one of the few purchases in my life I would conside, dare I say "magical." I think the new iPhone will be great though. I'm sure speeds will increase as the network catches up.

All this was was a way for apple to gain marketshare to get millions more hooked in. I also suspect that next year we will have a device that is much more of what we are all expecting this one should have been.

I really hate the current case for the iPhone. I dopped mine twice on its back, and it got completely scratched, which really annoys me. The new black plastic might not be any better either, but it can't hurt to try it.
I am getting the new iPhone 3G though. Mainly for its 3G, and I might get some use out of the GPS too.

June 11: Casey won't buy iPhone 3G
June 18: Casey finds himself surfing over to Apple.com/iPhone more and more...
July 05: Those graceful lines, that 3G speed under the hood. It's in Casey's dreams...
July 11: Casey finds himself inexplicably in line at AT&T and, when his turn comes, without any conscious control, he finds himself blurting: "16GB, please!"
July 12: Casey rave-posts about his Hawt new handset and how his latest game GPS-location blasts his friend over the 3G network. Total mobile pwnage!

totally agree. In fact I basically said the same thing the other day in the "what isn't in the iPhone" thread, albeit much shorter.
If you do non-stop mobile browsing, and are in a good area, I could see where 3G might be a game changer, but I think most are vastly overestimating its value. There was a reason that apple didn't put it in to begin with.
Again, GPS v. triangulation is a definite improvement, but I really don't see how there are that many users where its a big difference for. Sure its much easier to just look at the map and know exactly which street you are on, but often do you need to know that, with that much precision?
I recently bought a rubber sleeve for my iPhone after a few drops, and you know what? It's off now. I mean as far as those things go, mine was great. But I took it off so that I could fit my iPhone into the dock and use the audio out on a long road trip and I fell in love with the feel of the iPhone all over again. As geeky as this sounds, I found myself just holding the iPhone in my hand for no apparent reason, without even realizing I was doing it at first. I love the way it effortlessly slides in and out of my pocket (I HATE those holster things). With a plastic back, that is just not an option, you will HAVE to get a sleeve or your phone will not only become scratched but could easily even chip.
I also agree that the 2.0 software upgrade is the big deal. People got bored with the developers showcase, but other than a few of them being not the greatest presenters, I thought that was the best part of WWDC. Having a centralized place where you can easily browse for apps, which apple seems to be encouraging free apps and low price points, its just going to be a game changer. I can essentially buy a PSP game, for my phone, for $10? I can get awesome apps like Loopt, for free? On July 11th, the iPhone really does fulfill its promise of a computer in your pocket, and that's the game changer.

I never bought in the first place. When I saw $199 I was in. When I read about AT&T I was out again... and for good.
Apple had a better chance of selling me a one time sunk cost than selling me a low priced phone with neverending fees.
I'm holding out for android.

No incentive to upgrade. Why couldn't they include the a2DP support for bluetooth stereo headphones? That's all i've been waiting for and it doesn't even do that? 3G is all this new one has. And edge is fine by me.

Your totally right here. I say if you have an iphone, keep it, dont wast your money getting involved with aT&t's crap, dragging you through a keyhole to get yoru hands on the new iphone. If you dont have the iphone and your thinking of getting it, get it. Theres lots of ups and downs, but remember its still an iphone and its still the best phone out there.

If I'm wrong about what I'm about to write, sorry...
So I was reading about how it's going to be an extra $10 a month for the new iPhone. That'll add up to $30 a month, versus $20 (wrong or right?). But I already pay way more then that, cause I had to upgrade my plan because I went over board with the texting. So $10 won't make much of a difference for me.

Great article! I'm keeping my 1.0... we'll see what things look like at Christmas or next summer. I too like the flat, aluminum design and am not too excited about the plastic. I don't like curves (lol). I'm gnashing my teeth over the delay in getting the 2.0 upgrade too. Gah!

GPS and 3G will drain the battery too quickly. Doesn't matter what Apple says. v1.2 is good enough for me. I can't wait till it's hacked and I can download all those fancy apps for free!
iPhone was my last purchase from Apple. They can't even include features that have been in phones for the past 10 years. Pathetic.

There is not a whiff of 3G network anywhere within a hundred miles of where I live. I won't need GPS until somebody invents the killer app for it. Someday I'll replace my 1.0 iPhone with a new one, but I won't be in line on 7/11. In the meantime, Software 2.0 update and the app store should give my inner geek some new goodies to play with. My wallet is grateful to be sitting out this round.

Great article and lets us actually see that even though our 1.0 is a year old and doesn't have all of the new "features" that it may still be the best thing going. I think that I am going to hold out and see what happens with the TomTom program and base my decision from there. If TomTom gets released then I will pick one up as I use my gps alot but if not I am sticking with my 1.0 with the new firmware.

Since I live outside AT&T's 3G coverage area I have no need to pay an extra $10 a month for a service I can't use. My iPhone 1.0 uses the same processor, storage (16g) and software as the iPhone 3G, so there's no reason to upgrade.
The aluminum case to me is very substantial and elegant.
How many other phones out there are made out of metal and glass?
Now if they upped the storage to 32g I might think twice!

" Stamp my feet on the ground" you just make me released after reading your article. I paid $400 for my iphone just a year ago ( got a $100 rebate) now upgrading will be another $300. If I can sell my current one nobody will give more than $100.00 because now a brand new one with improvements supposed cost half price. Beside, I have to see an increasement of $10.00 in my bill every month so It will be another $120.00 more before I see the Iphone Nano with video camera in a year or so ..... No Gracias !

what about the speaker?? When I try to use speaker phone it makes the person I am talking too sound like a kazoo. Playing music is pointless unless you are in a totally silent area otherwise I need to put the phone speaker right to my ear and even then it is hard to hear with any background noise present.

I completely agree. I love my first gen iPhone and will NOT be upgrading to G3. Faster internet and GPS aren't worth another $200 + $10/month. Instead, I'll be spending that money on a MobileMe account and Push everything. - Thank God MobileMe will work with first Gen iPhone - otherwise I'd be upgrading :)

I live in LA and I walk!
Great article, I have been a bit weary to go for the 3G right away, this article rose some pretty important points for me. Great technology journalism!

Seems like Sour Grapes to me...most of these comments are from existing iPhone users that are speculating on a phone's quality that isn't even released yet? How do you even know that the sound quality "will sound like a kazoo"? or that it's "made of cheap plastic". Other complaints are that it cost an extra $10 for 3g? Come on folks, that is the fastest network available, and yes, to pay for that infrastructure you gotta get the $$ from somewhere.
Don't want installed GPS? I think most people are lost when complaining about this as a paultry upgrade... the complete picture is the roadmap of other future 3rd party software that can use this beyond just the basic GPS function (geomapping, friendfinder, etc, is just the tip of the proverbial iceburg).
Apple has just released a fruitful upgrade, and the only thing I see on this page is Sour Grapes from a bunch of iPhone users that are mad that they payed such a high initial price....$199 is a steal for this passion fruit.

Will you have to pay for push email? I hope not. I get that for free on my blackberry. Too bad it's not working right now...