iPhone 3G: Deceitfully Mediocre


One boring hour into WWDC 2008, Steve Jobs announced what everyone already knew was coming… and nothing more: the 3G iPhone. Despite an overly supportive crowd of 55,000 people, a reduced price of $199 and almost immediate expansion into 70+ countries, Apple’s stock fell 2.13% and lost nearly $4 on the day.

In fact, the “iPhone 3G Announcement” should be renamed the “yPhone OhGeez disaster”. The product seems rushed to market and unpolished. While the fanboy faithful blindly followed their Sensei Steve Jobs, the Stock market marches to a different beat… reality.

Lets bring this iPhone 3G clamor back to earth, shall we?

The $199 Lie.

Among the most “exciting” iPhone 3G announcements was that the 8GB version would cost $199 and the 16GB version only $299, compared to the $500 the initial iPhone adopters coughed up. Apple and AT&T didn’t just decide to be generous and give you a $300 discount… it’s coming from somewhere.

Oh yeah, in case you didn’t know, the iPhone 3G doesn’t come with the Dock and USB connection upon purchase… you have to pay an additional $49 for it. Geez, thanks, how generous of you, Apple. While you don’t NEED the Dock, it begins to illustrate how the price was cut – by removing value.

By the way, the majority of what you’re paying for when you purchase a phone is the contract. There is NO WAY to purchase an iPhone 3G without a 2-year contract. So lets take a look at what that might cost us:

  • Cheapest possible AT&T Plan = $40/month
  • Internet Data Plan = $30/month

So locking into that 2-year contract at a BARE MINIMUM of $70/month is going to cost you $1,680 over the course of the contract. Doesn’t seem so cheap now, does it? And its not likely you’ll be getting the cheapest plan possible – anyone buying the iPhone will likely use their phone enough to require a plan more costly than the $40 minimum.

Oh yeah, plus you’re going to want to buy some of the cool applications in the iPhone App Store. So, sure, $199 might sound like an absolute steal off the bat. But it isn’t. You’re actually promising to pay a WHOLE lot more than that in the long run.

If the $199 was WORTH it that would be one thing. But it’s not…

Behold: the Speed of the iPhone 3G Network!

The whole point of this 3G thing is that it should drastically speed up load times for things like web pages, streaming video, pictures and other rich media. So of course, Steve Jobs wanted to show off the goods:

And the iPhone 3G received a thunderous applause when Steve Jobs demonstrated its ability to crush the original iPhone in load time. While the original iPhone on the EDGE network loaded the page in 59 seconds, the new 3G iPhone loaded the same page in only 21 seconds!

Ummmm… are you kidding me? You’re showing off, and people are wildly applauding, the 21 second load time of a webpage? When you leave this site and click on a link, please close your eyes and count to 21 before looking at your screen to be reminded how painfully slow that is. Then be reminded that the device Mr. Jobs demonstrated this on was the only device in the universe running on the 3G network.

Once AT&T has the millions of predicted iPhone users on that 3G network, you’re going to have lightning speeds in the MarioKart, “I just got shrunk,” sense.

Enjoy that, Mr. The-iPhone-is-only-199-Bucks-I-Need-To-Buy-It-Now. And that, “I Need To Buy it Now” mentality is exactly what Apple was hoping to create. Because, if you buy it now you’ll miss out on the growing lineup of upcoming phones that could blow the iPhone out of the water.

List of iPhone Killing Hopefuls Grow

Samsung spent $100 million dollars on an advertising campaign that directly pitted the Samsung Instinct vs. the Apple iPhone. Obviously, the “fights” were fixed and the Instinct won every matchup. The Instinct launches on June 20th and many folks are calling it both Samsung and Sprint’s best phone ever.

Were calling it Samsung’s best phone ever. Today, the same day that Apple announced the iPhone 3G, Samsung announced the Samsung Omnia. Apparently, it blows the Instinct out of the water. And since the Instinct at least matches up well with the iPhone, that would inherently mean the Omnia is a bonified iPhone Kil… we’re not going to say it. It would only jinx them.

The iPhone Killer title is a moot point. The fact of the matter is the iPhone, pretty soon, will just be another phone in the crowd. Don’t believe us? Then perhaps you haven’t heard of the:

  • BlackBerry Thunder: the first ever full touch screen from BlackBerry. A lifetime exclusive on Verizon Wireless.
  • HTC Touch Diamond: a revolutionary product from HTC that borrows many of the iPhone design elements, both externally and software based, but features superior hardware.
  • HTC Touch Pro: an upscale version of the already superior Diamond.
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia: a full qwerty slider that is expected to give the iPhone extremely tough competition.

These “iPhone Killer” comments aren’t misplaced hope from an Apple hater, but simple facts based on comparing specs and features.

Shamefully Mediocre iPhone 3G Features

  • That 2MP camera is just great. Basically every upcoming iPhone rival has a camera greater than a pedestrian 2MP which now is becoming the “regular phone” standard.
  • Metallic back downgraded to glossy black/white finish. Guess they had to take out everything extra to get down to the slim $199 figure. All luxuries out the window!
  • Haptic feedback? It would be nice considering the touchscreen keyboard seems to suck so badly. But, alas, you’re stuck with it.
  • Video Recording? Nope, of course not.

The list goes on… here are some from CNET’s “what’s missing” in their iPhone 3G review:

“Unfortunately, we hoped for an even larger bundle of features in this round. Apple still leaves multimedia messaging out of the mix along with voice dialing and video recording. We still don’t understand why Apple can’t include these basic features, many found in even the cheapest and simplest cell phones. We were also hoping for a landscape keyboard, the capability to cut and paste, Flash support for the Safari Web browser, expanded memory, and additional Bluetooth profiles. Apple, you left us hanging in a big way.”

Timing Is Everything

Apple knows there is a swarm of competitors about to ambush them.

Perhaps they think that by rushing out with this 3G iPhone at a greatly reduced price all across the globe they’ll get people to “bite” immediately. And guess what, if you JUST bought an iPhone, chances are you aren’t going to buy a competing product in the next year or so…

… a competing product like Android.

Where does Android Fit in?

Apple knows that Android is coming. Once Android handsets are officially announced, specs confirmed and service plans detailed, it will give a LOT of people an alternative to the iPhone. So, rather than allow Android to waltz into the market, Apple rushes the iPhone 3G to market before consumers have an alternative to consider.

Consumers who buy into the iPhone craze now could be paying the price later. The Android OS is 100% free for manufacturers and carriers to slap on devices and service. That means it costs them $0… and they can pass this savings onto customers.

I’m not suggesting that elite Android devices will only be $199 or less but rather stating that you’ll have a lot more value packed into your phone because nobody – not the manufacturer, not the carrier and not you – is paying for the mobile OS. Google is footing the bill on that.

Summing It Up

The iPhone is an amazing product – I can’t contest that point. But what was supposed to be a huge leap from iPhone 1.0 to iPhone 2.0 turned out to be a teenie hop. With Android ominously looming over the iPhone’s temporary reign, and a number of upcoming iPhone rivals gathering like a pack of hyenas, the iPhone seems more mortal than ever.

The iPhone 3G will only be available for purchase IN STORE starting on July 11th. So, over the next 1 month and 1 day, how many new phone launches and announcements (besides the Instinct) will make potential iPhone owners reconsider? And, will any of these be Android enabled?

The strength of the iPhone seems to be wavering with this most recent news. And by the way, Samsung, perhaps now would have been a better time to announce the Omnia. Unfortunately, now we just have to wait.

UPDATE: A brilliantly quoted semi-rant about the ridiculous and misguided hype surrounding the iPhone was phone on ReadWriteWeb by a commenter named only as Ralph. Here it is, in all its truthful glory:

I am still looking for words to describe how pathetic Bubbleland looks like from a higher perspective, buzzing crazily around Apple, their conference, and the new iPhone.

Just look at that : an army of bloggers “liveblogging” what ? An event primarily addressed to people who write programs working on products of a (still) relatively small company that until now addresses only the 10% of the richer people in the world with their fancy gadgets.

And writing about what ? A BIG event : the second release of a phone that until now lacked what 80% of the phones sold in Europe and Japan have had for the last 2-3 years – 3G connectivity. And guess what : it also does portable music playing and GPS. Woaaah ! Excellent ! Nobody else does that on the market, do they ?

Now, don’t tell me guys that the iPhone was a revolutionnary phone : it wasn’t, except maybe for its stylish look. And this release is anything but exceptionnal. It basically is a “survival release”. Adjust the competition or die. And also adjust the competition’s pricing or die.

People are talking about this as the latest genius move from Apple’s Steve Jobs. It’s not a genius move. It’s the only strategy to avoid the short-term failure of the product. Except to Apple groupies (which are numerous in Bubbleland’s crowd), this phone had been bought until now for its stylish look. And that wouldn’t have gone much further than it was.”

Ralph’s Rant was found on this post at RWW.

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. It’s easy to build a device, put all sorts of chips into it and make it do just about everything. That’s what engineers typically do.

    The real hard part though, is to make something complex very simple. Real good designers only integrate what makes sense and dare to leave out features if they can’t get them right (at least for this release).

    That takes into account EVERYTHING that matters to the end user experience, such as battery life, form factor, ease of use, design, the possible use cases and even the network availability.

    Pointing to all those so called iPhone alternatives, by leaving these factors out is exactly the reason why end users don’t use all those features that are available since years from Nokia, RIM, Samsung & Co.

  2. btw:

    if the iPhone is that bad, then why does everyone wants to build an iPhone Killer? Why not an Nokia N95 or Samsung Instinct Killer?


  3. iPhone 3G: Deceitfully Mediocre. Yes. You could say this. But, where is Android phone ?. I like Android.I’m developing for Android. But, please, when you have a Android terminal , you can compare. Now, it’s not ethical do it .

  4. I think it’s unfair to say that providing a review of the highly anticipated iPhone 3G launch is “not ethical”. Are only Apple related sites allowed to ethically review a consumer product?

    When Android Phones are launched (note the plurality) we’ll review them with them with same journalistic criticism we gave to the iPhone. Inevitably, some will be better than the iPhone and some will be worse.

    But then again, “better and worse” is relative. Different products will fill different needs for different features. Thats part of the reason the iPhone 3G launch was so disappointing. They only announced a 8GB and 16GB models – news of different versions, like the iPod has touch, nano, etc… was absent.

    Take a look around the net. Everyone is offering their opinions and the vast majority have some level of negativity. What makes any of these sources qualified or unqualified? Are those who unqualified also unethical? Everyone is entitled to their opinion – ethics has nothing to do with it.

    If others disagree, I would love you to voice your opinion with both ethical and unethical comments on this article!

  5. Alright folks, I’ve been getting a bunch of angry e-mails detailing why I’m an idiot and the whole article is pointless and stupid. So let me address this:

    1) Yes, the article is a bit over-the-top angry. It’s a stream of consciousness rant meant to illustrate one extreme view. It should be tempered with reality, mostly the fact that…

    2) Yes, I think the iPhone in general, is pretty darn awesome.

    3) No, I don’t think the iPhone 3G is an impressive of an improvement on the originally awesome device. Many would agree with me. If they had just done a little more, this article probably wouldn’t have been written.

    4) Yes, explaining the “cost of service” when talking about the iPhone price was kind of off-topic since every phone, including any Android phone that comes out, will have monthly service charges that are likely to be $70+. The point here was to warn people eager to plop down $199 bucks that they are committing themselves to more than $199 bucks. Impulse buys can go either way and I think the iPhone will garner a lot of impulse buys.

    5) Yes, I think the concept of “iPhone Killers” is stupid and I don’t think any device is going to “Kill The iPhone”. The iPhone has its place in the market and is, with less than 1 year under its belt, a dominate force. I had hoped to make the point the iPhone dominance appears to be losing ground. NOT because there are a bunch of “iPhone Killers” prepared to take over. But rather, because competitors are all lining up worthy alternatives that will take their fair share of the mobile phone market.

    6) Yes, this is an Android site. Yes, this is an article about the iPhone. If you can’t see how the announcement of the iPhone 3G has a HUGE impact on the future potential of Android, then you’re missing a big piece of the puzzle. An overwhelmingly awesome iPhone 3G announcement would have some question the prospects of Android. A lackluster announcement would have an increasing amount of folks eyeing Android. I believe we got the latter… and thats the point.

    7) I openly welcome criticism of everything on phandroid.com and unless you’re comments are vulgar or otherwise inappropriate, I’ll happily include your point of view in these comments. Go ahead and bash me… I can take it… I’m a big boy!

    8) Thanks for reading!

  6. Here’s an example for you, from Yahoo titled, “Half-Price iPhone 3G Actually More Expensive”:

  7. I agree that I was disappointed with the 3G iPhone. Of all the missing features that kept me from buy the original iPhone Apple added 1-GPS. I mean really, no MMS? So if someone sends you an MMS you get a message from ATT sending you to a website where you have to enter a randomly generated username/passcode that…what for it…. you can’t even cut and paste into the browser. Lastly, what’s the deal with bluetooth headphones.

    Before this announcement I had resolved myself that I would be buying the new 3G iPhone since Android phones seem to be vaporware right now. At this point I’m prepared to wait as the Apple product just doesn’t meet my needs and I don’t care for Windows Mobile.

    The only thing Apple brought to the market with the iPhone is one hell of a UI. This isn’t a trivial thing either because the UI is one of the, if not the, most important things in a consumer device. In this case Apple produced the best UI for a phone I’ve ever used, period.

  8. I think some here are over estimating the effect the iPhone anouncement has on android for the average consumer. A less than steller iPhone anouncement (which some believe this was) dosen’t get the majority of average consumers looking at Android, or probably Windows Mobile for that matter. While many here believe that Android is the best thing to happen to mobile devices in a long time, truth is, I bet the majority of average consumers dosent even know it exists. I know the majority of my friends have never heard of it, and still dont really know what it is even after I explain it.

    As Keith pointed out, the appeal of the iPhone is not the hardware but the software, particularly the UI and ease of use. This shouldn’t be a surprise as many Apple products benefit from this. When it comes down to it, a phone can have the best hardware specs in the world, but if there isnt good easy to use software on it chances are it will never make it to the mainstream. This is where Apple shines. A complete moron can use the iPhone and do amazing things with it. They can easily get applications for it and transfer them to the phone, something yet to be determined (for the average user) for Android.

    While I agree Androids potential is huge, I question the effect it will have on the average user and how much market share it will be able to control.

  9. @ Andy

    You are 100% right about “I bet the majority of average consumers dosent even know it exists”. I have brought up the Android topic with friends and family… having to explain to nearly EVERY single one what Android is. This is indeed a challenge for Google. If Android Phones DO turn out to be as amazing as we/I hope, the in-the-know techies will buy them and the word of mouth will follow. Lets not forget that each carrier will likely launch a few huge advertising campaigns promoting any android phones in their lineup. But I agree, this will be a challenge – at least to start.

    And I agree 100% about your software comment as well. Apple’s software is gorgeous, beautiful, funcitonal… you name it. And that is what the competition has been unable to replicate. The interesting thing about Android is any developer could theoretically custom create an Android UI for free or paid distribution. But, again, I agree that challenging the SOFTWARE that runs on the iPhone may be the biggest challenge.

    We have yet to see the iPhone App Store in action and Android’s Application distribution method is still unannounced. I imagine they will be very, very similar in nature and ease of use. The difference will be in the quality and quantity of offerings.

  10. I agree completely with what you said about the iPhone3G hardware specs. However, the reason that I would buy an iPhone is not for the hardware but for the plethora of third-party apps which will be made available with the iPhone2.0 software. I will be a medical student this Fall and was especially impressed by the two medical-related iPhone apps that were demoed at WWDC.
    I am aware that Android will allow users to download third-party apps, but I question whether they will be as numerous and as impressive as those for the iPhone. The attention and excitement that the iPhone has garnered in the media has far surpassed that of Android and I doubt if Android will attract as many developers as the iPhone has. The reason that the AppStore will be so strong is because of the incredible excitement surrounding the iPhone, excitement that I have yet to see duplicated for Android. I think that the iPhone will be superior to Android because it will have superior apps, though I would love to be proven wrong.

  11. I would respect your opinions if they were balanced. Instead you attempt to criticise every little thing, a brave act at the best of times — nothing is that black or white — but completely ridiculous when the whole Internet disagrees with you. Weak and occasionally baseless arguments abound. Sections of absolute poppycock bring you no credit.

    There are actually a number of good and even excellent points in your prose. But they are tragically spoiled by your obvious bias and fallacious writing.

    Do better next time. And be more concise.

  12. Chris, I agree and disagree with you at the same time. I agree the applications are very nice with the iPhone and that is a huge selling point. In fact that is one of the things I love about my wife’s jailbroken iPhone now. The problem for the iPhone 2.0 is with the Apple SDK. Currently, it is very restrictive and that limits the features an application can provided through the Apple store, not counting jailbroken apps through installer. This is one reason I am looking forward to Android. The Android SDK looks to allow a much larger range of functionality. This means the apps will have the potential for a lot more functionality, only time will tell if they really do.

    Don’t get me wrong I like Apple and I like the iPhone, we even own one. If you had asked me last week I would have told you that I was going to buy the 3G version as soon as it hit. The announcement on Monday was “mediocre” enough to make me change my mind. So I have no choice but to agree with the author of this article. Do I think Android is some mythical software that will solve all my problems? No, certainly not. But when I look at the options available right now iPhone, Symbian or WinMo none of them seem to be what am looking for. Apple has the looks but doesn’t put-out. WinMo is the reverse and Symbian just doesn’t have much. That means I need to wait for LiMo or Android and hope one of them has the total package (for me). From what I’ve seen in videos of Android it appears that it may have what I seek, then again so did Apple…last week.

  13. 59secs compared to 21 seconds is a big leap, you need to think before you make unnecessary rants! Because you are so dumb, you haven’t realized how much good apple has done by selling the iphone for $199, it will force the competition to sell phones cheaper so we as consumers win.

  14. ^^^^^^^^^
    “Because you are so dumb,”

    Hahahah, that was pretty funny. Good one.
    +1 vote for comment of the month


  15. the plastic back is very tough plastic andthe reason for this switch is not price but for better reception and to help the gps, nice try though

  16. If it helps with reception and gps, then I’m glad they made the change. I find both of those more important than appearance. However, a ton of current iPhone owners have noted their dissappointment as the metallic texture and feel gave the iPhone more of a sturdy, tough, unbreakable aspect that you don’t really see in other phones.

    And, the whole “plastic will scratch easier,” comment has been made a whole lot too. This isn’t just me talking… its an observation I’ve seen from APPLE fanboys almost across the board.

  17. I agree to most of the point you are saying, Phandroid. However I have not gone into the details of Android so I am in no position to comment on Android vs iPhone. But one point I would like to bring to everybody’s notice is,

    On the day when Steve gave his keynote about the most hyped, most rumored mobile phone of all time, the iPhone, he compared the 3G on iPhone with that of on the Nokia N95 8Gb, I agree that iPhone’s 3G might be fast but Nokia does not make fools of people like Apple. They have phones for everyone who needs/aspires for a mobile phone. And if you, Mr Steve are comparing N95’s 3G with that of your gadget then why didnt you compare other features like multimedia convergence, RAM and gaming platform. You comparing N95 in front of so many people shows that you are afraid of the N95 8GB and know that it will/might give tough times to Apple’s iPhone. Wehn you are comparing two gadgets that compete you should compare all the features and not just one. Am I not right??. I have a blog and I also cover news and give my views on Mobile phones. I am not a hardcore Nokia fan but I truly respect Nokia and Sony Ericsson for the work they have done to bring entertainment, music, gaming and rich internet experiences to mobile phones. iPhone is just about the hype and the awesome multi-touch. I myself selected a iPod Touch over an iPhone.

  18. Im sorry, but I have to say something. I appreciate your ‘rant’ and understood it fully. I am also dissapointed with the some-what Mediocre iPhone 3G ‘Upgrade’. But I have to make my point.

    Without the iPhone – manufactures (Of the Handset itself and the technology inside it) would not have made the jump to the next level of design and UI. Not to mention customer experience.

    Why do you think mac OSX is so enjoyable to use? Because Apple understand that User Experience is important too. Nokia, Samsung, Lg and Co havent grasped this yet. (Well theyre trying) …Sony’s X1, LG Viewty (and the like) Samsungs Omnia thingy or whatever it is. And of course the Android Platform.

    But be honest – Would any of these ‘next generation’ changes have occured without the iPhone innovative leap to the next level of User experience? I doubt it.

    Yes I agree the iPhone 3G COULD have been better – but Im still going to buy it because look – this is only Apple’s 2nd Phone. Ever. Nokia and co have been making Phones for twenty years and wheather or no they decide to ‘slap the android software’ into thier mobiles it still remains to be seen whether they will ever have such Iconic status or Cult following. My answer is no.

    Imagine what new innovative Ideas apple CAN still pu into thier mobile devices. Whereas most other phone companies just ‘follow suit’ to whatever Apple does next. Just watch – Once apple releases its iChat software and Video conferences in (I dont know) iPhone 4 or 5 ..Nokia, Samsung and the rest will all conveinently create thier ‘own’ version to keep up with the times.

    As good as Im sure Adroid is. It wouldnt have even been concepted (Is that a word?!) without the introduction of the iPhone. So I think more gratitude is needed here.

    Thanks iPhone for giving the mobile world the Kick in the arse it needed!!

  19. Craig…

    I disagree that “most other phone companies just ‘follow suit’”. Years and years of R&D have gone into the products you see today. Apple was able to make a legendary shift from computers to MP3 player icon. They took that same concept/technology and built a phone around it.

    But as you say – the iPhone has only been around 1 year. The iPod isn’t very old either, really. To say that other companies are just “following” Apple I don’t think gives them enough credit.

    Now… I DEFINITELY agree with you that Apple has had a HUGE impact on the market. They’ve DRASTICALLY increased the level of competition, forcing other manufacturers to react more quickly to consumer needs and demands. They have indeed completely revitalized the mobile phone landscape. I can’t argue with that. The iPhone is a fantastic product and should be given a lot of credit for what it is.

    Oh, and I think the word you’re looking for is “conceptualized.” And, I completely disagree with you. In fact, you’re just plain wrong. The walled garden problem and closed mobile ideology had been going on for YEARS prior to Apple. In fact, it’s half the reason Apple was able to just waltz into the market!

    Plus, a little research would show that GOOGLE actually BOUGHT a little company called Android in the summer of 2005. Here is the article from Business Week: http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/aug2005/tc20050817_0949_tc024.htm

    As I’ve said, these ideas aren’t just dreamed up today and put into practice next week.

    You do bring some good points to the table though, I agree. And you are right, the iPhone is already an INCREDIBLY proven product after a very short period of time. People do want to have the next “iPhone Killer” – as old and tired as that verbage has already become. And, Android is still just a concept.

    Unfortunately, we’ll just have to agree to disagree – Android is going to be something very, very special.

  20. “Then be reminded that the device Mr. Jobs demonstrated this on was the only device in the universe running on the 3G network.”, What? Apple have just released the worlds first 3G phone…How cool is that?

  21. Not very cool, since it is not true. The Samsung Instinct, to be released to the public on June 20th, is on a 3G network. The iPhone 3G doesn’t come out until July 11th.

    Ridcully FTL

  22. I was being sarcastic

  23. i haven’t seen any numbers on what the current iPhone contract costs – how does it compare to the new plans? and does that argument still stand up?

  24. As much as I want to buy iPhone, I really want to look for other alternatives. Sure iPhone has a great user interface, but I would like to see the alternatives available.

  25. It might be worth it if I didn’t already have an ipod, a internet connection and a darn good cellphone already. 3g isn’t that fast if it takes 21 seconds to load a web page.

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