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iPhone: Will I or won't I?

Iphoneuk So Apple's 'must have' iPhone, finally hits UK shores on November 9th and not before time. We've been sitting in the side-lines watching our American cousins drooling all over their multi-touch screens since the end of June so now it's our turn to do the same (albeit in our more reserved British way of course :o)). I absolutely acknowledge the uber-greatness of the iPhone and while some of this may have been induced by Apple's clever marketing hype, the iPhone in reality, ticks a lot of my 'reasons to own' boxes:

  • Its iCal and contacts sync feature, together with its ability to display PDFs and Word docs, makes it the perfect replacement for my aging Palm PDA, an essential tool in my paperless operation.
  • *The iPhone would replace my now redundant (*rolls eyes*) 5G iPod  while at the same time it would also replace my 'fast becoming an object of mockery' cellphone.
  • Due to all of the 'replacing' I'd be able to swap out three of the primary gadgets in my mobile arsenal for just one - a great weight and space saver and it would be a lot simpler maintaining just one gadget instead of three.
  • I gain another self-indulgent route for interacting with OS X which, as time progresses in my new(ish) world of Mac ownership, is something I just can't seem to get enough of.

So you'd think, after reading thus far, that I'm definitely going to be one of those impatiently waiting in line on November 9th, to take my turn at experiencing the euphoric rush of iPhone ownership wouldn't you? Well I'm sorry to say that you're mistaken. The iPhone won't be feeling the tender caress of my fingers any time soon and I intend to be as far away as I can be from an iPhone queue on 'launch day'

"But why?" I hear the baying crowds chant, "You've absolutely convinced us in your opening paragraphs that the PaperlessUndergrad doesn't just want an iPhone HE NEEDS ONE!"

Well that may well be the case but there are a couple of major stumbling blocks that completely put me off ownership, at least at this time. Firstly I've no gripes with the basic cost of the iPhone itself. Even with 'Apple pricing', which I feel is always in a inflated price grading of it's own, £269 is a reasonable price to pay I think, considering all of the features that the iPhone offers. However the cost doesn't just stop there does it? and it is in this 'bolting on' of cost where that first 'stumbling block' lies for me. Ownership, as in the US, is, as most of us know by now, dependent on a minimum term contract - 18 months under sole distributor O2. I'm not saying I'm surprised by the need for a contract. We are after all, living in a commercialised society and people like to make money. However for the common peasant i.e. me, this means a lofty initial, or rather eventual, outlay that there's no getting away from. Even taking O2's minimum tariff of £35 per month, that's still adds an extra £630 to bolt on to the price of iPhone ownership and to be honest with you that's a bit OUCH!!

Of course one could also go down the 'unlocking hacks' route. There are after all a myriad of them doing the rounds at the moment and this will only increase. However you're still left with the scenario of how to get your hands on an iPhone in the first place which brings us nicely back to O2's 'cost for admission', unless of course you're prepared to go down some shady black-market route (or even invest in the iClone :o)). But even if you were able to pick up a contract-free iPhone would it not be just a little bit dangerous poking around with the OS? Apple would have us think so. Their recent press statement informed us all that there's a good chance that unlocked iPhones will essentially become rather expensive bricks once  imminent, yet essential, updates are introduced. Of course Apple are going to say that but with something so expensive is it really worth taking a chance? Personally I'd have to say no!

My second gripe concerns the iPhone's complete absence of 3G...arrggghhhh. Many of us were all expecting a European iPhone with 3G injection but that hasn't transpired and it's a huge disappointment. I mean, what's the point in taking the time, effort and money to invest in brand new cutting-edge technology when the technology quite frankly isn't brand new and cutting-edge when it comes to a basic function of the phone i.e. data transfer? Sure the iPhone offers Wi-Fi, and there's O2's good ol' EDGE technology, but let's face it neither of these are the goodness that is 3G. With so many quality phones and providers out there *already* offering 3G, for a lot less cash, I'd be a fool to put desirability over functionality. Wouldn't I?

So good luck to everyone who will be standing in that queue on November 9th. I know you're all going to be putting an amazing piece of technology in your hands and I will for the most part be green with envy as I watch you stroll around campus with the thing glued to your ear. One day I'll be joining you - that's for sure. However that day isn't going to come for me until Apple realise that 3G is a necessity, and that not everyone wants, or even needs, to be tied into lengthy and expensive cellphone contract. Thank heavens Apple had the sense to release an iPhone-esque iPod into their line of 6th gen iPods. For the time being that's definitely where my iPhone piggy-bank pennies will be heading. 


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