Mobile Technology News & Mobile Fun

Will you buy an Apple iPhone 4?

By Joe Wilcox, Betanews

Surely no one who regularly reads Betanews is surprised I ask the question. It was inevitable, like death or Whopper Wednesday. As usual, when I ask this kind of question, I’m looking for your responses — in comments or by e-mail (joewilcox at gmail dot com). In a future post, I’ll share your responses as I did with iPad. I asked the “will you buy” iPad question here and here, and offered your answers in separate January and March posts.

Apple and AT&T will start taking iPhone 4 preorders on June 15, and the phone officially goes on sale June 24. Preorders should help keep lines more manageable, as they did with iPad. I plan on hanging out at one of my local Apple Stores, interviewing people waiting in line and shooting video and photos. If you’re in San Diego and willing to leave the baseball bat (gun, knife or other injuring tool) at home, look me up on iPhone 4 launch day. Maybe I could interview you.

I won’t be buying an iPhone 4 on launch day. Should I decide to get one — and I am reconsidering because of the camera — it would be preorder or after June 24. As I explained yesterday, my main problems with iPhone 4 are generally all about AT&T’s network. But to my surprise, AT&T is willing to solve all but one of the problems — dropped calls. On May 23, I cancelled my AT&T account, returned the iPhone 3G and resumed using the Nexus One on T-Mobile. Today, an AT&T rep told me that I could reinstate the account within 59 days of cancellation. Reinstatement would restore account status at time of cancellation, which would mean lower early termination fee, unlimited data plan and iPhone 4 purchasable for the full subsidized price. It’s tempting, particularly unlimited data, and, again, my main interest is the camera. I have long favored Nokia phones for their superior mobile cameras — it’s my top feature next to telephony. Perhaps if the Nokia N8 were available now, I wouldn’t consider iPhone 4.

That raises another question for you. Why? If you’re planning on buying iPhone 4, why? What about the phone appeals to you? If you’re not buying iPhone 4, why not? Are you locked into a contract, satisfied with your current handset or simply not interested? Please do tell. My main reason why is the camera and AT&T is the major reason why not. Should AT&T unexpectedly insist on metered data when reinstating the account, iPhone 4 would be an absolute no for me.

I’m surprised how little ruckus there has been on the Web about AT&T’s new data plans. I attribute this to bias. Many journalists use iPhones, and they have existing plans for which they can keep unlimited data. I guess that’s double bias. I presume ignorance — that people don’t really understand what the 200MB and 2GB capped plans mean — is main reason for most everyone else. I posted 10 things about the new data plans last week. Today at GigaOM, Stacey Higginbotham explains: “Why the iPhone 4 made AT&T change its pricing.” I agree with her reasons — and I had stated many of them already. She writes:

This means that streaming an hour of Netflix on the 3G network would use up 168MB — or about 84 percent of the cheaper AT&T data plan. Livestreaming a 5-minute video shot with the back-facing camera requires 64MB, or 32 percent of the cheaper plan. So clearly, anyone wanting to avail themselves of the video technology on the phone better get the 2GB plan or stay on Wi-Fi. But even with the 2GB plan and -per-GB overages a video habit over the 3G network is going to cost you, and possibly make you think twice about that download — or upload.

Multitasking and new HD video features mean more data consumption — something AT&T wants to deter.


While writing this post a bad feeling is stirring — that I’m being dishonest about my reason for reconsidering iPhone 4, which is a long way from my “absolutely not” just three days ago. There is another reason why I would consider iPhone 4. Perhaps it’s something TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington, or popular tech blogger Robert “wears his heart on his sleeve” Scoble could understand. Like most people, I want to belong — not to be left out. With so many people excited for iPhone 4 it’s hard to be against the device or the communal energy behind it. I have this gnawing sense of being left out, and that feeling is clouding my judgment. Everyone else doing it is a bad reason. Perhaps I’m not alone feeling this way.

Today, TechCrunch’s iPhone fanboy MG Siegler writes about Arrington:

According to a source close to the situation, he plans to buy an iPhone 4 when it launches on June 25. How good is the source? Well, it’s Arrington himself…This is humorous for a couple of reasons. First, Mike has never actually seen the iPhone 4, nor has he used one. I have and Jason [Kincaid] has, but Mike has not. Even some iPhone fanboys are waiting until they get their hands on one to decide if they should buy it. Not Mike.

Scoble’s confession — and it’s not really surprising — came two days ago. He compared iPhone 4 to Sprint EVO 4G and Verizon’s Incredible on 13 criteria before asking and answering the inevitable:

Will I start using an iPhone again? Yes, but I have the luxury of being able to afford two devices and I’m definitely keeping the EVO if just for the tethering. If I could only afford one? I’d go with iPhone 4 over the EVO. Mostly because the OS is nicer to use (hard to explain all the ways this is so in a short post, so you’ll have to wait for a longer post after I get mine), the video features, and the battery life is dramatically better. But I totally understand why many of you will ignore those advantages because AT&T sucks so much.

As for me, I’m still 80 percent committed to Android and Nexus One, which, admittedly, is 20 percent less than June 7. It’s enough less I called AT&T to assess the aforementioned account reinstatement options. But enough blathering about me. What about you? Will you buy iPhone 4? Please answer in comments with your reasons why or why not.

Copyright Betanews, Inc. 2010

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