To iPhone Or Not To iPhone?

Unless you’ve been living in a cave you’ve heard about the upcoming release of Apple’s new wonder-gadget, the iPhone. I’m a bit of a Machead, and I’ve been excited about the iPhone ever since Steve Jobs introduced the dazzling new product back in January. It’s a truly amazing device…but also an expensive one. The “cheap” model is $500, and the more expensive model with twice as much memory is $600.

To use the phone you have to switch to Cingular/AT&T with a 2-year commitment. Fortunately I’m already a Cingular customer. However, the rumors are that Cingular will charge an additional fee of $30 or $40 per month to use the iPhone’s internet capabilities. Add taxes and fees and you’re looking at a minimum of $400 per year, times two years equals $800. Add in the $600 cost for the phone, and suddenly the iPhone has a total cost of $1,400.

But the iPhone is such an amazing device that for me it just might be worth it. Maybe. To learn about all of its incredible features, visit the official iPhone website or watch Steve Jobs give a snazzy demonstration. A quick Google search will also reveal that there are plenty of websites praising (and criticizing) the iPhone. Either way, its sure to revolutionize the cell phone industry.

Here’s a list of some of the Pros and Cons that I am personally weighing as I consider whether or not to buy one:

(My current cell phone has some nice features, i.e. syncs with my computer’s address book and calendar, so for me this is a fairly short list).

1. Virtual voice-mail is a smart feature. But I would rarely use it since I don’t get that many voice mails at once.

2. Being able to browse the full internet and check my e-mails anywhere, anytime would be great. I would use that feature a lot. I mean a lot. Take shopping for example. If I’m in a bookstore and considering the purchase of a book or DVD, I could jump onto and see if someone is selling a used copy cheaper than what the bookstore is asking. If you can access the internet anywhere, anytime, that opens up a lot of possibilities.

3. I could listen to podcasts and other iTunes content even if I don’t have my iPod along. However, it is unclear to me whether I could listen through the speakerphone or if I would have to carry headphones with me.

4. It would be great to easily enter new events into iCal.

5. The Google Maps application looks like a great feature. You can even save certain locations as favorites. For example, my sister moved earlier this year and I always had trouble figuring out how to get to her new place. It would have been nice to have it saved as a favorite so I didn’t have to look it up every time.


1. Price. This phone ain’t cheap. Can I really afford it? Are the convenient features really worth the cost?

2. A slow connection. The phone theoretically will let you surf the web and send an e-mail and talk on the phone all at the same time. If you are in a free wi-fi environment that should be no problem (although free wi-fi environments are rare). But if you are out and about, the only option is AT&T’s Edge network, which I hear is disappointingly slow compared to their competitors. Maybe even as slow or slower than regular dial-up. (EDIT: According to this article, it takes half a minute for a web page to load on the Edge network.) Clients frequently send me e-mails with attachments, and I’m not sure I want to wait five minutes or more to download my latest e-mails. And if Apple ever does get around to supporting faster networks, could that be fixed with a software update or would I have to buy another iPhone?

3. A related problem with e-mail: How does that work with two devices (my computer and my iPhone) both checking the same e-mail? When my computer downloads e-mail, I can tell it to either delete the e-mail from the server or leave it there. If I have it set to delete, and then use my iPhone to check my e-mail, the message will then disappear from the server and my studio computer will never be able to retrieve it. On the other hand, if I have it set to NOT delete, then both devices will download the same messages each time they check for e-mail. Either option sounds inefficient to me. Or is there a way to work around this? (If you know of one, please leave me a comment.) (EDIT: Apparantly this problem is solved with something called “push e-mail”.)

4. The phone may not have voice dialing, a feature I use a lot on my current phone (especially while driving). Apple has not said whether it does or doesn’t. Since Apple has repeatedly drawn attention to all the other features, I worry that no news is bad news.

5. The iPhone’s memory is pretty small. The only options are 4GB and 8GB. Add in all the software and you won’t have much room for storing video (i.e. TV shows or movies). I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if a year from now Apple releases new models that are 10GB or 20GB in size (that’s the strategy they’ve used to get people to keep buying bigger and better iPods). Maybe I should wait until a bigger model comes out before plopping down my hard earned-cash?

6. The truth is I don’t really NEED an iPhone. It’s pretty much just a luxury item that would make certain aspects of my life a little easier. And as a Christian I’m not supposed to covet. So I really should only buy it if I truly believe it would be a worthwhile purchase from a practical standpoint. Which it might be. Maybe.

Either way, I know I won’t be buying an iPhone when they are released on June 29 since my local Apple store will be a madhouse. I’d rather wait a couple of weeks and read what iPhone users have to say online. Maybe the product will have some as-of-yet unknown flaws. Or maybe it will be more amazing than expected. Who knows? Besides, Apple will probably sell out on June 29, forcing me to wait a couple of months before more arrive in stores.

Is anyone else planning to buy one? Let me know what you think.