iPhone 3G: Launch Day

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As of 8:00 am, Apple’s much-anticipated iPhone 3G went on sale. The new device is an enhanced version of its predecessor, not a gigantic leap forward, but it does contain several new features.

Demand is expected to be very high, and people around the U.S. began lining up outside Apple and AT&T stores yesterday, trying to ensure that they would get a unit.

What’s New?

The most significant new features in this version are the ability to wirelessly exchange data at 3G speeds  and a GPS receiver.

Thanks to its support for the 3G standard HSDPA, the latest iPhone can access web sites and download emails and files much faster than its predecessor, which has a slower 2.5G connection.

Apple iPhone 3G

(view large image)

The original iPhone offered some navigational capabilities, but the new version has a GPS receiver so it will be able to locate the user’s current position much more accurately. This will make driving direction more useful, as well and enable other location-based services.

In addition, users this model will be able to install and run third-party software applications which they can purchase from iTunes or directly on their device. Apple will soon release a system software upgrade that will bring this feature to the current iPhone and iPod touch.

Looking Hard at the Price

Possibly the feature of the iPhone 3G that has received the most attention in the U.S. is its cost: $200 for the 8 GB version while a 16 GB version will be $300. However, not everyone will be able to get these prices.

Current AT&T customers who qualify for an upgrade will pay just $200. New customers will be able to buy a unit for $200, but AT&T is going to tack on a $36 activation fee. AT&T subscribers who haven’t been in their contracts long enough will have to pay $400 for the 8 GB version and $500 for the 16 GB model.

The 8 GB version will be available only in black, while the other will have either black or white casing on the back.

AT&T is going to offer a variety of service plans, with the least expensive of these being a 450 minute plan with 5,000 night and weekend minutes and unlimited data for $70/month before taxes. This does not include any SMS text messages, which will cost $5 for 200 msgs.

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