FAQ: Meet the new iPhone 3G

Here's the skinny on the faster, cheaper iPhone

The days and weeks and months of speculation are over. Apple did, as expected at its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, retire its original iPhone and replace it with a faster, cheaper model.

You could have knocked us over with a feather. Of course, it would have to be a darn big feather.

Although Apple CEO Steve Jobs took few by surprise on this one, there are still questions to be asked. And answers to be given.

Gimme the lowdown.... What's changed, in 25 words or so?

It costs $200 less, downloads Web pages in less than half the time of the old one, boasts longer battery life and includes GPS. Oh, and there's a slew of new apps coming, too.

But does it work with 3G?

It better, since Apple's official name is, wait for it..., the "iPhone 3G."

Jobs spent several minutes bragging about the new iPhone's faster speeds, and at one point said it was "approaching Wi-Fi" in performance. In fact, one slide said a file attachment that would take 59 seconds to download over EDGE would take just 21 seconds using 3G. That makes 3G about 2.8 times faster than EDGE.

The same attachment, said Jobs, would take 17 seconds to download using a wireless hotspot.

Second-gen iPhones don't require a 3G network, however, a good thing since in the US at least, 3G coverage, while improving, isn't universal. Instead, the phone will automatically switch between the slower EDGE and the faster 3G networks as necessary.

How much does it cost?

The cheapest model, with 8GB of storage space, will list for $199 in the US, while the 16GB unit will be priced at US$299.

When will it go on sale?

July 11, a Friday. At least, that's the case in the 22 markets Apple's targeting first: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Span, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the US.

The remaining 56 markets -- from Argentina and Botswana to Turkey and Uruguay -- get their iPhones at some unspecified "coming soon" date, according to Apple's online store. And for those out there keeping a close eye on the calendar, July 11 is exactly 54 weeks to the day from the sales debut last year.

Where can I buy one?

In the US, Apple will sell the new iPhone at its company-owned retail stores and at those operated by its network partner, AT&T.

It's unclear whether Apple or AT&T will sell them online -- we can't imagine why not -- but the Apple store is presently not taking pre-orders, and the Apple press release marking the new models very specifically says: "iPhone 3G will be available in the US on July 11 for a suggested retail price of $199 (US) for the 8GB model and $299 (US) for the 16GB model in both Apple and AT&T's retail stores."

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld

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