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6/25/2008
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Much Is Still Hazy About iPhone 3G

The next-generation iPhone 3G is due out on Friday, July 11. There's a lot that we know about the phone: It will be thinner. It will have an "assisted" GPS. It will cost $199. It will run on faster 3G networks, as well as the current 2.5-generation EDGE networks. It will come in 8GB and 16GB versions, but not a 32GB one. It will use the iPhone 2.0 software. But there's a lot that we don't know.

The next-generation iPhone 3G is due out on Friday, July 11. There's a lot that we know about the phone: It will be thinner. It will have an "assisted" GPS. It will cost $199. It will run on faster 3G networks, as well as the current 2.5-generation EDGE networks. It will come in 8GB and 16GB versions, but not a 32GB one. It will use the iPhone 2.0 software. But there's a lot that we don't know.For example, we don't know how much the service will cost. According to a sales manager at an Apple store in New York, the data service will cost $29.95/month. That'll give you your Web surfing, e-mail, and so-on. It will not, however, provide you with regular telephone service. For that, you'll need some sort of voice plan. The manager says that store staff won't know the details about the voice plans until closer to the July 11 launch.

He also confirmed that, unlike with the the original iPhone, the phones will be actives right in the Apple store (if you buy it in the store). Previously, buyers had to contact AT&T in order to activate phone service. The store manager wasn't sure how the process would work, however - again, they hadn't been trained.

I asked him if older-generation phones would be available for people looking for a cheaper handset. He replied that he didn't think so: the only first-generation iPhones in his store were a few display models and also some "loaners" in the back that were given to customers temporarily if their handsets had to be services. "I don't believe we're going to sell those," he said.

He did confirm a few other details about the phones and software. The iPhone 2.0 software would be a free upgrade for users of the original handset. However, it will be a $9.95 upgrade for iPod touch users.

The Global Positioning System in the iPhone 3G is an "assisted" GPS. Don't throw away your Garmin or Tom Tom, he said -- it'll be helpful to let software know where you are, such as in Google Maps. But it won't be a driving GPS that'll say, "turn left here."

Finally, I asked if there's a need to reserve the iPhone 3G. No, the manager said - we should have plenty for everyone on July 11. Let's hope he's right!

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