A month or so ago, I told you that I didn't want a 3G iPhone. Since then, I've had many interesting and productive conversations with a lot of people who gave a spirited defense of the iPhone and its charms, none of which I disagreed with. And now, as I pound this out the day before they hit the shelves in <‾xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = 'urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags' />Hong Kong (where I live) and 21 other countries, I've had a chance to review my position on the iPhone Conundrum.
Helpfully, I've also seen a couple of good reviews of the new iPhones, and - perhaps most importantly - I've seen how much one of them will cost me. 3 Hong Kong released its price plan a couple of weeks ago, and it does include subsidies in exchange for a contract. So I can have one for free if I care to change my service provider. And why not‾ This is Hong Kong - I do that at least every couple of years anyway.
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And so, I have come here today to announce the following:
I still don't want an iPhone.
Many of my initial reasons remain unchanged - the iPhone is not a sufficient replacement for both my handset and my iPod. On the phone angle alone, it's a tough sell to substitute my current handset with a new handset that doesn't have a 5-megapixel camera, or a removable battery, or - to hear the NYT's David Pogue tell it - a weak GPS antenna (that would do me little good in Hong Kong's urban canyons anyway).
But the real reason is that the 3G iPhone will come tied to a carrier - not with a SIM lock, but with a contract and pre-installed software settings that, if my previous experience with Sharp handsets is anything to go by, will be a major pain to change if I decide to change carriers once the contract ends.
Even the package plan isn't that appealing. 3 HK is offering four price plans that, confusingly, separate "data" from "text and multimedia content". Only one offers unlimited data for HK$498 (nearly $64) a month, which also gets you either a free 8GB iPhone or a HK$138 16GB model. The other plans cap data usage at 500MB.
I'm not sure how fast it would take me to burn through 500MB on a handset. On the other hand, that's kind of the point. I don't want to lock myself into a two-year contract to find out.