Everyone’s given their interpretation of how they received their iPhone 4. A day or two early doesn’t hurt the hype, either. Officially released tomorrow, our friend @gangstajew got his phone today, and went to work snapping some photos.
The phone looks incredibly sharp, and I have to say that the screen, just from viewing screenshots, blows away the Nexus One’s AMOLED screen.
Hit the break for more goodness.
There are a few little iOS 4 news tidbits worth mentioning that may have gotten glossed over with all the hubbub. First, Game Center appears to be missing! While it seemed no games updated today supported it, it ultimately didn’t matter as it’s not even included. And here we thought the “Gold Master iOS 4″ actually meant it was the final version. Will Game Center come as a separate download later on (like iBooks) or is it just gone? Second, iTunes now has file transfers directly to aware applications. Computer versions of these applications are no longer required to move documents/files between them (like the DocsToGo document manager application). It’s not a true filesystem, but it’s a step in the right direction. Third, iPhone 3G users found out why they didn’t get backgrounds, directly from Steve Jobs himself. Finally, Apple can collect location data (like Android phones) for more localized, relevant ads. This can be disabled by going to this link, and iAds will be replaced with generic ones.
I was browsing GDGT earlier today when I stumbled upon this interesting post. By what I can gather, after AT&T announced their data plan changes, this person started thoroughly checking their data usage. He noticed that his wife’s iPhone was making mysterious data transfers around 2:00 AM, and about 20 MB. This of course, should cause alarm to AT&T customers with 200 MB data plans.
It looks like others are chiming in claiming the same thing. Some are reporting that they called AT&T and that “they had no idea either.” Others say that 1:00 AM – 5:00 AM is when AT&T charges customers for data usage from earlier in the day. However, people in other countries report the same, 10 MB – 20 MB data transfers at the same time… MobileMe? Gmail? Perhaps, but 20 MB is an excessive amount of email/calendar/contact updates.
What it is exactly, I can’t find a consensus just yet. The iPhone was designed with unlimited in mind. Apparently some users are emailing Steve Jobs himself. Maybe we’ll learn more later.
What a day! Android up the wazoo!
With an overhauled (and admittedly more sexy) exterior, the Samsung Captivate is the same Galaxy S variant we know and love. The specs are well known by now: 1GHZ Hummingbird processor, 4″ Super AMOLED screen, 16GB internal memory, 512MB RAM, 5MP camera (no flash?), custom TouchWIZ 3 UI (which is actually pretty good) and a chrome-plastic finish.
Looking good! Too bad AT&T will likely mar it with its sideload lockdown: no apps outside the Android Marketplace will be allowed to be installed on the device. HOWEVER, it should be fairly easy to root the device, which will give it access to custom ROMs and, inevitably, sideloading access, among other things.
Looks like it was a very busy day for Apple and AT&T. Pre-orders for iPhone 4 brought the web to its knees. Twitter was atwitter (ugh, sorry!) with displeasure as users attempted to set one aside for themselves. As for exact numbers, I remembered reading today that it was over 1,000,000 pre-orders but I couldn’t find any sources that weren’t more than conjecture. That’s a pretty substantial number if it is to be accepted as truth. On top of this, only black iPhone 4′s are available. Expect white to also be a big seller when it hits the shelves. If Apple can sell that many, in one color, based only on a promise (like, you can’t even see the device in person) — then I think it’s safe to say, iPhone 4 is going to be HUGE. If you missed your chance, you’ll have to wait. Pre-orders are closed, sold out!
AT&T, riding on its popular iPhone wave, has yet to truly adopt Android in any great fashion. They have released, and subsequently locked down, the Motorola Backflip, which had the added distinction of being the most inaccessible Android phone ever released. The option to install apps to “Unknown Sources,” meaning any apps from outside the official Marketplace, is not allowed. There was a rabid outcry when it came to light, but the carrier has stuck to its guns in an effort to make more money from distribution.
Forward to today, where AT&T is announcing the HTC Aria. The phone is a bit higher spec’d than the Backflip, though certainly no challenger to Verizon’s Incredible or Sprint’s EVO4G. Specs are as follows:
- 3.2″ HVGA (480×320) display
- 5MP camera with autofocus and flash
- Optical trackpad
- SenseUI running on Android 2.1 (Eclair)
It is unknown whether AT&T will lock down the phone as they did the Backflip, though it stands to reason they likely will.
The phone will be cheaper than its two aforementioned competitiors at $129.99 on a 2-year plan.
Press release after the break:
AT&T* and HTC Corporation (“HTC”) today announced that HTC Aria™, a rich and powerful addition to AT&T’s Android smartphone portfolio, will be available exclusively at AT&T beginning June 20. Pocket-sized and packing the power of the Android 2.1 platform, a five megapixel camera and a bright 3.2 inch HVGA display, HTC Aria offers AT&T customers Android smartphone functionality in an amazingly easy-to-carry design. The combination of 3G speed, a responsive capacitive touch screen and an optical joystick makes HTC Aria an ideal smartphone for mobile broadband.
HTC Aria is Wi-Fi capable and qualifying customers will receive access to AT&T Wi-Fi, with more than 20,000 hotspots across the U.S. In addition, HTC Aria is compatible with AT&T’s High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) 7.2 Mbps technology. This technology provides a considerable boost to 3G speeds when combined with expanded backhaul. The combination of faster wireless networks, smartphones like HTC Aria, and tens of thousands of available innovative mobile apps allows AT&T customers to mobilize virtually everything, from video and music, to social networking, to business applications.
“HTC Aria is the first of several smartphones in our Android portfolio to run the 2.1 platform,” said Jeff Bradley, senior vice president, Devices, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. “When you combine the nation’s fastest 3G network, and access to the nation’s largest Wi-Fi network, HTC Aria will be one of the best Android smartphones available.”
HTC Aria features the acclaimed HTC Sense experience, which automatically delivers the most-wanted information by bringing it to the forefront of the mobile experience. Featuring the latest version of HTC Sense, HTC Aria offers even more ways to stay connected, including Friend Stream, which delivers Facebook, Twitter and Flickr updates in a single, consolidated view.
“Its unique combination of compact size and beautiful design instantly separates HTC Aria from the pack of ‘me-too’ smartphones,” said Jason Mackenzie, vice president of HTC America. “But what really differentiates HTC Aria from other smartphones is the acclaimed HTC Sense experience, which we are pleased to be bringing to AT&T customers. By putting people at the center of everything it does, HTC Aria organizes all of your communications in the most human way possible – by person.”
A full selection of the newest and most popular Google services can be accessed with HTC Aria. This includes Google search, Google Maps, Google Navigation, Gmail, YouTube and more. With Android Market, customers can also choose from more than 50,000 applications to further personalize the mobile experience.
Along with being ultra-small at just over 4 inches long and weighing a mere 4.05 ounces, HTC Aria’s seamless wrap-around soft-touch back cover eliminates sharp edges, making HTC Aria exceptionally convenient to carry and comfortable to hold as well.
Featuring the best selection of smartphones and OS, AT&T is ranked #1 in customer satisfaction among smartphone owners. AT&T plans to expand its Android portfolio to include other Android smartphones during the second half of 2010.
So we’ve had some time to ruminate Apple’s new iPhone 4. Some people are salivating, some people are just as turned off as they were before (looking at you Androidies!). Yes, it’s meta, but without actually using the device or knowing what’s in Apple’s head, I can only speculate my opinions on the new device. I broke things down into a few categories I felt were the most interesting.
Here again, is a quick overview of the iPhone’s new stuff:
- New design. The metal side casing acts as an antenna for the various radios. ‘Extra strong’ glass front and back. Apple says the glass is “thirty times stronger than plastic.”
- Camera on the front for video chat, called “FaceTime.” This camera can also be used to take photos of yourself in the Camera app.
- Camera on the back has been bumped up to five megapixels and uses a special backlit sensor to help with low-light photos. By all accounts, Apple’s choice to go with a lower pixel count to improve quality was an accurate one. Megapixels are purely the print size and have little to do with quality. LED flash.
- Screen is probably one of the biggest things here. Apple calls it a “retina display.” That’s mostly a buzz term for what is a truly incredible improvement. Resolution bumped up to 960×640. IPS for really wide angle viewing. 326 ppi, which is about 100 ppi higher than art magazines.
- Processor is now an A4, which is the same as the iPad processor.
- New gyroscopic sensor. My favorite comment about this addition was something like “With two cameras, light sensor, motion sensor, gyroscope and compass…, the iPhone 4 is like a tricorder.”
- More GSM bands supported, along with 802.11n.
Compared to the 3GS, this is quite the improvement, far greater than the 3G to 3GS bump. I’m actually somewhat regretting my choice to upgrade a year ago. I can’t imagine how 2G and 3G owners must be feeling right now, they’re due for quite the improvement. As for iPhone 4 not being “competitive enough” when compared to other phones…, I think that’s poppycock.
Think of it this way. When someone buys an iPhone, they get a guarantee that it will be supported, useable and competitive for the next two years. When someone buys an Android phone, they become outdated and irrelevant in a matter of months. Other complainers seem to focus on particular elements like, “the processor is only X MHz.” I ask, what does a 1 GHz processor in a Nexus One DO? Compared to an iPhone, scrolling is still choppy and 3D games are few and far between. As long as the iPhone runs well, runs apps well, and does its job without being slow then the details like that don’t matter. Anyway, rant mode over, the iPhone 4 is still a very powerful, attractive phone and there shouldn’t be any doubt that it will continue to be for some time.
While Apple has always fancied the iPhone as a gaming device, I think iPhone 4 makes even more inroads in this territory. The addition of the gyroscope is the equivalent of the Wii Remote getting the Wii MotionPlus adapter. Games will get even more precise control and will make up for the accelerometer’s shortcomings (although personally, I haven’t played a game that didn’t control exactly how I wanted to via accelerometer).
On top of better controls, Apple’s Game Center will be the unification of the game platform. Before there were several gaming networks, Plus+, Crystal, and OpenFeint are some of the popular ones. To the best of my knowledge, all of these networks are committed to handing things over to Apple. Apple is playing hardball, and on the surface, it appears that they are in the right spot. They have a super great media player, great games from indie and accomplished publishers/developers, online play, friends lists, DLC ecosystem, capacity for many games on the device at a time, cheap prices and mobile downloads. Of course, the common complaint is “no buttons,” but as gamers change, their taste’s change. I don’t think “no buttons” is a problem for anyone that isn’t some sort of gaming elitist.
I really hope that people will appreciate the hardware design of iPhone 4. Metal, glass, really nice screen, the right blend of hard edge straight lines and curved ones. Awesome. That’s all.
Video calling is finally here! Actually, we’ve had it for awhile in numerous forms. Heck, even the web version of Gmail can do it. Other phones have had front facing cameras for a very long time but the idea has never been popular. I think the current success of the Evo and the eventual success of iPhone 4 (come on, you know it will happen) will popularize the concept (finally). Since developers can access this camera and the FaceTime framework, I expect to see this everythwere, with the ability to interface with other phones. I’m told the problem with current phones with front facing cameras is that they have no capacity to talk to other models (sans Android devices). That it’s a per phone, per model, per OS basis. I can’t actually verify that though. The wifi only limitation sucks. AT&T’s data caps don’t make me very hopeful for the future.
New Subscribers / Upgrades
It’s a bummer that anyone changing to AT&T or moving up from a dumbphone will get stuck with AT&T’s crappy new data plans. Especially with all this new, good stuff that the iPhone can do, that data is going to get sucked up so fast. Netflix and tethering are two huge things that lots of people will want to use all the time, but will be scared to because of this 2 GB cap. I can’t completely recommend iPhone 4 to new AT&T subscribers for this reason. Apple too. As if AT&T wasn’t already a big downer for Apple, it’s going to get a lot worse. Many may upgrade, but I foresee lackluster new subscribers.
Speaking of upgrades, AT&T is offering quite the interesting upgrade. Gizmodo seems to think that AT&T is being too generous, and that there is an ulterior motive at hand. Their interpretation is that AT&T wants to get as many people on contracts as possible because the iPhone will likely be moving to other carriers very soon. By locking users in now, they can prevent the massive “abandon-ship” to another carrier. While this certainly wouldn’t surprise me, I’d like to think they aren’t completely disingenuous. My guess is that AT&T is aware that iPhone subscribers are loyal (to the platform), want upgrades, have gotten breaks in the past and are a major revenue source for them. By cutting the evangelists a deal, they can hope that it will have a positive effect on everyone on the network.
To summarize, I’m confident the iPhone 4 will be a big seller, and will get positive reviews upon official release. Apple has proven before, that having the top of the line everything doesn’t not a popular phone make. Even still, iPhone 4 has some pretty compelling features and design…, it’s no slouch. I’ll be looking forward to getting my hands on one to see wether it’s actually worth it to upgrade.
… and it looks like there is no better time. Dial *639# and you’ll get a text message that says if you’re eligible or not. If so, prepare to cough up an extra two years…, yikes. I’m not sure I can sign away my life like that considering how much AT&T already has me.
I’ve been up and down on this whole thing. Worse, I’ve even considered my own usage patterns and how I could possibly save money by switching. In the meantime, I’ve been on the prowl to gather opinions on the situation. Professional opinions from prominent tech blogs and podcasts still see this as a massive atrocity, but do normal people care this much?
As far as I could gauge from the pros, there are two sides to how this will affect customers.
But first, how are actual people reacting? I started with the pulse of the world by searching Twitter. Using the phrase “AT&T Data” and then the filters that determine if tweets are positive or negative. My findings? No one is happy. Even the “positive” tweets were sarcastic or half hearted, look-on-the-bright-side messages. There were some legitimate “positive tweets” though. It seemed that plenty of tweets were along the lines of “Most people save money, everyone else gets to keep their current plan, why are people complaining?” Several others were sighs of relief that their network would never do this, blaming iPhone users for this in the first place, and finally, very happy Blackberry users. Really though, you can’t really do anything fun on a Blackberry anyway , so this means nothing (kidding!).
Actually the data is still technically unlimited. It’s your fees that are no longer capped. -@Gartenberg
One particularly damning tweet.
The negative tweets were far more vicious. The word “hate” is prolific. A common retweet concerns iPhone multitasking, video chat, and Skype 3G calls with the new caps. Perhaps just as frequent are posts about user’s intentions to switch to a different carrier or not switching to AT&T. It’s clear, people aren’t happy.
(Don’t use Twitter, but want to understand what the heck I was talking about? Lookup some of the buzzwords using the Twittonary)
As for the pros, they tend to have a slightly less dramatic opinion, but as I said earlier, they are diverging. First, the bad side. This will drive people to be scared to use to use their phones how they want. Should I stream this radio station? Update this app? Load this webpage? Scared customers are not happy customers, which will ultimately cause backlash. They aren’t totally convinced AT&T will be willing to scale the caps to meet customers’ needs should it not be enough, either.
Oh, tons of flack on the outrageous tethering fee. Paying $20 a month to share 2 GB, to simply unlock the feature. It’s maddening. Finally, tons of worry over the expanding mobile market, just as I feel.
The good side is the potential to sell more phones. AT&T insists that the biggest drawback to smartphones is their cost prohibitive data plans. By lowering prices, they can invite tons of new customers to the bandwagon. They’re also very excited about saving money, since many pros can’t even use more than 2 GB of data a month. This excitement also spreads to the 98% of users that will be saving money too, becoming more enthusiastic about AT&T. Ultimately, they couldn’t say if this is going to help or hurt sales, I can’t either. We’ll have to wait and see.
As for me? I’m actually considering it. Believe it. I almost can’t. Here’s my thinking. I never use WiFi, purely for the sake of using 3G (to stick it to AT&T). I do have it at work, home and friends’ houses, which is where I spend the majority of my time. This would easily cover most of my data usage. My brother is on a family plan with me, and he regularly uses less than 200 MB. Right away, I know we can save $15 on our bill. Deep down, I can’t commit knowing that what I have can never come back. I’d be way more willing if rollover data was implemented like I asked previously. Maybe, all of our bickering can get AT&T to change.
As a final note, this probably the worst for new iPad users (which isn’t the focus on this website). In case you missed it, Gizmodo posted an article about how much video you can watch on 2 GB of data. Don’t let me spoil it for you, but, it’s not much at all.
Color me surprised. AT&T’s news that data rates will change was completely unexpected, as far as I am concerned. I’ve been ruminating over this all day and thinking about if this is a good thing or not. I’ve got some interesting ideas. To me, it breaks down to value, precedence, and AT&T’s intention. Get your reading glasses, this is a long one.
One of AT&T’s key points here is that most customers will be saving money by getting a package that fits their usage patterns. I question this assumption a little bit. Below is a rough calculation of AT&T’s new plans vs the previous unlimited one. The assumption is that the unlimited was theoretically capped at 5 GB, despite it technically having no limit (just for the sake of argument).
DataPlus Plan 200 MB = $15 = 13 MB / $1 DataPro Plan 2000 MB = $25 = 80 MB / $1 "Unlimited" Plan 5000 MB = $30 = 167 MB / $1
So right up front, it is easy to see that “buying in bulk,” so to speak, represents a fairly good value. Again, technically the Unlimited Plan is more and more of a value the more it’s utilized effectively. However, before people start rioting outside of AT&T’s headquarters, consider AT&T’s explosive secret weapon. 65% of users are covered by the DataPlus Plan, 27% are covered under the DataPro Plan and the remaining 2% actually use more than 2GBs. This means, for all intents and purposes, that these new plans are a tremendous value to 98% of AT&T’s customer base. I’m sure the massive majority of customers will gladly pay $15 less for a plan that fits their usage patterns.
This is actually, extremely exciting for me. One of my biggest gripes with average people using smartphones is how much money they waste on a data plan they aren’t using effectively. AT&T’s new data plans now make it possible for a normal person to have, and use, a smartphone without getting gouged (assuming that customers are aware of these plans and actually switch).
But then there’s that matter of the 2%. Power users? Jailbreakers? Probably both. How are these people affected? In short — they aren’t. Everyone who currently has an unlimited plan is not forced to switch. Upgrading to a new phone will not automatically change it either. The hubbub is over potential – exclusively new customers. This makes me wonder: if someone really needed unlimited data, then it’d be fair to assume that they are enough of a power user to already have a device, right? Even if not, these new customers will have new expectations and usage patterns that will match the new plans. AT&T’s Facebook Fan page has an official comment that sums things up pretty well.
It seems odd that so many current customers are complaining about these new plans. Those customers who have asked us for cheaper data plans are getting their wish, and those who have unlimited plans and want to keep them are being allowed to do so. Our goal is to make mobile Internet available to more people, and I have a good feeling that we’re on the right path.
Then again, this is AT&T beating around the bush, and treating us like children, but more on that in a second. I mean, ultimately, they are doing the right thing by allowing grandfathering for old users with unlimited plans.
A final note is the sheer stupidity of paying an extra $20 a month for tethering on the iPhone when users are limited to 2 GB. It’s $45 for 2 GB to be shared between a computer and the iPhone… absolutely crazy. I guess, right now, my questions are:
- If only 2% were using more than 2 GB, then why bother doing this at all. Wouldn’t you make an exceptional profit on customers that are using less than 200 MB but paying full price?
- If the 2% is really having that much of an effect, why not actually enforce the 5 GB accepted limit to curtail the supposed “damage” they do.
- Why not adjust some of the tiers to still have an unlimited plan. Even if it was $5 extra, thus making it $15/$25/$35 for DataPlus, DataPro and Unlimited respectively. This accommodates everyone.
- If you’re going to give us these limits, why not implement a rollover feature as AT&T does with minutes? I have a feeling this would be looked on very favorably.
- I’d be way more pleased with the DataPlus plan being 350 MB and DataPro being more like 3 GB. Something about that extra cushion makes me feel a bit safer with the decisions. The current scheme seems way too crunched.
- If this is, again, a “2% is killing the network for everyone” issue, then why not freaking IMPROVE YOUR NETWORK!
To wrap up: value. It seems that nearly everyone will save a little bit of money. The 65% lot will save a ton. I still don’t completely understand why AT&T is doing this bait and switch though. What cost will this have for everyone else?
My next urgent concern is the precedence this sets for other American carriers and the effect it will have on the future of the mobile space. Now that one carrier has committed the crime, others will definitely follow suit, citing AT&T’s jump as “a new market direction” (or similar bull). This could spell disaster for all consumers on every carrier. Granted, since AT&T took the plunge first, I foresee other carriers having more competitive options: better prices and bigger packages. T-Mobile and Sprint kinda feel like holdouts to me, safe havens for geeks. We’ll see.
To what end though? If Verizon caps internet and has better options, then (for the sake of argument) Sprint comes along and has bigger (or no) caps and even better prices, then won’t the market gravitate towards Sprint? Then decidedly towards an uncapped, unlimited plan? We’ll be back where we started and all of this hassle would have been for nothing. Let’s assume this doesn’t happen though.
From AT&T’s data plan page:
Mobilizing everything – websites, TV shows, music, games, social networks, etc – is the future of the Internet, and it’s made possible by the combination of faster wireless networks, smartphones with computer-like capabilities, and the tens of thousands of innovative mobile apps. Virtually everything previously done while sitting at a computer can now be done while walking down the street, standing in a grocery line, or anywhere else.
They are essentially trying to say “do everything on your phone, but less.” What kind of expectation is that? I mean, it seems like they want to support innovation on their networks, but they are actively preventing it. The effect on the mobile market seems devastating. As the mobile space expands at an alarming rate, we need a big space for innovation to grow. Especially now, when these new devices are increasingly becoming exceptional content consumption devices. AT&T’s caps (and the assumption of other carriers following suit) will stifle the space and render it weak. I’d be terrified if I was a company that delivers mobile content. While just yesterday, your company seemed to be in the right space, and now it’s in jeopardy. Perhaps the thinking is, as mobile expands, maybe AT&T will back down. My thinking is that this will keep the mobile space from expanding in the first place. Hopefully I’ll have egg on my face and eat my words in a few years. I’d like some feedback from content creators on the subject. My hope is some will speak out over the next couple of days.
AT&T’s intention was not to hurt anyone. I honestly think they have their customers in mind. My problem comes with how they are handling this. Check out what AT&T has on their new data plan info page.
As the U.S. smartphone leader, AT&T has introduced new more affordable data plans so that more people can experience the benefits of the mobile Internet. We’re making it possible to break free from the traditional “one-size-fits-all” pricing model and letting customers choose the data plan that best meets their needs and budget.
It’s carefully crafted to be as fun and unprovoking as possible. It’s almost like AT&T is doing you a favor! Sounds like that friend everyone has. “Yeah, it’d be super cool if you hung out my place! Oh while you’re here, can you try to fix my oven?” At first, it seems like he’s doing your a favor by letting you hang out, but the motive becomes clear quickly. AT&T is also quick to say that “current users are unaffected, stop complaining.” That attitude comes off as horribly snobby. Finally, on AT&T’s Facebook Fan page, they continually mention that “you’ll be able to use AT&T WiFi for free!” as if that’s actually a viable and acceptable solution. AT&T has been harking that crap for years, and it barely makes us blink.
The conclusion I fundamentally draw is that this will most likely be beneficial to penny pinching smartphone users, but really really really bad for the market, the future and innovators/mobile developers/content creators. I’m not happy, you probably shouldn’t be either. I have never questioned my iPhone, but today, I actually considered leaving the hundreds of dollars I’ve spent on my iPhone (apps, accessories, etc) and moving elsewhere, even though I’m essentially unaffected (yet). To anyone that knows me, this is simply astounding and unprecedented. If money was no object, I may have done it already out of a knee-jerk reaction.
Who knows, maybe TheCellularGuru will get a new webOS Guru in the future.