The iPhone 3G S comes out today, and for the first time iPhone buyers have a choice between two different versions of Apple's popular smartphone. The 3G S is more powerful though a bit more expensive; the 3G is cheaper—but is anything missing? Let us help you decide.
The price difference is smaller than you think. Yes, the 3G costs $100 less than the 3G S. But that price is a tiny fraction of what you are really paying for your phone. A 900-minute plan with 1,500 text messages will cost you $104.99 per month, which, over two years, comes to $2,519.76. That's what you're really investing here. Think of the iPhone 3G S as costing $2,720 and the 3G as costing $2,620.
If you take pictures, get a 3G S. The 3G S's camera is much, much better than the 3G's. It has autofocus, a macro mode, and video recording. If you intend to take more than a few snapshots with your iPhone's camera, choosing a 3G S will definitely pay off.
If you drive, get a 3G S. The 3G S is the first iPhone with voice commands, so drivers can use it in a truly hands-free mode. In some states, there are laws against tapping on your phone in your car. The 3G S could be handy for more than just navigation; it could keep you from getting a ticket or endangering other drivers.
If you're a geek, get a 3G S. The faster processor in the 3G S is going to enable more applications and speed up complex Web pages. Also, geeks love faster processors and more memory. You'll just kick yourself for getting the slower model if you're that kind of person.
If you suffer from tech envy, get a 3G S—because of next year. If you buy an iPhone now, you will not be eligible for a discounted new iPhone when the next one—let's call it the 4G—comes out in 2010. You'll probably be happier with a 3G S than a 3G at that point.
If you're a basic user, get a 3G. The "old" iPhone 3G is still a fine device. It's a great iPod, and it runs 50,000 different apps. Those who don't fit into any of the preceding categories should feel no shame in going with the 3G.
If you want an iPod and a phone, get an iPod touch and a cheap phone. The iPhone isn't a particularly good cell phone, and it locks you into a long-term, expensive contract. The iPod touch does almost everything the iPhone does, except make calls and connect to 3G networks. It even surfs the Internet, as long as you're in a Wi-Fi hotspot. And the Touch doesn't charge you a monthly fee. A touch in addition to a separate phone may not be as elegant a solution as the iPhone, but for many people it's more practical.