World First: iPhone 3G Goes on Sale in New Zealand

Scott Bartley, PC World New Zealand
PC World
Wednesday, July 9, 2008; 2:19 PM

For the past few weeks, PC World New Zealand has spent some serious quality time with the new iPhone 3G. Does it warrant the midnight queues at Apple stores around the globe?

Well, yes, mostly. If ever there was a geeky gadget that deserved to have the word "sexy" applied to it, certainly it's the iPhone 3G. And if we can separate the angst around the relatively high costs of owning and operating this device for a moment and look at the iPhone itself, we find an incredibly capable, highly desirable, yet far from perfect device.

I find myself torn at this stage of my relationship with the iPhone. It's a beautifully constructed device that rolls nearly all my portable electronic devices into one. The screen rocks, the fancy navigation system works perfectly, and, even better, makes me feel like I'm part of a sci-fi movie.

Yet it's missing some basic mobile phone features and has a few stubbornly Apple-centric limitations (I'm looking at you--external hard drive support...) and costs a small fortune. No wonder the iPhone has stirred such mixed and vehement emotions around the world.

Let's get into more detail.

For most of this year, Apple's coveted iPhone was available in but a few select countries, and even then it was much maligned for being a 2.5G device in a 3G world, as well as for locking customers in to heavy-handed and exclusive service contracts.

Nevertheless, that didn't stop the iPhone from being sought after and adored by all who came near. Indeed, for previously iPhone-less countries like New Zealand, hacked, but fully functional, versions of Apple's baby were soon available from parallel importers across the nation; simply drop in your SIM card and you're good to go.

This didn't go unnoticed at Apple, and the company subsequently stepped things up for the iPhone 3G launch by making it available in 70 countries worldwide over the coming months. By virtue of our close proximity to the international date line, New Zealand will be first in line to see it, even if only by a few hours.

For the uninitiated, the iPhone combines iPod, phone, Internet and more into a single device. If you're an iPod lover, finding a toy such as this is kind of like discovering the Holy Grail--you get Apple's genre-defining audio and video player sandwiched into a shiny, touchscreen-equipped, 3G mobile phone.

What's the big deal you ask? Plenty of mobile phones will, after all, play MP3s just fine. Problem is, in my experience people don't want their phone to play MP3s, they want their iPod to make phone calls. And since that's exactly what Apple are offering with the iPhone, that makes this product a big deal.

While some of the changes found in the iPhone 3G will be available to owners of the original iPhone following the release of version 2.0 of the phone's OS, GPS (Global Positioning System) tracking isn't one of them.

In conjunction with Google Maps, the iPhone can use GPS to pinpoint your exact location, provide step-by-step directions and offer real time tracking of your movements. The iPhone uses something called Assisted GPS, which uses triangulation of cellphone transmitter sites to assist the actual GPS receiver in finding your location in areas where GPS can sometimes struggle, like cities where tall buildings can hinder the lines of sight to the GPS satellites.

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