Faster, cheaper and more inclined to slip into a business suit — or high school kid's messenger bag. • The new version of the iPhone, the combination phone, music player and Internet browser that had eager consumers lined up for blocks a year ago, was unveiled Monday in a theatrical demonstration helmed by Apple chief Steve Jobs. You can't actually buy one until July 11, but the hype is already hot for its list of upgrades that aim to grab the techno-hip and the business set alike. • And due to a new arrangement between Apple and exclusive U.S. service provider AT&T, an iPhone will cost about as much as a high-end cell phone from most other manufacturers — cheap enough that it might wind up on many teens' wish lists, so long as parents are willing to pay $70 a month for the required service plan. • So why should you pick up this new model when you passed up the old one?
Faster Web access
For anyone who remembers what it was like to surf the Web with a dialup connection, accessing the Internet via a cell signal with the current iPhone is nearly that slow. But with its upgraded hardware, the new iPhone can access 3G (that's third-generation) wireless cell phone data networks. With the upgrade, YouTube clips or e-mailed photos will stream and send almost as quickly as they do on a wireless broadband connection.
When the iPhone was released last June, the top-of-the-line 8-gigabyte model cost $599 and later dropped to $399.
The new 8-gigabyte model will cost $199, and the 16-gigabyte model will cost $299.
How are they doing that? Announcements by AT&T — the carrier you have to use if you want an iPhone — Monday suggest that the company will subsidize the cost of iPhones to boost subscriptions to its wireless network.
Unlike one of the iPhone's biggest competitors in the U.S. market, the BlackBerry, the old iPhone couldn't sync with Outlook or other corporate mail servers. The new model can, and then some. When paired with a new Apple service called MobileMe, which will cost $99 a year, photos, calendars and other multimedia can be wirelessly synced between a home computer, the iPhone and the MobileMe Web site.
By the numbers
1.73-million: iPhones sold since January.
10-million: Apple's iPhone sales goal by the end of 2008.
20 percent: Apple's smartphone market share in the U.S.
42 percent: BlackBerry maker RIM's U.S. market share
$199: Price of the new 8GB iPhone
$599: Price of the 8GB iPhone when it launched a year ago
$70: Monthly cost of AT&T's cheapest voice+data wireless plan.