Will it be worth it to upgrade to the new iPhone?

Well, the first question is, will there be a new iPhone coming out this summer? I think almost certainly the answer is yes, although we aren’t going to find out for sure before WWDC on June 8. The next question is, will there be anything about it compelling enough for existing AT&T users to upgrade from an iPhone 3G? Users of the original iPhone got a pass when the 3G came out, and were eligible for upgrade pricing, but they had to pay a full, non-subsidized price for the original iPhone. No one knows yet what AT&T will do, but it seems unlikely they will let 3G users, who by July won’t be any more than a year into their two year contracts, get a fully subsidized new iPhone. It’s possible there may be some discount, but it’s likely to be an expensive purchase under most circumstances.

So being that I would fall into that group of those who will be paying a hefty price for a new iPhone, I have been following with interest all of the speculation about what it might include. I didn’t have an original iPhone, but the difference between EDGE and 3G would have made that upgrade worth it to me, even without any other changes (I am reminded of that any time I am in an EDGE-only area). Will there be any killer features like that with the new phone?

Some things that seem likely:

1. More storage, with 16 GB and 32 GB models

2. Faster processor

3. More RAM

4. Video (but this may be possible on the iPhone 3G as well after the 3.0 software update. The hardware is capable of it already, as jailbreakers will attest)

5. Better camera

6. Magnetometer

Some things that would be great, but haven’t received as much buzz:

1. HSUPA

2. 802.11n

3. Better battery life

Silly, but fun:

1. Glowing Apple logo on the back (like on a MacBook)

While all of those updates would be nice, I’m not sure any of them is all that compelling in terms of convincing the average iPhone 3G user to shell out big money for a new iPhone. Many of these are under-the-hood improvements that will not lend themselves as much to marketing, especially because Apple is always a little sly about letting anyone know the actual processor speed and amount of RAM in their devices.

Many updates should actually be part of the 3.0 software available for existing iPhone users. Cut/paste may not be exciting, but it is necessary. MMS, push notifications, possibly video and tethering – all of those should be accessible without getting a new device.

Apple may be feeling a little heat from the Palm Pre (although it’s hard to see the Pre as a true competitor to the iPhone when it is limited to a smaller network like Sprint’s), and they are going to want to create strong buzz. People will expect a lot out of the launch of a new iPhone after the phenomenal success the first two models have enjoyed. We will have to see what they use as the hook with this new device, whether it is touting it as a video iPhone, playing up the speed improvements, or focusing on some as-yet-unmentioned feature.

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