For all its qualities; the great interface, stunning design and peerless mobile web browsing, the best thing about the iPhone 3G is it's price and the rather inviting tariffs that have been created for it. O2 has made much of it now being available "for free", but unless you really need a stupid amount of minutes and texts each month, the £35 tariff offers very good value when you consider the benefits that come included in the package.
All contracts last 18 months and include Unlimited Data and free access to Wi-Fi hotspots from The Cloud and BT Openzone - both subject to fair usage policies. These are incredibly attractive benefits given both of these cost an extra £7.50 on other O2 contracts and give you an incredible amount of freedom.
Indeed, just to show how good value the iPhone 3G is, we've compared the 8GB iPhone 3G on the £35 tariff to similar schemes on other networks for the Nokia N95 8GB - all including unlimited data but only O2 coming with the comparative Wi-Fi access.
As you can see it comes out pretty well, with only Orange and O2 itself (sans Wi-Fi access) beating what we consider to be the best value iPhone contract. When you consider that no one, other than O2 itself, can offer the same Wi-Fi access it just goes to show that whereas the original iPhone was a tad pricy, this one isn't at all.
How has Apple done this? First, the basic components of the iPhone will have become cheaper, but switching to a plastic back will also have reduced costs to a degree. Most obviously, however, Apple has changed the contents of the box, making the dock that came as standard before a paid for accessory. It's a shame, but you do still get the requisite USB cable and charger - the iPhone charges over USB - and if you do really want the dock then it's a bearable extra cost.
This aggressive pricing seals the deal in our eyes. Though business users are still better off with a Windows Mobile, Symbian or Blackberry handset and some of the small faults and missing features remain, the iPhone 3G has addressed the two key concerns that put people off the original: 3G and price. As it turns out the cost cutting measure of the plastic back is something of an aesthetic success as well, while GPS is a welcome benefit and the interface is as slick and brilliant to use as it ever was. A few niggles, particularly the lack of cut & paste, grate deeper, but much like the Nokia E71 its few niggles are counter-balanced by all the things it does very very right.
It may be seen as little more than an incremental upgrade, but Apple has hit all the right buttons to make the iPhone 3G an instant hit. It's still sleek, it's still great to use and it's still the best touch screen phone by a country mile. Wed to this the excellent value it now represents and you can understand why people have been falling over themselves to get one. Unless you absolutely must have a better camera, MMS or any of the other missing features, there's no other touch screen phone that comes close.