The improved gadget was demonstrated to an audience of over 5000 elite techies and die hard Apple fanatics the ranks of which included Al Gore, forty-fifth vice president of the US.
The new model, named the iPhone 3G boasts browsing speeds up to 36% faster than the Nokia N95 and Treo 750, the brushed aluminium back has been replaced with glossy black plastic (no sign of the speculated zircon based ceramic casing.) The touch sensitive display and camera remain the same and the headphone jack is now flush, replacing the unpopular recessed version seen on the first iPhone. GPS has also been added, allowing tracking and navigation and official support for 70 countries was announced.
The specifications of the new handset, although improved are not revolutionary. Many online blogs and articles are pointing out the new iPhone is merely keeping up with its competitors rather than offering anything particularly exciting, the handsets camera, for example remains a basic two megapixels with competitors such as the LG Viewty offering five megapixel cameras alongside a iPhone style full touchscreen. With competition such as this how can the new iPhone possibly hope to gain a hold in a market which is quickly becoming saturated with similar devices?
Two factors set the iPhone 3G apart from the pack. The first and most obvious is of course, style. Apple knows what its doing with design, the handset's sleek looks and apple's ever popular branding make it the perfect fashion accessory for the communication hungry urbanite. Shallow as this may seem one must only cast a eye over iPhone's competitors to see the effect the groundbreaking design has had on the market. The LG Prada and the HTC Touch both have been clearly designed with the iPhone in mind, wrapped in glossy black plastic and aluminium.
Even more important than the new iPhone's distinctive beauty is the addition of iPhone 2.0 software and the massive impact of the new software development kit (SDK).
The all new iPhone 2.0 software makes vital additions to the handset, fixing previous niggles such as lack of proper Microsoft Office document support and inability to bulk delete messages. The changes do not end here however contact search has been added and parental control will allow the iPhone to be safely enjoyed by younger users. WiFi networks can now be ordered according to preference and the calculator has been upgraded to include a scientific option.
The biggest change the 2.0 software will offer is full support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync. This will allow reliable and near-instant push E-mail, calendar and contacts putting the iPhone in direct competition with business market leader, RIM - producer of the hugely popular Blackberry.
The 2.0 software alone is enough to set the iPhone 3G apart from its competitors but Apple has not stopped there. Massive amounts of customisability previously unseen on mobile phones will be available to iPhone users thanks to the iTunes appstore and the SDK. With over a quarter of a million downloads the SDK is poised to bring about revolution in the mobile communications market.
The kit allows anyone to design and implement applications to use on the iPhone, these can range from simple games to sophisticated medical and business applications. This amazing feature of the iPhone is not restricted to those with a detailed knowledge of programming or software design. The appstore will allow users to download a vast array of games and programmes to truly customise their handsets.
Developers demonstrated a variety of applications at the WWDC including virtual musical instruments and a location aware social network which marks the position of the user and the users friends on a google maps style interface. A impressive selection of tilt controlled 3-D video games were also demonstrated clearly highlighting the broad spectrum of users the new iPhone can easily cater for.
The impact the SDK kit will have on the market is likely to be massive, until now customising software on your mobile mainly consisted of paying over the odds for second rate games and ring-tones from companies intent on bombarding you with spam the second they have your number.
Now games are just a part of the iTunes appstore, easily downloaded either on your PC or Mac to be transferred to the handset via iTunes or now, thanks to the iPhone 3G's fast network connection, directly to the handset via a dedicated button on the homescreen. New software can be added in moments allowing each iPhone to become a reflection of the users needs.
So, now Apple seem to have designed a demi-god that lives in your pocket just how much do they intend to charge the general public for this astounding bit of kit?
Given the off-putting cost of the first iPhone the public were braced for another scary Apple price tag. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all relating to the new iPhone is the fact it will be available for free on certain contracts subject to a 18-month agreement with O2. Worst case scenario the 16GB model will cost a new customer just 170 GBP upfront on a 30 GBP a month contract. Compared to previous prices this truly is remarkable. A new iPhone, twice the speed, half the price!
But wait, there's more. With parental controls, a host of new games and the massive fashion value apple products carry, the youth market was a obvious target for the new handset. Only problem with that is if your under 18 you can't get a contract and so, no iPhone for you. Not anymore, a pay as you go model will be available from O2 in July (price TBC) This bold move will allow the under 18's to get their hands on the iPhone easily and without Mum and Dad's signature.
With Apple poised to conquer the market it would be easy to assume the iPhone 3G is a perfect device. Alas it is not so, as I already mentioned the camera is a little disappointing and worth keeping in mind that so far, the iTouch and the iPhone have not followed the iPod route of coming in a rainbow of colours. It would be no surprise if Jobs was keeping a range of technicolour iProducts under his hat for now, perhaps waiting for a Christmas release. This is merely speculation however.
Tiny niggles aside, with the high initial purchase price scrapped, 3G added, some revolutionary new applications on the way and a distinct improvement on last year's original price plans offered for the iPhone in the UK, Apple have me well and truly won over. They appear to have designed a device that will be able to replace my iPod, mobile phone, PDA and satnav and they intend to offer all this for under 200 GBP.
Samantha is a London theatre fanatic and regular West End theatregoer.