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Why do you think Apple didn't put 3G
in the iPhone
? I just don't get it.
A: I'm still scratching my head over this one because I don't get it, either. AT&T has a pretty robust UMTS/HSDPA network, and it offers a selection of phones that support the technology. So why not out it in the iPhone, too? Unfortunately, I really can't figure it out.
As Donald Bell and I wrote in our iPhone review, the 3G support, like so many other things missing from the iPhone, isn't totally necessary, but it still would be nice to have. From the moment the iPhone made its debut back in January, the lack of 3G emerged as a common criticism of the device, but it was only recently that Apple addressed the concerns directly.
Just days before the iPhone's June 29 release date, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in an interview that his company dropped 3G from the iPhone because the chipsets took up too much space and they were too much of a drain on the battery. Frankly, I don't buy the first explanation, as there are a lot of very thin 3G phones on the market. Samsung has made quite a few such models, including AT&T's recent Samsung SGH-A717 and SGH-A727. And to be honest, I'd gladly accept a slightly thicker iPhone if it had 3G. As for the battery drain explanation, I'll admit that it's a more realistic concern, but I still think there's more to the story.
Jobs also said he preferred Wi-Fi over 3G because Wi-FI is both faster and just as readily available. But neither is true all of the time. In the few days I've tested the iPhone's Safari browser, the Wi-Fi speed ranged from pretty quick in my home and office to not so quick in coffee shops and public places. And I was surprised that even in a supposedly "wired" network like San Francisco, there are many places where I couldn't get online. Secured networks were the norm, and I didn't relish going through a sign-up process to use the Wi-Fi network at the corner café. So what's the alternative, particularly for people who don't live in cities? The alternative is AT&T's plodding EDGE network, of course. And that's just not fun.
So it's not that Wi-Fi is bad--it's a great feature, actually--it's just that 3G would fill in the gaps where Wi-Fi isn't available. Hopefully, Apple will add 3G to future iPhones, which is something Jobs almost-sort-of hinted at already. And while he's at it, I hope at the very least he also adds multimedia messaging, voice dialing, and video recording. I don't get their absences, either.
Motorola Razr V3xx
I am interested in the Motorola V3x
but I don't know if I should buy one. I'm using AT&T
(Cingular) service, which uses the GSM 850 band in many places, but the V3x is only triband (GSM 900/1800/1900). Would it be a gamble if I were to purchase the V3x?
A: As you know, the GSM 850 and 1900 bands are used in the United States, while the 900 and 1800 bands are used in Europe. For best coverage in the States, I recommend using a phone that uses both U.S. bands. You can use a triband (900/1800/1900) cell phone here, but since AT&T's 1900 coverage is concentrated in urban areas, your V3x coverage in rural regions will be spotty. It really just depends on where you live and where you'll use the phone. AT&T can give you a more detailed map of exactly where the 1900 band has coverage. If you feel you can live with it, then it's not so much of a gamble.
Motorola Razr v3x
It's also important to note that the Razr V3x does not support the 3G bands that are used in the United States. So if high-speed data is important to you, I'd recommend against buying it. As an alternative, AT&T's Motorola Razr V3xx is optimized for U.S. networks. Not only it is a triband phone that uses the 850 band (850/1800/1900), but also it supports AT&T's 3G network.
What do you think of the iPhone's lack of 3G? Talk back to me below.
Would I be able to buy a unlocked phone and use it on U.S. Cellular
A: Though any cell phone can be unlocked--that is, removing the settings that tie it to one carrier--"unlocked" is a concept that's more commonly applied to GSM phones. Switching an unlocked GSM handset between two carriers is an easy matter, since all you have to do is swap out the SIM card.
But U.S. Cellular is a CDMA carrier, and CDMA phones do not use SIM cards. So while you may be able to unlock a CDMA phone, you have to get the carrier to activate it for you. You can't just put in a new SIM and start calling away. So not only do you have to go through an extra step, but also you have to get U.S. Cellular's permission to use an unlocked phone on their network. Unfortunately, I doubt they'd be willing to do so.