The iPhone 3G will offer full support for the HSDPA and UMTS standards and AT&T's recent 3G upgrades will allow many iPhone owners to take advantages of significantly faster mobile browsing. While this may not be a must-have feature for everyone, it is for anyone who needs or wants to be able to check e-mail, surf the Web, check YouTube videos or use any data-intensive iPhone application outside the range of a WiFi hotspot. Remember the previewed MLB.com app that offers up live updates of games, complete with video of individual plays immediately after they happen? You're going to want 3G for that.
Getting the most out of location services requires GPS
The second major update is the addition of true GPS. Although not as critical for everyone as 3G performance, this is also a potential big deal. One of the most innovative features of the iPhone SDK that developers can use when writing applications is the Core Location services. It allows applications to detect where a user is and to integrate that with other features, such as displaying contacts in a given vicinity or to integrate with social networking sites. Even with no other applications involved, the power of GPS with Google Maps alone makes it a great feature and really gives the iPhone some of the functions of a full-fledged GPS device. I wouldn't be surprised to see a third-party application offer a much broader feature set for navigation using GPS. No doubt, the powers that be responsible for the popular Tom-Tom and Garmin GPS devices are paying close attention.
Clearly GPS has a lot of potential on the iPhone. That said, many apps will likely be able to work with the existing iPhone's ability to triangulate its location. So, why is GPS a serious reason to upgrade?
The answer is pretty clear if you've ever used this function in any place other than a densely populated urban area. While in the business district of a major city, it may pin-point you to within half a block or less. But when there are few cell towers and known WiFi hotspots, the iPhone's ability to determine your location goes downhill quickly. Out in the suburbs, you might find your locatio indicated within a mile-wide radius or even larger. That doesn't work well for determining your location, showing you where friends are, finding restaurants, or getting directions if you're lost. That makes GPS a compelling feature, particularly since it means you're getting a powerful navigation tool in addition to the faster 3G data service.
Better battery life
Another major feature that Apple has touted in the iPhone 3G is improved battery life. While the battery life on the original iPhone was bad, it certainly wasn't as solid as some other phones on the market. Increased battery life means more talk and standby time as well as more time listening to music, surfing the Internet and using all those new games and apps. So, while it's not a must have update, it's surely worth factoring in to the decision-making process.
Although not a new feature, a new iPhone could give you more storage capacity. If you currently own a 4GB or 8GB iPhone, you can use this as a chance to move up to an 8GB or 16GB model. Sure, you could've done that before now, but it would've been more expensive and wouldn't have gotten you any new features -- just more room to grow.