Weighing the Web Working Benefits of the iPhone 3G S

iphone3gsEarlier this week, Apple (s aapl) held its keynote address for the annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC). At the event, it announced many things, including new upgrades and pricing for its notebook lineup, official and final details regarding OS X Snow Leopard and iPhone OS 3.0, and a new iPhone, the iPhone 3G S, which borrows a lot from its predecessor the iPhone 3G. So much so, in fact, that many are questioning the value of upgrading to the new hardware, especially given that it may cost existing AT&T customers as much as $699 to do so.

As a general tech enthusiast, and an Apple fan, I’m considering the upgrade myself, despite the fact that pricing could be even more expensive here in Canada, where iPhones come with lovely three-year contracts, and I only just purchased my iPhone 3G 11 months ago. However, the upgrade pricing is not all that ridiculous when you consider the  cost of the hardware and how massive the subsidies are when you buy the contract along with the phone. If you have the money, and if the hardware is worth it, then there’s nothing to complain about.

But is the hardware worth it? At least, can it bring something to my work and professional life that I couldn’t get with the iPhone 3G? The answer to this question could go a long way to helping me decide whether to upgrade or stick with what I’ve already got. Here are the factors to consider, in my opinion.

7.2 HSDPA Support

I’m not sure if AT&T’s (s t) network even supports these speeds yet, but Rogers (and Fido, its subsidiary) definitely does here in Canada. In theory, that means the iPhone 3G is only using a fraction of the available network speed on offer. I’m generally fairly satisfied with my data and network speeds with the current 3G, but there are definitely some times where it feels like there’s an undue amount of toe-tapping while I’m waiting for a page to load or large email with a lot of attachments to send. I’d like to hear from other users about this first, but it could be a big plus in favor of the 3G S.

Video Recording, Editing & Sharing

As it stands, I don’t do much in the way of video professionally, although there are times when recording short clips would very much come in handy. This could easily be a feature that goes primarily unused, as is the case with my current iPhone’s camera (I have regular digital cameras that are much more suited to any of my photographic needs), but it could also be a game-changer with regards to the type of content I produce for the blogs I contribute to. Like 7.2 HSDPA, this is a wait-and-see thing, but in this case, I’ll never find out unless I try it myself.

Enhanced Security & Data Protection

Hardware encryption was something that business users clamored for, and the 3G S provides it. It’s definitely a plus for anyone who uses their phone for conducting business or storing sensitive information, so this is definitely a tick in the “Pro” column. Not only that, but the new “Find My Phone” and “Remote Wipe” capabilities make sure that even if you do lose your device, you’ll have safeguards in place to help you recover it, or, failing that, prevent the information from falling into the wrong hands. Both of those are iPhone OS 3.0 software features, though, so they will be available to existing iPhone 3G customers and can’t count in favor of buying a brand-new device.

Faster Load Times

Apparently, apps running on the iPhone 3G S should boot about one and half times faster than they currently do on the iPhone 3G. I’m not particularly put out by any lag issues on my 3G running the iPhone 3.0 OS, but extra snappiness is always appreciated in any computing device, so it’s a plus.

Better Battery Life

Even if the gains aren’t revolutionary, any improvement over the current iPhone’s dismal battery life will be very much appreciated. I recently acquired a Mophie Juice Pack Air to try to stave off total battery drain for as long as possible, but it should fit the 3G S, too. Combined, the new phone and the Juice Pack should give me something near a usable amount of run time.

Overall Value

Does the 3G S really bring that much to the table? No, not if you consider how many new features will be available to 3G users via the OS 3.0 software update. Will I probably buy one anyway? Yes, because I earmark a certain amount of budget for things like this because of the nature of my work, and because the few new things it does bring to the table might just help me add a revenue stream or two to my existing portfolio, or at least help me work longer, more safely, and more efficiently on the go from my phone. Also, I really want one, because it’s shiny and new.

Will you be upgrading your iPhone to a 3G S?