Goodbye Ol’ Faithful First-Gen iPhone. Enjoy Life With the Kids.

iphone-3gsYup, Cupertino did it again. They got another $600 out of our household budget. Barb and I have each used our first-generation iPhones since the summer of 2007. One has a cracked screen (but still works) and one has more dings than the beat-up old Ford Pinto my father used to drive in the early 1970s. But they’ve served us well and they’re never more than an arm’s reach away.

While I did buy a Palm Pre on launch day, there’s plenty of room for it to mature: both on the native software side and on the third-party applications side as well. That’s the main reason I opted to get a new iPhone. Well, the subsidy doesn’t hurt, either. Since we hung onto our original iPhones and dealt with EDGE speeds for two years, we’re getting the full AT&T subsidy on our new handsets. And since I wrongly thought 8GB would be enough two years ago, we dropped the extra $100 for the 32GB iPhones. Without any expansion slot, I figure you might as well get the most storage you can up front.

We could debate what the “best” smartphone is until the cows come home. (Or later, since the cows are usually herded up in the late afternoon around here.) The fact is: for me, the iPhone has met my personal needs very well these past two years. And it has done so in a elegant way that I haven’t seen matched just yet. Some would cry “fanboi,” but I’d disagree with that comment. Does using the device that meets your needs best make you a “fanboi”? Not in my book. It makes you a smart cookie and helps you be productive. If you use a different platform and it’s meeting your needs, then that’s the right device for you, I say.

I originally thought that Barb might benefit from a Pre. In fact, when I was in line at the launch, we were asked how many handsets we’d be buying. I had the opportunity to get two and even called Barb to see what she wanted to do. She left it up to me. After some serious thought and the many unknowns at the time, I suggested she pass on the Pre and get a new iPhone. I’m enjoying my Pre, so don’t get me wrong here. But the little niggles that remain (and there are quite a few) would put Barb off. They’d get in her way. And she’s not the early adopter type; she’s more of a mainstream consumer. Apple’s handset and software offerings are simply more refined at this particular point in time, in my opinion. We early adopters that enjoy the good and bad of the cutting edge are fine when we have to futz with a smartphone. My wife isn’t.

You’d think the real winner in our situation is Apple first, and AT&T second. After all, Apple just sold two more iPhone 3GS handsets and AT&T has us under contract for two more years. Plus we’ll be paying them more, since the data plan will cost $10 more and the 200 text messages we each have will net them another $5 a pop. But they’re not the real winners at all. Our kids are. Tyler and Sydney have been asking us on a daily basis if we got our new iPhones yet. Why? They get two iPod Touches with a camera out of the deal. You want to see “fanbois”? Check out the kids’ faces when our iPhones arrive later this week.

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