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Thoughts on the new iPhone and AT&T

iPhone 4 is a desirable and powerful update to the iPhone that we know and love, but as is always the case with Apple, there are some downers.

Off the top of my head, here's what I think is disappointing. I'm surprised 32GB is the top memory tier; I think a lot of us expected 64GB. You have been able to get that amount of memory in the iPod touch since September of 2009. Bummer.

FaceTime video chat is a great idea and everyone expected it was coming. Once again though, Apple is being held back by AT&T. To do video chat, you have to be WiFi to WiFi. How usable is that? Not very. Apple hinted that it will work over 3G, maybe next year, but we know how good AT&T is at meeting deadlines.

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There are some nice features this time around for sure, including the ability to use a Bluetooth keyboard with the iPhone, multitasking, folders, and finally -- finally! -- a unified mail inbox. Better battery life is a plus, of course, and the iBook integration looks worthwhile.

So why am I not jumping up and down? First, we assumed most of this was coming. The Gizmodo leak in April dampened a lot of the excitement, and I don't think Steve was able to stir it all back up again.

Even worse, as time goes by it's very clear that AT&T continues to hold the iPhone experience hostage. From killing FaceTime on 3G, to dropped calls, to spotty reception in big cities: AT&T just isn't ready for the iPhone, and don't even think about uploading those new HD movies over the 3G network. Tethering is finally here, but much later than promised, and AT&T is working hard to kill all the unlimited data plans.

As Apple adds more and more cool functions to the iPhone, AT&T keeps holding down my enthusiasm. Not just mine: surveys reflect this again and again. People love the iPhone, but hate AT&T.

I'll get the new iPhone, but I'm still gritting my teeth.

Apple, deliver us from this bondage. Give iPhone users a choice. Sure, the iPhone is a resource hog. The growth of smartphones, and the iPhone in particular, is surely putting an unforeseen burden on AT&T. Spread it out. Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint. End the pain.

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