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Now that everyone's had a few days to digest Monday's big announcement of the next generation Apple iPhone, coming to an Apple Store near you on July 11, it's time to take stock of the real nitty-gritty: pricing and availability. (For a look at the new features of the iPhone, check out our previous coverage.)
Handset Price: $199 for 8GB, $299 for 16GB. A nice discount off the previous $400 rackrate—and a world apart from the $600 that an 8GB model cost on June 29 of last year. Progress!
Service Plans: Ay, here's the rub. New iPhones will now be required to sign a two-year contract with AT&T Wireless. Worse, the new data plan for iPhone 3G costs $10 more per month (to pay for the cost of the 3G network, AT&T kindly explains). And to top it off, the 200 text messages that came free with old iPhone plans will now run you $5 per month. According to the number-crunchers at Gizmodo, over two years, the new fees will add $160 in costs to the previous iPhone bottom line—not egregious, but not the generous pricechop some in the media have trumpeted.
Activation: Another unfortunate tweak. Apple will now require all purchasers to activate the iPhone before leaving an Apple Store or AT&T branch—a switch from the old system, which just let you plug into a computer and activate at your leisure. Bonus: this policy's sure to make the lines on day one even more hellacious. Good times.
Upgrades: One nice bit: if you were one of the few folks to get your hands on a new first-generation iPhone after May 27, you can swap it for a 3G model for free. Yays.
Availability: If you're thinking about ordering online, forget it. The iPhone 3G's available in-store only, because of the new activation requirement. As to the question of how many will be up for grabs, no one knows, but our bet is on a shitload. Time will, of course, tell.
· Racked's Complete iPhone Coverage [Racked]