The wait is almost over for local iPhone fans – the much anticipated 3G version of Apple’s popular mobile phone will hit New Zealand shores on July 11.
This will be the first time the iPhone will be sold through official channels locally, with mobile phone operator Vodafone confirming today that it will offer the device.
The iPhone has however been available through parallel importer retail stores since shortly after its release in the United States last year.
New Zealand is among the first countries where Apple and Vodafone are releasing the iPhone 3G on July 11 – others are Australia, Italy and Portugal. Mobile phone users in Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, India, South Africa and Turkey will get their hands on the device later this year.
Apple says the new iPhone features 3G networking that is twice as fast as the first generation iPhone, built-in GPS for expanded location based mobile services, and iPhone 2.0 software, which includes support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync and runs the hundreds of third party applications already built with the recently released iPhone SDK.
The company states the iPhone 3G will come with a 3.5-inch screen and have better battery life, with talk time of five hours, stand-by time of 300 hours, six hours of high-speed browsing time, 20 hours of audio and seven hours of video.
Apple has also cut the price by half to make the new iPhone more affordable for users — the 8GB model will sell for US$199 (NZ$248) and the 16GB model for $299 ($373). The company says it found that 56 percent of people surveyed wouldn't buy the earlier iPhone because they found it expensive.
While local pricing is yet to be announced, Vodafone says the iPhone 3G will be available on both prepay and contract price plans, which will include “great value data bundles”.
Apple has also launched MobileMe today – a new internet service that delivers push email, contacts and calendars to iPhones, iPod touches, Macs and PCs,.
Annoucing the service, Apple CEO Steve Jobs says MobileMe is like “Exchange for the rest of us”.
“Now users who are not part of an enterprise that runs Exchange can get the same push email, push calendars and push contacts that the big guys get,” he said in a statement.