India, Review, Solution

iPhone 3G in India – My review and My Take

<Entry has been updated with the latest Indian iPhone 3G prices>

My Rating: ***** (1/5) [Rating reduced from 2 to 1 after price was announced]

My Take: Do Not Buy. Your hard earned money is worth more.

This 22nd (August 22nd 2008), iPhone 3G will be officially launched in India. It will be marketed by Airtel and Vodafone. Both Vodafone and Airtel have started marketing it from about 2 months and customers can register on these websites to book their handsets. It’s pricing details have not been out (Check out the next paragraph) but from what I heard,I am disappointed. Let me tell you why.

<updated>

iPhone 3G will be launched on August 22nd, 2008. iPhone 3G will cost Rs.36100/- ( $830 ) for 16 GB Model and Rs.31000/- ( $713 ) for 8 GB Model with Vodafone. People who wish to buy should book their phone at “selected” Vodafone store by paying an advance amount of Rs.10000/- ( $230 ). They can book today ( August 20th, 2008 ) and tomorrow. They will be given a demo and their booked handset along with appointment to shell out their money. – Sources Vodafone communication.

Why shouldn’t you buy?

  • The pricing is way above the roof. The advance booking amount itself is more than what Steve Jobs mentioned in WWDC of a maximum price of $199. ( Check out the details below)
  • This price is going to come down drastically. If you wait for another 6 months, you will hear about the newer version of iPhone (iPhone 3G+ or something) being released. Ask iPod users about this experience.
  • You will get 2 Blackberrys or a PS3 + mobile phone for this amount.
  • Techincally this phone is not good BAD. You can read all the technicals that I have analysed below.

</updated>

I am a big fan of Apple, the company, and it’s products. They are not a mere MS cloned devices but those unique products which are creatively designed to perfection. They have a niche market and niche set of customers, I really want to buy my first Apple product but I have enough reason not to buy it, at least not in India. If any of you think that I should be buying it despite the following reasons, then please do let me know in the comments.

Before I Start: – Check out this link to know how an iPhone 3G Internet works. If you find that iPhone is priced at Rs.8000 – Rs.9000, in India, I suggest you to overlook the India specific issues mentioned below and buy it.

Reason 1: (India Specific)

On Apple’s WWDC 2008 held at San Francisco on 6th June 2008, at 11:45 am, Steve Jobs said in his Keynote speech that iPhone’s price will be slashed down to $199 (Model 1) and $299 (Model 2) from $399 (Model 1) and $499 (Model 2) respectively. He mentioned that it will be launched in 70 Countries (including India) and no where in the world (including India), iPhone 3G will be priced above $199. Converting $199 to Indian Rupees, it will be about Rs.8756 (Considering Rs.44 a dollar, which includes all the additional taxes on conversion) and adding about 30% on this amount as the import charges, it will be about Rs.11382/- (Model 1) and Rs.17100/- (Model 2). But Airtel and Vodafone are trying to price it more, about Rs.10, 000/- ($238).

Reason 2: Applications

You cannot install any applications on your iPhone without buying it from AppStore or paying at Apple Store. You will have a little control over what you can do on your own handset.

Reason 3: Internet (India specific) – Look at the List 1 Below.

iPhone is not a Nokia 1100 basic set (with torch light) that you use it or buy it just to make phone calls. It is suppose to be a personal digital diary and much more. About 65% – 70% of the features need internet connectivity, which is extremely expensive in India. Airtel and Vodafone will charge you for every “bit” transfer and even a small iPhone application will cost you a lot. You will also be charged based on the duration of the internet used.

Reason 4: Privacy

iPhone exposes your whereabouts. Although, I admit that I don’t know the exact security threat from these APIs, you will still have the potential risk of getting tracked without your notice. So what are APIs anyways? API’s (Application Program Interface) are the programs which can be used by anyone who writes applications to get information. Thus, these APIs can be used and some malicious software can be written to track your whereabouts. Many users also have complaints about iPhone applications on frequently asking users to send whereabouts information with Don’t Allow and Allow options.

Reason 5: Upgradation and Camera

Do not count Camera to be a feature in iPhone. After paying 25 grand (Indian Rupees), be sure to expect Camera quality of that of a handset of price 6-7 Grand. These cameras do not have a good video recording feature. MMS is not supported and so is a good keyboard. There are lots of issues with the third party applications which will provide you these features. This phone does not have Bluetooth headset either. iPhone camera does not have flash, video features and optical zoom. It’s just a camera which clicks when you press. The camera is not even of a high resolution. It is 2 Megapixels, which is available in basic handsets too.

Reason 6: Chat and SMS

These days you don’t really find so many phone offers (Postpaid and prepaid) which has free SMS, do you? Apple has a great product called iChat. iPhone does not let you use it. iPhone applications that you can download too will not let you chat on HTTP protocol (Usual chat method) but will use SMS. This means, your free 600 messages will be used for chat even though “technically” you can chat via internet for free (Not exactly free. Nothing in this world is free, Remember!). These applications will have to communicate to Apple store to alert the customers. I don’t know if it is done for security checks or it is just a redundant micro management.

Reason 7: Music and Video

Not all formats will be played. iPhone endorses and supports Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technology. It will not play those really good print wala avi formats or anything. iPhone for sure will not let you install VLC Media player if you are planning on that shortcut method. iPod has been the style statement, at least for the rich and wealthy, but it’s sound quality is poor. Yes, Poor. iPhone like iPod will not give you ear plugs for free but even with that, sound quality is not up to the mark. You will have to buy Sennheiser or Bose headphones, costing you as much as iPhone itself. I would instead suggest you to look out for Archos or Cowon products, if this is your main criteria.

Instead:-

Instead of iPhone I suggest you to consider following options.

  • If you are looking for Style statement + Good phone, then buy iPod Touch and a good phone. Hacked iPhone are an other option that people can consider.
  • If you are looking for a smart phone then consider Blackberry, which will be way cheaper if you wait for sometime and buy it after iPhone launch.
  • If you are looking for a Video device, something that you can use to watch movies / videos while on journey/ while you commute to office, consider Archos [Link] and Cowon [Link]. They can play video in any format unlike iPhone which plays very few formats. They can also be connected to Television (TV) and record your favorite programs. You can buy some dockets to play them loud on speakers or connect them to your speakers.
  • If you are looking for iPhone like phones which can play all video formats and has good applications, then consider Neo Freerunner (Link)
  • You can even wait for Android based handsets. HTC will reportedly be shipping the first Android based handset. It will surely be worth waiting. Take my word for it. Android (Link) is the mobile platform from Google.
  • If you are looking for GPS phones then consider latest Samsung phone and Nokia phones, N78 has it I guess.

Hacked iPhones:

Although I don’t support hacked phones, according to some people it could be a better option considering you will be using iPhones for style statement and basic features. iPhones send a different protocol when you browse internet and the telecom provider will come to know if it is a registered phone. So please bear in mind that your phone’s authenticity can be tracked by telecom providers when you use internet and your location can be tracked with iPhone 3G. Currently, they might be allowing you to use iPhone because there are no legitimate iPhone in India anyways. Later they might create problems so consider some work around methods on internet before you invest your money.

I bought it. What do I do?:-

  1. Check this link for many good applications and small hacks on Lifehacker.
  2. Check this link for top applications for iPhone.
  3. Check this link for wordpress for iPhone.

I will update this category over time when I find good information for your iPhones.

Demography:-

Let’s take a look at the demographics of the users of iPhone. I don’t expect a farmer in Bihar or Jharkhand to buy iPhone. India has about 63.5% of the population in the age group of age 15 – 64. This is about 750 million people. Subjectively, plausible iPhone customers are pretty much the upper middle class and above, the creamy layer, wealthy and their children, dumb politicians by somehow convincing Govt or industrialists to gift them and professionals.  India has about 36% of urban population and iPhone probable customers category is about 10% (pure random number) in it. This amounts to about 22 million. The average iPhone sales in US are about 20,000 iPhones per day. This sales figure is corresponding to 80% of the urban population of (60% population of US, which is at the age group of 15-64). US population here is considered as 299 million. Let’s not forget that Indians are not spending customers. Indian population by nature still believes in saving their income than spending it. So how far can I expect iPhone to be a hit?

From my calculation, the sales in India should just be around 2000 handsets per day, which is a mediocre figure.

Conclusion:-

Buy this phone only if you have to. If you cannot wait for Android based phones ,not satisfied with Blackberry or have lots of money then buy this phone. You can book your handset at both Vodafone and Airtel sites. Vodafone has not yet intimated anything to those registered but you can just register for your satisfaction (They have now informed everyone with pricing and advanced booking details). It will be released on 22nd August 2008 for those who are interested.

List 1 – iPhone features: [  (R) = Requires Internet  ]

1. Phone Calls.

2. Messaging

3. Internet Browsing – (R)

4. Chat, IM usage – (R)

5. VPN / Remote connection to your office. – (R)

6. Outlook Sync to receive mails from work. – (R) Partly.

7. Music

8. Download Music – (R)

9. Photos

10. LBS – Location Based Services. – (R)

11. Almost all good applications on AppStore – (R).

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6 thoughts on “iPhone 3G in India – My review and My Take

  1. The real price has come.the iPhone 3G will be available in India from August 22, 2008
    It will be available in 8GB & 16GB models, priced at Rs 31,000 and Rs 36,100 respectively.

    Isnt it too much

  2. Sijimon James says:

    This s rediculous.. In USA they r sellin this for 199 USD(8000 INR appx) but in India 31000… Only difference is 2 year contract..
    We r also ready to take a contract.. But this pricibg s too bad….
    Waiting for another 6 Months for reduced price…

  3. @cellstrat
    Thanks a lot dude!

    @Mr.Sijimon James
    Indeed. Waiting for unlocked iPhone release at BestBuy in US. Apple is supposedly planning to sell that for $500, which will still be cheaper than Indian iPhone price.

    @Bala
    It is too much. Yes

  4. Hitesh Verma says:

    Hi,

    In nutshell, iPhone is bomb. It has:

    iPod, internet and obviously phone. No need to explain what iPod is, I really love when it comes along with phone.

    Wish to get a new one very soon.

    Hitesh

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