iPhone 3G is more than just a phone

We've reached another technology milestone with the release of Apple's iPhone 3G.

So what's in a phone? Well, let me tell you. For the techno-gadget person, this device is simply amazing. I have to admit that I only waited in line (overnight, mind you) to keep my business partner company, but boy, was it worth every hour of it once I started to use my new toy -- or shall I say "business tool."

Having been a Mac user for years, I have come to appreciate the smooth interface and functionality that Apple consistently delivers to the marketplace, but this device brings it to a whole new level. The "touch" technology it utilizes makes using this device an experience.

I call it a device because it offers so much more than just phone features.

Aside from a traditional phone, the enterprise version of the iPhone 3G offers native Microsoft Exchange integration. This allows Exchange users to sync their email and calendars to the phone wirelessly. This integration of the iPhone also offers Google maps with GPS as a standard. For the music buffs out there, the fact that it also serves as a full blown iPod is a nice added feature.

It's really hard to explain just how great this device is until you give it a test drive. I have yet to hear any iPhone owner complain about the device. In fact, it is so popular, that many people in line were there to upgrade their year old version of the first release.

At this time, the iPhone is only available for new AT&T customers or current customers who qualify for a phone upgrade. Contact AT&T to confirm eligibility.

The phone comes with two different storage capacities: 8 gigabytes ($199) or 16 gigabytes ($299). The 8 GB only comes in black, while the 16 GB version comes in your choice of black or white.

Apple states the battery life to be 300 hours of standby, eight-10 hours of 2G talk, five hours of 3G talk, seven hours of video, and 24 hours of audio. My early usage, of course, returns results slightly below these numbers, but I can say that the battery will hold strong for an entire workday with pretty heavy usage.

To get the full usage of this device, you will be required to carry a data plan with AT&T. Its unlimited iPhone 3G data plans for consumers will be available for $30 a month, on top of voice plans starting at $39.99 a month.

Unlimited 3G data for business users will be $45 a month, on top of voice plans. There's a minimum two-year agreement.

At this time, the iPhone 3G is only available at Apple Stores or at AT&T corporate stores.

David Spire is a business technology adviser at United Systems Computer Group. He can be reached at