Friday, March 21, 2008

Is the iPhone's hardware upgradable ?

It is not a secret that iPhone was designed as a software platform. The ability to adapt to different task just by a change in programming is similar to that of a personal computer.

To make a hardware design that could last trough numerous updates in the future, fulfilling ever larger variety of roles is not an easy challenge. Too keep such a design on the top for more than a year constitutes and outstanding achievement. To have a mobile phone to continue to inspire awe and excitement even 12 months after its announcement is plain groundbreaking.
Yet, the iPhone has done it and by the looks of it will continue to do so.

What are the secrets that bring it such long life? Well, there is the advanced software and there is the well designed hardware.

While the software side is pretty well covered by the media, the only thing that seems to be making headlines on the hardware side apart from the 16GB memory update is the lack of 3G.

The iPhone, like all Apple products is an amazing piece of hardware. It is ahead in some respects to its yet unreleased rivals, but as far as the user experience is concerned, it is unrivaled.

To create truly long lived device Apple has wrapped a set of matured components in an advanced design that is simple yet elegant and efficient. These internal components have been engineered to work flawlessly and seem to be replaceable as new one become available. What is amazing is that internal changes have happened just as seamlessly to the customer as were the software upgrades. In the 6 months before its launch on June 29 2007, Apple managed to switch to a better battery and scratch proof screen cover. Later on came the 16GB memory update and with it Apple has apparently introduced better loudspeaker into the iPhone. All these physical
changes came without any noticeable change in the iPhone appearance; only in the user experience.

Other rival Smartphone like the Nokia 95 have undergone two distinctive visual changes, the latest being the even more iPhone looking N96. The introduction of every new model making the previous ones obsolete. And while the original N95 was impressive on paper, it is far more buggy and battery drawing that the iPhone.

So what is the next hardware change for the iPhone?

Possibly a 3G chip replacing the current EDGE chip in the production line. US iPhone users will certainly benefit from the change, mostly in light of this year’s efforts by AT&T to upgrade its 3G network. If Apple had found a suitable chip for the iPhone, they are very likely to introduce it this summer, to make sure they meet there10, 000,000 sold units target bore the year is up. Alternatively they might introduce the iPhone into a lot more countries where 3G is not such a big deal by another type of business deal. A deal very different from the one they have with AT&T and the European carriers.

At the end of the day I think that more iPhone sales hinge not on the 3G chip but on availability, price and its software capabilities. After all, a native app will consume a lot less traffic than the same web app, emulating 3G speeds of information access.

Still, I believe that the answer to the question: Is the iPhone's hardware truly upgradeable? will be answered on Macworld 2009. If we do not see the classic iPhone with new appearance, the answer has been YES.

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