On the eve of the next big iPhone announcement I thought I’d think aloud about what I’m looking for in my next phone purchase, to replace my ageing iPhone 3G, and whether it will be a smart phone at all.

I bought the iPhone 3G on its release day in the UK and it has since revolutionised many things for me, not least my use of social media. Twitter and friends made little sense to me when I could only access them when sat in front of a laptop. Having access to Twitter everywhere suddenly made it make sense. I have acquired many other apps on my 3G over the years I’ve had it and they’ve all been useful and/or fun.

A year later the 3GS was released. It wasn’t a huge leap forward from my 3G, and not worth upgrading to. 12 months further on the iPhone 4 was released and I still didn’t see the new iPhone as a worthwhile upgrade from my 3G. The along came the the iPod Touch 4G. It was very nearly an iPhone 4 without the phone, and at a _hugely_ reduced price. At time of release a 32GB iPod Touch was £249 while a 32GB iPhone 4 was £599. My mind was made up. An iPod Touch and a MiFi combined to provide my smartphone needs and my iPhone 3G was reduced to being just a phone. I continued to look at new smartphones, mostly Android phones, as they were released, on the assumption that eventually I’d go back to a single device.

Now, though, I’m not so sure. My iPod Touch continues to do a great job as a smartphone. At home and at work, and many other places too, I have WiFi, and where there is no WiFi my MiFi fills in. The Touch runs all my iOS apps perfectly. There are a few iPhone features missing – the one I miss most being a decent camera. All in all, though, I’m very happy with it. I could replace my iPhone 3G with an Android phone, or with whatever new iPhone Apple announce tomorrow, but if my iPod Touch is doing a good enough job do I need to? Why don’t I just buy a, well, a phone…?

Right now, I can’t think of a good reason not to do just that. If the phone could do basic Twitter that would be great. If it could run something like JoikuSpot to replace my MiFi that would be better. I’m sure there’s something out there that will do the job, and that costs much, much less that the current crop of smartphones. Any suggestions? A Nokia “feature phone”, perhaps?

I will watch the Apple announcement tomorrow evening with some interest, but I’m currently not expecting to place an iPhone order any time soon…

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I’ve had my iPhone 3G since day 1. Back in July this year when the iPhone 4 came out I was looking forward to getting something a little better, but ended up being disappointed by how little better the iPhone 4 was compared to its asking price. That started me on a process of looking at alternatives, mostly various Android phones. As I looked, I kept comparing them to my iPhone 3G and coming to the same conclusion. None of them was enough better to justify the cost. Time for some serious thought – what is it my iPhone 3G doesn’t do that means it needs replacing?

I’ve eventually come to the conclusion that there are just two things. First, the iPhone 3G is too slow. Maybe it has always been this slow and I’m just noticing when it is compared to newer devices, or maybe OS upgrades over its 2+ year lifespan have slowed it down? Certainly iOS 4.0 and 4.0.1 had performance issues, but 4.1 is much better. Either way, waiting for apps to open is getting quite frustrating. Waiting for web pages to load is equally frustrating, and that’s down to CPU not network. Some apps just don’t work at all, which I imagine is down to lack of RAM.

The second thing is the lack of storage. I bought the 8GB version, not the 16GB one. 8GB seemed plenty at the time, but now I find myself having to cut back more and more on the music on the device in order to make room for apps and their data.

And that’s it. Everything else about the device, from the lowly 2MP fixed-focus, no-flash camera to the display is fine for me as it is. Yes, better would be, well, better, but I don’t need better. While the various possible replacement phones I have looked at, or would like to look at – HTC Desire, HTC Desire HD, Samsung Galaxy S, Nokia N8 – are all good devices, they are all expensive ways of addressing the problems I actually have.

This is all leading me slowly but surely to the conclusion that what I need is an iPod Touch, combined a MiFi. I liked the Mifi so much when I had one on loan that I might just get one anyway for use with laptops while travelling. That would reduce my iPhone to, well, a phone most of the time, with a few apps still on it for those times I don’t want to carry the touch too. And for things the Touch doesn’t do, like GPS.

A decision is getting close, I think…

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