While we learnt at this week's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) that Apple's high-speed 3G iPhone is arriving next month, precious little else was released about the phone apart from UK pricing and the fact that it has GPS.

But we're still curious about a number of things, so here's our list of the questions that we'd love to know the answer to.

What's with the plastic back?

As Steve Jobs ticked off the design achievements of the iPhone 3G at the WWDC keynote, he mentioned its 'full plastic back'. I think that this change may indeed be a virtue. The shiny metallic backs sported by first-generation iPhones and most varieties of iPods are maddeningly effective magnets for scratches, fingerprints, and grime.

But Apple usually upgrades its products by replacing plastic with metal; it's hard to imagine the company going the other direction unless it had a motive unrelated to aesthetics. Was it able to shave a millimetre or three off the required thickness by using plastic? (Cramming everything in was clearly a challenge. Despite Jobs' claim that the new iPhone is "even thinner" at the edges than its predecessor, Apple's official depth spec for the iPhone 3G is 12.3mm, versus 11.6mm for the original iPhone.)

Maybe the metal would have interfered with GPS reception? Or did Apple simply have to go with cheaper materials when it cut the cost of the iPhone in half?

When will we get 32GB and 64GB iPhones?

For some of us, an iPhone can't function as a first-class iPod until it has enough memory to hold every song and video in a fairly large media collection. It's safe to assume that Apple will boost the phone's memory as soon as it can cram enough storage into its case and sell the resulting device at a price that a sane person might spring for.

Since the iPhone-like iPod touch already comes in a £329 32GB version, I'd be surprised if a 32GB iPhone is more than a few months away.

But I'd be equally surprised if a 64GB iPhone showed up before mid-2009 or so, given the still-imposing cost for that much flash memory. (Apple charges a £650 premium for a 1.6GHz MacBook Air equipped with a 64GB solid-state drive instead of an 80GB traditional drive.)

NEXT PAGE: Will we ever be able to use an iPhone as a modem?

  1. The burning questions we've got for Apple
  2. Will we ever be able to use an iPhone as a modem?
  3. More questions we want answered

At this year's WWDC, Steve Jobs confirmed the release of the 3G Apple iPhone, but precise details were scarce. Here's the eight burning questions that we’d love to know the answers to

Will we ever be able to use an iPhone as a modem?

As I attended the WWDC keynote at San Francisco's Moscone Center, I was online with my MacBook, courtesy of my Windows Mobile-based AT&T Tilt phone, which served up high-speed internet access to the laptop via Bluetooth.

Jobs didn't mention similar functionality for the iPhone 3G; if it's on its way, it's likely to cost more than the $30 (£15) a month that US operator AT&T says it'll charge for an iPhone 3G data plan. But modem use is so handy that I'd happily pay more for it if it becomes available in some official form. (You can use an original iPhone as a modem, but only through scary, unauthorised techniques.)

How about turn-by-turn driving directions?

The iPhone 3G's GPS capability is nearly as exciting as the 3G itself. But the examples shown at the keynote ranged from the slightly alarming (Loopt's location-based social networking, which lets your friends determine exactly where you are) to the somewhat frivolous (Jobs's demo of 'tracking' showing a car zig-zagging its way down San Francisco's famously crooked Lombard Street).

The real killer app for GPS continues to be turn-by-turn driving directions, of the sort that companies such as Tom Tom and TeleNav make possible on other GPS-enabled phones. If Apple were planning to release such an application in July, Jobs would surely have mentioned it. Maybe it'll come in a future iPhone software upgrade, but it would be fine with me if a third-party developer beat Apple to the punch.

How will the iPhone 3G/BlackBerry Bold wars shake out?

An awful lot of people who are in the market for a multimedia-savvy smartphone this summer will probably winnow their options down to two contenders: the iPhone 3G and RIM's BlackBerry Bold.

Then the choosing might get tough. The iPhone has a bigger screen, multitouch input, an accelerometer, and the sophisticated multimedia content engine known as the iTunes Store. And its price is likely to be significantly less than the Bold's. But the Bold has a real keyboard that feels good and that unlike the virtual one on the iPhone never eats away at available screen resolution. It also sports a full-blown office suite rather than the iPhone's relatively rudimentary document viewers. I'm still not sure which phone I'd ultimately pick.

NEXT PAGE: More questions we want answered

  1. The burning questions we've got for Apple
  2. Will we ever be able to use an iPhone as a modem?
  3. More questions we want answered

At this year's WWDC, Steve Jobs confirmed the release of the 3G Apple iPhone, but precise details were scarce. Here's the eight burning questions that we’d love to know the answers to

What does all this mean for the iPod Touch?

Until now, the iPod Touch has delivered all the goodness of the iPhone (except the phone part) for less money. But things look dicey for the touch in its current form at its current price point: It doesn't have the iPhone 3G's GPS, and the 8GB and 16GB variants now cost far more apiece than their iPhone counterparts (the iPod touch 8GB is £199, the 16GB model is £269).

If you're happy with your current phone and have no desire to lock yourself into a pricey two-year voice and data contract to score an iPhone, you might still be interested in a touch, I guess. But it's hard to imagine that it will stay popular at its current price and since Jobs didn't mention a price cut at WWDC, I wonder if its days are numbered.

Will MobileMe be worth £50?


Back in 2000, Apple released a free set of web-based services called iTools. In 2002, the company redubbed them .Mac, and attached a yearly price tag to them, which is pretty pricey considering that the web is rife with comparable (and sometimes better) free services.

Yet another metamorphosis is imminent: .Mac will become MobileMe; and rather than focusing exclusively on the needs of Mac users, it'll target both Mac and PC owners who have iPhones or iPod touches and want to keep their mail, appointments, and contacts in sync.

Apple marketing head Phil Schiller's demo was impressive and MobileMe's web-based applications looked as if they might be the first Apple services that live up to the high standards of Apple's traditional desktop software.

Is the iPhone on its way to becoming Apple's primary product?

Jobs began the keynote by saying that Apple had three primary product lines: the Mac, digital music, and the iPhone. Then he launched into a two-hour keynote that discussed only the iPhone. The next version of Mac OS X - Snow Leopard - was exiled to a later session.

That might be because Snow Leopard's release is so far in the future that Apple doesn't want anyone except developers to pay attention yet. But it's also a statement about how rapidly the iPhone has become core to everything that Apple does.

  1. The burning questions we've got for Apple
  2. Will we ever be able to use an iPhone as a modem?
  3. More questions we want answered