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iPhone Will Cost at Least $1,976 to Own and Operate Over Two Years

The only term available - and that's before any add-ons. On the high end, it's going to cost at least $3,036

It's going to cost at least $1,976 to own and operate one of Apple's iPhones over two years, the only term available - and that's before any add-ons.

On the high end, it's going to cost at least $3,036 for a 4.8-ounce do-not-drop-this-in-the-john widget whose battery-life, Internet speed and touch pad are real-life unknowns although early reviews, with some reservations, say it lives up to the frenzied hype.

Newsweek calls it a "significant leap…superbly engineered, cleverly designed and imaginatively implemented…the rare convergence device where things actually converge."

Walt Mossberg, the Wall Street Journal's columnist, is simply in love with the "beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer."

He said the iPhone will connect to Microsoft Exchange servers for corporate e-mail - there was a question about that - the servers just have to be set. It can open Word, Excel and Adobe files but they can't be edited or saved and there's no cut and paste. No group e-mailing and instant messaging either.

The iPhone's biggest problem seems to be AT&T, its sole carrier, and AT&T's slow EDGE network - which caused the New York Times to "almost ache for a dial-up modem." And it can't be upgraded to a faster network. When the iPhone's in a Wi-Fi hot spot, however, it apparently sprouts the wings of Mercury and it displays entire web pages, multiple ones in fact (unless they require Adobe Flash, Real Media or Windows Media) with a real computer-grade browser.

For the privilege of being connected AT&T is charging a minimum $59.99 a month for 450 minutes of voice time or $79.99 a month for 900 minutes or $99.99 a month for 1,350 minutes after a $36 activation fee. All three plans include 200 SMS text messages, unlimited e-mail and web access, unlimited mobile-to-mobile calls and blessedly minutes that roll over month-to-month. It is unclear what the roaming plan for international use will cost.

The device itself of course costs $500 for a 4GB model and $600 for an 8GB one.

The iPhone goes on sale at 6 o'clock tonight. Doubtless there'll be minute-by-minute sales bulletins.

In places like New York people have been queuing up since Monday. Parks Associates did a survey and found only 3% of US Internet users were interested in a $500 iPhone on a two-year contract. Apple says it's only aiming for 10 million sold in 2008.

More Stories By iPhone News Desk

iPhone News Desk monitors the new world of the iPhone to present software developers and IT professionals with immediate updates on related technology advances, software and business trends, new products and standards in the iPhone and i-technology space.

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