A quiet launch for the world’s highest-capacity music phone

The rumours started on Tuesday, and within a couple of hours the US Apple Store had gone down – a sure sign of new products. When it came back up the 16GB iPhone had been unveiled, and as with all things Apple, it has been well reported all over the web.

But what’s been missed here? Well with this launch, Apple has quietly upgraded the iPhone to be the largest-capacity music phone on the market.


Let’s look at the competition:

Phone Model
Nokia N95 8Gb
Nokia N91 8Gb
Sony Ericsson W960i (8Gb)

All of these have non-upgradable on-board flash memory, and are marketed with music as a major feature.

The only other alternative is to get a phone, such as the the E90 or the original N95, that supports micro SDHC cards. SanDisk recently announced a 12Gb card, ready for shipping real soon now, but at the moment the highest capacity card you can actually buy is 8Gb.

So why no fanfare?

Is it because the 16Gb version phone is outrageously priced? Let’s compare those phones again (1).

Phone Price
N81 8Gb £270
iPhone 16Gb £329
N95 8Gb £405
W960i £420

It doesn’t appear to be priced out of people’s pockets to me, especially seeing as you’re basically getting an iPod with phone capability and double the storage of its nearest rivals.

I think we have to look at this, not in the light of other music phones, but perhaps with an eye to Apple’s other recent announcements of the upgraded Apple TV, Time Capsule and Macbook Air at Macworld last month. The company has a history of making big announcements, then pushing out smaller incremental upgrades in February.

That leaves me wondering – if the iPhone moving to become the big daddy in music phones is a small thing to Apple, then the annoucement of the SDK and installable applications is going to make a huge splash when it hits in February/March. Big names, compelling apps and a simple route to the customer will represent an evolution in selling for mobile platforms.

Back to the numbers

Obviously, the iPhone will not hold the crown for long, as other manufacturers will shortly release similar capacity phones. And with NAND chips outperforming Moore’s Law by doubling in size every year, that 32Gb music phone can only be around the corner. Do I hear the eternal gadget geek cry of “Maybe I should just wait…”

This is a good and logical incremental upgrade while we wait for the 3G version, which will probably arrive in June. And me? I won’t be ditching my 8GB iPhone for now, but for many the storage will have hit the tipping point and it should provoke another rash of sales. I’m looking forward to those Canalys results in the next quarter.

(1) Prices taken from Expansys. Admittedly, this is comparing a locked device to unlocked ones, without carrier subsidy.

UPDATE: Well, that didn’t last long! 16Gb PLUS an expansion slot = a lot of music and video. And a kickstand! How cool is that?!

  • http://3lib.ukonline.co.uk Steve Litchfield

    Yes, that last rider shouldn’t be overlooked. The true cost of each iPhone to a customer is still around £1000, of course, over 18 months. But, conversely, most smartphones with contracts cost about that, all-in. The biggest savings are usually in buying unlocked and using prepay SIMs. Something which Apple won’t let me do. Yet. Grr….

  • http://www.nokiacreative.com James @ Nokia Creative

    Come on Apple, how about a trade-in for us loyal, day 1 customers!!?

  • http://www.allaboutiphone.net Matt Radford

    @Steve and James, I’ll think you’ll both be waiting a long time!

  • http://mobile-thoughts.blogspot.com Tote

    Well, Nokia has just announced N96 with 16GB internal memory with microSD slot. The competition is getting tougher.


  • Juan

    The price comparison is not an “apples to apples” comparisoon either…the n95 8GB phone also has GPS and a 5MP camera included…so its not only a music phone.