Steve Jobs: iPhone EDGE isn't good as 3G, but WiFi makes it better

by Guy J Kewney | posted on 05 July 2007

Steve Jobs has done an interview with the Wall Street Journal in which he apparently admits that the data network he's gone with - EDGE - isn't ideal. But he was keeping mum on questions about a 3G alternative.

The full interview is available only to paying subscribers of the WSJ, but parts have been released through syndicated publishers

The question was asked: Why does the iPhone only run on a relatively slow cellphone data network, much slower than those used by some other smart phones? Jobs said:

The iPhone has built-in Wi-Fi and uses the EDGE high-speed data network. EDGE is pervasive throughout the U.S., and for many applications like email, maps, stocks and weather, it is plenty fast. The iPhone automatically switches to Wi-Fi whenever it senses a known Wi-Fi network, and Wi-Fi delivers data several times faster than 3G networks.
The 3G subject came up (according to Matt Chapman) and Jobs responded that the iPhone's lack of 3G connection could be blamed on the electronics needed to power the service, which use too much power and take up too much space.
We cared a lot about battery life and we cared a lot about physical size," he said. "Down the road, I'm sure some of those tradeoffs will become more favourable towards 3G but as of now we think we made a pretty good decision.

There's little point in expecting the EDGE based phone to be launched in Europe, because right now, the only Euro-wide network that would support it would be Orange, which is not in line for an iPhone franchise.

However, North American users who visit Europe would get service, if they made Orange their preferred roaming network, said technical experts today. "The cost of roaming will almost certainly be standard AT&T data rates and will not be included in the Apple bundle," said one consultant who covers roaming issues.

"I'd expect the European launch to be a 3G phone, in the New Year," this consultant added.

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