I arrived at the Perimeter Mall Apple Store around 12:15 or so. The line was less than half as long as it was on Friday so I decided to give it a shot. The people in line near me were easy to get along with, so it was overall not a bad waiting experience. I still spent 4 hours in line (yes, it's stupid, I know), but I got my phone. Now, the question is, was it worth it?
Their are primarily 3 differences between my new phone and my old phone:
1) 3G. I've seen comments online stating that iPhone on 3G is anywhere from 2.4x to 5x faster than the original iPhone on EDGE. I couldn't test this at my house (I'm lucky to get a signal here at all), so I went up to the Kroger parking lot about 1/4 mile away. I found that the iPhone 3G is fast... really fast. I performed 3 different download speed tests and found the rate was between 1350 kbps to 1850 kbps with a ping time averaging between 200 ms and 300 ms. For a comparison, the same speed tests when conducted at my house using WiFi average around 3400 kbps with a ping time around 100 ms. When browsing the web via 3G it felt almost as fast as WiFi (as you'd expect based on the numbers above).
2) GPS. The cell tower triangulation the my first generation iPhone performed to find its location was very good. The GPS in the new iPhone is even better when outdoors or in a car (no, it doesn't work well indoors... it falls back to standard cell tower triangulation). When in my truck, however, it pinpoints its location with a nice blue dot in a few seconds. It's very cool.
3) 16 GB of storage. I carry a lot of music with me. I'm a freak about compression artifacts. After my post about how to rip music, I eventually decided to re-encode everything I carry with me at 256 kbps even though I couldn't hear a difference at 160 kbps. I know; I'm sick. Anyway, at that bit rate I was able to keep about 870 tracks with me. Since my phone also works as my "CD changer" in my truck, I like to have as much variety as possible. This left very little room for apps. With my new phone, I can carry nearly 1800 tracks, install around 20 apps that I find interesting and still have nearly 300 MB of space leftover for more apps. To me it is a worthy upgrade.
So, was the phone worth 4 hours in line, $300 and a new, crappy contract from AT&T? Yes. I'll continue to use Pandora regularly to suck bandwidth like there is no tomorrow. And next year, when they release a 32 GB version with some other trivial changes that I could probably live without, I'll most likely upgrade again. I'll admit it. I'm a fanboy.