iPhone 4 to ring in Singapore on Friday

update Apple's latest iPhone iteration will be available in another 17 countries, but Ovum analyst says the mobile device will face stiff competition from Google Android devices which offer "greater freedom" with apps.

update SINGAPORE--Apple's iPhone 4 will finally make its way to the island-state this Friday along with 16 other countries that include Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia.

One week after the launch of iPad here on Jul. 23, the latest iteration of the iPhone will be available via Apple's online store at S$888 for the 16GB model and S$1,048 for the 32GB model. The phone will also be sold by all three local mobile operators--M1, SingTel and StarHub.

StarHub on Tuesday was the first to release pricing details for the iPhone 4, available under the operator's four 3G price plans, including S$500 and S$630 for SmartSurf 100 subscribers for the 16GB and 32GB models, respectively. The monthly subscription fee for the SmartSurf 100 plan is S$38 and includes 12GB data bundle.

M1 followed up with its price plans for the iPhone 4 which will include S$480 and S$620 for Value subscribers for the 16GB and 32GB models, respectively. The monthly subscription fee for the Value plan is S$36 and includes 12GB data bundle.

SingTel rounded up today's announcements, unveiling four price plans that include S$480 and S$620 for iFlexiLite subscribers for the 16GB and 32GB models, respectively. The monthly subscription fee for the iFlexiLite plan is S$39 and includes 12GB data bundle.

Dogged by "Antennagate"
First launched in the U.S. last month, the mobile phone has been plagued with numerous user complaints including discolored spots on the screen and connection issues with third-party accessories. But the biggest bugbear came in the form of the phone's antenna design which reportedly caused signal drops and lost connection.

Dubbed "Antennagate", the problem escalated into a PR nightmare and spawned several lawsuits which claimed Apple misrepresented information about the phone.

CEO Steve Jobs eventually stepped out last week in an attempt to ease unhappiness over the reception issue and announced that free cases--which have been demonstrated to reduce the antenna problem--would be distributed with every iPhone 4 purchased.

On Monday, Apple said white models of the phone, which has proven "more challenging to manufacture than originally expected" will not be released until later this year. The company added that the manufacturing issues will not affect the current version.

Android to challenge iPhone
In a statement released Tuesday, Ovum's principal analyst Adam Leach said the iPhone 4 reinforces the Apple device as the industry benchmark for high-end smartphones but will face stiffer competition than its predecessors.

iPhone has seen much success in the three years since its debut due largely to its ability to provide unique user experience and its sleek form factor, Leach said. He added that Apple further built a platform that seamlessly integrates its own services, in the form of iTunes, as well as third-party services through its App Store.

More significantly, the iPhone maker was able to build and motivate a large and active developer community that regularly produces apps for iPhone users.

"This ecosystem of developers and the value they bring to the platform, as well as to consumers, is the hardest aspect of the iPhone proposition for other companies to replicate, especially given the reluctance of developers to support multiple software platforms," the Ovum analyst said.

However, Apple's value proposition will diminish as its rivals, specifically Google, ramp up app development efforts on their platforms.

Leach explained: "The rise of Google Android over the last two years has been phenomenal and is allowing manufacturers to create appealing alternatives to the iPhone, critically, at cheaper prices. These handsets are more than just iPhone clones."

"The risk to Apple is that these devices offer greater freedom with available content and may prove more appealing, if it offers the right user and developer experience, than a device with only Apple-approved content," he added. "This may ultimately be what puts the brakes on unlimited iPhone growth."