The iPhone 3G offers a tangible improvement over its ground breaking predecessor. Its 3G wireless network arrives with much justified fanfare, enabling faster connection speeds and improved call quality. The appearance is only slightly different, as Apple understands there’s no need to rework the classic minimal design. There are also dozens of third party applications available, which keeps the new iPhone on the cutting edge of modern, functional, and fun.
Though Apple still has yet to address a few shortcomings, the iPhone 3G continues to affirm the standard against which all other mobile phones shall be judged.
Looking past all the bells and whistles for a moment leaves us with a phone with notably improved call reception and lower background noise. This is a welcomed improvement, as the orignal iPhone caught a fair amount of deserved flack for its sometimes frustrating call reception. At that time, the iPhone was so distractingly pretty and, with the help of a groundbreaking interface and a wide variety of aps, no one seemed to care too much about call reception that needed to be improved. So before it became a forefront issue, Apple dealt with it proactively by upgrading to what has become known as the Third Generation Network – 3G – that almost lives up to its promise of better reception. As mentioned, the reception on the iPhone 3G was improved overall, but there were still intermittent problems with faltering call signals. Push comes to shove, the Blackberry Storm with Verizon service might edge out iPhone/AT&T in the department of call signal integrity.
The price also made me flinch a little. The iPhone is a “subsidized” phone, which means you what you pay for it depends on the current deal you have with your current carrier. Steve Jobs initially introduced the 3G with the price costing ranging from 199 for the 8GB version, to 299 for the 16GB model. This turned out to be not exactly true. It’s mostly accurate that most people – to make a very long story short – will in fact qualify for the aforementioned lower price. However if you do not “qualify” for such a price you will pay 9 or 9 for the respective models. The terms of the price qualification lie with AT&T, and are sufficiently complicated as to go beyond the bounds of this review to explain. For reference, please refer to AT&T’s website.
There are also gaps in the 3G coverage; in a sense you could say that 3G is still in its “beta” version at the time of this writing. Although this matter will clearly become resolved soon as hardware phone networks are updated. During a broadband test, video games played much better on the 3G compared to the older model.
The 3G also now features a true GPS instead of the approximate position interpolation of the original iPhone. As long as there’s a network, this one puts you exactly where you are. The new iPhone also features compatibility with Microsoft Exchange server messaging and email services.
The iPhone also supports Wi-Fi based email synching and, though the email services are not quite what the Blackberry’s are, the new iPhone is catching up quickly as a serious business phone. One of the most glaring shortfalls of the iPhone 3G is its continued inability to text images without 3rd party aps and modfied hacks. Why an iPhone can’t do what a 1st generation LG phone can do is beyond me. The battery runs fine but doesn’t last quite as long as the previous generation iPhone and is not changeable by the user.
The display is the same size as its predecessor (480 X 320) and features a slightly higher resolution of 163 dots per inch as opposed to 160. The images are “iPhone sharp” as ever with an identical icon display, plus the edition of a Contacts icon that opens your phone book, and the App Store icon opens the iTunes App Store. The display’s glass surface, accelerometer feature, touch interface, and secondary menus remain unchanged.
All in all, the problems with the new iPhone amount to only blemishes on what remains the gold standard in mobile phone design today. If Apple/AT&T can simplify the iPhone’s pricing structure and continue to upgrade its 3G coverage, the iPhone will continue to remain the most popular mobile phone offered today.