Product Type: Apple Smartphone
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iLikeIt - Apple iPhone 3GS 32GB Black
Apple iPhone 3GS 32 GB
Member Name: The Duke
Apple iPhone 3GS 32 GB
Date: 08/07/09, updated on 09/07/09 (255 review reads)
Advantages: Great interface, easy to use, lots of features, decent phone and iPod
Disadvantages: Very poor camera, poor battery life
With the new announcement at the start of June, Apple had finally released a phone that, on paper at least, seemed to offer what I wanted.
First impressions were good. The phone was a nice size for my hand with a pleasing weight to it that gave a sense of sturdiness. It took about four hours to get my SIM switched across to the new one (I already had an O2 3G SIM, so have no idea why I needed a new one) during which time I was able to synchronise my iPhone with my iTunes including 25 gigabytes of music and podcasts along with all my settings (email etc), contacts and photo (that took about an hour).
I was also able to browse and download applications for the phone through iTunes on my desktop PC and install these and, where they didn't require access through 3G, I was able to play around with some.
As far as first impressions are concerned, I don't think I've been this delighted since I first started using the Sony Ericsson K800i.
Within hours, I knew that the iPhone was going to be a better phone than my Viewty and already, only three weeks later, I've made more use of the functionality of the iPhone than I ever did with the Viewty. This is all down to one thing: the iPhone is easy, quick and intuitive to use whereas the Viewty was clunky and slow. In fact, the SIM had only been transferred a matter of minutes before I was using the GPS and Google Maps to navigate from my house to a friend's place for his house warming party. I hate to say it, but it was really as easy as they make it out in those horribly twee Apple iPhone adverts.
The touch screen interface is easy to use and although my fingers are slim, sometimes sending texts and email can get a bit tricky as the onscreen "buttons" can be quite small, however part of that might simply be me typing too fast to be more accurate.
The screen is clear and the options and text are easy to read. As far as video is concerned, the quality is really very good (and dependant on the source, of course). However, I'd not want to watch an entire film on the screen which is still quite small at the end of the day.
The phone aspect itself is easy to use... sound quality is clear and the volume button, for me as a "lefty" is right at my thumb for easy reach when taking a call. Being able to surf the internet for a phone number and dial it direct from there without having to write it down on a piece of paper or type it out is brilliant (I'm not sure this feature was available on other phones I've used, but even so, the iPhone makes this very easy).
The text message function is also good, and enables you to see entire "conversations" at a glance, plus the interface and predictive text is also rather good (and miles ahead of the Viewty's) at offering words and fixing typos.
Weirdly, the signal strength indicator of my 3G signal seems to fluctuate wildly, but internet connection and phone calls don't seem to be affected. The only issue I have is that, when trying to connect to the internet or an application, it can't connect, despite having both a good 3G signal and within range of a wireless network. From what I've read, it appears the iPhone can get confused about which signal to use sometimes and turning off the Wi-Fi can help connectivity.
Perhaps the one thing that sets the iPhone apart from the rest of the market is the range of applications available through the App Store. There are a range of applications available, from free, that will cover a wide range of things. They're categorised in to high level topics such as Games, Entertainment, Social Networking, Lifestyle, Weather etc. Some are pretty much useless but fun (a lightsabre application that makes the familiar humming noise as you swing the phone around) and others are surprisingly useful like TV Guide or "Around Me" that uses GPS to map your location and point out local ATMs, petrol stations, cafés etc. The app store can be hard to navigate and I'm sure I'm missing out on loads of great apps because of this, but it's just a matter of hunting through. Unfortunately, this can be time consuming.
A lot of the applications are simply interfaces for existing websites... three that spring to mind are the Facebook application, the Sky News app and the Associated Press application. All these apps do is pipe content from these websites to tools on my phone, with my having to start Safari and navigate to the page in question. That's not a complaint, by the way, just an observation and having these tools makes life a lot easier. For me, the more I use the applications, the more I get out of the device and while a lot of the applications are free, the ones you do pay for tend to be around a couple of quid, which is not that expensive really.
The GPS and digital compass are useful, but it's the range of applications and how they use the technology built in to the iPhone that's the big selling point and makes having these features worthwhile (see "Around Me" above).
While the iPhone undoubtedly has many great things going for it, some users might not be too impressed with other important features like the camera and the battery life.
Obviously, as an all-in-one device with iPod, Wi-Fi, touch screen etc. the 3Gs is going to suck lots of juice from your battery, especially if you're connected to the internet or use the iPod functionality. Personally, I can just about squeeze two days from my iPhone between charges which covers about 15 - 30 minutes of phone calls, 15 - 30 minutes of (loud) music and about 30 minutes of connection (to email, the web and a few applications). When possible, I top up my battery when I can, just to be safe. That's at least once per day, when I get home from work, but I have a spare iPod USB lead in work that I sometimes use to top up the charge.
The 3MP camera is not great either. I find it very hard to keep the phone still while taking pictures and the results are often blurry. When it gets it right, the resulting images are not bad at all... as good as you might expect from a camera phone, slightly worse than those from my 5MP Viewty and a lot worse than those from my older 3.2MP Sony Ericsson K800i. If you use the camera on your phone a lot, this could easily be a deal-breaker, especially with the lack of a flash. However, for video, it's actually not bad at all and can produce decent results in good light.
The nature of the iPhone means you'll have it plugged in to your PC a lot to sync your iTunes and personal contact manager (mine is Outlook 2007), but weirdly, there are no tools for being able to, for example, send texts from your PC via the phone. This is a surprising oversight for a company that supposedly gives us devices "that just work". This was available for the K800i and even the Viewty (once they'd fixed their software after two years).
I'm also annoyed at Apple's (or Steve Jobs') insistence in locking the phone down to minimise personalisation. I want to add my own ringtones and message alerts without too much hassle. I want to uninstall some of the applications that comes with the iPhone (I don't trade in stocks and shares... the application is useless to me). The iPhone, in this instance, makes things more difficult than it should be.
Even with these negative aspects, each day I use it, I find myself liking the iPhone more and more. I don't want to sound like one of those Apple fanbois... it's not a perfect device by any means, but it helps me keep track of lots of information and sync it with my PC while keeping me in touch with my family and friends in many different ways while on the move.
The iPod functionality is worth a mention only in passing. If you've owned an iPod before, then you'll feel right at home. The sound quality is as good as an ordinary iPod, as far as I can tell, and the interface, while slightly different, is still very usable.
It's nearly three weeks since launch and I'm still extremely impressed. The final sticking point is the price. This 32GB model is £100 more than the corresponding 16GB model and that, in my book, is robbery. From my own perspective, it's almost worth it to get away from my Viewty (can you tell I didn't like it?), but if you're happy (or not unhappy) with your current phone, I'm sure it would be much harder to justify the price as well as factor in the cost of the contract.
In my mind, the 32GB iPhone is at least £50 too expensive, but there's no denying that it does most things extremely well. The camera is the obvious Achilles heel in the device and is probably going to be the deal breaker when potential buyers weigh up the options, especially with new Palms and Nokias coming on to the market. My personal feeling is that I can just about justify the price and that the abilities of the phone make it the best on the market for smart phones although it's not perfect. If you need a camera though, my advice would be to look elsewhere.
Summary: Probably over-priced, but a great all-in-one device.
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