Product Type: Apple Smartphone
Newest Review: ... go out and purchase an iPod Touch anymore as the 3GS did everything I wanted it to do and more. The phone is heavier than your typical pho... more
The Do Anything Phone
Apple iPhone 3GS 32 GB
Member Name: LastLine
Apple iPhone 3GS 32 GB
Advantages: Incredibly versatile, quality build - brilliant.
For a bit of reference I'm a long time O2 customer on contract and equally have owned an iPhone 2G since it's release at the end of 2007 so although I intend on reviewing the product as a new item I will inevitably make some comparisons between the original iPhone and it's newer counterpart.
So, what is the iPhone? Well the iPhone is Apple's concept of what a mobile phone should be. At a basic level the iPhone is a phone, which whilst kind of obvious would be easy to forget in amongst all the other gadgets and gizmos included with it. The iPhone is also a VOIP phone made by Networking company Cisco - but that's a different kettle of fish altogether.
--Contracts and Prices--
The iPhone is available on a range of tariffs from £30 to £75 a month, as well as pay as you go.
Whilst there are cheaper contracts available on the market it's worth noting that the Visual Voicemail, Unlimited (not fair usage, unlimited) Data transfer, access to the "Cloud'' wifi spots and reduced roaming rates do come into this and in my mind make my £35 a month for 600 minutes and 500 texts not cheap, but reasonable. The iPhone ranges in price on these tariffs and this information can be found here http://shop.o2.co.uk/update/paymonth.html
There's no 'cheap' way of getting the iPhone, but I do feel it's a device that's well worth the price. The 32GB of the device in question is a massive capacity and one I still struggle to fill, I'm sure in time I will as my need for video expands but currently I'm not in a video mood!
The iPhone is a rather large device for phones by today's standards.
Weight -133 grams.
Screen - 3.5 inches diagonally with a 480x320 pixels resolution. The screen is very bright and sharp and thanks to a new coating on it compared to the older models holds less grease than previous models (that is grease from fingers, from your face, anywhere like that) and is cleaned easier.
The unit dimensions are 115.5 by 62.1 by 12.3 mm although the back of the phone is curved meaning that the 12.3mm is actually at it's thickest points.
The unit contains a 3 megapixel camera, which whilst not revolutionary is quite reasonable. The camera is also able to record video.
Wireless - the phone contains the following wireless technologies
Cellular and wireless
▪ UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz)
▪ GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
▪ Wi-Fi (802.11b/g)
▪ Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
Essentially this means that you have a choice of 3G or EDGE for wireless data, Wi-Fi for your home Network (though still no 'n' compatability' ) and Bluetooth.
The battery is built into the phone which means that you have to go to Apple for a replacement, but that said when I had my iPhone 2G which I've had for over 18 months I noticed no reduction in charge capacity so don't consider this a huge issue. It actually helps create a really robust unit.
I know this sounds silly but whilst I've been very careful with my new 3GS my original iPhone was nigh on indestructible. It was dropped from great heights, sat on, dropped onto breeze blocks, fell out of my jacket at 30mph and survived it with barely a scratch, it really is a solid little thing, very hardy.
The iPhone has no keyboard of any sort which means that an innovative techique is needed. This comes in the form of Multitouch. At it's basic level this allows for a on screen keyboard that can be displayed in portrait or landscape modes. On a more expansive level it can do all sorts of things, zooming by pinching, scrolling by flicking, the limits really do fall to the software designers but it's worth nothing that ALL input to the phone is on screen and really does feel quite natural. The phone also predicts your words which you can either accept or ignore as you chose.
5 Hours Talk Time on 3G
12 Hours on 2G
You can switch between 3G and 2G in settings as and when you like.
Up to 300 hours standby.
30 Hours music playback
10 hours video playback.
5 Hours 3G internet usage.
9 Hours Wi-Fi Internet Usage.
Obviously your battery life will vary depending on the mix of usage but I tend to find I can manage a full day's usage without charging.
The newest iPhone finally has all the features I would consider to be 'standard' with any modern phone.
The iPhone contains what I describe as 'Conversational SMS'. You type a message using the standard on screen keyboard in either portrait or landscape mode, this then sends an SMS message to either a typed in number or a name from your address book - if the contact has multiple numbers you will be prompted to chose one. The message you send then appears in a 'bubble' rather than as with most phones being pulled into a sent items folder, if and when a reply is sent it will then appear as a different coloured bubble in the same window and so on, this means that keeping track of messages, particularly with people who often don't reply straight away is really easy.
There's not much else to say on the SMS side of things other than noting that the phone's MMS is built right into this application and that if you send a contact a video or photo via MMS it appears right in there as part of the conversation and vice versa.
The phone is actually really quite clever...for a phone. You have a phone application which you just tap to open. Within here are a number of options.
Favourites - where you can access your most called numbers - as configured by you. If you chose to you can configure the home button to access this by pressing it twice quickly, a handy time saver.
Recent - Recent calls shows you who you've rung recently and who's rung you, sounds simple and it is.
Contacts - This lets you access your full range of contacts to call them on any of their numbers, each contact essentially has it's own address book entry containing all sorts of information such as home number, mobile number, address, email...These also sync with your PC's address book.
Keypad - for those numbers you don't keep in your address book.
Voicemail - iPhone's visual voicemail is really quite amazing. Whereas with most phones you have to dial a number - 901 on O2 - to listen to all your voicemails, a real pain if you're in a rush, providing you have a data connection you can see who's left voicemails and just press on a name to listen to their message - so say if you have messages from 'Pete', 'Sarah', and 'Work' and just want to hear the work message without listening to the others you can.
Whilst in a call you can mute, hold and other similar functions as well as put someone on speakerphone, all fairly standard but done using the touchscreen as most things are. Call volume is altered using the hardware buttons on the side of the device.
Arguably a standard phone feature the iPhone calender functions really well - it synchronises with your desktop calender, this means that you can also operate multiple calenders, say one for your personal life, one for work, one for...well anything. It's all dead straight forward and can make organising your personal life easy.
Another phone feature. The camera has only a single button, to capture images, your whole screen turns into a viewfinder and you can use a second button to switch to video, but the capture buttons remains the same. These photos can then be saved, emailed, MMS'd, or in the case of videos, also uploaded to Youtube directly, a really neat feature for the youtube generation!
Youtube allows you full access (nearly) to Youtube, although some videos are still not iPhone compatible most are. You can also access favourites, subscriptions and your desktop youtube account. Wirelessly this only works on EDGE or faster connections on a cellular NEtwork or on your home wi-fi Network, but that makes it no less impressive. A great time killer.
I don't use this application, but apparently you can follow your stock prices online...valuable to the right person I'm sure!
A 7 day forecast for multiple towns or areas of your choice. I'm not aware of an upper limit on the number of locales but I suspect that there is one. The weather is usually pretty accurate but this is provided by Yahoo so obviously it's down to them rather than Apple.
Essentially a mobile dictaphone, you can record short voice notes and then synchronise them with your iTunes software as appropriate. This is perhaps a handy alternative to the -Notes- software but I tend to prefer notes as then I don't have to listen to my own voice!
Held in portrait mode this is fairly obvious as a standard calculator, there's not a lot to say on this really. Rotated into landscape this provide what seems to be a fairly robust and accurate scientific calculator.
This is kind of a mini iPhoto - it allows you to view all your photos you've taken on your camera and any synchronized from your desktop. The name is a small fallacy though as it also allows you to view videos recorded from your iPhone, perhaps a name change will follow one day to make that more obvious as I spent some considerably time trying to figure this out when I first got the phone.
I shan't explain this more than to say that this is where your...settings...are....yeah kind of obvious really.
This is actually not your media player, rather the iTunes Music Store, so you can buy your music, videos, TV shows etc straight to your iPhone. This works on various data connections but for best results a wi-fi connection is required or it can take forever even on 3G. I believe all the iTunes catalogue is available here but honestly I find it a bit cumbersome for anything more than a single item or two at a time due to the lack of a shopping basket feature such as that in the main iTunes application on Windows or Mac OS X.
It wouldn't be an iPhone without the iPod, this lets you access Music, TV shows, movies, podcasts and anything else you can normally access in iTunes on your PC. Multitouch controls are included here for obvious things like play, pause, next track, but also for skipping through a song where you fast forward quicker depending where on the screen your finger is. You can also shake your iPod to shuffle your music, gimmicky, but neat.
The newest iPhone also has a built in compass that can show you your facing based on either Magnetic or True North - after years in the Scouts I should know the difference...but I still don't :-( seems very accurate though!
Maps on the iPhone accesses Google Maps. This means that without a data connection you're out of luck. What is nice is that you can locate exactly where you are using the phone's GPS chip and then plot directions from there. INcluded are options for driving, walking or public transport - again all requiring a data connection. Although directions aren't exactly SatNav like your 'blip' showing your location does move in realtime allowing you to follow your route, but definitely not one to try while driving! SatNav systems are available on the iPhone however, but not without a price tag.
Mail's fairly uncomplex, it's an Email reading/sending program that works much like you would expect, type a message, subject and recipient, hit send and it sends.
Receiving varies depending on your email provider, you can either pull email every 15 minutes, half hour, hour or manually, or if you have the option - have the email pushed to you. The end result is largely the same, you get your email on your iPhone, complete with support for dozens of attachment types including audio, video, photo and office file types.
Safari is Apple's own internet browser, and Apple have to be credited with making it good.
As far as I'm aware it's the only mobile browser to offer fully featured web browsing on a mobile platform. Unless the site offers an iPhone specific alternative it renders webpages exactly as the desktop version does so you don't have to put up with silly 'mobile' web pages. These are easy to read due to the tap/pinch to zoom features of Safari. You can have up to 8 different pages (tabs) open at once so you're not stuck on just one.
The only thing really lacking is support for Flash or Silverlight, but apparently Adobe are in talks with Apple about bringing Flash to the iPhone at some point..
Although not strictly an App by holding the Home button for a second or two you can access voice dialing, music control, and many other things - honestly this is one of the less polished features of the iPhone, but something had to give, and it's certainly no worse than any other phone I've tried similar on!
Spotlight is the iPhone (and in fact Apple's) search software, by typing in a short amount the phone will search all it's own Apps, contacts, MP3's and emails to find anything related to your search.
The final point for the review is the App Store, now this is where the iPhone really excels. At current there are over 65,000 applications, games, navigation software, utilities and goodness only knows what else available in Apple's App store, most of these are written by Joe Bloggs but also include large names such as EA games and even Microsoft.
This allows you to download an application for almost anything you can imagine onto your phone, meaning you really have a do anything mobile device. An iPhone it may be, but perhaps iDevice is a more appropriate name?
--Is it worth it?--
Honestly for the device? No. If you want the device buy an iPod touch.
If you want the mobile internet, if you want to avoid having seperate iPods and phones then get it done! I did and I think it's a bargain at the price I paid, I think it's really a case of deciding if it suits you or not, personally I feel it does for me therefore I'm sticking with it, if it doesn't sound like a you thing, it's probably not worth the spend.
Summary: A brilliant phone, but he iPod touch may be more appropriate if no need for mobile internet.