In light of the current state of the mobile phone market, the final score of the iPhone 3G S has changed from five to four stars. Reasons for this include its weak battery life, the continued lack of Flash in Safari Mobile (which doesn't even have the Lite version) and music, photo and video performance that could use a little work.
"Better, faster, stronger ?" the new iPhone? The look hasn’t changed, but it’s different. The iPhone 3G S is a more robust piece of kit, with better performance and speed – which is where the S (for speed) comes from. It also has longer battery life. A few days of co-habitation with the 3G S and the 3G, lying unused on the table, had lost a few points in our estimation… but not all. Will we be saying goodbye to the 3G? Should everyone get the new version?
The look hasn’t changed
From the outside, nothing distinguishes the 3G S from the 3G: elegance, sobriety and minimalism both. Memory capacity, displayed on the back, is now up to 16 GB or 32 GB and the screen is a little more resistant to fingerprint marks.
The iPhone 3G S back to back with the Nokia N97
The changes are all inside: Faster
Although the new software can be used on all three iPhones – the new OS has richer functionality (see inset) – only the 3G S includes the latest hardware developments.
The 3G S is faster than the 3G, that’s for sure. We compared the new model with its two predecessors: the iPhone (Edge) and the 3G, both working with the new 3.0 iPhone OS.
It starts up more quickly (17 seconds compared to 37 seconds for the 3G…) and opens web pages more quickly (the 3G S has a speed of 7.2 Mbps up from 3.4 Mbps). The same goes for downloading apps or adding attachments to your emails. In games, the 3G S is more fluid and lively. So although the 3G was already impressive in these areas the 3G S is even more so.
Photo and video: Better
The 3G S, finally with video. Apple have finally bowed to pressure. Films in VGA mode, that’s to say with a res of 640x480 pixels, give good enough visual and audio results (enough for online sharing). The feature can be improved with a little piece of very easy-to-use editing software that allows you to optimise your film (shorten it) before sending it by MMS for example. Editing takes just a few seconds.
At the tips of your fingers: a little editing after recording your film
Touch autofocus: fast and precise
You’ll find less options on the 3G S than other photophones (full of apps for photos and video that are little used at the end of the day) but what the 3G S does, it does well.
Gadgets or essentials?
The 3G S’s other features will be seen as gadgets by some and essentials by others. Whether they’re necessary or not however, the little extras need to work well if they’re to make themselves desirable. What do they offer in practice?
"Call John Kind", "Call 07903 754 XXX", "Play Dizee", "Who’s this song by?", "Play something similar"... The iPhone 3G S adopts the fantasy feature inaugurated on the Shuffle: with Voice Control you can navigate the iPhone without having to go through the menus, when driving for example.
The iPhone is easier to operate with your hand than voice
When are they going to come up with the voice feature to let you know who’s calling so you don’t have to reach into the bottom of your bag each time?
There’s also the compass you can set to the North Pole. It’s an application some people make fun of, but not everyone, me included, as I actually find it quite practical. When you combine your compass with GoogleMaps, you can be certain you’re heading off in the right direction. The map re-orientates itself accordingly.
Energy consumption too: Stronger
The 3G S economises its battery well. One of the main faults with the 3G is its poor battery life. The 3G S does better. Faster, better and a longer battery life! It lasted for a day and a half’s intensive use.
Two things to note by way of a conclusion. The first is something that’s true of all iPhones and the 3G S is no exception: it is so well designed and user-friendly that it is easier to test than to write about.
As for the question we asked at the beginning: should we change over from the 3G? Yes, because the video feature with the new phone really is nice and No, as the iPhone OS 3.0 is already a welcome developent in its own right. However, though not everyone will like it, the iPhone 3G S can be considered as the the fully matured, fully developed version.
- Faster / Better battery life
- Improved photo results / Video / Simple editing
- App Store: applications for everything
- OS developed for total touch experience
- Bluetooth / Can serve as a modem (paid service)
- No zoom, no flash
- Voice control is imprecise
- No memory extension
- No text message delivery alert, no FM tuner
While the iPhone 3G was lacking in some aspects, the 3G S combined with the 3.0 iPhone OS gives greater satisfaction. The iPhone 3G S is quite simply the no. 1 general consumer oriented multimedia touch phone. Apple is now that little bit further ahead of the competition.