“iPhone 3G S” Review

June 22, 2009

Everything

Well I promised a review of the iPhone 3G S after spending the weekend with it so here it goes.

iPhone 3G SiPhone Unboxing

I seriously don’t know how I have not had an internet enabled phone until this point in my life.  For someone who is on a computer 18 hours a day my cell phone was the “F” on my nerd report card.  Well Friday that all changed after picking up my shiny new 16 GB iPhone 3G S from the Leawood Apple Store.  Some people late on Friday were reporting activation issues with their phones, but no troubles on my end (a big “HA HA” to all those people questioning why anyone would wait in line at opening to get their phone) as I was activated and out the door 15 minutes after getting in.

So how is it?  One word…FANTABULOUS!  I’m a previous owner of a Gen 1 iPod Touch and let me tell you, the new iPhone is easily twice as fast.  Apps load and run faster.  Pages open without hesitation.  The spotlight search doesn’t hang-your searches are just “there”, and moving about the screens of apps is a breeze (sometimes my Touch would hang a bit) with a flick of a finger.  Internet browsing is at least twice the speed, if not faster.  When I’m on my Wi-Fi at home it is a matter of seconds before pages started loading versus the 30-60 seconds on my Touch.

Most of you already know of the improvements in the 3.0 OS upgrade (copy/paste, compass, voice control, etc…) so I’m not going to go into details about what’s new.  I will mention that they all work as advertised.  The voice dialing/control I found to work even better than I was expecting.  I know it’s dependant on what you’re asking for, but the phone never got confused with what I was saying (which even my friends can have trouble with).  I even got to put the 3G S in a real world test out on the golf course.  This course (Village Greens outside Meridan, KS) is really in the middle of the boonies.  I figured I’d be lucky to have service to call, little lone 3G data.  To my surprise I never lost service at all on the course and thanks to “The Weather Channel” App we were the first group back into the clubhouse before it started POURING.  I was also able to give “U.S. Open” highlights to the foursome behind us with it (no, Tiger was not making a comeback).  The quality of calls seems to be standard cell phone quality-that is, you know you’re talking on a cell phone.  I haven’t dropped a call yet either.  The camera shoots decent pictures outside or in a brighter setting, but if you’re in low light you better have one steady hand.  The video quality however is very nice considering you’re shooting from a phone.  It’s standard VGA but at a very constant (and fast) frame rate.  And with its video trimming feature look for the iPhone to become the standard “shoot and upload to YouTube” camera.

3G S in Use

Now, it’s not all “icing on the cake” though.  My old “dumb” phone could be used for about 3 days of normal use before needing to be charged.  Not so with the iPhone.  Granted, I was playing with it a lot this weekend, but the “20% battery remaining” has come up every night for me so far.  One thing I think is contributing to that is that the iPhone is constantly switching between 3G, Edge, and no service in my basement.  If I go upstairs I get a normal signal, but I’m starting to think my downstairs was built to withstand a nuclear explosion (my old phone had signal issues on Verizon down there as well) so I won’t completely blame AT&T yet.  What they do get blame for is no MMS.  I can’t say that I would be using it all the time, but it would be nice to share a pic from time to time without having to send it in an email.  That should be fixed soon, but for a standard feature on all other phones, AT&T needs to step it up a bit.

All in all I’ve been extremely happy over the last 48 hours with my new iPhone.  After working with Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and Palm devices at my job the iPhone is HANDS DOWN the easiest smart phone to work with and configure.  From syncing to Exchange (or any other email for that matter) to everyday tasks, nothing works quite like the little device from Apple.  The shear scale of applications available also boggles the mind.  And they’re not all fart apps anymore.  I’m testing AirVue Golf right now (a $25 app) as a golf course GPS rangefinder.  Similar devices (SkyCaddie) are $250 at the low end of the range, so I think we’re about to see a huge explosion of serious apps that could turn up the heat for a lot of companies.  Here’s to the healthy competition that brings out features we never would think a phone could do.

I realize I haven’t talked much about the apps I’m using (or thinking of using) so I think that will be the basis for a new weekly article.  ”Kris’ Applications of the Week” has a nice ring to it.

Pluses:  App Store, the all around speed of the device, ease to pick up and use

Minuses:  battery life, AT&T service is not for all, costs involved in owning one

Overall Grade:  A- (if AT&T can step up to the challenge we’ll be at a solid A); Best phone on the market at this time.  Nothing can match its feature set, App Store, or general buzz when you’re using it.

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