Review of the Apple iPhone 3G S
With the hotly anticipated iPhone 3GS due to launch this Friday, we give you a sneak peak and tell you what to expect in the latest touchscreen phone from Apple.
At first glance you'll be hard pushed to find any differences between the 3GS and its predecessor the iPhone 3G. Both generations of the iPhone are identical in terms of dimensions, screen size and resolution though the new 3GS is slightly heavier at 135g. The design has also remained untouched, putting to bed rumours of matte black plastics and, perhaps more disappointingly, video calling as the iPhone still lacks a front facing camera. While it might have been nice to see a few changes in the design (the aforementioned front facing camera, though this is more of a feature than a design issue), the motto "if it ain't broke don't fix it" seems to apply. The iPhone 3GS feels just as smooth and exclusive as its predecessor and loses none of its charm.
Anyone who has owned or even used the original iPhone 3G will know that the touchscreen is easily one of the best seen on a mobile phone to date and the iPhone 3GS is no different. Featuring the same 3.5 inch display as the original, the 3GS promises Apple's celebrated multi-touch input method which allows for pinch zooming in the photo gallery and Safari web browser and also has various applications in the App store opening up the iPhone's potential as a handheld games console. Sporting the new OS 3.0, the iPhone 3GS will also offer a full QWERTY keyboard in instant messaging and text messaging, having previously been restricted to the web browser in current versions. When using the new iPhone 3GS what you will start to realise is that although not a lot may have changed on the outside, something has definitely changed on the inside; the 3GS is fast. Although Apple have refused to confirm the specific processor used or its clock speed, they have claimed that it promises to be up to 2 times faster than the iPhone 3G. Applications launch faster, web pages render in a fraction of the time and the general user experience is more responsive.
Whilst the 2.0 Megapixel camera found in the iPhone 3G was certainly the best in its class, it was hardly to 2009 standards what with the cameras that some of Apple's competitors are offering. The iPhone 3G S gets a boost from 2 to 3.0 Megapixels which improves the quality when uploading or printing out images. That being said, Megapixel count will ony get you so far so thankfully the iPhone 3G S also features Autofocus, designed to reduced blurriness and the excellent new tap to focus feature which lets you select objects you want to focus by tapping on the screen. As any digital camera enthusiast will tell you, Megapixel count is not everything so the iPhone's 3.0 Megapixel camera in the presence of some of its 8 Megapixel rivals shouldn't cause too much concern, however the absence of a flash of any kind is a disappointment. That being said, the 3GS does boast new and improved low light and macro (used for close-ups) modes which should compensate. From the sample shots released so far from Apple, the 3GS does perform well in low light conditions despite the lack of a physical flash.
The major absentee from the iPhone range from day one has been video recording and the iPhone 3GS remedies this with the addition of video capture at 30 frames per second. Whilst video capture has been a long time coming, it is handled with the level of skill and finesse we come to expect from Apple. Videos can be edited directly on the phone with users given the ability to trim footage by adjusting start and end points (though be warned, any video trimmed will be permanently deleted) and once you're happy with your movie, you can save it, upload it to your blog and even post it directly on YouTube.
With a digital compass, the iPhone 3G S offers true turn by turn navigation. Whilst normal GPS enabled phones can pinpoint your location, the 3GS knows which direction you're pointing. This can be used both in the pre-installed digital compass app, which simply gives you an on screen compass, and also in third party applications such as Google maps whereby the iPhone will automatically reorient maps to match the direction you're facing meaning that on foot navigation has never been easier. What's more, SatNav pioneers Tom Tom have an App in the works that is due to be available to download from the App store which will effectively turn your iPhone into a Tom Tom SatNav. The 3.5 inch touchscreen display was made for this kind of software.
Voice control on the 3G S lets you control various features of the phone such as making calls, either by dialling the number or from recognising the names in your phone book. Perhaps even more impressively, the voice control feature also lets you play music, recognising artist names in your playlists. Considering you could potentially have around 32GB's worth of music on your iPhone, the ability to select music simply using your voice seems a lot more favourable than trawling through various menus.
The 3G S also features an improved 3D graphics accelerator which promises faster and more complex 3D graphics. The App store will no doubt take advantage of this offering even bigger and better gaming on the iPhone, though not without some negative implications; cost being the first and backwards compatibility the second. The iPhone 3G will stick with the original 3D Graphics accelerator meaning that newer games may have to run a watered down version for the iPhone 3G or risk not being able to run certain applications at all. That being said, the iPhone 3G ran numerous apps that the original iPhone couldn't with little public outcry so the improved graphics accelerator in the 3G S is definitely a positive. Plus, with memory capacities doubling from 8GB and 16GB to 16GB and 32GB, there will be plenty of room on your phone as apps and games in particular get ever more powerful.
Though it's not without its flaws and you certainly wouldn't guess just from looking at it, the iPhone 3GS promises a huge step up from its predecessor. And while the new hardware is exciting, what is even more so is the prospect of what is still to come from the App store.