Review of the Apple iPhone 3G
Here at Mobiles.co.uk, we've had a thorough hands on with the iPhone 3G to bring you all you need to know about one of the most hyped and eagerly anticipated mobile phones and pieces of technology in general. Here is what we thought of the phone that has got everybody talking ...
On first picking up the iPhone and surveying its smooth lines, highly polished finish and comfortable weight you can't help but be impressed. The whole style and design is quite minimalist which is a good thing for a touchscreen phone as it lets you focus on the display. On the front of the phone there is just one physical button which acts as the menu button, returning you to the home screen when pressed and at the top is the earpiece. On the left hand side, we find the volume control keys and also a button for muting the phone, both of which are easily within reach when the phone is held in one hand. On the back in the top left corner we find the camera lens and more centrally the famous Apple logo and finally at the bottom the iPhone name and the memory of the phone. And that's it; minimalistic really does sum up the design. The phone is dominated by the screen and for me this works as I think it helps give the iPhone a classy look and feel.
This leads me nicely on to the iPhone's most celebrated feature; the touchscreen. The iPhone has a 3.5 inch screen capable of displaying up to 16M colours. Everything is crystal clear and colours are strong and vivid. At 320 x 480 pixels, squinting at your screen is a thing of the past and watching videos and movies on your phone is enjoyable rather than just tolerable. The touchscreen interface is also a revelation. Featuring multi-touch technology, navigating through the various menus is a joy, swiping your finger lets you glide through applications and the sensitivity is very impressive. The iPhone has an accelerometer which rotates the screen depending on which way up you're holding it. This is common in most new phones but the iPhone also has a rather nice addition in the form of a light sensor which means when you put the phone to your ear to take a call, the screen will automatically switch itself off. When you're finished, take the phone away from your ear and the display comes back to life. This isn't going to revolutionise mobile phones but it's just one of many nice touches Apple have included to add to the user experience.
The feature that gives the new iPhone its full name is 3G. The iPhone incorporates HSDPA technology for lightening quick downloads and web browsing. What's more, when taken on contract with O2 you get unlimited data for web browsing and downloads with the exception of BBC iPlayer and iTunes which can only be downloaded when using a Wi-Fi connection which, handily, the iPhone also has. So if HSDPA isn't quick enough for you or you happen to find yourself in a Cloud Wi-Fi Hotspot, you can enjoy even higher speeds. The boost in speed makes the iPhone the perfect tool for whiling away bus and train journeys.
And on that note, let me introduce you to the App store. The App store does for mobile content what iTunes did for music. Opening the icon in the main menu takes you into the top 25 applications (constantly updated) giving you anything from games to location based services, train timetables and other useful applications. Creating content for the app store is made easy as the development software is available for anyone to download from Apple. What this means is that potentially anyone can become an app store developer which has already lead to some innovative applications such as around me, which uses GPS to find your location and then gives you a list of different options so you can find your nearest pub, restaurant, bank and much more. The possibilities for the App store are limited only by your imagination. Gaming is also a massive part of the App store and the iPhone as a whole. Games developer Sega, made famous by Sonic the hedgehog, have announced that the iPhone will be their main platform for future releases and the hugely popular Super Monkey Ball series has already been released. The game plays like marble madness with you guiding the star of the show, a monkey in a ball, to a designated area, taking advantage of the accelerometer to give you motion sensor controls which are incredibly sensitive. The games available range from basic puzzle games, classics such as PacMan and a touch sensitive version of Tetris to new titles designed specifically for the iPhone that wouldn't look out of place on a dedicated gaming console.
The iPhone incorporates a GPS receiver for navigation. The phone features Google maps which is a great on foot navigation tool. You can find your current location then punch in a postcode or place name to navigate to. You can also choose form a OS map, satellite view, a mixture of the two or a step by step list which will take you from door to door. This isn't new for a phone by any means but when used in combination with the multitude of downloadable applications such as around me, everything is made easy and simply a swipe of your finger away. Google Earth is also a recent addition to the App store. Type in a place name or postcode and you are presented with a satellite view of the area and the option to zoom in for a closer look. Now you really can shout "I can see my house from here".
Thanks to the iPhone's prestigious iPod heritage, the phone is an excellent portable music player. The iPhone has full iTunes support and included in the box is the synonymous white in ear buds. Entering the iPod icon from the main menu presents you with your music in a list and lets you sort by Playlists, Artist, Song and Video. Selecting more gives you further options such as by Album and Genre. Browsing music by album is a particular treat when holding the phone in landscape orientation as the album covers are displayed as an image and you can then flick through and double tap on your chosen album and start playing. With between 8 and 16GB, there is more than enough memory to keep even the most avid music fan satisfied.
The iPhone features a 2.0 Megapixel camera which isn't going to compete with the best of the camera phone world but does produce images of very high quality which look even better on the excellent screen. The phone has Bluetooth but unfortunately this can only be used for pairing with a compatible headset so no sharing files or streaming music wirelessly. As we come to the end of this review you may be left slightly puzzled. Let me clear things up for you. No the iPhone doesn't bring any groundbreaking new features to the table. What makes the iPhone a revolutionary new phone is the skill with which all the different aspects are delivered. Yes we've used a touchscreen before but never one with such a slick and intuitive interface. Yes, other phones feature downloadable content but never has it been so accessible or innovative.
So, it's safe to conclude that the iPhone 3G is much more than the sum of its parts and most definitely the iPhone we've all been craving. Pick one up and have a play for just a few minutes and, like me, you'll be hooked!