diego's weblog

there and back again

the obligatory iPhone 3G review

Yes, yes, I belong to the fraternity of lost souls that queued up over the weekend to get His Steveness’ shiny new toy. Having had an iPhone for a year now I’ve increasingly used the browser more and more, and a few times I’ve used the maps+search feature to find something close to where I am at the moment. The kind of thing that you almost never need (unless you’re on the road a lot) but that, when you do, can be a life saver.

Anyway, the iPhone 3G is a good incremental improvement over the original but there’s a couple of annoyances that subtract rather than add to the experience:

    • Battery Life: this is a bad one. Right now, with moderate to no use (i.e., mostly on standby) the battery gets consumed as if the phone is itself playing with those new apps. The culprits are 3G and WiFi. Other phones do 3G quite well without killing the battery, so what’s up with this?
    • 3G Coverage. Decent around the Bay Area in general, but terrible at my house. Meh. I may have to get a cell signal booster. That said, when you do have coverage 3G is heaven. But we knew that.
    • GPS. It’s there, and finds where you are pretty fast. It seems to lose signal easily, but aside from that, it’s all good.
    • The apps. Of the apps, the iTunes remote is for me one of the most immediately useful. I can now control the Apple TV without having to turn on the TV and navigate through the menus, which means more music goodness. Other that I like are Netnewswire (really well done), the Yellow Pages app, and Tetris, which has a really nice touch interface. Oh, and Lightsaber of course. 🙂

Dirt. Somehow, this phone (at least the black version) picks up smudges way faster than the previous one. Maybe it’s the 3G that increases the rate :). All I know is that smudges are more noticeable on the 3G than on the old phone.

  • Over-The-Air Sync. Not much to say about this — really a feature that works as advertised, but that works as well with the old phones, even over Edge. We use Exchange at the office, so the phone has now become basically the only way I look at the calendar, and the ActiveSync push works well.
  • The dock. Or rather, the old dock, which is no longer compatible since the shape changed. Curses!
  • The charger. It’s tiny! But ugly. Oh god, it is ugly. What were they thinking? Round edges people!
  • The no-longer-recessed headphone jack. I am now vindicated in my refusal to purchase a headphone jack adaptor.
  • The screen. As good as the old one, but the touch sensitivity sometimes seems to be a little off around the edges. Maybe it’s my imagination though.
  • The new contact list features. Much improved use of the contact list.


About the battery life: an interesting tidbit is that when I upgraded the old iPhone to one of the 2.0 beta firmware (I’m on the developer program) about 6 weeks ago, battery life suddenly went to hell when using WiFi, and it may be my imagination but the phone ran hotter too (which the 3G does as well). It very well may be that the battery problems are related to power-management issues with the 2.0 firmware, rather than hardware related, and that they may be fixed in a future update. Here’s hoping!

Now, if we only we could get copy/paste…

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