My review of the iPhone 3GS

Disclaimer: This post is entirely my personal opinion. I also own an HTC T-Mobile G1, which runs Google’s Android operating system.

I picked up the new iPhone 3G S this Friday and I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts:

The Good:
- The iPhone 3GS is considerably faster than the iPhone 3G. Especially in the browser, you’ll notice pages render faster. JavaScript-heavy pages (such as the mobile web version of Gmail) execute much more smoothly. The iPhone 3GS feels less like an underpowered mobile phone and more like a powerful pocket computer that can keep up with its owner.
- The built-in video camera is very cool. I expect a corresponding spike in home videos. For example, here’s my cat Ozzie playing with a toy:

More seriously, within about five years, for any group of 10 or more people, at least a few will have a video camera built into their phone. That’s a very powerful trend in a lot of ways.
- I tend to agree with Michael Arrington that no one with an iPhone 3GS needs a Flip video camera now. Cisco bought Pure Digital Technologies, the makers of the Flip, for almost $600 million dollars about three months ago. That might prove to be good timing on Pure Digital’s part.
- Lots of small changes in OS 3.0 are quite nice, such as showing outgoing vs. incoming calls in the “Recents” list.

The Bad:
- Apple’s iPhone philosophy has always seemed to me to be about simplicity. The single button forced a constrained elegance on the iPhone’s interface. In providing some newer features, the iPhone 3G S feels less like an iPhone and more like someone shoveled in a lot of features. I didn’t really need copy/paste, and it seems to pop up at random inconvenient times: double-tap a word if you’re not in the browser; in the browser, hold your finger on some text. Except the copy handles don’t seem to show up on the web pages I want, and sometimes unwanted copy handles appear when I’m just scrolling with my finger.
- The iPhone 3GS is not the huge leap that the iPhone or the iPhone->iPhone 3G was. I do think that leaves some opportunities for Android, Palm, and other competitors.
- Battery life has been worse so far for me. I’ve been using the phone more and it’s only been a few days, so I’m not going to jump to conclusions on this yet. Apple also recommends that you let the phone run down completely at least once a month, and I haven’t done that yet. I expect that battery life will be better for most people.
- Not a great name; the “GS” part makes me think of Ghostscript. A few days ago, I would have said that the “iPhone Video” is a much better name, but it’s true that the speed bump is more noticeable than the video. I still think Apple could have come up with a better name than “iPhone 3G S” though. I’m sure someone who knows about Mercedes Benz cars knows the difference between the E class, the SLK class, or the GL 420 CDI, but most normal people don’t know what a bunch of letters and numbers mean.

The Ugly:
- On my previous iPhone (the 3G), the metal band around the front matched smoothly with the black plastic back. On the new iPhone 3GS, I can feel the seam where the band meets the plastic. On the front of the phone, when I flick my finger off the glass, I can feel the seam of the metal band there too.
- In my personal opinion, someone miscalculated in charging iPhone 3G owners $200 extra to upgrade. New iPhone 3G S customers pay $199 (16GB) or $299 (32GB); many early adopters would have to pay $399 (16GB) or $499 (32GB) to upgrade. The CPU speed bump and video abilities aren’t enough to counteract what many early adopters will perceive as a bit of a slap in the face. Last year, the line for the iPhone 3G at Valley Fair stretched outside the building most of the day. When I went to get my iPhone 3G S on the release day at Valley Fair this year, there was no line at all.

And remember that early adopters often give their previous phones to family members. In my case, two other relatives are taking our older iPhone 3G phones and moving from a different carrier to AT&T. By charging early adopters more, AT&T ensures that more people will hang on to their old phones instead giving them to other people, many of whom would then become AT&T/iPhone customers. By limiting the “trickle down” effect as older iPhones go to family members, AT&T is missing a chance to gain more marketshare by acquiring additional new customers.

I’ll be interested to see how Apple and AT&T react. AT&T has already allowed some (but not all) iPhone 3G owners to upgrade without paying an “early adopter penalty.” And Apple can move quickly and decisively when needed–remember the $200 iPhone price drop in 2007 just a short time after the iPhone was released? Of course, it’s possible that penalizing early adopters is all part of some four-dimensional chess game that Apple is playing. If Apple decides to terminate its exclusive U.S. deal with AT&T in a year or so, maybe it didn’t want a bunch of people signing up for two-year contracts this time around? Right now I’m puzzled by what appears to me to be a misstep, but the folks at Apple are smart, so I’d be willing to believe that Apple has good reasons for what they’re doing.

Should you upgrade? That’s something only you can answer. If you still have a non-smartphone or an original iPhone, it’s probably worth it. If you have an iPhone 3G (especially if you’re not eligible for the discounted upgrade yet), you might try OS 3.0 and see if that’s enough. I decided to get the 3G S and I’m glad that I did. I fill all sorts of idle moments with surfing, tweeting, and checking my mail. The iPhone 3G S makes all those activities much faster and more pleasurable. Overall I’m quite happy with my iPhone 3G S.

77 Responses to My review of the iPhone 3GS (Leave a comment)

  1. Nice review! For the record, I happened to be at the Valley Fair mall yesterday, and there was a (short) line out the door of folks waiting to buy the 3G S.

    And the name makes -me- think of the Apple IIGS…

    –Harry

  2. Yeah I am one of the few still not rocking any kind of SmartPhone. Long Story. But I will be purchasing one no matter what on August 20th (that’s when I am allowed to upgrade). I have been teased at conferences enough. :) Interesting about the copy/paste though. I am hoping AT&T joins world technology and allows MMS by the time I get one.

  3. Harry McCracken, are you located in the Bay Area? For some reason I pictured you living in Seattle, but I can’t for the life of me think why.

    Kate, it’s a pretty good time for an upgrade. iPhones rock, the Palm looks very interesting, and I’m excited about Android phones too. For example, TechCrunch is claiming that the HTC myTouch 3G will be available in August: http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/06/21/t-mobile-will-drop-its-second-android-phone-the-mytouch-3g-this-august-for-199/ .

  4. Dead and commented Fronterrè HTC Android.
    I love my open source phone I can’t see why one should prefer an Apple one ;)

  5. David Lewis

    Matt, thanks for the review. I’m trying out the G1 (I’m a long-time Sidekick user). Aside from the thumbpad, how do your iPhone 3G S and G1 compare?

  6. I was one of those on line at the Apple store late morning this past Friday when the 3GS went on sale and ended up waiting in line for roughly an hour. A very different experience from the several hours I waited the day the 3G went on sale. Clearly demand is down.

    I did give my 3G to my wife and her 2G version is now on eBay.

    My experience with the 3GS is very similar to yours Matt. Speed is great and fresh improvement – everything including web pages, messaging, and camera – especially establishing WiFi connectivity, which was very sluggish in the 3G. Take and posting video is simple and a great feature both myself and my kids love. Voice Command I am finding a yawn.

  7. Ok, I need more training with the keyboard :(

  8. Pcrackenhead

    I let my battery burn down to red on the first day, and haven’t seen any battery problems since then. Of course I upgraded from my 2G, so maybe that’s some of the difference.

    The speed is really dramatic, I didn’t expect it to be as big of a boost at all.

  9. I’m actually an early adopter and this worked out great for me. I was the early adopter standing in line on June 29, 2007 for the very first iPhone. I bought my wife a 3G last year (even though she said I could give her mine and get the new one). I’ve waited patiently for 2 years using the first generation and am thrilled at the $299 it cost to upgrade. My sons now play with the iPhone as a buddy to the iPod Touch they already have. Can’t wait for the Kindle sized iPhone up next!

  10. Great Review Matt, even though I’m off put by the price as you mentioned for early adopters. I think the speed diff. and video as well as the voice feature will be worth the upgrade for me.

  11. Thanks for the review.

    I just got my iPhone 3G in February, doubtful I’ll upgrade to the S model so soon.

    I’ve found the 3.0 software update to be well worth the download. The copy & paste does seem to pop up almost everywhere but at least it’s there when you need it! I can’t think of many simpler UI triggers that would work better. That’s the inherent problem with keeping things simple.

    Overall Apple has made it amazingly easy to navigate a pretty complicated device. Even my mother-in-law can use hers (that’s my benchmark on ‘simple’)

    The one area I agree is going to be sticky is pricing. Apple can only ‘p-off’ the early adopters so many times before they turn – Even the Mac Zealots will only go so far. To that end I expect there to be a ‘change of thought’ and upgrade discount as AT&T sees that it’s better business to actually listen to customers.

  12. Thanks for the review Matt.
    I have an iPhone 3G and did the OS3 upgrade last week.
    Just getting some of the ‘should have been mandatory on release of 3G features’ – i.e. copy & paste, MMS capability, and some of the other subtle changes (call duration & identifying calls as incoming or outgoing in “Recents”) and others I hadn’t thought of (voice recorder) have made up for most of my previous the frustration with iPhone 3G.
    Other than speed, higher res camera, & video – what other advantages are there to upgrading to iphone 3G S??

  13. @Matt,

    I know you know me as the Android Guy but I was surprised as well with the lack of a major leap from the iPhone 3G to the 3GS.

    It mostly caught up to a lot of the features already in Android such as Cut & Paste, MMS, video recording, etc.

    Kudos to the video editing feature which is not inherent in Android.

    Sounds like you should request the Ion phone that they gave all non-Google employees at IO – I know you and MG Siegler were impressed with it during our lunch there.

    The Ion (“G2″) battery life is impressive lasting DAYS while also having twice the ROM of the G1 making it much faster – similar to the improvement the iPhone 3G to 3GS made.

    So the ONE iPhone will have to wait another year to catch up to the 20+ Android phones constantly improving from various manufacturers – just like w the PC & Mac in the 80s – My basic spiel at SMX Advanced and WebProNews – http://videos.webpronews.com/2009/06/16/iphone-vs-gphone/

    ,Michael Martin

  14. David Lewis, the big big difference is the keyboard and the open-source. I suspect those two factors will decide what most people like. The iPhone OS is definitely more polished than the initial version of Android, but the 1.5 update does come much closer.

    Frank Deardurff, you might try calling AT&T and asking if they can cut you a break on the upgrade. You never know–it might be more negotiable than you think.

    Grant Simmons, I’d like an option to turn the copy/paste off. I need it about .1% of the time, and I can re-type something for those few occasions.

    Michael Martin, the video editing on the iPhone is quite rough (scrubbing is… tricky, and it appears impossible to undo trims of video), but it’s pretty nice overall. That’s a feature I’d love to see Android pick up. Excellent point about the iPhone vs. lots of people making different kinds of Android phones. I have a feeling (no inside knowledge, just guessing) that when the next generations of phones arrives, things will be much more of a toss up.

    Chris_D, you get a compass and voice dialing too. Both fun and nice, but not critical.

  15. The FIRST Android phone had a digital compass way back in October 2008

  16. I have gotten so used to the qwerty keyboard on the G1 that I am not ready to switch to iPhone.
    Matt, what’s your opinion on typing on the iPhone?

  17. hey recently i have visited a Apple store in sydney on george st, it looks like people love apple phones and computers. I guess apple phone is best i have ever see in terms of stability and look.

    yes i also know there are some problems as well but so far i haven’t seen any perfect phone.

  18. Dan Udey

    I agree on the name part, it seems kind of… I dunno, silly? For me though, it evokes a different name, and I’ve been bugging other long-time Apple fans by referring to it as the ‘iPhone 3 GS’, and comparing it to the Apple II GS (verdict: huge speed boost, better display, but no disk drive or support for Apple II GS programs).

  19. On my previous iPhone (the 3G), the metal band around the front matched smoothly with the black plastic back. On the new iPhone 3GS, I can feel the seam where the band meets the plastic

    My iPhone 3G has that too, I don’t think that’s a 3GS problem.
    Also I think the copy/paste functionality really is an improvement.

  20. Which is better HTC T-Mobile G1 or iPhone 3GS?

  21. @Matt

    I have the iPhone 2G and since 2 weeks i have the HTC (Ion) Magic Android Handy G2. I already ordered the iPhone 3Gs, because i´m selling the HTC device after one week!! Why? Because of the freaking short battery life. In one week of use i had to charge the G2 every day in the evening, altough i´m not using it obsessive (just some calls and little bit of email).
    The day i decided to sell it i was coming home in the evening and was ready for a 30min run (I used the awesome “My Track” App from Google!). After 5 min of running the battery was empty!
    Sorry but with my iPhone i can stay for at least two or three days of battery life (with the same tasks). Don´t even think of buying the G2! But if you´re from Austria feel free to buy it here: http://cgi.ebay.at/HTC-Magic-von-Vodafone-mit-A1-Simlock_W0QQitemZ290325449233QQcmdZViewItemQQptZDE_Handys_ohne_Vertrag_KM?hash=item4398beca11&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=65%3A12|66%3A2|39%3A1|72%3A1229|240%3A1318|301%3A1|293%3A1|294%3A50

  22. Hello,
    Nice review but it would be good if you include(by your own opinion) these 100+ new features that apple says in 3.0 os.

    I’ll take the new iphone when it will be available in Greece(late July) – still then I would stay with my 2nd G and Omnia too

  23. felix

    love the movie. if you know what I mean ;)

  24. DG

    What are your thoughts of Nokia N97? Which has similiar specs with 5Meg camera.

  25. I was all in to move from the 3G to the 3GS, but you hit the nail in the head with the slap in face pricing.

    Apple called me about the “reservation” I filled out that had the $199 price at my local store. They immediately blamed AT&T. I’m blaming Apple. AT&T can’t keep subsidizing early upgrades because Apple is putting out a new phone every year. Apple should have stepped up and split it with AT&T for existing 3G users.

  26. >Of course, it’s possible that penalizing early adopters is all part of some four-dimensional chess game that Apple is playing.

    that’s warms my little conspiracy theorist heart right there … I need a moment (getting misty)

  27. @RelativeTheory

    Gr8 review… $99 iphone was strategic @ gettin a boost w/ market share…

    The question I wonder is: when MS bundled IE they were considered a monopoly. W/ iphone which is a mini laptop, is bundled w/ Safari plus only one store 2 buy APPs… I guess it may only become a issue when they have %90 of the market

  28. Disappointing to hear the S doesn’t sound as though it has the same build quality as the 3G.
    Although my only complaint about the 3G is that if I use it, as a phone, whilst it’s charging I get a series of very small electric shocks, which isn’t ideal!

  29. ML

    Upgraded from 3G to 3GS and do not regret it. The speed is amazing; in fact, everything is almost “instant”. Remember those short commercials of iPhone where everything worked much faster than the actual iPhone did, thus making UK consumers complain and getting the commercials off the air? (http://tr.im/pjJt) Well, no more waiting for things to load. Great bump in speed! That alone is really worth in my opinion!

  30. Matt,

    Thanks for the review. Could you please clarify the following statement? “I’ll be interested to see how Apple and AT&T react. AT&T has already allowed some (but not all) iPhone 3G owners to upgrade without paying an “early adopter penalty.” ”

    Where did you hear that “some” were allowed to upgrade without penalty? I have been offering friends the option of me buying a 3GS for them and taking it for myself while they take on my 6 month old 3G for free. I could not agree more that they are penalizing the iPhone faithful by giving them the higher price.
    Thanks

  31. I’m more interested to see how AT&T rapes us on pricing for MMS and tethering. I’ve got this suspicious feeling that MMS won’t just be included with our normal plan.

    it’s a shame, as both of these features are already available to me free by hacking my carrier file.

  32. Ian M

    That’s one cute cat :)

  33. The “GS” makes me think of Gary Sims… Me!!!! But sadly I don’t live in the USA and prices in my country are enormous… Way out of the range of “normal” people… So there is an iPhone out there with my name on it, but I can’t get hold of it yet!!!!

    Thanks, Gary.

  34. “… most normal people don’t know what a bunch of letters and numbers mean.”

    – and most “normal” people don’t think “Ghostscript” when they see GS, either.

    As an SEO, I forget that what I live and breathe at work is as foreign to most people as advanced scripting is to me (OK. *any* sort scripting).

    That hit home on my ride to work this morning: the local Oldies station was giving out a prize (including a four-pack of tickets to Kennywood, for any familiar with that Pittsburgh-area gem) to the person who could correctly answer the name of the corporation with the informal motto “Do no evil”.

    The first three answers went: “ebay”, “Microsoft”, ~hang up~. The fourth caller said, “Google??” When the announcer complimented her on guessing correctly, he also asked how she knew the answer, since he never would have figured it out. She said Google was the only informal company she knew of.

    *sigh*

  35. The iPhone gets way too much attention. Nokia and some others have much better phones than Apple. From what I hear this new iPhone is just the same thing except that it’s a bit faster and (finally) has the ability to do some video at a very low resolution camera.

    The only thing the iPhone has going for itself is the screen size and design but design only applies if that’s really as important to you as it is to Steve Jobs. Touch screen is nothing special anymore as many others have that too these days.

    I’m a fan of Nokia and I can’t wait for the Nokia N97 but I’ll probably have to do with my N95 8GB before I get an N97.

  36. Matt, I just had to point out that my little Spaz has the exact same cheese chaser that Ozzie is playing with :) http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/0ilXzCD8hESV-7k4KlnRHg?feat=directlink

  37. I’d be interested to see your breakdown of the iPhone 3GS vs the HTC G-1. Not because I can’t find this information anywhere else, but because it’d be interesting to see your take.

  38. Apple sold over one million 3GS iPhones over the weekend, making it the most successful model yet. The reason you did not see long lines like before is because Apple did not make you register the phone in the store, which saves tons of time per person. They just sell you the iPhone and you bring it home to activate it; total transaction time? About 5 minutes.

    You don’t need cut and paste, really? I’ve found it extremely useful and have already used it a dozen times and haven’t even had the 3GS 48 hours yet.

    I actually had the opposite as you with regards to the metal band and plastic back. On my iPhone 3G, I could feel a ridge there but my 3GS is totally smooth. The 3G also had light leaking out from the seal on the front screen when in a dark room. To me, the 3GS seems better built.

    I agree with you on AT&T’s upgrade charges though you can sell your 3G for $300.-$350. to help defray the cost.

  39. Not so much a review as a list of minor points that are liked and disliked.
    I have tried the iPhone out in a store twice, and can easily type as fast as with my Blackberry. I don’t understand people complaining about the keyboard. If you can’t get used to new technology, stay out of the kitchen.
    As for ‘other’ smartphones, inc. the Blackberry, try using it with a Mac. Syncing is a nightmare. If you’re using a Mac, your only option is the iPhone – and it works (so I’ve heard) absolutely flawlessly when it comes to syncing. Just compare the so-called internet on non-iphones.

  40. Bibokz and Andrea, the iPhone is sleeker and has more programs. But if you want a physical keyboard or want to run any program without someone telling you “no” then the G1 is better. I’ve developed programs for Android but not for the iPhone. I think newer Android phones will be even sleeker.

    DG, I like Nokia phones in general and they’re very strong worldwide, but they don’t have as much presence in the U.S. and I think Symbian is just not as nice an environment to program for compared to Android or the iPhone.

    graywolf, I have plenty of four-dimensional theories about different companies; I just don’t always talk about them. :)

    SEObetty, too true. And it’s not even “do no evil,” it’s “don’t be evil.” I wrote a blog post about the difference once, but never posted it.

    Lyndsay Walker, your cat has great taste! And huge paws, too. :)

    photoTristan, my experience is only anecdotal on the fit/finish, but my wife’s phone has a similar issue with the band. It’s not annoying–I’m just surprised that the tolerance was off enough that I noticed. I tend to browse a ton and not email much, so that might be why I don’t use copy/paste. And the iPhone did sell a million phones in three days, which is a phenomenal launch. Don’t get me wrong: I like the iPhone 3G S a lot. I just think Apple/AT&T would have sold more iPhones this weekend if the early adopter cost were lower.

  41. Please publish the blog post!

    “…SEObetty, too true. And it’s not even “do no evil,” it’s “don’t be evil.” I wrote a blog post about the difference once, but never posted it…”

    I oddly hated the iPhone as it seemed overpriced and underfeatured, from my N95 (dvd quality video etc..) but then I got one (and the missus got the Nokia) and it has changed how I go about life – I do NOT use my laptop most evenings … it was a deliberate decision, but it has made it possible to do that …

  42. My girlfriend has the iPhone 3G and i have the G1.
    It all reminds me of the early days of the war between mac -v- the PC. Apple lost that war due to an inferior PR campaign however i suspect this time round things could be different. The new myTouch 3G is dumping the physical keyboard which i think is one of the best features of a G1 however the quality and sophistication of android apps will probably make up for that loss.

  43. Matt,

    Thanks for the review. I agree with you on pretty much everything. The phone is not a game changer. The new Iphone is really only a progression of small improvements and for the most part is a small step forward. If anyone is really looking for a revolution here you might want to wait to start seeing the type of apps that follow. I am curious to see more on this front over the next several months.

    Mike

  44. The main error of the PC/Mac war was also in having ONLY 1 provider as Apple does for complete control (as it does for the iPhone) while the PC was made by various manufacturers for mass reach.

    This is not the here and now but will be as we enter 2010 with the 20+ Android phones entering the market in the next 6 months especially in China and emerging markets where the iPhone does not penetrate or have success in.

    ,Michael Martin

  45. Armen Bedrossian

    When is the next big announcement on Android? I love my HTC T-Mobile G1, but it lacks the screen size and keyboard size of the iphone. Should I get the iPhone or wait for the next Android phone that will crush iPhone? and when? Tx.

  46. michel perrin

    @michael Martin I think that what you consider an error (PC/Mac war and only one provider) is exactly why Mac user are stocked. When they buy a Mac the’re sure that it will work out of the box, and this for every MAc they buy. No incompatibility, no sketchy hardware implementation, few security issues. What’s gonna happen when 20 manufacturers will fight together, cost killing on development issues and dev time in order to sell more android powered phones than their competitors. Mac Phone users will encounter again this “work out of the box” feeling that’s make Apple product so hype for creative people who don’t want to worry about their stuff.

  47. Blackberry all the way!

    I really agree that business users NEED a proper keypad…I think it was Steve Balmer who said that.

  48. Armen Bedrossian, it looks like the WSJ is reporting that Verizon might carry an Android phone: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124568278404137309.html . I think the next few months will be interesting (no inside knowledge there, just the fact that Google has said that it expects more Android phones to be introduced). At some point you have to pull the trigger, because there will always be another hot new phone seemingly just around the corner.

    Gerry White, I may still publish it. I was hoping to find a fair-use excerpt of a particular “Bloom County” comic to illustrate a point in the post, but either a) Bloom County just predates the web or b) Berke Breathed’s lawyers get all Bloom County comics off the web. Either way, I haven’t been able to find the comic that I wanted.

  49. “- In my personal opinion, someone miscalculated in charging iPhone 3G owners $200 extra to upgrade. New iPhone 3G S customers pay $199 (16GB) or $299 (32GB); many early adopters would have to pay $399 (16GB) or $499 (32GB) to upgrade.”

    Matt, I completely agree and find it unacceptable that Apple has worked this kind of deal with AT&T. Customers of Apple are “tribal”, not just customers.

    What sense does it make “in any way” to charge your “tribe members” more money than other people. You always take care of YOUR people first, then worry about others. This is one of the biggest blunders I’ve ever seen from Apple. As a result, this iPhone 3G owner won’t be moving up to a 3G S for a LONG time and think about all those wonderful things I would have been telling everyone about my new 3G S – a HUGE, short-sighted opportunity missed because of some goofball who doesn’t understand the evolving tribal nature of people on the Net…..

  50. Steve Hirsch

    Surprised your disclaimer doesn’t mention you work for Google and are probably a shareholder and option holder as well.

  51. Steve Hirsch, the first sentence of http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/disclaimer/ (the link is at the top of my blog) says “I’m one of several Googlers who …” I would hope most people know or can quickly see that I work for Google. My household has a lot of Macs in it; I don’t consider myself an anti-Apple person at all.

  52. Hey Matt,

    Nice review pointed a good points which should be consider before buying. Thanks :)

    Now I think I should go for Blackberry what you say about blackberry? I think it’s good business class phone.

  53. I’m a Blackberry girl but I like to play with my son’s IPhone and if I get comfortable with the email push I can see myself switching. I like you’re discussion of business background reasons Apple and AT&T are pricing and marketing the way they do. Very interesting.

  54. Sorry, Matt, but I can’t stop with the rant. :)

    What Apple should have done was make the new 3GS available for $50 less to any existing iPhone customers. Reward your loyal customers – especially the early adopters – but don’t punish them – it makes NO sense.

    Unfortunately, now many 3G owners (like myself) won’t bother upgrading to the 3GS when I have to pay $200 extra for being a loyal apple customer. Not only that, I’ll have a bad taste in my mouth every time I see a new Apple customer with a 3GS. Where else do you see a loyal customer punished for being a loyal customer? Seriously, can you give me an example? :(

    If Apple had done this my way, many more Apple enthusiasts would have already moved up to the 3GS and passed down their 3G (as you mentioned). More sales, more positive word-of-mouth, etc.

    As you said, the ONLY explanation for such a perceived “bonehead move” is that Apple plans to drop AT&T in the near future and aren’t able to reveal this information. However, if that were the case, wouldn’t it make more sense for Apple to wait until they dropped AT&T before releasing the 3GS?

    This is a classic case of “tribal destruction” from Apple. Very sad, because I am (or I was) a HUGE Apple fan! IMO, this one bad move by Apple is so bad that it could leave a huge opportunity for competitors to overtake them.

  55. This is an exciting time for smartphones. In 5 years everyone will have one. My 2 year old son will be baffled by the thought of his dad growing up in an era without them. Right now we are witnessing the birth pangs of the transition from smartphones being clunky expensive nerd devices to mainstream “can’t live without em” devices.

  56. Based on your review, I think I should get the old iPhone 3G, rather than the one with the “S”. iPhones here in the Philippines are far more expensive compared to the U.S.

    The $99.00 iPhone at Apple.com is around $620.00 USD here. That was why only a few rich kids can own that magical thingamajig. *sigh*

  57. Hello Matt, why you say you didn’t really need copy/paste on the iphone. I am using the iphone for the last 18 months, and the most wanted feature for me was copy / paste .Now, I have upgraded my first generation iphone to 3.0. its really good. I can’t see a better phone in the market now than this one.

  58. I bought my first iphone last Friday, and absolutely love it. ‘Let your fingers do the walking’ actually means something now. Too many paper cuts back in the 70s-80s (goodbye Farrah). I find it an almost necessary business tool, but I tend to agree with the press – the 3GS is not much different than the 3G. Why pay more when you can get the same for $50 cheaper? Status? Ego? Just for fun?

    Apple has done another amazing magic trick, and it seems like the rest (again) are going to be trying to play catch up. Wish I could get ahead of the pack…..just once!

  59. I have neither an android device, nor an iPhone. But I think a big difference for geeks is the ability to install your selfmade software on your android handy without any illegal hacks, isn’t it so?

  60. duke jarbo

    Great review… I just want wondering if you’ve noticed an improvement over batter life yet? I feel that the battery drain on my new 3GS is excessive. During a typical day of use (a few phone calls [no more than a few minutes at a time], two or three emails and small handful of text messages I’m usually down below the 30% mark. As a matter of fact if I don’t use the phone at all (in anyway shape or form) I’m at the 75% mark in about 6 hours of just being in standby.

    Any thoughts on this? other than shutting all features off? Cause outside of turning my phone to airplane mode and turning off the EQ, I have done everything else according to apples website… http://www.apple.com/batteries/iphone.html

  61. my main problem with the iphone is the cost over a 2 year contract your paying a huge amount – that most people can find better uses for the cheapest in the uk is over £700 per year.

    I could buy a laptop and a netbook for that price. My last phone cost £25 and i spend less than £50 on calls

  62. Nice review Matt. Over the next few weeks it will be interesting to see how the battery life claims turn out. If they end up generally better than the 3G than I think it’s impressive that Apple have increased battery life and speed, although your early results don’t look too good. Though not mentioned in the review, the new voice control feature sounds very cool with ability to deal with sentences as opposed to single commands. Hopefully a future software release will allow users the option to turn the off copy/paste function – it sounds annoying.

  63. DB.

    6 months of my 3G contract left, O2 here in the UK like other providers have done us customers no favour! So Apple have just showed the new stuff in the old 3G case! Me thinks their designers must be working on something else for this to receive no new design.

    Good review Matt!

  64. Jag

    Can’t imagine Matt with out your cat LOL ;)

    Btw, great review

  65. Aaron

    I’ve had my 3GS for about a week now, after using the 3G for several months. I’ve noticed similar behavior in battery life. For my usual usage pattern (email, browsing, RSS feeds, the occasional photo) it seems to run down noticeably faster than the 3G. I’d estimate the battery life of the 3GS at about 25% less.

    Any others have feedback on battery life (compared to 3G)? My expectations were up to 1.5X LONGER life, so this has been quite disappointing and I’m trying to determine if I got a dud.

    Aaron

    PS: Yes, I’ve performed the “full deplete followed by it full charge” at least once since purchase.

  66. Hi Matt, I’m sorry to say this, but the only reason to think iPhone 3GS camera is cool is the fact 3G camera was really crappy. I mean 2MP fixed focus in 2008 & 3Mp AF in 2009? 3MP AF was a hit and a must 3-4 years ago. 5MP was a hit in 2007 & 8MP is in high-end phones nowadays. As for features, point to focus is cool (give credit where credit due), but where are other auto features like face detection, smile detection, blink detection? Samsung, LG, Nokia, Sony ericsson have that already.
    As for video comment: In 5 years one in 10?! I do not know anybody here in EU (except for my grand aunt), who does not have a cameraphone with video capability already. Is US really so much behind in this respect?

  67. I’m a frustrated iPhone-less man in the UK. Long have I waited for Orange UK to get the contract. I’ve been with them for almost 10 years and always very happy with the service. Just wish I had some concrete evidence that them getting the iPhone this year was true. Plenty of blogs out there been saying it for the last year, just to get traffic no doubt. I’ve spoken to customer services who tell me they are in talks, but many factors to take into account.

    I shall wait in anticipation…..

  68. Glad to see that I’m not the only bothered by the copy/paste. They really need to create a setting to turn that off or delay it a few seconds. I also like the trickle-down take, never saw it that way. As for the 3GS, as an early adopter I think I’ll skip this one and see if they can improve the battery life a bit, my 3G is bad enough!

  69. I´m a owner of the iPhone 3G and really have no need to upgrade to 3GS since I run Apple OS 3.0 on it. Also an upgrade ist too expensive here in Germany for casual users. Our provider t-mobile only seems to be interested in new customers. The new functions are cool, but not worth the price for me. I really like the iPhone and its handling. It´s kind of noob-proof. My wife recently bought the new Toshiba TG01 which runs with Windows mobile. And believe me, I wish she had an iPhone or a HTC Android.

  70. Thanks for the review! Do you know if the recent iPhone security vulnerability that was publicized applies for the new iPhones as well as the old ones? It seemed so from what I read, but I couldn’t find anything definite with respect to specific version of iPhone.
    Cheers,
    James

  71. Tom

    One of the best reviews I’ve read. Very honest and showing the bad as well as the good, so thanks. I especially like the video showing off the capabilities of this smartphone’s recording ability. IMO this is the best thing about the 3G S and why the upgrade is worth it.

  72. I used to have a blackberry, and hated it. It just seemed to complex. Then I finally exactly as you said, got my wife’s hand me down iphone.

    Man I love this thing. I love apples sense of simplicity and usability in design. And the new operating system is a big upgrade. You didn’t emphasize enough the ability to copy and paste, which is huge for a lot of things.

    Eventually all of our computers are going to shrink to the size of the iphone and beyond, and that is going to make a very interesting new world indeed.

  73. I just bought the new Iphone 3GS 32 and I think its pretty neat. This is my first smart phone so I can’t really compare it though. One flaw I have found is that if you have too many contacts the voice recognition doesn’t work. Apple had me send one phone back and replaced it (shipping on my dime) and it wasn’t the phone because the new phone had the same issue. I have over 15k contacts so they say that is too many…?

  74. Thanks a lot for the interesting and useful post. I am crazy behind iPhones. I agree, the built-in video camera is amazing. iPhone 3GS has good design and features. Surfing, tweeting, checking mails can be done in great speed with iPhone 3GS.

  75. I like our G1 and G2 phones because I can tether them to my laptop to “gotta have my Internet ANYWHERE!”

  76. I have the second edition (3G I guess), and I also find the “copy and paste” feature more annoying than useful. Although, I have used the feature and it works when needed.

  77. i’ve tried all of them (iPhones) even the new one and i think 3GS was the best one until today.

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