Hands-On Review of the iPhone 3G S


After months of speculation, Apple announced the iPhone 3G S at the recent Worldwide Developers’ Conference.  On June 19th, the California-based company released the most anticipated mobile phone of the year.  This time around, Apple has beefed up the insides of the iPhone, sporting a new faster processor, more RAM, a new graphics platform, and new features.

We picked up our iPhone at launch at an AT&T store; however it seems that the best way to buy an iPhone right now is through the Apple Store.  AT&T stores nationwide are out of stock with no word of when shipments are coming in.  By contrast, Apple Stores are saying they receive product in daily and are able to handle transactions immediately.

The iPhone 3G S comes in two different capacities: $199 will get you the 16 GB version and $299 will get you the 32 GB version, assuming you are either upgrade eligible or willing to sign a two-year contract with AT&T.  There are also two colors available, black and white. Note that if you buy a protective case, the color choice is moot.  Consumers should be aware that they will be charged sales tax on the full price of the unit, which is $799, which might be an extra $30 to $40 they didn’t expect to pay.  The data plan for the 3G is $30 per month, which gives you unlimited internet access.  Text messaging rates are separate from the data plan.

The first thing you’ll notice is the sleek design, which hasn’t changed from the 3G model, but is a huge update from the original iPhone.  With the addition of the 3.0 Operating System, there are a ton of new features to get excited about.  First and foremost, the new phone sports video capability.  The video works through the new 3.0 megapixel camera and features automatic white-balance and custom focusing.  Once you record your video, you can trim the timeline and then share it by directly uploading to YouTube or sending it via e-mail.  Here’s a quick sample video that was uploaded to YouTube:

<object width=”445″ height=”364″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/nqz3BvLQhFI&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0&border=1″></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/nqz3BvLQhFI&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0&border=1″ type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”445″ height=”364″></embed></object>

At the end of the summer, AT&T customers will be able to share their photos and videos from within text messages.  Other 3.0 software updates include Cut, Copy, and Paste, which allows someone to copy the text from any application and be able to paste it into another.  For example, if someone text messages you a website, you can copy it from the SMS portion of the phone, open up the Safari web browser, and then paste it without having to remember it.

Another really slick feature for the new phone is the Voice Control option.  By holding down on the main button at the bottom of the phone for a few seconds, the Voice Control feature comes up.  Simply say “Call” and then a person in your contact list and your phone will automatically find them and dial.  You can also control your iPod features by saying “Play” along with a song or playlist.  The Voice Control option isn’t 100% accurate, but is very slick and has worked with great regularity for calling contacts.

An underrated feature in the new phone is the compass.  Many of us aren’t full-time hikers and have absolutely no need for a compass.  However, the phone fully supports turn-by-turn GPS and will show your bearings on a map as you drive around.

Having been a longtime user of the original iPhone, the new iPhone 3G S is a tremendous upgrade and well worth the investment price.  The speed is lightning fast for applications within the iPhone, living up to the “2x Faster” claim that Apple is promoting.  The 3G network is fast for internet browsing and the new features, specifically the video, are absolutely awesome.

The good news for poker players is that between the amazing speed of the 3G network and the robust OpenGL graphics platform, the device is ready to go for internet poker.  I can just imagine playing on PokerStars or Full Tilt Poker on this baby from anywhere in the world.  The only thing in the way is the development time from the poker rooms plus the approval from Apple to release the application.  However, online poker will likely have to be licensed and regulated in the United States before that occurs.

The iPhone 3G S is a sure-fire winner for AT&T customers who want a truly productive device.  You have a phone with movie making and picture taking capabilities that is also a full-blown iPod with the best operating system and applications.  Although there might be other phones with beefier hardware, there’s no doubt the iPhone 3G S surpasses them with industry support through robust applications.  For AT&T users, this is a no-brainer upgrade and people on other networks might just want to jump ship for the best iPhone yet.


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