A year after it launched in the U.S., we finally have the iPhone 3GS here in India. I used the phone extensively for over two weeks and came to the conclusion that the newest iPhone is a superior product, one that leaves its competitors way behind.
At the very outset, you should know that there is a great deal of sameness between the iPhone 3G and the 3GS. A number of features have been carried over and as a result you could be forgiven for thinking that not much has changed. For instance, support for Wi-Fi, 3G and GPS still remains. The 3.5-inch display still manages 16m colors at a resolution of 320x480. The camera has been upped by 1.15MP to 3.15MP but there is still no sign of a flash or a front camera. There is still no memory card slot but that is a moot point since the 3GS comes with either 16GB or 32GB of internal memory which is equivalent to microSD cards available today.
The most noticeable boost in speed can be noticed when rebooting the phone and when the accelerometer kicks in.
We got the 3GS with the iPhone 3.1 OS update and that really ups the ante when it comes to overall speed. The most noticeable boost in speed can be noticed when rebooting the phone and when the accelerometer kicks in. I noticed a speed jump while browsing over Wi-Fi too but that wasnât very noticeable as compared to the speeds I saw from the iPhone 3G. Of course, the speed jump is not only because of improvements to the OS but also majorly thanks to a hardware upgrade- the 3GS ships with a 600MHz processor and 256MB of RAM as compared to the 3Gâs 412MHz processor and 128MB of RAM.
The iPhoneâs big advantage over other phones is definitely Appleâs App store with its tens of thousands of useful applications. With the 3GS you can create an app store account through the phone itself and even switch between different accounts. Of course, you still need a valid credit card to actually create an account but after you have done that you will have a problem of plenty. I only wish that Apple simplified the process of registering on the app store (especially the requirement for a credit card) and took some pointers from the Android Market which just requires a free Google ID.
Design & Usability
There have been no major design changes since the first iPhone came out and the 3GS still looks as sleek and unique as ever. I will confess that I do wish Apple would add some new design elements but then again as the saying goes, why fix something that ainât broke?Â A cool new change is that the new display is âOleophobicâ (in Appleâs terms), which is supposed to make the display easier to clean. I found that not only could I clean the screen nicely with regular fabric (like a shirt) but also, the screen wasnât getting smudged all that much.
The iPhone OS is still the most usable and touch-friendly mobile OS out there. Using fingers while swiping left, right, up, down is swift and thanks to well-done kinetic scrolling, all of it feels natural. The only thing I found missing was haptic feedback and that would really add a lot to an already superb touch UI. Things do get confusing when you have pages and pages worth of apps but thankfully Apple have included a nice search tool, Spotlight, that lets you search your apps, contacts, messages and music. The iPhoneâs virtual QWERTY keyboard is also very accurate and one of the best I have seen on a touchscreen phone.
Browsing, Multimedia etc.
The iPhone 3GS uses Appleâs Safari as its default browser (although now you can also download Opera Mini). The browser integrates really well with the touch interface and also renders pages accurately. It holds the better cards when compared to the default Android browser, but it could also do with some improvements, for e.g, when completely zoomed out, text on web pages lose readability. Overall though, browsing the Web on the iPhone is a thoroughly satisfying affair.
The iPhoneâs 3.15MP camera looks timid compared to the monstrous 8MP cameras that high-end phones nowadays sport. However, the Apple surprised us with its performance. Although comparatively low-res, images looked crisp with little noise. There was oversaturation of colors, especially under sunlight but that also meant that pictures looked vibrant. The phoneâs autofocus also works quite well and the amount of details it managed to capture in close-up shots is astounding.
A picture taken outdoors and a close-up picture taken indoors (click the images to enlarge)
Low-light shots were predictably awful and I didnât particularly like the fact that Apple chose to completely discard any option for customizing settings. Thatâs right; there are no settings you can tweak around with regarding the camera, so it is highly fortunate that the camera performs as well as it does. Video recording was not as good and indoor videos looked washed out and noisy.
There is absolutely nothing wrong I can find with the iPhoneâs multimedia playback capabilities. It is by far the best sounding phone in the market and the 3.5mm jack ensures that you can pretty much enjoy the best music experience out there. The iPhoneâs large screen is also ideal for watching videos and even movies. iTunes makes it easy to convert videos in common formats for watching on the iPhone but unfortunately there is still no option for watching XviD or DivX movies.
The 3GS has a quoted battery life of over 10 hours and if all you are doing is intermittently listening to some music or executing applications, then you wonât have any issues with the battery. However, if you are planning to run applications a lot then be aware that the battery life will fluctuate between extremes depending on what app you are running.
The Apple iPhone 3GS is the perfect example of how to birth a superb idea and keep running with it. Yes, it is expensive and may be shorn of some features present in other phones, but what it does have is the best touch interface among phones, a finely honed multimedia experience and an excellent selection of apps. Love it or hate it, the Apple iPhone 3GS is one of the best phones you can buy today.