iPhone 3g review

See my NEW iPhone 3G S Review – June 2009 Here. Last year I wrote one of the most detailed unbiased iPhone reviews on the net. It has drawn over 97,000 reads to date! So I thought it only appropriate to follow it up this year with a review of the NEW iPhone 3g. When I wrote my review last year I was comparing the iPhone to all other devices I had used including the Palm Treo 650 and Motorola Razer. This year, I'll be comparing the iPhone 3g to the original iPhone. 


My buying experience

Last year's iPhone launch was VERY organized. This was the biggest hardware launch in Apple's history and quite frankly, they nailed it! I thought to myself "this should be the model for releasing new hardware to the masses." You could tell that months of planning had gone into it. Granted it wasn't without problems, but for the most part things went very smoothly. Last year, you stood in line, got to the counter/checkout person and said either 4GB or 8GB iPhone. You gave them your credit card and they gave your iPhone and emailed you your receipt. The whole process took 5 minutes for me once I got to the front of the line. Then you went home or back to the office and activated your iPhone using iTunes. Yes there were some issues on day one (and throughout the weekend) with the activation servers being overloaded and some people having to wait longer to get their iPhones activated. Overall though, the launch was a huge success. This year things didn't go so smoothly. There were MAJOR issues on day one. Apple chose Friday, July 11th not only to release the new iPhone 3g, but also to release the 2.0 software update for the 6 million iPhone users out there and to roll out the newly revamped MobileMe online service. Some would call this ambitious! Some might call this stupid. Hind sight is always 20-20 and I guess Apple severely under estimated the demand that these simultaneous launches would have on their servers. The problem was that not only did Apple/AT&T require you to activate your iPhone on the spot at the time of purchase, but they also require people updating their original iPhones to be reactivated at the very end of the 2.0 software update process. This was quite frankly too much for the servers to handle and they crashed/timed out early in the day. Even though Apple was quoted as saying that the average activating would only take 10-15 minutes before the iPhone went on sale, it just doesn't work that way. Apple/AT&T even handed out iReady rate sheets to people in line so that they would be prepared to walk up and ask for what they wanted. However, people are going to have questions. Each question is going to delay the purchase process and make the people waiting behind them wait even longer. I would guess that the average activation was taking more like 20-35 minutes. You might ask, "why would Apple go away from just selling the device and letting you activate it on your own time?" The problem with the last launch/iPhone was that there were thousands of iPhones that were never activated on AT&T. These phones most likely ended up in other countries on other networks. Therefore, both companies lost money. So to prevent that from happening, you have to signup for your 2 year commitment before you leave the store. It's clear that this was not a limit of the technology. When the activation servers crashed, reports say that some Apple Stores just sold the iPhones and told people to activate them when they got home. I would have much rather seen Apple offer an "optional" pay, let's say $599 up front and the difference in price would be credited back to your credit card immediately upon activation. This would have made things go much quicker for those that didn't want to activate there's on the spot. Friday, July 11th 2008, 6:00 AM PST I was in Los Angeles on Friday the 11th getting ready to deliver my InDesign Seminar to a FANTASTIC audience of over 600 people. My seminar started at 10AM and I had to be there to get setup no later than 9:40AM. So my plan was to head over to the local AT&T store by 7AM. The doors were to open at 8AM and I figured I'd be out by 9AM. Before I headed over, I was talking with my buddy Scott and he told me that the iPhone 2.0 software update had just come online. So I hung up the phone with him and decided "well I can install the update while I'm showering and getting ready." That was a mistake! While the update downloaded in a about 15 minutes and installed in about another 20 minutes, I was STUCK at the "Accessing iTunes Store" stage. The last part of the process which talks to the iTunes activation server could not complete. I was running out of time. So I disconnected the iPhone which did no harm, but I was basically holding an iBrick. Without completing that last step, the iPhone could only be used to make emergency 911 calls. I had to leave if I was going to get to the store!

I made it to the AT&T store a few minutes later than I had hoped. I was 112th in line. One of the AT&T reps walked the line and counted and assured everyone up to about the 125th person that they would get an iPhone. After that person, you were not guaranteed to get one because they were not going to have enough. 8AM came and the doors opened. The line moved a bit. 8:15 came and went. 8:25 came and went. The line didn't move again until about 8:30. This was not looking good. I had my MacBook Pro with me in line (still trying to connect to the iTunes activation server to reactivate my phone). When 9:00 came, I knew that I might as well leave. There was no way that the line was going to move fast enough for me to get in and out before my seminar. So now I had no iPhone. My old one was still bricked (un-activated) and I couldn't get the new one. I finally got connected to the iTunes activation server during my lunch break and got my original iPhone back up and running again. After my seminar was over at 5PM. I called the Apple Store (knowing that AT&T was now out of stock) and I was quoted a 4 hour wait!!! I decided that it wasn't worth it. So I went to dinner and then on to the airport to catch the redeye home. After about 2 hours sleep, I made it over to my local Apple Store (Somerset Troy, Michigan) at 9AM. There were about 30 people ahead of me. I walked out with a 16GB black iPhone 3g at about 10:50 AM on Saturday morning. When I left the store, the line had grown to about 100 people. On to the review…


Let's start with the new hardware

The iPhone 3g looks very similar (read almost identical) to the original iPhone, especially when you're looking at them from the front. However, when you look at the from the sides or the back you'll see that Apple has added a few more curves. The side volume control buttons and ringer on/off switch are more sleek and the stainless steel back plate is now a shiny black (or white) plastic. Although it's technically no thinner, it feels thinner in my hand. The slick black plastic also feels easier to hold. This is one of those things that's hard to convey in text. You'll have to hold one in your hands to get what I'm talking about here. By going away from stainless steel on the back and going to plastic, reception should be improved. My calls do seem to be very crystal clear. I'm also happy that the iPhone 3g fits nicely into my favorite iPhone case, the DLO Hipcase.

3g data and GPS The iPhone 3g includes not only a 3g data transceiver but also a GPS unit built-in. Although I loved surfing the web on the original iPhone, I would always hesitate to do so when I wasn't connected to Wi-Fi. The previous model relied on EDGE and while EDGE speeds were OK, it wasn't something that you would look forward to using for hours on end. The big new thing about the new iPhone 3g is that it can use AT&T's (and other carriers around the world) faster 3g (3rd generation) faster data network. Apple bills the iPhone as twice as fast and I would have to agree. In some respects they may even be being a little modest. The iPhone 3g is definitely much much much faster at loading complex websites. It loads text based websites almost instantaneously.


Although Apple includes a GPS with the iPhone 3g there is no turn-by-turn navigation feature. I've heard several theories on this including one that suggests with the case design, and power to the GPS, it's just not strong enough to do this. However, the GPS is strong enough to show and track your location on the Google Maps app. I tested this by plotting a route from my house to a local video game store. Once I got in my car and tapped the Locate Me button, the iPhone 3g showed my location with a pulsing icon. As I drove the route the iPhone 3g was VERY accurate in showing me where I was. It does work, but turn-by-turn with voice prompts would have been much better. Perhaps whatever the limitations are can either be overcome by a 3rd party developer or by Apple in a future software update. Smaller lesser phones have this, so how hard can it be? Geotagging your pictures! Another benefit of the GPS and Location Services of the iPhone 3g/iPhone 2.0 update is that when you take a picture with the built-in camera, the GPS data (longitude and latitude) are now stored in the metadata of the shot.


Here's a shot I took with the iPhone's built-in camera. The iPhone automatically put my location information in the file. If you click the photo it will take you to Google maps and show you where I was standing 🙂


If you import these shots into apps like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, you'll be one click away from seeing exactly where you were when you took the shot. Headphone jack and dock connector Apple did away with the funky recessed headphone jack from the original iPhone. Thank God! It was a pain in the butt to have to not only buy an adapter to use your favorite headphones, but also remembering to carry it with you. Now just about any set of standard headphones should work for listening to your iPod content. Although the iPhone 3g uses the same dock connector as all previous models and other iPods, I'm hearing reports that you can no longer use the old Firewire based chargers. There may also be issues plugging your iPhone 3g into the various iPod speaker systems out there. Typically Apple now provides a dock connector adapter with each new iPod they introduce. However, I haven't seen one yet for the iPhone 3g. Backwards compatibility The one bad thing about the slightly more curvy back is that the iPhone 3g doesn't fit properly in the original iPhone dock. Nor does the iPhone 3g come with a dock. If you want a dock for your iPhone 3g you'll have to buy it as a $29.95 add on. That doesn't bother me as much as the fact that I have the Apple Bluetooth Headset which comes with a dock that charges both the iPhone AND the headset. With the iPhone 3g I can't use that dock and Apple hasn't announced or shipped a replacement for it. So I either have to use just the iPhone Bluetooth Charging Cable which does work (charges both the iPhone 3g and the Bluetooth headset) or charge the iPhone and Bluetooth headset separately. Although Apple no longer includes a dock, strangely enough they do include a SIM eject tool so that you won't have to sacrifice one of your small paper clips. Granted I've swapped SIM cards on occasion here and there with my previous iPhones, but I can't imagine the average user doing this often. So I'm not quite sure why Apple included this tool. Perhaps it's for troubleshooting.



The other new item in the package is the newly redesigned USB charging adapter. It's much smaller! As a frequent traveler I do appreciate SMALLER electronics. However, the one thing I liked better about the older larger model is that the prongs folded down when not in use and for travel. On the new one the prongs are extended all the time. Phone Reception After all at the end of the day the iPhone is a phone! Therefore, nothing else really matters if you can't make or receive calls. I'm happy to report that the phone reception is BETTER! I would even say MUCH BETTER. There is a AT&T dead spot near my home. If I drove through that intersection while talking on my previous iPhone (hands-free of course), I would drop the call 100% of the time guaranteed. So the ultimate test was driving through that area today. Not only did I not drop the call, but the sound quality of the call remained consistent. As a matter of fact there are 3 dead spots on the way to my studio. I held a conversation today all the way from my house to the studio without a single drop. So therefore I'd have to say that the iPhone 3g definitely has better phone reception. Also I have to note that the speaker/speaker phone is definitely louder. Today I found myself needing to turn it down because it was too loud! Bluetooth Hands-free My car has Bluetooth hands-free built-in and it's compatible with the iPhone. The iPhone's Contact list downloads directly to the dashboard and I can look up numbers, make and receive calls without touching the iPhone itself. I noticed two differences with the iPhone 3g/2.0 update. The first is that now my contacts are listed last name first on the car's display. Before the update they were listed first name then last name. So if I were looking up Joe Smith, I'd go to the J's. Now I have to remember to go to the S's. No big deal, but I did notice it immediately. Also I now notice a slight echo when I'm on a hands-free call. It's not bad, but it is noticeable. I don't think the caller can hear it, but I sure can. Other than that, pairing and voice quality remained unchanged. It just works. Battery Life? It's hard to judge battery life at this point because I haven't had a "normal" day of usage yet. Like any other new toy I've spent most of the time playing with it, testing and reconfiguring settings, etc. So of course I've drained the battery faster than usual because the screen is on the whole time I'm playing. If you pinned me down. I'd have to say that battery life is less than what I had before, but again that's not fair as I haven't really used it the way I normally would yet. So let's just say the jury is still out on this one. 


The NEW 2.0 Software

Granted the addition of 3g data speeds, a GPS and a standard headphone jack are all welcomed additions to the iPhone 3g, however the big news is the updated OS. iPhone Software 2.0 comes on the iPhone 3g and is available as a FREE update to the original iPhones. It's also available as a $9.95 upgrade for iPod touch users. With the iPhone 2.0 update Apple fixed some long standing issues. One of the issues I had was an intermittent syncing problem. That issue seemed to be resolved. They also not only tweaked some of the existing apps, but made it possible to add native 3rd party apps. Search your Contacts (it's almost there) I have over 1,000 contacts on my iPhone and it was a pain in the butt either having to scroll up and down the long list or break them down into groups. Now Apple has included a search feature right at the top of the Contact window. I was very happy to see this addition. It works, but it's not quite there yet. In Address Book (Apple's contact manager) on the desktop, Apple got search right! You type in what you want and no matter where it is in the contact record, it finds it. However, that's not quite the case in the iPhone search. For example, let's say you have a contact that is listed as a business, "BMW Dealer", but you also have the sales rep's name in the name field "Jim Edmondson". If you do a search for BMW, it comes up. However, if you search for Jim – it doesn't! Searching for either BMW or Jim in Mac OS X's Address Book would find the contact. New and Improved Calculator The original iPhone calculator was basic, but had a big flaw. There was no "Clear Entry" key. So literally there was no room for error. If you were keying in a bunch of entries and made a mistake, hitting "C" would clear the whole thing. Now in iPhone 2.0 hitting "C" performs a Clear Entry (of the last entry) and you can correct your mistake! YAY! FINALLY!. If you need a Scientific Calculator just rotate your iPhone and your basic calculator turns into a Scientific Calculator. Neat! New Contacts App Apple has provided an additional way to get to your Contacts. It may seem like duplication of effort at first and it is. However, from what I'm told, this was one of the most requested features. The ability to get to your Contacts in one tap without having to go to the Phone app first is welcomed. I must admit that I've used it a few times already and I like having this additional way to get there. Microsoft Exchange and Cisco VPN! – Official Enterprise Support At Last!!! This is BIG! Most major corporations use Microsoft Exchange for their Email, calendar and contact serving. The original iPhone software only supported Exchange via (relatively limted) IMAP support. Most corporations weren't willing to turn on Exchange IMAP support for their users to use iPhones. iPhone 2.0 changes all that! This is largely because IMAP just doesn't offer enough in terms of features/security such as remote wipe and requiring a password on the device. Now there is Microsoft's Active Sync support built right in. My employer's IT department is the best! They were very eager to see this support in the iPhone. Not only were they one of the beta testers, but they had corporate email, calendaring and LDAP contact support up and running for iPhone 2.0 users on day one! It's a joy to be able to get work email pushed out to my iPhone seamlessly and better than I've had on any previous device. I can also access web pages on our intranet for the first time with the iPhone's built-in Cisco VPN support. This also alleviates the worry of losing my iPhone or having it stolen and someone accessing my data. Corporate IT departments can institute a password requirement and remotely wipe a missing iPhone once it's reported stolen or lost. The remote wipe is secure and writes 1's and 0's repeatedly to the iPhone. Even if they pull the SIM card or turn off the iPhone. Once the iPhone is back on the wipe will continue. There is no way to stop it. Setup was a breeze and done over the air. I had it up and running on Friday before I left LA. This will mean that the iPhone will now be open to millions of business users that couldn't have used the original iPhone (software). This is probably one of the most useful additions to the 2.0 version for me. Push Email, Calendars and Contacts for the rest of us Apple also rolled out MobileMe on Friday. MobileMe replaces Apple's aging .Mac service. The new MobileMe service is cross platform now for both Mac and Windows users. The $99/year service gives you 20GB of online storage, an email account and access to your contacts, calendar, pictures and files from any internet connected computer. What's new and more relevant to iPhone users is that this service offers "Push" email, contacts and calendars for iPhones. Similar to what a corporate Microsoft Exchange user would get. The idea is that you wouldn't have to plug in your iPhone just to sync a new calendar entry or contact update. These updates would happen in both directions over the air. Once the MobileMe servers actually came online and stabilized, my "Pushed" information worked as advertised. My buddy sent me an address and phone number change. I made the change in Address Book on the Mac and noticed the change just happened automatically on the website version of MobileMe. Then I checked my iPhone 3g and it was there as well! I added a calendar appointment on the iPhone and checked my iCal and it was there. Although MobileMe seems to work as advertised there are a couple things I'd like to see improved. The first and probably the biggest thing is that I have multiple iCals, "work", "home" etc. Then I have some that aren't important enough to have with me on my iPhone. However, with MobileMe you either have to sync ALL or NONE of your iCals. There is no way to pick which ones go out to the iPhone and which ones don't. Worse is that if you subscribe to other people's/organization's calendars there is no way to have Subscribed calendars pushed out to your iPhone via MobileMe. For example, my wife and I share each other's personal iCals. She subscribes to mine and I subscribe to hers. Now with MobileMe "push" there is no way for me to see her iCal on my iPhone. This is a serious omission and I hope this gets resolved/added in an update. Yes it's for both Mac AND Windows users! I can't stress enough that while .Mac was for Mac users only, MobileMe AND the iPhone are cross platform. That's one of the reasons why Apple changed the name from .Mac. So on the Windows side, MobileMe and the iPhone 3g/2.0 offers support for Microsoft Outlook. You'll get the same "Push" abilities with your Outlook calendar and contacts. 


A couple of undocumented features

With every new iPhone software update there are usually a couple of features that don't make it into the headlines. This iPhone 2.0 update is no different. The first one I am very thrilled about as I'm a co-author of "The iPhone Book", this one will be a tremendous help in finishing the update and that is the ability to natively take a screen shot of the iPhone screen. Simply hold down home button and press the power button to snap a picture of the screen. The picture is then added to your Camera Roll and can then be downloaded to your computer or emailed. The next one is a smaller, but welcomed addition and that is the Mail app now has a BCC (blind carbon copy) field. Also you can now switch the outgoing account that the mail is going to come from on the fly (this only works if you have multiple email accounts, of course). 


3rd Party App Support

Aside from getting my work email and pushed content from my contacts and iCals, 3rd party App support is the next biggest favorite of mine. No software company can do everything. Apple is no different. Therefore, I'm very happy to see Apple open the iPhone up to 3rd party developers. There are some really great apps for the iPhone and on day one Apple announced over 500 apps that are available in the iTunes App Store! Many of the apps are either free or very low cost. Some of the new apps even addressed some of my early criticisms of the iPhone. For example, I was surprised that Apple didn't include iChat (instant messaging) on the iPhone in addition to SMS. No worries because AOL has made AIM for iPhone available as a FREE app. Also I couldn't believe that there wasn't a Movies widget that would let you see theaters, movies and show times. Now I have two. Movies.app was my favorite web based iPhone app. Now it's a native iPhone app. I also found BoxOffice. I haven't decided which one I like best yet. They're both FREE! Apple makes it pretty easy to add 3rd party apps to your iPhone. You can either download them using iTunes and then sync them to your iPhone or you can use the new App Store icon right on your iPhone to buy/download free apps. If you grab an app directly on your iPhone, it will be backed up to your your computer the next time you sync. Some of these 3rd party apps are really clever and take advantage of the built-in features of the iPhone. For example, Bank of America's "Mobile Banking" app uses the iPhone's location services. If you ask for the nearest ATM it will give you the option of keying in a zip code or simply finding it based on YOUR current location. The game Super Monkey Ball uses the built-in accelerometer and motion detectors of the iPhone to turn the entire iPhone into a game controller. Simply tilt and turn the iPhone to control the monkey through the game. Having 500 apps available on day one is just the beginning! I expect to see hundreds more apps in the coming months. 


My top 10 favorite iPhone apps

Remote, AIM, eBay, Movies.app, Mobile Banking, PayPal, Blackjack, Super Monkey Ball, MySpace OK and then there's PhoneSaber because it just makes me (and everyone I show it to) laugh 🙂


However, the app that I'm most anxiously awaiting is Slingbox for the iPhone! That will be a killer app. 


Still room for improvement

The iPhone 3g along with the iPhone 2.0 software update goes a long way towards improving an already great device. However, there are still dozens of things I'd like to see added! For starters, the one thing keeping the web experience from being perfect or near perfect is the lack of Flash support. Hopefully Adobe can get this on the iPhone soon. It is in the works! The iPhone still lacks some other basics such as MMS messaging (the ability to send/receive pictures/movies/sounds from phone to phone directly), voice dialing and video recording. Here is my original list of "50 Ways To Make The iPhone Better" (via software updates). The ones that Apple has added via iPhone software updates recently are colored blue and the ones that were added either via iPhone 2.0 or 3rd party software have been colored green. The ones in black are still on my wishlist:

1 – Ability to use My OWN ringtones (sounds, music, etc.) The iTunes store will NEVER have some of the sounds I want to use.

2 – Sync Notes to the computer

3 – Cut/Copy Paste system wide

4 – Email anything (besides notes, photos URLs) Contacts, maps, directions, voicemail messages as attachments, etc.

5 – MMS (Multimedia Messaging – send pictures/movies directly to another phone)

6 – Consolidated Mail inBox and an easier way to jump between accounts than going back, back, back

7 – Flash support in Safari (this is now my number ONE request).

8 – Video and Voice (Memo) Recording (3rd Party)

9 – Color coded or Separate Calendar views (just like iCal does today)

10 – Searchable Contacts (there but still needs improvement)

11 – To be able to assign ringtones to groups of Contacts (it's really a pain doing them one-by-one)

12 – Wireless Syncing iPhone to Computer over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi (MobileMe Push)

13 – Voice dialing (3rd Party app – Speechcloud Voice Dialing – I haven't tried this app yet)

14 – Dial-up Networking (use the iPhone as a modem)

15 – iPhones on AT&T corporate plans (discounts or not, I shouldn't have to setup a personal account to use the iPhone on AT&T)

16 – Landscape Keyboard entry in all the apps

17 – Additional Audio email attachment support for files in Vonage (u-LAW encoded) WAV format

18 – Email to a group of Contacts

19 – iChat/AIM built-in (3rd Party)

20 – Calculator CE (clear entry) key

21 – Native Microsoft Exchange support (MS Direct Push or 3rd party support).

22 – Wireless stereo music playback over Bluetooth and AirTunes

23 – A one button Redial feature (example: triple tap the Home button)

24 – A "Dialed" list in addition to "Recent" and "Missed Calls"

25 – Ability to play music directly from the Slideshow feature

26 – Built in Unit Converter (I expect a 3rd party app for this)

27 – To Do's, sync'd with iCal/Outlook

28 – Password/Pin protected Notes

29 – An option that lets me choose what screen I land on when I wake my iPhone; it can either be (a) whichever I screen I was at last, like it does now, or (b) I can choose to always start at another screen (like the phone favorites, or the Home, etc.).

30 – Being able to rotate Mail 90 degrees

31 – Keynote app (now with TV out, you could use your iPhone for slide presentations without needing your laptop)

32 – Pseudo GPS based on cell towers to tie in with Google Maps feature (iPhone 3g includes a real GPS too)

33 – General file storage like a USB drive (Enable iPhone as a Hard Drive)

34 – Support for Stereo Audio over Bluetooth headphones

35 – Support for a Bluetooth Wireless Remote AND the ability to use the iPhone as a Remote

36 – Sound Profiles (example: I would create a profile that turns off all sounds except incoming calls for traveling)

37 – Auto dialing of a string of numbers/pauses (ie. you dial your company voicemail and tap a button to dial your ext. and pin)

38 – Built in "Movies" widget (show times, buy tickets, trailers) Yes I know there are good web based ones. Having one built-in would be faster to access and could remember your settings. (3rd Party)

39 – Safari password remember/store feature (Keychain for the iPhone)

40 – Multiple email signatures (also the ability to assign default ones per account)

41 – Mail spam filtering

42 – Mail Rules

43 – Full Bluetooth support on the Mac (Browse the device, dial from Address Book, etc.)

44 – Delete multiple items at once such as emails

45 – iPod songs as Alarm sounds

46 – A true RSS reader (the one in Safari desktop would be a good start) (3rd Party)

47 – Call duration display

48 – SMS to multiple Contacts

49 – .Mac Push Email

50 – The ability to direct ALL of the Audio sources over Bluetooth (such as email attachments, audio on web pages)

51 – Built in Dictionary/Thesaurus (3rd Party)

52 – Add a ".com" button on the MAIL keyboard as well.

53 – view PowerPoint attachments and now iWork files too.  So as you can see Apple has made progress towards my list 🙂 


The Bottom Line

I still feel the same way I did a year ago. The iPhone is not perfect! However, in my opinion it is the quite simply the best smartphone out there! The iPhone 2.0 software update brings 99% of what's on the new iPhone 3g to ALL iPhone users at no additional cost. Although Apple bills the iPhone as "Twice the speed, half the price", the iPhone 3g will end up costing you more than the model it replaces. This is due in part to the fact that AT&T raised the charge for unlimited data from $20/month to $30/month. They also no longer include the 200 SMS text messages like they did before. To get the same 200 messages as before it will cost you $5/month more now. When Apple says "Half the price", they are really referring to the cost of entry. The iPhone 3g now starts at $199 for the 8GB. That's a far cry from the original price of $599 (then dropped to $399). Also since this is a subsidized phone, in order to get the $199 or $299 price for the 16GB model, you have to either be NEW to AT&T or eligible for an upgrade. I watched a guy storm out of the Apple store because he hadn't had his existing AT&T (non-iPhone) phone for 18 months and therefore didn't qualify for the upgrade pricing. The iPhone 3g is available in a black 8GB model or your choice of black or white in the 16GB model. The iPhone is available here in the US by either visiting your local Apple store or AT&T store. To see many of the new iPhone features in action, check out Apple's iPhone 3g Guided Tour.


iPhone 3g News Since My Review: iPhone 2.0.1 Software Update Speeds Up The iPhone


See my NEW site for App Reviews and News – bestappsite.com


60 Replies to “iPhone 3g review”

  1. Terry, I think I can fix two peeves. Search the App Store for the application Speech Cloud Voice Dialling and you’ll be able to voice dial!

    In the preferences you can also change if you want your contacts sorted by first or last name. Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Contacts > Sort Order/Display Order

    I’m also very jealous to see that there is a PayPal app that’s not available in the Swedish App Store, hate that they differ throughout the world! Terrible limitation there.

    Great review as always man!

  2. Hi Terry.
    Fantastic review. Really helpful. I gave up on the original line too in Edinburgh, and ordered one online… Hopefully it arrives today and hopefully apple will sort out all the points on your list with the next release!!

    Interestingly I’ve started using soocial, busysync and missing sync to get my current tre0 650 to sync up, and i’m keen to see if there is any way round having to use mobileme…

    There is bound to be other ways out there!!

  3. Erik Thanks! I’ve added Speechcloud to the review. The problem I have with Display Order is not on the phone, it’s on the display in the car. I play with the settings to see if it affects what shows in the car’s display over bluetooth. Thanks again!

  4. Hi Terry,

    Great review. Just a few points I want to make about the iPhone, photographically-speaking.

    Have you noticed that, when you swipe through Photos you’ve synced to it, it automatically zooms them to fill the screen, therefore ignoring the aspect ratio? It’s kind of annoying if you’ve got a 4:3 image, ‘cos you should see black letterbox bars, but you don’t. You have to keep zooming out of every image you go through.

    Also, have you figured out what the native gamma is on the screen of an iPhone? It appears to be 1.8 Mac gamma, so doesn’t match up with the standard 2.2 PC gamma. I could be wrong, but I think that’s the case.

  5. Great Terry. I can add that it actually works really well even recognising Swedish names that are in my address book! One should get your book for the 3G version because I now have a good reason to, the iPhone finally is released here =D

  6. Great review Terry, thanks.
    My experience for the first 3 days is that my battery has been draining very quickly. Now, granted, I’m using it more continuously, trying out new apps and new features of 2.0 software than I would be in normal usage. But, even so, it seems very power hungry. Today, I am going to try using it with “Location Services” turned off, except if I need it for GPS. I’ve had it on all the time over the past few days, and I’m hoping that’s the culprit in draining the battery more rapidly than I’m used to with the first iPhone.

  7. I think I can answer your question about the Contacts app.

    While on a phone call, try adding or editing a contacts information within the phone app. You CAN’T. BUT if you hit the home button and then use the Contacts app, you CAN! I don’t know why they just didn’t add that ability to the phone app though. Perhaps it is also possibly for 3rd-party software as you suggest.

    I totally agree, it feels much better in your hand, it doesn’t feel like it’ll slide out of my hand like the first one does. It makes using it one-handed much easier.

    Excellent review Terry!

  8. Aaron,
    You’re right. I just discovered that right before your post while on a call. I needed to verify something in the Contacts and bingo! I said, that’s why they made the separate Contacts app.


  9. Hi Terry,
    Excellent review on the iPhone 3G. I live in Malaysia where Apple has decided NOT to sell the iPhone. I wonder why. But I have used the iPhone before and its a great gadget and an OK phone. I surely hope that Apple will be selling the iPhone 3G in this part of the world soon so that I can lay my hands on this beauty. Could you also let me know whats the software upgrade needed to be able to play my own songs as ringtones on the iPhone?

  10. Great review! And thank you for the tip on why they had a separate Contacts app. I had been trying to figure out why they added it and now it makes sense. Lack of it was annoying in the 1.x software as I got used to having it on my iPod touch.

  11. Terry,
    Thanks for an excellent review and a great site. I even went back and read your review of the original iPhone. Both are very clear, concise, unbiased, and informative. I’d definitely like to hear more about the battery life as people have more experience with it.
    I held off on purchasing the original, but I am definitely going to buy the iPhone 3G within the next week or two; there are still lines at the Apple stores here in NYC and most of the AT&T stores are out of stock for a few days. Thanks again!

  12. Awesome review Terry!

    In adding to the response about the phone displaying photos, has anybody noticed that the screen is displaying photos slightly darker and with a slight yellow tint compared to the original iphone (same photo showing on each)? I bought a 16g black.

    The brightness on the original phone was set in the default middle. Even with the brightness on the new phone turned up all the way, the image is still not as bright / good on the color.

    I am a professional photographer so Im very critical for the pictures displayed on the phone. I really liked the original phone for viewing photos.

    I could possibly have a defected 3g. Im thinking of exchanging it for another and if the problem still exists, I may get a refund and go back to my original iphone using the 2.0 software.

    Id love to hear if anybody else noticed this or has a solution.


  13. Here’s a question I’ve not seen asked or answered anywhere. Since I am about to order a new 3G iPhone through my company, and since I already own the original iPhone, I’d like to give the original one to my husband to use. What’s the process for that? His current phone is on AT&T, but how does he transfer his account to the iPhone? Would we have to go to an Apple Store or an AT&T store to sort it out?

  14. Lynn, depending on how you deactivate your old one, he should be able to set it up in iTunes with his existing number.

  15. Thanks Terry,

    Of course, now I want one. Maybe I can get my company to buy me one (hint hint). I’ll add a caution though. I went to an AT&T store in my area after seeing the 3g map online. It seemed to indicate that 3g was not offered in my entire state! Bummer.

    So, I went in to ask about it, and the nice lady told me that my state was currently covered, AND 3g would be supported in November?!? So I pressed her. What did that mean? Was 3g available or not? She said it was available on the edge network. ???!?! Had I been a less-savvy person, I wouldn’t have realized that she meant that the phone would WORK as a 2.5g phone until November when 3g would become available. She clearly didn’t know the difference (or she was just trying to snow me) between the two and decided to try for the sale anyway. Tsk tsk.

    Caveat Emptor.

  16. hi,
    i was just wondering if you can use your own music and ringtones for the new iphone 3g?

    thank you

  17. Vivian, yes you can use your own music as ringtones. There are various utilities for Mac and Windows to do this.

    Methods are:
    1) Music you purchased from iTunes can be converted into ringtones IF the song has the little bell icon next to the name.
    2) If you are a Mac user, you can use the latest GarageBand to convert any sound/song into a ringtone and send it to iTunes
    3) If you are a Mac user, you can use a 3rd party utility like iToner ($15) to convert your own music into ringtones
    4) If you are a PC user you can use the utility at iphoneringtonemaker.com

  18. Great info Terry! I can’t seem to get geotagged photos to link to Google maps. How’d you do it? I can see the lat and long in the “Get Info” for each photo, but when I export it to post to my blog – nothing.

  19. Terry,

    Great review. Thank you so much. I am wanting an iphone so badly as I am a Mac addict, but I am also not willing to change to AT&T. Do you have any idea how long the iphone is locked into AT&T? I had also heard that Verizon turned the iphone down. I think this was a huge mistake. Do you see Apple expanding to other carriers in the future?

  20. Ashley,
    Thanks! Apple signed an exclusive 5 year deal with AT&T. So technically there are 4 years left. They can of course break the deal and pay if need be, but it’s anyones guess as to if and when they will do that.

  21. Hi, Terry, I’m seeking permission to reprint your article iPhone G3 review in the monthly pdf newsletter for the Corvallis Mac User Group, Mouse Droppings. I saw it first in MacCompanion and Robert Pritchett said to ask permission directly from you. I’ll add a link to your website and give you full credit, of course.

    Thanks in advance, Terri Anderson, ed.

    Corvallis, Oregon

  22. Terry, did you happen to get an iPhone 3G case? What have you seen and liked? I’ve tried three so far and returned all of them. I’m waiting for Incase to come out with a Slider for the 3G, which they have said should be mid to late August.

  23. Joe P.,
    I’m still using my DLO hip case. It’s my favorite and still fits the iPhone 3g.

  24. I’ve just bought the 3G iPhone and synchronised all my information – I have set the Contact up to display first name then last name, but sort by opposite order, however it displays all my contacts by company name – is there a way to sort this or do I have to go into each one to delete the company if I don’t want them stored this way? Any advice gratefully received. Apart from that very happy with new phone – had original iPhone since launch in the UK and it has changed the way I work (for the better) and the applications tool has brought great extras (although they do drain the battery a lot quicker)

  25. Terry, I switched Mac from windows in May, (about 5 years after my kids told me too) just lost my Verizon phone and your review convinced me to check out the iPhone. The only possible drawback is ATT; Verizon works great on the East Coast and I’m reluctant to leave. Anyway, thanks for your great revivew–I’m off to the apple store today!

  26. hi terry

    Nice review. As i finished reading your reviews on iphone 3G, i was convinced and made a right choice that i confirmed my purchase of iphone 3G. Iphone 3g will launch this coming friday Aug 22, 2008 here in the philippines.. can’t wait to have it. hehehe thanks a lot there…will wait for other comments/reviews on the new iphone 3G…thanks and take care…

  27. Terry,

    great review. I’ve had mine since the friday after launch and by far the best phone (hands down) that i have ever owned(surprisingly the Nokia N-Gage ranks up as a close number two). I use the ToDo app for work and personal to-do’s and it is a great app, and you can sync with web based to-do lists (toodledo.com and rememberthemilk.com) and you can also sync your iCal with at least toodledo.com.

    It is because of the iPhone that I decided to switch to a macbook…the first apple product since i had an Apple IIe about 18 years ago.

  28. Terry,

    Great review. As a current Treo guy, could you tell me how the device does on memory? With all of these apps, mp3s, email and photos how do you have any room left for anything else such as .pdfs? I have numerous .pdfs that I reference regularly at work. I’d like to be able to have these on my phone but as you know the Treo support for .pdf is very limited.

    Can you talk about how the I-phone handles memory usage? I have a Treo 700p with 64MB and a 4GB memory card. I don’t think the Iphone can come close to allowing me to bring that much data with me with just 32MB of Ram. Thanks!


  29. Robert, the iPhone can in fact bring that much data with you and MORE. Since the iPhone comes in both 8GB and 16GB models it would be at least double what you’re used to now. You have pretty much the entire 8 or 16GB’s of space available to you for your music, movies, tv shows, videos, podcasts, photos and files.
    If you’re really interested in carrying around a lot of PDFs with you, then I would suggest the $4.99 app called FileMagnet. Otherwise you’d have to store your PDFs as email attachments.

  30. two silly questions: does it ave a regular old fashioned speaker phone?? and does it have a reminders setting so that when calls are missed or text messages etc come in and aren’t viewed right away, a sounds goes off every 30 seconds or so to keep reminding you?? great review. most helpful thing i have read. thanks.

  31. Terry, thanks for the quick reply and recommending File Magnet. It looks like exactly what I need but I use a PC so I will not be able to use it. I need to find something that will work in a similar fashion on my PC.

    Michelle – Yes, you can use the Iphone as a speakerphone. You other question was also answered in the comments section of Terry’s blog. I would recommend you read through all the posts or at least all the comments. You’ll find a lot of use information there and answers to questions you probably haven’t even thought of.

  32. Great review, terry — thanks. I have two quick questions:

    I’m a PC user who is considering moving to the iPhone when I’m eligible for an upgrade in 5 months. Is there an app that will allow me to import and edit MS Word and MS Excel files on the iPhone?

    I currently use TV and movie themes for ringtones (downloaded from the AT&T site) on my Razr. I’d like to use the same ones on the iPhone, but I went to the AT&T site to see what ringtones were available, no iPhone options come up. Does the iPhone support this type of ringtone, or will have to figure out how to make them on my own? (I all of the music on my current iPod has been downloaded from my own CD library).


  33. Kathy,
    The iPhone doesn’t currently allow Editing of documents. You can view them though.
    There currently are no TV/Movie themed ringtones on the iTunes store (the source to buy ringtones). However, there are a few utilities out there that will allow you to make your own iPhone ringtones from your own sound files. Check out iPhoneringtonemaker.com


  34. The iPhone 3G are selling 2x as fast as the original and lines are constantly forming outside of Apple stores and other carriers

  35. The iPhone is great but is no longer “quite simply the best smartphone out there”. It will have a hell of a battle with the Nokia E71 – a phone that checks almost everything in your list of 50 – and is as sleek and responsive as the iPhone. The screen is no where as large, but is of good quality and comes with an excellent keypad.

  36. I have an issue that I cannot find ANY info on … ANYWHERE …

    I have numerous business accounts that I deal with. I prefer to list them in address book as “Company” as I typically deal with several people at each company.

    Within Address Book on my iMac, the program allows me to list multiple “Name Fields” and I can even “customize” the title of those fields. All of this is perfect.

    But when I sync to my iPhone it ignores all of these entries!

    The ONLY “name field” is the 1 single entry just below the company name

    I want the rest of my name fields!
    I do not want to have to have a separate address card for every individual person at every company I deal with.


  37. I love my iPhone, but I cannot live with the battery life. I had to charge my phone twice today. I can’t believe it dies so fast!

  38. beats me why the price is so inflated outside the US.

    23000baht or US$659.00 in Thailand

    900 aussie or 623 US$ in Australia

    Just who is inflating the price is not clear, but perhaps Mr Jobs might be able to tell us.


  39. Dear Terry,
    I have just purchased a pair of hearing aids with bluetooth and have had a G3 iPhone since summer. Is it possible to send my iPhone Audio Files (Music and Audiobooks) to my G3’s BT so I can her them via my hearing aids? Or, does it only work with the telephone.

  40. Terry:

    Great review and very helpful for anyone thinking of upgrading from the original iPhone to the G3. But after reading it I’m still unclear about one thing–whether or not my original iPhone with the 2.0 upgrade now has GPS.

    I’ve downloaded 2.0 to it successfully, and have since tried to use a GPS based app called Golftrax with it, but it doesn’t seem to work.

    The GPS on Golftrax searches, but is not able to find me. The supplier of the app seems to think I have to have a G3 iPhone in order for their app to work.

    Is there another way to test the GPS feature to determine whether or not it’s working?

  41. george,
    The original iPhone does NOT have a GPS. That is a hardware feature of the iPhone 3g and can’t be added via software updates.

  42. Terry:

    I have a Q on Verizon and use it as a modem to gain access to the internet.

    Is there a way to do this with the iPhone?


  43. Terry,
    I’m suffering from iPhone lust, but AT&T wireless is not available in my admittedly remote location – Page, Arizona. Are you aware of any initiative on the part of Apple or a third party to make iPhones useable with another provider such as Verizon?

    1. Stan,
      Apple is in a multi-year agreement with AT&T. While anything is possible, I don’t expect to see the iPhone on different carriers here in the US anytime soon.

  44. Great review! Thanks! Read both… the first generation iPhone review and this newer one. I have been an AT&T then Cincular then AT&T customer for I dunno… 15 years more or less. I have to say that their [customer care phone] support has always been lacking which is typical of “support” providers in third world countries. Some of their retail stores are great. Others are consistently horrible. I usually have bars (Portland, Oregon) although not if I head out to the boondocks. If Verizon offered the iPhone and if they weren’t so much more expensive I would switch in a minute. I have to say that if it wasn’t for the iPhone, I would most likely not stay with AT&T. So this alliance with Apple was smart on AT&T’s part.

    My questions: Does the iPhone support regular SMTP/POP mail or does it have to be Exchange or IMAP? We use UNIX sendmail servers which I currently access with a T-mobile Blackberry. I love T-mobile’s dirt cheap, very reliable, unlimited data pricing but their network isn’t nealry as good as AT&T and Verizon. Giving up my T-mobile ($30) and paying $30 more to AT&T for unlimited data would be a wash… except that T-mobile has been a very good vendor to me and AT&T has pretty rotten customer service. No SMTP/POP would be a deal breaker for me.

    Next question: I have a hearing disability and the Razr I’ve had for the past few years is about a useless as it can be phone for me. I have a Motorola bluetooth headset thing that plugs in my ear (it was $50 or so) that makes teh Razr a bit better…. will the iPhone accept this device? Reading your reviews it sounds as though the iPhone is very selective about what Bluetooth gear it will work with.

    Happy to hear that you talked about the iPhone *PHONE* quality and reception. I truly do not care about a phone’s bells and whistles. What I care about is being able to hear the person I am talking to, and not having my calls dropped. Great job!!!

    1. Frank,
      Yes, the iPhone definitely supports POP and IMAP email accounts.
      Your Motorola BT Headset should pair fine to the iPhone.

  45. Sorry to bother you again Terry but I was talking to an Admin who buys a lot of these phones and she told me something that, if true, would probably be important to some buyers.

    She said that you are required to register the iPhone with Apple and that you are required to provide a credit card number “in case you want to download any music”.

    Well, as you say in your review, I am buying a PHONE not an ipod. I don’t care about the music download capability and I will NEVER be purchasing any music. I’ve been cheated several times when I reluctantly gave up my cc number “just in case I incur any incidental charges” only to find myself being billed for huge, recurring charges that are spelled out in the fine print somewhere. Mercedes Benz pulled this on me with their cellular help feature (similar to GMs’ On-star) and I had to file a formal complaint with the Oregon DOJ to get them to stop billing my card. I have no desire to go through anything like that again!

    I presume that you can confirm/debunk whether the cc requirement is true or not. If it’s true, it’s a total deal breaker for me and it’s certainly a financial liability that prospective buyers should know about in your reviews.

  46. Frank,
    when you register the iPhone you will need an “Apple ID”. To get an Apple ID you will need either a Credit Card or Paypal account. Your card will not be charged until you make a purchase. If you never make a purchase, then it will never be charged for anything.
    Apple has literally hundreds of thousands of CC’s on file and if they were “randomly” charge people for things they didn’t buy, there would be riots in the streets. They’ve had my number on file for years and not once have I been charged for something I didn’t buy.
    Sorry if it’s a deal breaker for you, but it is a requirement.

  47. Great reviews, Terry! Here’s my question:

    I noticed that Apple does not support Hearing Aid compatibility. I have two hearing aids and so I am worried that I will get interference, buzzing, etc. Do you have any information about how good the iPhone works with hearing aids?

    Thanks for any help you can provide.

    Keep up the great work!


    1. Mark,
      A quick Google search doesn’t reveal much in terms of hearing aid compatibility. You might want to stop into your local Apple or AT&T store and take it for a test drive.

  48. Terry,
    I am translating your book(co-author with Scott The iPhone Book 3rd edition) into Chinese, and have some question to ask you, If you can see my post here, Please send a mail to me by grj1116@gmail.com ASAP.
    Thanks very much!

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