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My First Week with the Apple iPhone 3GS and 3.0 OS


By Louis Trapani - Posted on 30 June 2009

Apple iPhone 3GSNow with more than a week with the Apple iPhone 3GS and the upgraded 3.0 OS behind me, here are some of my initial thoughts on both.

Two years ago, I was on line at a local Apple store waiting among a crowd of hundreds to get the very first iPhone. It was well worth the wait (even though one could had gone the next day and simply walked in the store and buy one without waiting in line (but it may not had been the 8GB model) -- There is something to be said for waiting in line with like-minded kindred spirits though). At the time, the largest capacity iPhone was only 8GB (the other being the now long discontinued 4GB model). One rule of technology and computers is that it can never be too fast or have enough memory and data storage. Being a somewhat a 'power-user' with the various iPods I had before the iPhone, all pretty much filled to capacity, I knew that the iPhone would be no exception. In fact, I knew I would have to be selective on what I will be able to put on it because it would only have 8GB.

So from the very beginning, the 8GB original iPhone was too small for my needs right off the bat. The following year when Apple introduced the iPhone 3G which as the name implies now sported 3G data networks, plus the added benefit of GPS. It wasn't enough to upgrade at that time because it would take a leap in storage capacity to bring me on board with a new model.

I was determined to hold out until at least a 32GB model came to the market. It wasn't unreasonable as they brought a 32GB iPod touch to the market already.

It was pretty a given that there would be a new model coming out on the two year anniversary of the original iPhone as many of those owners, myself included would be out of their two year contract with AT&T and would be open to other options (and with Palm releasing the Pré at this time, it made it even more important that there would be an upgraded iPhone available for original owners).

Though I may had been content with just the extra storage capacity and increased speed of the iPhone 3GS, all the other added new features are extra cherries on top of this wonderful tasty sundae.

Features such as video recording (and editing), voice dialing, digital compass, MMS, etc. really made the upgrade path a no-brainer. 

After two years with the original iPhone, although at has been a wonderful experience, it was beginning to show its age at times. Most frustrating to myself was the speed of the email app. I have five email accounts that the iPhone uses to fetch new messages. There were times when the process was far too slow than it should be for such a task. Another speed related annoyances would be while typing, the keyboard would sometimes pause for no reason and then catch up with itself. It would randomly find itself stuck while typing. Although it didn't happen all the time, it was enough to be frustrating at times. Between it and email, I sometimes had the urge to throw my beloved gadget across the room (though of course I never did it - in fact, up until last Halloween my original iPhone was kept in mint condition (on Halloween night last year, was the first time it fell out of my hands without the case on in a cement stairwell. It scuffed the corner of it slightly. Considering the fall and being unprotected, I was actually quite fortunate). 

These annoyances are now gone with the iPhone 3GS I am happy to report. Another annoyance gone is the GMS phone interference that I would often get with the original iPhone. It was quite noisy at times. Often if I had the iPhone on the sofa while watching a movie, it would interfere with the sub-woofer of my home theater system. The new iPhone 3GS is silent around my speakers. Sweet indeed.

Flip MinoVideo killed the radio star once again with this latest model. It means I no longer need to carry both my iPhone and the Flip Mino for shooting video. I've done some initial tests with the iPhone 3GS video, and so far it has been quite impressive. I should do a demo and post it here as I did with the Flip Mino last year. There are still some advantages of the Mino such as it having a tripod mount and the way you can hold it in your hands makes for steadier video than holding the iPhone sideways. Unlike the Mino though, the 3GS will allow you to trim your video right on the 3GS and then share it online right from the 3GS without using your computer.

The iPhone 3GS sports a faster processor, as well increased RAM (doubled), and L caches.. all which aid in the speed increase. Web pages render faster, camera reacts faster, etc.

Which brings me to the camera. Another sour point of the original iPhone is the camera. Although light-years ahead of my previous mobile phone at the time, it was still disappointing. Photos were often grainy with a greenish hue. It worked best outside in the sunlight. Comparing photos taken with the my original iPhone and those of my friends iPhone 3G cameras of the same shots, I could see the difference as Apple had made some improvements to the camera with the 3G last year. Now with the 3GS, it is vastly more improved. Granted, it won't be replacing my DSLR any time soon, but at least it is worthy camera to have with me all the time.

Voice Dialing is impressive in my limited experience with it so far. Though I have heard others complain that it would not recognize their voice or commands or it would constantly pick the wrong songs/artists. Granted, I haven't used it all that much, but each time I have used it, it was spot on.

All these added enhancements come with the 3GS.. but there are more enhancements that are now available for all iPhones from the original to the latest with the release of 3.0 OS which Apple released two days before the 3GS. I had upgraded my original iPhone to the 3.0 software/firmware the day it was released. So I had a good day and half or so with it on my original iPhone before getting it on the 3GS.

Probably the most awaited feature added with 3.O is Cut, Copy, and Paste. Many including myself feel this should had been included from day one on the iPhone. Now I am glad to finally have it. I for one have been using it quite a bit now that I have it. So I am ever so grateful to have it at long last.

Another feature I thought should had been there since day one with the iPhone original is the ability to sync notes. This is now available with 3.0. The trouble is that over the last two years I hardly used the Notes app because I found it limiting since it did not sync to my Mac. I had moved it off the front page and now I have all but forgotten about it. I need to keep reminding myself that it now syncs and it would be worth while using.

Another big plus with 3.0 is Spotlight Search. Now you search throughout the entire iPhone. While I think this is a great feature, in the week or so since obtaining it, I haven't used it at all (except to test it out). I am sure I will when the need arises, but unlike Cut, Copy, and Paste, it is something I haven't taken to use on a regular basis yet.

Voice Memos is another neat new feature. While I had 3rd party apps that did the same already on my iPhone. The fact that it is now part of the OS is exciting as a podcaster because it means listeners with the iPhone have another way to easily send audio feedback to our shows.

Tethering is also a welcomed feature with 3.0. Unfortunately in the US, AT&T has not yet enabled this feature. Also I fear what they may charge for the feature on top of their already too expensive monthly fees for their service. In fact with my renewed contract with AT&T, I am paying more for less. Where previously 200 SMS messages were included in the monthly data plan, now you would have to pay $5/month on top of the data plan. Speaking of the data plan, they penalize you for the 3G service by charging $30/month instead of $20/month for EDGE. One would think two years later the cost of service would had gone down, not up. Sadly, this is not the case with AT&T. Hence is the reason I fear they will indeed charge an extra fee for tethering. This is a made up charge as data is data. For those in the dark about tethering, it allows you to share your internet connection with your laptop. So let's say you are in an area without an available Wi-Fi access, you could tether your iPhone to your laptop and use the 3G/EDGE data network to access the internet on your laptop. It shouldn't make a difference on which device you use, we are paying for unlimited data each month, and data is data no matter if it is being accessed with your iPhone or computer.

I touched only on some of the features of both the iPhone 3GS and the new 3.0 OS. For more details visit the Apple site for the other features that both offer.

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The iPhone 3G S doesn't make the same grand leap that the iPhone 3G made from the first-generation model, but the latest Apple handset is still a compelling upgrade for some users. The iPhone 3G S is faster and we appreciate the new features and extended battery life, but call quality and 3G reception still need improvement.

Louis Trapani's picture

Although this seems to be the general mantra, I would disagree. In my experience, the call quality is great. I never had any issues with the call quality of the iPhone 2G or now the iPhone 3GS. It just seems to be meme when reporting on the iPhone. I am not saying it can't be improved, but that goes across the board with all mobile phones. I will say the iPhone call quality is no worse than any other mobile phone I have used. Now having said that, perhaps in certain geographical locations this may be an issue. But in over 2 years of use, I can't really say this is an issue for me.

As for 3G reception. I've heard reports of the reception not being as good as it could be compared to other devices using the same 3G network. I can't really comment on it myself as I simply have not had enough time in the field using 3G to say.

The speed and larger storage capacity was a compelling reason enough for me to upgrade, all the other features that 3GS brings with it, brings it over the top especially when going from the original iPhone 2G to the 3GS.

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