iPhone 3G - Only for the Right Crowd
Our earlier iPhone 3G preview gave a preliminary assessment of Apple's second mobile phone delivery. As the months trickled by, it's apparent that the iPhone 3G scored very well with the crowds. But think of it this way: who can truly harness and benefit most from the iPhone 3G's features? To answer that question, here's a quick look at the common core features:
The iPhone has definitely created a whole new evolution in mobile devices. Convergence has been on the tip of the tongue for so many out there, but it was Apple's iPhone that truly brought it to fruition. The competition amongst mobile phone manufacturers has heated up over the past few months, and it's evident that user interface, is the name of the game for now. The iPhone interface is simple to use, straight to the point with a one-click access to your applications, and doesn't have a steep learning curve for newcomers in the touch-screen mobile device market. With that in mind, it's not hard to see why we would give a more than favorable rating to the iPhone's UI.
Borne from the iPod lineage, one would expect no less from the iPhone 3G's multimedia delivery. And that, it did. If you're a music junkie, we can say without reasonable doubt that the iPhone 3G calls for you. While the iPhone 3G experience probably won't be complete without the iTunes Store that's filled with a ton of music downloads (legal, that is), there are still many ways to appreciate it. Firstly, with no Digital Rights Management (DRM), unlimited playback is possible when you rip your purchased CDs onto your iPhone. Besides, there are ways to go about accessing the iTunes Store even if it isn't available in the region. Examples include gift cards or even a US credit card that allows you access to the US iTunes Store, even here in Singapore.
The movie experience on the iPhone 3G will definitely impress even the most skeptical users of touch-screen devices. Its large 3.5-inch screen will give you hours of great video entertainment on-the-go. Plus, screen brightness is not an issue, since the iPhone 3G does utilize a capacitive touch-screen that doesn't suffer the problem of sunlight illegibility (well, not very notable though).
So, how does the iPhone 3G work for you? If you're thinking of your personal emails, the iPhone 3G has got that covered. Google Gmail user? You can push emails right onto your iPhone 3G with ease. How about Hotmail? It has that too. But it's not all personal, since Microsoft Exchange is also readily available on the iPhone 3G. For all the goodness that it comes with, there's something lacking within the iPhone: an effective touch-typing input. The iPhone 3G's lack of a physical QWERTY keyboard wouldn't have been so glaring had its on-screen virtual QWERTY keyboard done the job well. If you're a heavy text messaging user, or constantly replying to emails while you're on the move, you might find the on-screen keyboard cumbersome and hard to get used to.
Document editing too might be a headache for some. While you are able to preview documents such as Microsoft Word or Excel via your email attachments, that's about the extent of it. You won't get the luxury of being able to edit your documents as you head on to your next appointment. As far as documentation goes, you would do better with Windows Mobile devices such as the HTC Touch HD and the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 which we'll talk about in the upcoming pages.
Sadly, not even the iPhone is able to take on the personification of perfection. For all its glory and presumptuous values, the iPhone does suffer one or two setbacks. There's no doubt that a Wi-Fi connection is much welcomed in our region, and the iPhone 3G did fulfill that requirement (thankfully). Current users of the iPhone 3G, however, have two major gripes with the Apple device: the lack of a Bluetooth stereo A2DP profile to stream music via Bluetooth, and a debatable HSDPA connectivity speed. While the first issue will be rectified in the upcoming iPhone OS 3.0 update, the issue that many US users had with its HSDPA speeds is still under scrutiny. HSDPA speeds, however, are also heavily dependant on the cellular provider's infrastructure, and in Singapore, we should be enjoying the maximum speed, though at times we do experience slight slowdowns in downloads. This could also be attributed to the extent of the network coverage from the telcos here in Singapore. Sans a hardware update, i.e. a new iPhone which we're hearing rumors about, there's little chance of seeing a faster cellular data connection on the iPhone 3G. So for users who need a fast 24/7 internet connection, this could be the deal breaker.
It's fast. It's furious. And it has loads of applications to play with. The iPhone 3G doesn't let up with its performance. For those of you who wish to have a smooth experience with minimal crashes, the iPhone 3G does deliver upon that. There has been a strong focus on its multimedia and internet usage, and it goes without saying that the mobile device needs to reaffirm itself in the stamina department to make it useful. We do feel that the iPhone 3G does perform up to par with its 2 days usage, mixed with music, videos, applications and of course, internet connectivity.