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iPhone 3GS Evolves with OS4


Strong brand, design, build quality, interface

Limited bluetooth, need latest software for best experience

Detailed rating:

Look & Feel

Durability & Robustness

Battery standby time

Value for money

Range of features

Battery talktimeGood

Camera Quality

11 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
exceptional by (18%):
  1. jipp05
  2. Drewster-Rooster
very helpful by (82%):
  1. TheHairyGodmother
  2. Hishyeness
  3. Mistee-Dreamz
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Following a brief romantic flirtation with the idea of the iPhone and a successful spell with Samsung's Galaxy Portal running Android 2.1 I am back on side and using the the 3GS 32Gb. At a higher capacity and running the updated iOS4 it is a powerful handset in a smartphone market saturated with great phones including it's bigger brother the iPhone 4.

Perhaps some may question the relevance of the 3GS in light of the technically superior model from the parent company but this is unfair. The iPhone 4 is only available on the higher monthly tariffs and many operators seem to be favouring 24 month contracts in the current climate. Additionally, if you wish to purchase a sim free handset you can expect to pay in the region of £600 for the 16Gb version and upwards of £800 for the flagship model.

At first sight the technical specifications are rather modest for the 3GS. The camera is a mere 3Mp and has no flash. There is no front facing camera at all. The display is 3.5" with a resolution of 320*480 and is excellent but now inferior to the AMOLED screens that are becoming the norm on high end phones. Wifi and A-GPS are both present but this is a given in smartphone circles and does not move it into the higher echelons of excellence.

On the surface then we have a product from a premium company which doesn't quite seem to be worthy of the prestigious Apple logo. In itself this is misleading. The mark of excellence is not in the features of the product but in how they are implemented and here Apple once again prove to be leaps and bounds in front of everyone else though the gap is closing.

The update to the 4th edition of the Apple OS brings the 3GS bang up to date with excellent multitasking which really should have been there already Apple! Being able to run simultaneous applications means using the phones iPod heritage and have music whilst you work. This also allows the use of VoiP services such as Skype and the streaming of online media from your favourite sources.

The execution of file management means dragging and dropping apps into folders with a familiar swipe and allocation of files through iTunes is pain free and easy. These basic features should never have been missing but they illustrate an important point about the genesis of the iPhone as a brand and a phone. They have taken every little thing and made it that bit better. And then they have gone and done it again. This process of refinement points to what is so vitally intrinsic to the iPhones success. Apple software running on Apple hardware. It is a simple formula that works well.

It is true that users become familiar with operating systems when they are loyal to a particular brand such as Nokia whose interface has remained largely unchanged for many years. Everything is where it always was. Personally I found migrating to Android was a bit more of a steep learning curve. After the simplicity of the Nokia some of the layout was quite alien and defied logic, at least in the Nokia sense. With iOS, if an icon says something then it does that something. The text and graphical representations lead you where you need to be without having to look at the PDF help file. Everything about it says simple. And that is what I am looking for, a simple way to implement powerful features with which to make the best use of the phone.

The one thing that all the smartphone brands have in common is there own dedicated applications market. Whilst all are useful and bring much to their respective handsets there are really only two that truly make the grade in successful terms namely Android and iPhone. I previously championed the Android cause and think it is brilliant with a huge range of both free and paid for apps. In the US Android is the biggest growing app market overtaking the once omnipotent Apple. However there are over 200,000 applications currently available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. They range from the indispensable to the bizarre but by sheer number alone you will find many you simply must have. Being such a successful and recognised brand has meant that many companies develop their apps specifically for the iPhone. The real world value of this is that you can shop for your groceries via the handset, arrange a delivery time and then find what's on in your area for entertainment. Whilst you may not wish to, you can effectively manage your life through the iPhone.


Well there has to be something not like surely? Not much really but for reasons known only to Apple, probably commercial, they have crippled bluetooth data transfer. So, I am sat at my shiny new iMac and need to send a file to my phone. Simply pair the Mac and iPhone and away you go. NO!! Despite being the same manufacturer they don't pair at all. Now my wives Nokia paired first time and sent the file straightway which I found both puzzling and annoying. It seems this more a problem with the Mac than the phone in itself but you will equally surprised to hear that you can only pair iPhones to other iPhones. Simply pointless.

Other than that I would have liked a flash for the camera. Nothing else.


Even in the shadow of the newer iPhone 4 the 3GS remains an excellent choice of smartphone giving you powerful real world usability along with premium brand ownership. Everything about the 3GS says class and the user interface is the most fluid I have ever used on any handset. Everything just seems to work the way you know it should.

The wealth of apps take solid, if slightly uninspiring technical specifications and generate a user experience that means the phone is actually quite difficult to be without. I had feedback from a friend who said the phone was rarely out of his hand and I couldn't quite understand this. Within a short time however I understood more than ever. The iPhone 3GS 32Gb with the latest software is near perfect, and we all know that perfection is impossible.

Technical Specifications:

480x320 resolution
163 ppi

3 megapixels
Tap to focus
VGA video recording
Tap to focus while recording

802.11b/g Wi-Fi
7.2Mbps HSDPA

Battery Life:

Talk time:
up to 5 hours on 3G;
up to 12 hours on 2G
Standby time:
up to 300 hours
Internet use:
up to 5 hours on 3G;
up to 9 hours on Wi-Fi
Audio playback:
up to 30 hours
Video playback:
up to 10 hours


Fantastic phone which packs a punch. Buy it or blow the family tax credits AND the overtime on the even better iPhone 4. Simple as that.
Summary: Super excellent smartphone

Originally published on Dooyoo as Icetsunami - original work

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Comments about this review »

jipp05 20.10.2010 15:37

Brilliant review, nearly missed it though with the white dot :-)

Drewster-Rooster 20.10.2010 15:12

Fab review! nice to see you over this side too!

Hishyeness 20.10.2010 15:08

Nicely done. Welcome aboard - didn't realise you were on here as well 8^)

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Product Information »

Manufacturer's product description

The first thing you'll notice about iPhone 3GS is how quickly you can launch applications. Web pages render in a fr...


MPN MC133T/A, K2760B/A, K2720B/A, K2719B/A, MB717LL/A, K2759B/A, MC133
Product Type Smartphone
Form Factor Touch


Technology WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM
Band WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM 850/900/1800/1900
Mobile Broadband Generation 3G

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This review of Apple iPhone 3GS 32GB has been rated:

"exceptional" by (18%):

  1. jipp05
  2. Drewster-Rooster

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