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jeaniecz

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iPhone 3G. After long waiting now it's mine to enjoy!

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28.03.2009 (29.03.2009)

Advantages:
cellphone with ipod, camera and internet all in one and in your pocket, loads of apps to download

Disadvantages:
battery life, syncing with iTunes, rubbish default earphones

Recommendable Yes:

Detailed rating:

Look & Feel

Durability & Robustness

Battery standby time

Value for money

Range of features

Battery talktimeSatisfactory

Camera Quality

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iPhone 3G


The Apple product that has been discussed, loved or hated for almost a year. I'm sure you've already read a review on it, so you might as well read one more. And just in case you are not really interested in the iPhone...did you know that the Apple logo at the back of the iPhone 3G works excellent as a mirror? Not that I care so much about my good looks, but cmon, people eat buns with poppy seeds all the time!


Available versions: 8GB Black, 16GB Black or White

Weight: 133g
Height: 115.5mm
Width: 62.1mm
Depth: 12.3mm
Screen: 3.5inch, 480 x 320 pix, resolution 163 ppi


The iPhone 3G has a hardplastic backside, the edge is metal and the front is touchscreen. According to the size specs you can see it's not a tiny baby, but that's for the sake of a huge screen, so media are more comfortably used. I don't mind the size, it fits well into my hand and doesn't feel bulky in a back pocket.
It's also well-assembled, no squeaking, the front and back hold together like a rock.
Its surface and screen are lovely shiny, which means fingerprints, grease and all kinds of mess do show instantly and you need to clean it all the time. Not that I mind. I like clean things.
Screen is protected with glass, so it's neither very vulnerable nor likely to scratch, but you should consider a protective case (I'm very happy with Crumpler's Le Royale for iPhone leather case - a review about that one next time) or at least not carry it in pocket/bag with keys and similar hard/sharp objects to ensure it won't get wounded.


Hardware keys

Front - Home button – the only button on the front face of the iPhone 3G, unlocks the iPhone - then slide to unlock, closes menus to bring you to the desktop, opens favorites. If an application gets stuck, holding Home button for about 6 seconds should force closing it.
3 tiny sensors - more detailled description below

Top – Power button switches the iPhone on and off, activates and deactivates (then slide to unlock) the standby mode.
When there is a call incoming, press once to turn off the ringtone, press twice to reject the call.
In combination with Home button reboots the device (hold both of them for a few seconds) and has a printscreen function (hold Home and Power for like a second, until the screen flashes).

Audio jack
Simcard slot

Left side – a volume control button and a sound on/off switch
Right side – no controls/buttons
Bottom – charger/USB cable socket (only compatible with Apple cables)
Back – camera, Apple logo, type specification

Supports/has: 3G internet, Wi-fi, GPS, Bluetooth, e-mail, 2mpx camera, audio (aac, mp3,wav, Apple lossless, aiff) and video (m4v, mp4, mov, mpeg4) files, 3.5mm jack, internal flash memory 8 or 16 GB


Does NOT have or support: video recorder, call recorder, voice dialling, mp3 ringtones, sound profiles (only on/off), MMS, removable battery, memory cards, erase a single sms (both sent or received)


Runs on both Mac or PC that has USB 2.0 port and iTunes 7.7 or later


Please check the Apple’s homepage to see the list of full specifications, I have listed only what I thought was most crucial as I don’t see a point in copying the whole Apple list here.


What you get in the box: the iPhone 3G, white Apple handsfree earphones, white USB cable which also connects the iPhone with the charger plug, polishing clout, 2 Apple logo glow-in-the-dark stickers (this I found funny), a tiny gadget to open the simcard rack (looks like a paperclip),warranty and a quick-guide booklet.


The default earphones are far away from the quality of my previous handsfree headset, bass quality is low, noise rather high and they jut don't fit firmly into ear, that's my biggest issue with it, but it can be used.
There's a tiny control button on it to start, quit and fastforward music in iPod. However, I'll be soon buying an inside-ear handsfree, because that's where I think music is really enjoyable.


Activation
What you have to do when you bring it home is insert your simcard (unless you have bought it with one) and connect to a computer where iTunes is installed and let iTunes activate your iPhone. This is a completely automatic process and takes like a minute, so everyone should be able to do it, then you can disconnect and start enjoying your iPhone.


Off Topic: A little about iTunes, that annoying thing
It’s the only way to copy stuff into your iPhone, by a process named syncing (synchronizing).
It uses up a lot of virtual memory, so is likely to make computers slow. I have an almost 3-year-old Acer laptop sporting 1.46Ghz Intel Celeron CPU and 1GB RAM and I have to say I would be happier without needing to run iTunes. But it works for syncing, managing iPhone and the AppStore. I don’t use it to listen to music or play videos on my laptop, because that is impossible, it lags incredibly.
-end of Off Topic-

What is there to enjoy?

The iPhone is controlled almost only by tapping on the touchscreen and let me say that the menu and controls are quite predictable and intuitive, so you shouldn’t have a problem to get where you want to.


The default desktop contains preinstalled apps (those you cannot erase), you can have up to 9 screens of icons, 16 icons per screen plus a 4-app-dock at the bottom - the apps in the dock don't change as you browse your screens. You browse the screens flicking your finger to left or right.
You can manage the app icons by holding your finger to an ico for a few secons until they start to shake and then drag and drop to put them where you want to or delete those you don't want by tapping the little cross.
If there was a new event (like a missed call, new sms or update) you will see a number in red circle above the ico it applies to.
Background is simply black and the wallpaper you set will only appear when unlocking from the standby mode.


NOTE that :
You cannot create folders (like games, utilities, business, organizer, books, documents etc.) to organize apps or files into! There is no real "tree" structure on the iPhone as we know it from Symbian, or Windows Mobile. If you are used to such a structure, the iPhone way might seem crazy to you at first, but I came to find that it's actually easier, even if less sophisticated. It's the American way - simple and does the job, not much of your thinking required. (I feel like I'm being underestimated here, but I guess I can't do anything about it...And think about that the iPhone was "designed in California and assembled in China, pardon the fun)
You don't need to think where to find what as it's all on the desktop, so instead of going "deeper" into the tree structure you only need to flick through the screens.


You can keep it messy or arrange the apps thematically or as you want so you will know approximately where to find what kind of app.


PRO: The touchscreen is precize and very responsive, looks very nice. If you have no experience with such a device, it will take a while for you to get used to it, but unless your cellphone must have a hardware keyboard and control buttons, you will get not only used to it, but you are also likely to enjoy it a lot, I do.
CONTRA: The truth about a touchscreen, as good as it can be, is that you don’t feel where which key is and that means you need to look at the phone when typing or doing sth. That might be a big disadvantage to some, especially if you’re used to type an sms on bus while looking out of the window or sth. Using the software keyboard when in a shaky environment (car, bus etc) is also much trickier than the hardware keyboard, however, I believe it's mostly a matter of getting used to it, that is, if you want to.


Sensors
Very handy stuff that improves both battery life and also makes using iPhone more comfortable. If you look at the top left corner of the black frame on iPhone’s front face, you will see 3 dark red dots. A little bit like a sniper’s gunsight, isn’t it?


Proximity sensor – Great thing! When you hold the iPhone to your ear, the screen becomes inactive. If you don’t know about this function, you won’t even notice, because as you move it away again, it comes on immediately. The sensor makes sure you won’t end your call by pressing the screen, so you don’t need to worry and hold the device as close or hard against your ear as you find comfortable. I love this really, my previous phone had nothing like that and quite a few times I really ended the call by pressing the touchscreen against my head, so I’m VERY happy with iPhone’s sensor!


Ambient light sensor – Not so vital as the above mentioned one, but also comes handy. If the auto-brightness option is on in your Settings, then the display adjusts to the environment automatically – becomes brighter in sunlight and dimmer in darkness. This helps to save battery life.

iPod – or Apple’s mp3 player, if you want. You can view a list of tracks, artists, favorites, playlists.
Double tap the screen (or tap the little button in top right corner) when playing a track and it’s picture will turn around to show you a list of tracks from the given album, very handy, especially if you like your music list sorted according to artist name, like this you can easily view the whole album available on your iPhone.


PRO: Smooth controls, good quality sound, many equalizers applicable. Landscape mode looks beautiful.
CONTRA: Supports only specified types of audio and video files. iPod settings cannot be changed in the iPod, you have to go into the Settings on the mainscreen.

Internet and e-mails


NOTE: I won’t analyze the internet connectivity much because that’s a matter of your provider and not of the iPhone. I can only say that I used the same type of mobile internet with my previous cellphone and it was remarkably slower than on the iPhone.
And the whole concept of zooming in/out moving two fingers towards or away from eachother makes the web browsing a pleasure.


PRO: You can import your bookmarks from computer, save pictures from Safari (the web browser), zooming and landscape are wonderful.
Sending an e-mail message (including attachments) is not more complicated than sending an sms message, it’s fast-working and efficient.
CONTRA: I didn’t find anything wrong here.


SMSing
What I thought was weird about iPhone is the organisation of SMS messages. You don't have a classic inbox, sentbox, outbox or optional folders to create.
You only have one SMS folder where conversations are kept. Before you open a conversation you can see the list of convos and beginning of the last msg in each one including time stamp for msgs sent/received today, "yesterday" for msgs from yesterday and name of the day for older msgs.

Each contact has a conversation shown in a live chat style (appears as if on MSN, ICQ or other messengers) with a detailled timestamp, contact's name appears on top and below the convo is a gap where you can type new SMS for that contact. Sent messages are in green and aligned to right, received in grey and aligned to left.


PRO: Like that you can easily view the whole convo, not only yours (sentbox) or the other contact's (inbox) part of it. It's great you don't have to close the convo if you want to reply because you can type a reply directly.
CONTRA: You cannot erase one single SMS message, you only can erase the whole conversation. That comes annoying when you are likely to send SMS like "ok" or "see you" or "thanks", so the convo gets flooded by one-line messages. It's also annoying if you are the kind of person who doesn't care about keeping the sent messages and only wants the received ones.


Games and Apps
You can download games or applications from the AppStore in iTunes. To be able to do that, you need to create an iTunes account and here are two options: An account with or without a credit card. If you go for option 1, your CC will be charged when you download or install paid applications. With the latter option you can only get free applications or some lite versions.

AppStore can also be accessed through the iPhone directly. All apps you have downloaded (doesn't matter if in iTunes or iPhone) will stay in iTunes, so you can uninstall and instal them again without paying twice.


I won't really dissect all the cool apps you can get for your iPhone, but believe me, there is something for everyone. You can find almost anything starting from games, funny videos and tricks, then useful stuff like business apps, organizers, e-books, news apps, travel guides, navigation tools, fitness programs, networking apps to complete nonsense stuff like fart joke apps. Just make your choice.


Battery: Life or Death
This could be better, let's admit it. If you are used to keeping your cellphone on also through nights and you don't use a screensaver, now it's time to change your habits. The iPhone has an auto-lock function or you can lock it pressing the power button, the lock switches off the screen while the device stays operational - in standby mode. It is recommended to set auto-lock on short time (options are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 minutes or Never) because the screen uses much of the battery.


You should also consider whether or not to keep 3G, wi-fi, bluetooth, vibration and localization always on, because those have significant battery consumption, too. If it's all on and you call, listen to music, play games, send smses or browse internet frequently, get ready to find your battery dying after as few as ca. 8 hours!
You can see how long has your iPhone been in standby and in use since it was last fully charged in Settings->General->Usage.


I keep stuff that I don't use off - that goes for 3G, wi-fi and bluetooth. It's a matter of a few seconds to activate them, so why keep them on when I can't or don't use them.
I have auto-lock set on 2 minutes, I thought 1 minute was too short because when you are doing sth and wanna lay the iPhone down for a moment, it locks before I can get back to it, so 2 minutes suit me better. When I'm done working with the iPhone, I always immediately lock it clicking the Power button instead of letting it wait 2 minutes. With a few calls, some smsing, Safari and iPod usage my battery lasts 24 hours easily. If I cut on the usage a bit, it can be 2 days as well.
I know that sounds funny compared to other phones, but you have to realize that the screen needs a lot of juice, as well as all the network services.
I do think they could have put a better battery into the iPhone, but maybe that will come. And with a little bit of wise usage it's not such a disaster.

What's really stupid about the battery is the fact you cannot change it yourself. Well, you can, but then you have to disassemble the complete device to get to the battery which is located under its motherboard. This is a job for an authorized service point, if you do it yourself, you lose the guarantee.
You need to use your iPhone wisely else you'll have to charge the battery very often. Another way to go is buying an external battery or an iPhone case that has a battery inside.


My opinion

This is my first Apple product, I wouldn’t call myself an Apple fan, because I’ve grown up among ppl who only used PCs and mp3 players, no Mac computers or iPods etc. Apple is also considered somewhat pricey around here, so I never had a reason to go explore.

The iPhone made a change for me as it caught my attention while the first generation was brought to the market but back then I had just bought a new cellphone, so couldn’t afford another one and I kinda ignored the iPhone.
As the second generation came, I was tempted again and after I had a chance to play a little with my friend’s iPhone 3G, I knew I was getting one sooner or later. I owned a Sony Ericsson W960i (see my review, if interested) and I WAS happy with it, but now having the iPhone I know there’s no way back.

The iPhone gives freedom I didn’t know of before. The touchscreen is awesome and responsivity of the device is really high, generally it’s way faster than my previous phone, it's swift doing what yu want it to do and it looks cute. I love the flick-browsing function, zooming and typing on the touch-keyboard is a pleasure once you have practised it a little.

What I really dislike:
The iTunes!!! I wish it would be possible to simply copy files into iPhone, because I find the syncing (synchronizing) process stupid and messy, as everytime you sync only the files you selected are copied to the iPhone. So let’s say you want to add one more song or a few applications and if you also want to keep those you already have on the iPhone, you have to sync those, too.
I wish the iPhone had a call recorder and video recorder and that I could erase SMSes one by one.


As you could read, I do have a few issues with the iPhone or it's firmware, but those are not big enough to make me not like the iPhone a lot.


Recommendation:
If you are about to buy a new cellphone and you aren’t determined which one you want and aren’t really fixed to a hardware keyboard, I suggest you go check on the iPhone 3G a little bit just to make your choosing process a little more complicated.


P.S.: Sorry if I’ve typed „iPhone“ instead of „iPhone 3G“ somewhere in the review, the review is really about iPhone 3G, so don’t let it confuse you.


And OF COURSE – here I was talking about an unjailbroken iPhone 3G running on firmware 2.2.1. When the FW 3.0 will be released this summer (most probably June), I will review the upgrades and changes.
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Comments about this review »

1st2thebar 11.11.2009 02:00

helpful - enjoyed the read

py106 16.05.2009 05:14

Fab review. Anan

tobymather 12.05.2009 09:59

awesome review TM

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Cut, copy, and paste with a tap. Send text, photos, locations, and more. Search across your iPhone. Phone, iPod, a...

General

MPN MB496B/A, MB500B/A, MB496T/A
Product Type Smartphone
Form Factor Touch

Cellular

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

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