Design and Looks
When most people think of touchscreens, the first phone that pops in their mind is the iPhone- and for good reason. The iPhone 3G has an inimitable yet quintessentially touchscreen design. It packs in a 3.5-inch TFT capacitive touchscreen that takes up the entire front fascia of the phone save for portions at the top and bottom of the form factor. And below the screen is the single hardware key- the home key. While most users say that Apple has oversimplified the design, many more prefer the single key layout to the three to five keys that are found on the touchscreen phones of other competitors. Apart from this there isn't much on the exteriors except for a silver-rim that frames the front of the touchscreen.
The back of the phone is as plain as the front and is curved instead of the flat design incorporated on the earlier iPhone. The plastic at the back is a finger print magnet but looks good nonetheless. At the top corner is the camera and the top centre houses a big Apple logo. The bottom has some inscription but that's about it. In a nutshell, the phone has classic conservative styling that exudes an understated charm that is common to all Apple products.
An integral part of any touchscreen phone is the touchscreen itself. Its performance has a make or break implication on the phone's popularity. In the case of the iPhone 3G, it is great. In fact, no other handset in the market today, regardless of being touch or not, has a screen that's as good as the one on the iPhone 3G. The colours it produces are vivid and the contrast level the screen is capable of is simply out of this world. Even the phone's legibility under direct sunlight is so good that it puts Nokia phones to shame; who are notorious for their excellent displays with above average sunlight legibility.
Now, a touchscreen's display is only half the story, the software too counts big-time. In the case of the Mac based iPhone OS, it trounces all other mobile operating systems. In fact, most touchscreen user interfaces are loosely based on the iPhone OS and since iPhone is leading the pack, its OS is unmatched in almost every aspect. It is both responsive and boasts of great menu logic- All important applications and functions are available right there on the homescreen; something you'd have to dig under several menus to get to in most other touch handsets.
There is however one glaring flaw with the OS and that is the lack of multi-tasking support. This is unheard of in any other smart phone and yet it is a distinct shortcoming that is still not rectified in this incarnation of the iPhone.
The phone's telephony is good; it offers superb reception and in-call voice clarity. But on the flip-side the phone's loudspeaker performance is quite dismal. And we do mean 'quiet'- given its performance; we doubt most users will be able to hear it in noisy environments. Another feature that still lacks in this phone is smart dialing.
The phone's audio quality is phenomenal and stays true to the iPod pedigree. The camera is poor as always and its performance not surprising given that it has the same specs as the camera on the old iPhone. We believe this could be attributable to the poor optics of the camera. Another disturbing anomaly in the camera performance is the reports from some users who say that each iPhone unit has a different camera performance than any other unit. This may be true but in any case, the camera is always bad.
A good thing about the iPhone is that it incorporates Apple's proprietary Safari browser which has proved its worth innumerable times on the PC. Its performance on the iPhone is no less by any measure except for the limiting size of the screen. But as far as mobilephones go the browser is one of the quickest and hence one of the best. The page-rendering is excellent, it has a dedicated .com button for the address bar, it offers multi-touch support and finally it has a new image download feature.
As the name suggests, the iPhone 3G now features 3G connectivity. But that's not all- the phone also packs in a GPS receiver but unfortunately no navigation software. People can still use a third party app or Google Maps but there's also no turn-by-turn voice guidance. Finally, the one application that makes the iPhone 3G what it is is the AppStore. The AppStore is the reason why the iTouch and the older iPhone were so successful in the first place. It allows people to download third party applications for use on the phone from it. While a few apps are available for free there is a small fee to be paid for some others. Apps and music can also be purchased over iTunes but the AppStore probably features a wider selection of applications.
To sum up, the iPhone 3G is a niche touchscreen phone, but at the price it's selling at you could get a much cheaper alternative with the same specs. However the unique Apple branding and the availability of the popular AppStore will burn a hole in your pocket that you can't really complain about.
- 3.5” 16-million colour TFT display
- 16GB internal memory
- GPS, 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity
- 2MP camera
- iPhone OS
- Safari webrowser
- AppStore and iTunes access