The killer feature is in the name. This iPhone offers 3G data speeds, rather than the much-maligned EDGE of the original. GPS is the other major new feature, with plenty of other tweaks. However, the iPhone 3G’s release also coincides with Apple’s launch of the App Store, allowing users to buy and download applications from the handset itself, or within iTunes.
What we like
We love 3G data speeds, the iPhone no longer feels like a slow-coach when you’re not in range of a Wi-Fi network. Although you’re obviously at the mercy of O2’s 3G network, when reception is good, using the Safari browser is a much less frustrating experience. Apple has changed a big flaw from the original iPhone too – the headphone jack. The first iPhone’s headphone jack was recessed, meaning you couldn’t fit your own headphones in without a converter — it’s now flush, so any 3.5mm headphones plug straight in.
There’s a new black plastic back and overall the iPhone 3G feels more comfortable in your hand. If you’re a fan of Google Maps, you’ll be chuffed with the inclusion of GPS. Apple has also made a noticeable effort to improve in-call audio quality. Business types will appreciate the new support for Microsoft Exchange, too. Plus, there are all the benefits of the previous model: an idiot-proof interface and beautiful big touchscreen.
Finally, we love the App Store, which has more downloadable apps than you can shake a stick at – including hundreds of games. However, it’s also available to original iPhones updated to the latest software.
What we don’t like
There are still some baffling omissions in the iPhone 3G. There’s no MMS (update: MMS and other features are now available via 3.0 update) and you can’t use the GPS to do turn-by-turn navigation. The iPhone 3G’s battery life isn’t dreadful, but it does need a daily charge to keep going — and if you’re using Wi-Fi and GPS regularly, maybe even more than that. The battery still isn’t removable, unlike most mobile handsets.
The camera is no improvement over the original iPhone’s either, meaning you get a weak 2-megapixel camera with little in the way of extra features, and no video.
The iPhone 3G corrected most of the most glaring flaws in Apple’s first-gen handset, including the slow data speeds and dodgy headphone jack. It’s an excellent device and the App Store makes it one of our favourite phones ever. Despite a few annoying omissions and a lacklustre camera setup, we highly recommend the iPhone 3G.