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iPhone 3G vitals

   iPhone 3G
   Contract dependant
Available at

   25 September 2008
   Lawrence Latif

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Pocket perfection
Apple has made the second generation iPhone a lot more accessible however not all of those changes work towards creating the perfect mobile device, though it does get closer than ever before.

iPhone reviews are on the whole, pretty useless. If you haven't already got one, there is very little in this or any other article that will persuade your lust to abate. The fact is there are few devices (with the possibility of SonyEricsson's Xperia X1) that come close to causing almost instant salivation. With this device however, Apple has opted for an evolutionary step rather than the shock and awe that preceded the original device.

Many of the criticisms with the original device have been answered, with 3G connectivity present, GPS allowing the excellent Google Maps application to really shine. On the outside, the iPhone is thinner and lighter. The departure of aluminium from the back has from our straw poll polarised opinion. Nevertheless the iPhone still feels like a well made device. However for all the additions beneath the superb touchscreen, the most important is the App Store.

Are you being served?

So why exactly is the App Store the big selling point? Well, there's some evidence to show that Apple want people to take the iPhone v2.0 seriously as an enterprise device. With support for technologies such as "push email" and Microsoft Exchange (albeit rough at the edges) one big advantage Windows Mobile users would tout is the huge catalogue of software at their disposal. The Windows Mobile platform has been around for far greater time than the iPhone, however it's clear that since it's inception, the App Store has been filling up very nicely.

The App Store isn't just about downloading games, ringtones or other worthless junk to fanny about when you are on the Tube. Actually it provides enterprises a platform to deliver applications to be used internally within the organisation. Installation is simple, updates are just as simple to maintain and when you consider that the framework for development is fairly intuitive, Apple has implemented a platform which spans both consumer and enterprise users almost perfectly.

That said, the iPhone is clearly not ready for the enterprise just yet. There's no doubt that until a physical keypad is present the Blackberry Brigade will clutch onto their devices. From an systems administration standpoint, the iPhone needs a lot of work. Aspects of the iPhone experience such as the App Store are simply building blocks towards a device which could be a dream for enterprises. Usually here you would expect to hear a rant about Apple needing to open up their platform but quite frankly mobile phones have always been relatively closed platforms and this hasn't stopped them becoming useful with third party applications.

Pushing the envelope

Upon the launch of the first generation iPhone some commentators justified the lack of 3G or GPS connectivity by saying that Steve Jobs thought these would hurt the device's battery life. Indeed 3G and GPS when active do considerably shorten the battery life of any device but on the iPhone it seems worse than most.

Problems with the internals are not uncommon with first generation Apple products however reports of poor reception, calls being dropped, yellow tinge screens and overheating doesn't bode well for Apple. If they cannot coordinate mass production and their legendary strict quality control standards then they may have to either drop their volume or their final price. In our experience of using three devices constantly since launch, calls being dropped was fairly common regardless of which carrier (when roaming) or whether using a device made for US carrier, AT&T. Improvements were noticed with the latest software used but reception problems were still present for one of the devices we used.

With all this 'Apple loviness' running there was always a worry that the device would be slow. The first device seemed to quell such fears with a silky smooth operation switching between applications and then when entering text. At times the 3G seems to get bogged down. Until a software update the address book application was almost useless. Occasionally text entry lags behind and application start-up and shutdown can have a noticible delay. How much of this can be fixed with updates is something we will have to see but at the moment the slowdowns aren't frequent or annoying enough to cause too much of a problem.

The 'complexities' of having these new features do not detract from the simplicity of the iPhone. We gave an iPhone 3G to a child with autism and saw how he got along with it. Within an hour he could easily found out how to call people, browse the Internet and even use YouTube. Other applications were child's play too. Infact the little boy managed to take screenshots of a map and figured out the main menu button. The magic of the iPhone lies in the user interface and Apple is still out there with the pack trying and failing to make significant inroads.

Success story

Ignoring the shortcomings in the enterprise arena, the iPhone 3G will be a huge sales hit for Apple. Whether or not the 3G is what the original iPhone should have been is a moot point, the fact is it has arrived and for the majority it's all things to all people. Surfing the Web or getting email is fast enough, the silly recessed headphone jack is finally gone, the screen is still extremely nice and the whole user experience is nothing short of mesmeric.

Unlike the first iPhone, which had people already thinking about what new feature the next version will bring, with the 3G, aside from a bigger battery and a physical keypad there's not much more you could want from a mobile device.

So can you get the iPhone 3G and not feel bad about it? Absolutely. It's a superb device which although still expensive, is worth the outlay for most who can afford it.