I think I must have been one the last people to upgrade to the iPhone 3GS. I wasn’t that keen on updating considering what I thought at the time was a distinct lack of useful upgrades.

Plus, a lot of the phone companies offering the iPhone we’re asking me to pay to get out of my current contract. This would have involved me shelling out about $341 plus the cost of the handset. I wasn’t prepared to do that, no way!

So, I sat, waited and patiently lasted out my contract, which expired this month. As it happens, I did get the new iPhone a little earlier than that, and so I thought I’d basically give my thoughts on this model (even if Apple are potentially replacing it at the end of this month). I can speak realistically about this device, rather than be totally bowled over by that new Apple smell, which I think has been specifically manufactured to brainwash reviewers into writing only positive things.

So anyway, here’s my thoughts on the 3GS, and my suggestions to Apple for the next iPhone model.

Things I like:

1. Video / Camera

The original iPhone really, really let itself down here. I mean seriously, it was like 1MP? The 3G was little better, but still lacked a video camera. In 2008???? I’ve had phones from 2003 that had video on them? And they we’re windows mobiles….

Anyway, so the lack of Video was a big, humongous mountain of grief for me as an iPhone owner. I’ve always wanted a reasonable quality, pocket based video camera and so when the 3GS arrived and I finally got to play with the camcorder function, it was an experience.

The built in mic (which I presume is just the phone mic) is pretty good. There’s a hint of hiss and noise, but the level is acceptable, especially if you compare it to something like a Flip Mino.

Quality wise, the extra MP works a treat. Pictures look much sharper, have fewer problems with high ISO looking images and in all add a much tighter look to the image. Another new feature on the 3GS camera is the auto-focus box. At least I think it is. This box appears when your taking a picture before the camera adjusts and focus on the area within the box. If this was on the 3G I never noticed it 🙂

Switching between the video camera and normal photo based camera is pretty slick too. This is achieved via a simple toggle switch in the lower right. This area will also toggle it’s orientation when shooting in landscape mode. A typical touch of Apple-esque smoothness


All in all this is probably the most useful feature. But Apple really need to stop scrimping in this area now. The next iPhone should really have more than 5MP to compete. It’s one of the biggest let downs to the line in general. HD recording would be nice, but highly unlikely – just be happy if Apple boost the camera to more than 5MP!

2. Performance and Speed

The 3GS was touted as been twice as fast as the previous gen iPhone. This is most noticeable when playing games on the device. The experience beforehand was never sluggish, but now with the extra juice, the iPhone is probably as good as a PSP in terms of games.

In terms of reliability, 3.0 the upgrade worked well, but we’ve had very few apps crashing or safari randomly closing since upgrading.

Apple also bolstered the HD sizes. We picked a 16GB model, which hold a good amount of music, or several feature films. This model is much more competitive, but Apple would really benefit themselves by adding more space or user replaceable storage. Chances of that? Nil.


3. Case

Ok, so the case was never upgraded. But instead of picking the black model, we decided to shake things up and purchase the white iPhone. So far, we love it! The case has a much different appeal to it, and hides scratching / scuffing a lot better than the black version. Our biggest wish for the next gen iPhone would be a silver / chrome back, just like the iPod touch. Perhaps Apple will consider using the unibody cnc machining process on the iPhone. Now that would be slick….


That’s probably everything that really jumps out.

Things we don’t like / could be better:

– The design

Shock, horror! The iPhone is probably the best looking phone around, but it’s getting quite dated. Every website on the web probably has a picture of the iPhone at least somewhere. So we hope Apple make an appreciable change to the design (and perhaps simplify it) in the next round. Maybe they’ll get rid of the bezel. Who knows.

– More stuff

The iPhone has space. We pulled one apart recently to upgrade to the max. So why not make use of it? Include a bigger camera, a front facing video camera and bigger speakers.

That’s what I think of the 3GS. It’s kind of like marmite. You either love it or hate it. It’s also like buying every new OS by Microsoft. Each version looks a little different, and performs a little better, but fundamentally, it’s still the same OS released in 1993.

Hopefully, the next-gen iPhone will be a little more out there in terms of features and changes from the current line. We certainly hope so. One thing you can rely on is Steve Jobs constant striving for perfection…