I’ve had my new 16GB* 3Gs iPhone for a week. Now that the hype is over, the dust has settled, the protective film and case have been purchased and applied… Was it worth the $199 bucks to upgrade from my original, 2G version? Here’s my analysis.
- Camera: One of the biggest improvements has been the camera. The quality of picture is clearly better, which isn’t surprising given the move from 2 megapixels to 3. Combine that with the autofocus, tap to focus and geotagging of pictures, makes this a winner for me. Especially since the camera I use for my amateur photography is on the fritz, this is a nice way to fill in the gap – although it would never suffice as my serious I’m-an-amateur camera.
- Video: Of course the other big bonus for me is the video recording. It’s amazing what people will do after you videotape them and then show them the “Send to YouTube” button. My blackmail potential has increased exponentially! The video quality is decent (VGA up to 30 fps with audio), plus you can trim the video right on the phone. For longer video, when you tap and hold a section of the video, the frames will spread out in that area so you can get pretty granular. Very nice touch. And of course geotagging of video is seamless, just like the photo geotagging.
- Speed: Like I said, I’ve been using the original 2G iPhone this whole time, so the move to the 3G network has been very nice. With the 2G, browsing over the Edge network could be painfully slow. Not so with the 3G – it rivals the speed of a wifi connection. I’m not sure whether or not the Safari improvements improved browser speed. I haven’t seen any noticeable improvements over wifi between the 2G and the 3Gs, but I haven’t used the new phone over wifi networks a lot yet. I have yet to enable my phone for my home wifi network, and haven’t been bothered by that too much, since 3G is so comparable.
- Battery Life: It’s a little difficult to determine if the battery life is improved, as Apple claims. I kept my 2G pretty constantly plugged in; I had a charger in the bedroom, one in the car, and one at work, in order of frequency of use. However, the 3Gs does not support the charging feature of the FM transmitter/charger I use in my car, so I haven’t been able to replicate my charging habits with the new iPhone. Suffice to say, I run out of juice a lot faster, it seems; but I do use my phone nearly every time I drive to play music, and now that is sucking juice that wasn’t getting sucked before, so to speak. I have noticed that there is FAR less interference with the transmission than before when I don’t enable Airplane mode, as the phone suggests I do when I plug it in. In fact, the interference was very noticeable and could get quite annoying with the 2G, especially when the phone was checking mail or receiving a call; now, there is virtually none whatsoever. Very nice.
- Voice Control: This feature is one I’m finding I like using more and more. I just wish I could voice control the current time when I’m wearing my headphones! It has made mistakes on occasion, but I find that half the time, the problem was me saying the command wrong (“play <artist name>” instead of “play artist <artist name>”). Other incorrect results are fixed by just talking a touch slower. I would say it gets it right about 85% of the time or more, however, even when I completely butcher which playlist I’m requesting. I suppose it helps that I only have a handful of playlists, too.
- Assisted GPS: Now this one is the feature that I’ve been dying for. I used the mapping on my 2G constantly, and have often wished for more accuracy and better updating of my current location to see if I’m on target to reach my destination. As recently as a few weeks ago in Boston, I ended up walking several blocks in the wrong direction because of the slowness of the updating. When I got my 3Gs, I swear I watched myself driving to work the first couple of days. Probably not a smart thing to do while driving on the freeway! I was probably giggling maniacally as well, but was too giddy to notice. It’s everything I was hoping for – accurate to within 10-50 feet, and constantly updating. I love it.
There’s other stuff that came with the new software and hardware; cut and paste, shake to undo, digital compass, a fingerprint-resistant coating, and lots more I’m sure. But these six are the ones that stand out for me at the moment.
So was it worth it? I think so. I don’t think it would have been worth it if I’d had to pay the full price, but since I was due for my upgrade through AT&T, I was approved for the lower price. At $199, I think the improved camera, video, assisted GPS, and voice control are totally worth it. Plus, I dropped my expanded text messaging plan, so my monthly bill dropped by 5 dollars. All in all, I’m quite pleased with my decision.
*I didn’t get the 32GB, since my 2G was 16GB and I barely used 5GB of that after 18 months or so. I carry about 500-1000 songs, 200-300 pictures, and 3-4 screens of apps; with the addition of video, I will probably see an increase in my average memory usage, but I don’t think that will amount to 10GB worth.