The hoopla surrounding the release of the latest iPhone might not be as big as when the first one came out but there is a lot more to celebrate this time around, the biggest change being the improved speed on the 3G network.
Where to begin? Well, looks-wise the new iPhone is slightly different than its predecessor. The original brushed steel chassis has been replaced with a slick, shiny black (or white depending on the model) backing that looks like it could be a bit of a nightmare when it comes to scratching and fingerprints.
One thing I didn’t expect though was the improved screen: it is considerably brighter than the older one and the colours look truer to life. The same goes for the camera function: pictures are much brighter and crisper around the edges.
Also an improvement is the earphone socket which is no longer recessed so you can stick universal headphones in, unlike before when you needed the Apple earphones with a longer connection.
Unsurprisingly, given that there is a bigger battery due to driving 3G speeds, the body is slightly fatter than the original but it is tapered off to a thinner edge, which makes for a less blocky appearance.
The main menu looks unchanged apart from the 3G symbol and the new App Store icon for downloading all the new third-party applications as promised. Thankfully, owners of both the original iPhone and the iPod Touch can make use of these applications too by upgrading their handset’s firmware to the 2.0 version available from the Apple website.
The original iPhone had Google Maps that used a sort of GPS substitute to find your location. I thought this worked quite well but the new Maps seems to me to be more accurate and loads quicker too, of course.
This increase in speed is also reflected in the Safari web browser. Pages loaded at least twice as fast, if not three times. Alas, Flash applications still don’t seem to work so I couldn’t play video on some sites.
A teensy little thing that bugged me about the original iPhone was that contacts were tucked away inside the ‘phone’ application – now it stands alone, making it much more accessible.
One of the most trumpeted features of the handset was the enterprise mail functionality – on opening up the mail menu you can now see the addition of both Microsoft Exchange and Mobileme. The settings menu also has options for push email so you can schedule how often you receive your mail.
This is an important feature because the more often you get mail pushed right onto your iPhone the faster the battery will drain. Although I have not been playing with the iPhone for long enough to fully test battery power, it had roughly the same power as my original handset and looks to have drained slightly quicker despite equal usage. Other reports on the net suggest battery power is not bad but not fantastic either.
Pros: Improved GPS, faster browsing, push email
Cons: Still no visual voicemail for Ireland, 18-month contract required.
Price: Starts from €49 for 8GB version
Verdict: Faster, shinier and with more functionality. It’s two thumbs up!
The iPhone 3G is available from O2 and Carphone Warehouse stores nationwide.
By Marie Boran