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iPhone 3GS First Impressions

Posted by on Friday, June 19th, 2009

iPhone 3gs

A while ago I broke all the geek rules on this blog by declaring Why I am Waiting for iPhone

iPhoneThe iPhone is coming to the UK this weekend and I am shocked myself to tell you this, but I will NOT be in the queue to grab one.

The problem was not that I did not like the phone – I really did, the problem was that there were several features that I really needed.

I have gotten used to retrieving emails at the top of mountains, skype chat on frozen lakes, and remote managing servers from the beach. This gadget has allowed me to blog on planes and on motorways, and catch up with documents in several continent’s Starbucks.

Yes, I am an Apple-loving geek, and many of the iPhone features do have me lusting over the device, but after careful research I have found not one but ten deal-breakers:

1. Modem
2. 3G
3. GPS
4. App Support – (Skype, Remote Desktop, VNC)
5. Edit Word or PDF
6. Removable Storage
7. Camera + MMS
8. Downloads
9. Bluetooth
10. Java / Flash

You might be already aware that most of these are now fixed in the iPhone 3GS, so today I queued up with the other geeks early and grabbed my iPhone from the Apple store!

I did not keep my Pocket PC based smartphone for long. In fact for the last few months I have been using a combination of an iPod Touch and an aging Nokia n95 with the 3g connection shared via wifi. This gave me confidence that the platform could do most of what I need to do and my requirements actually changed over time.

Let us have a look at my check list to see how things have changed …

  1. Modem – You can now tether the phone to provide laptop internet data access but expect additional fees unless you jailbreak your phone to unlock it. I am disappointed from an over charging point of view, especially as you are supposed to get unlimited data!
  2. 3G – This was fixed in the previous iteration, but supposedly this version ought to be able to get the full 3G 7.2Mbps HSDPA speeds.
  3. GPS – Not only is there “Assisted GPS” support, but a compass for directional navigation (useful for when you are on foot), and screen rotation within turn by turn directions in apps like Tom Tom.
  4. App Support – (Skype, Remote Desktop, VNC) – Remote desktop support was the first to go, I no longer do any server management – all of that is outsourced and I am happy that way! But you can get VNC clients for iPhone if you need to. There is Skype, kind of. It is not 100% perfect (for example right now it is refusing to import my contacts) but it is there.
  5. Edit Word or PDF – You can not edit as far as I know, but using the Files Lite application I have transferred 200mb of PDF and other office documents for viewing, and you can also open them from email. Since I wrote the previous article, Google Docs has become far more popular for “road warriors” so I expect this to be less of an issue anyway.
    At this point it is important that I mention that Cogniview (the company that lets me have fun on this blog) is the maker of the top PDF To Excel converter. And now onwards with the iPhone review…
  6. Removable Storage – No removable flash memory but I have signed up for the MobileMe “cloud storage” service and expect that will mitigate this problem.
  7. Camera + MMS – Yup :) In fact I am pretty happy with the autofocus 3mp camera, and video results, see below.
  8. Downloads – There are various workarounds, including some that involve jailbreak, but file management is still an issue as Apple seems to want to force us to only use the App store and be limited with what we can download.
  9. Bluetooth – Bluetooth is present but not great, an area for improvement. In fact the staff at the Apple store today said it was the one area where they were disapointed. That said, I am not a big BlueTooth user so can live without it.
  10. Java / Flash – I have come round to the thinking that the lack of Java and Flash is not a big deal, now that the YouTube solution of a custom application has been brought up to spec with the user login now enabled.

So I am super happy :)

Applications I have installed are:

  • Mobile Fotos for Flickr uploads and management (features Geo Tagging ability)
  • Tweetdeck for Twitter, and allows syncing with desktop – nice!
  • Skype, as mentioned before
  • Last.fm – streaming audio baby!
  • Google Earth
  • Sky+, for remote managing my DVR and seeing upcoming TV shows
  • Evernote, note taking and desktop/cloud syncing
  • Files Lite, as mentioned above

The camera quality is very good compared to previous models. Although the megapixel count is not as high as the n95 at only 3mp, the autofocus does make a big difference to the actual results. See below.

Mon-keh

Video is not only good quality, but you can even edit right in the phone!

(I forgot to rotate the phone, but it does do landscape)

So, over all happy.

Let me know what you think in the comments …

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