Monday, 20 July 2009

iPhone 3GS: A Steal at £500.

Disclaimer: The views below express my personal opinion only and are in no way representative of any company and therefore they should not be interpreted as such.

I was unfortunate enough to have my iPhone expertly stolen from me at a Kasabian gig last week. I had naively always assumed the front pockets of a pair of jeans were a safe place to store bulky items such as phones, wallets and keys due to the difficulty of getting a hand in and out undetected. I clearly underestimated the modern thief.

I could feel the phone being pushed up my leg from the outside of my jeans. This happened so quickly that by the time I had moved my hand down to my side, it was all over. I looked directly behind me immediately but all I saw were hundreds of people all going crazy to "Shoot the Runner". I could do nothing apart from applaud the stealth and skill of the thief, who stood to make a nice profit from that particular prize.

Determined not to let it spoil my evening, I called my network using a friends phone and was able to immediately cancel both my SIM and the phone within minutes of the gig ending.

Without my iPhone, I was destitute. Even on the train home, when I would usually watch an episode of Family Guy or listen to tracks from the gig whilst checking email, social networking or playing Flight Control, I was suffering.

So on Friday, I took advantage of a meeting in Oxford Circus to visit the Apple store on Regent Street and purchase the new iPhone. After all, I was always going to do this when my existing contract expired in Dec so I was simply bringing the expense forward. This is how I justified the £500 purchase to myself.

Now that I have had the phone for a week, I thought I would speak about some of the features that the 3GS model has over the 3G.

Improved Camera & Video

I am not really much of a photographer so I cannot really comment on the increased camera quality. The 3G fulfilled my needs perfectly. I do still long for the ability to take photos at night, although I do understand the potential impact that this will have on battery life and size.

The video is really good. I was surprised at the quality and how easy it was to take videos and to upload to Youtube. The videos do not scale out to be full Youtube size however, which is disappointing. Or at least I have not worked out how to do this yet.

Increased Speed
This is supposed to be the greatest feature of the new iPhone. At first, I struggled to notice any increase in performance. After a while though I began to notice a real speed increase when navigating to pages that I frequently access. Essentially, I believe that the iPhone 3GS has a better way of accessing cached web files. I generally access the same pages every day, so this increase in speed is of huge benefit to me.


I laughed when I found out that one of the main features of the 3GS was a compass. I anticipated that this is something that I will use about as often as I use a real compass.Well I have now had the phone for four days and I have already used the compass once.

I believe that the compass technology is also the foundation for more exciting geo-based apps, such as the impending TomTom iPhone app.

Voice Control

This feature is one that most excites me. In theory, it's like something from a futuristic film where the lead character simply instructs "Lights on" to activate. There is a whole set of voice commands available including both phone and iPod controls.

It may be my voice or diction, or the fact that the program is aimed at an American accent but it really struggles for accuracy. This resulted in me calling an old friend at midnight on Sunday, when my instruction was simply to "Play Artist Kasabian".

I have similar problems when trying to use Google Voice so maybe I am the problem and I should book a course of elocution lessons before I pass definitive judgment.

Improved Battery Life

A full day of meetings in London is usually enough to see the battery off on my iPhone 3G. I tend to use all the features extensively throughout the day, watching videos on the train, listening to music on the tube whilst making calls and accessing the internet via the 3G network. I also rely on Google Maps to find venues. I am pleased to say that the 3GS managed to survive this.

The new features are great but my favourite aspect of the iPhone remains; the ability to update the software for free. This means that you are buying a device that is just going to get better and better. Apple have the opportunity to listen to the feedback of customers and resolve any issues quickly as well as pass on benefits that make the initial investment even more worthwhile.

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