First Impressions: iPhone 3G S [Verdict: Worth My Wait]

Say what you will about the 3G S &mdash that it seems more like version 2.5, instead of 3.0; that it looks exactly like the 3G and, at the very least, should have featured some design tweaks (like new colors); that you're crazy to spend $200-$300 on a phone in this economy. Fair enough, but whatever... it's a NEW iPHONE. I awoke at 4:45 am PST today to stand in line among all the fanboys (and girls) jonesing to get their hands on the latest piece of gadget goodness descended from Mount Appleympus. In short, I'm STOKED with the hardware bequeathed to us from Apple. A big part of that, however, is the fact this is my very first iPhone*. For two years, I've listened to all of you brag about the updates, flex those apps, and bitch about AT&T &mdash which, in and of itself, seems like a right of passage into the iClub. Well, I have my first semi-rant: I experienced mega-issues porting my T-Mobile number to AT&T. This was complicated by the fact one port got started, did not go through, and was supposedly canceled by AT&T, but was never actually canceled. Thus, each subsequent attempted port never went through. In the end, I spent TWO hours in the Apple Store. I can't believe it took that long, but I will say Apple customer service was truly fantastic. They allowed me to purchase two phones (one for my wife), despite the fact I only reserved one. Never mind the bollocks, here's those quick, first impressions I've had my phone for a little over four hours, and while I haven't put it to the paces with speed tests and other comparisons, I'll go out on a limb, joining my pals at Gizmodo and other writers &mdash some of whom have had this thing for some time now &mdash and declare this iteration to be a solid buy.

• The auto focus works tremendously well for still and video. A simple tap and you're not only there, but the picture re-focuses in a fraction of a section. A simple, tiny slide of the finger lets you toggle between still and video, too. Not instantly, but the minor lag is maybe 2-3 seconds. It's also interesting to see when and where Apple decides to incorporate all the gestures in its arsenal (pinch, tap, double tap, slide, etc.). In this case, sliding works rather well, since two separate buttons simply wouldn't fit the space as comfortably.

• The video quality is pretty damn good (30fps). From a cursory glance, I'd say it looks as good if not superior optics to what I've been getting from the Nokia N97 (i.e. the video I shot this morning of an eager-beaver fanboy bum rushing the Apple Store).

• The processor is noticeably awesome. Again I haven't done any side by sides, but it just feels fast, particularly when you're working between multiple applications, switching from phone to video, etc. You could argue that's my wallet talking. Then again, you can't shake a stick at that added MHz.

• Voice Control is solid, not amazing. It did not recognize my mother's name on the first try, but did when I slowed down (pretty good considering how much Google Voice mangled my last name*). When I requested my phone to play music from Department of Eagles, it did it immediately.

• I can't say much for the battery just yet. But so far so decent. I fully-charged mine and have had it unplugged the last hour during some light usage (Twitterific, texting, maps, camera/video), and only a tiny sliver of the battery icon's disappeared.

• I haven't used the compass. Now I just need a good case. *I tested the 3G for Wired's 2008 Test issue. I liked it. But a contract from T-Mobile kept me from making the switch. I've known for 12+ months that I'd be making the switch. My contract literally expired this week. So really, even if they hadn't released a new iteration, it's safe to say I would have bought the 3G. **To be perfectly fair, I do realize it's significantly easier to recognize a name than it is to translate it to text.

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22 Responses to First Impressions: iPhone 3G S [Verdict: Worth My Wait]

  1. stevew says:

    UPS delivered at 8:55 AM Friday. Maybe it is just because I’ve been playing with the new toy a lot, but the battery life appears to be shorter than an 18 month old 2G.

    I had a screen guard on the 2G, but just carried it raw in a front pocket. The 3GS will just stay as it came out of the box, no cover, no case.

  2. anonymously says:

    This phone has MP3 functions will be even better

  3. BCJ says:

    Thanks to some quality Rogers service, I can’t actually pick mine up until tomorrow. I got to the store right at 10 (when the store opened), and was informed that their activation system was dead due to too many people trying to buy iphones. They were supposed to call me tonight if the system came back online.

  4. Brad S. says:

    @1 – Thanks for the heads up. That is an awesome case!!

    Due to ATT’s crappy policy, I can upgrade my phone at the “new” price, but my wife can’t. It’s going to take all my power to convince her to let me do it and leave her behind in 3G-land!

  5. Colin Knox says:

    Actually, I switched from TMobile to get a 3g as well. I was only 3 months into a 2-year contract, and I got out for free with a simple phone call. You just have to know the magic words- “I saw my last phone bill. The amount that it varied from my expectations was a materially adverse affect. I’m legally entitled to get out without a penalty. No, I wouldn’t like a better deal.” (at this point, they tried all sorts of sweet offers, but I just said “I’m getting married and will share my wife’s phone”, which shut down every one of his arguments).

    Anyway, in case anyone else reading is in your boat, but still has contract left- they can’t keep you against your will, no matter HOW much they subsidized your last handset.

  6. jaber says:

    Thanks for the heads up. That is an awesome case!! Office Furniture

  7. murrayhenson says:

    I can recommend Otterbox’s iPhone 3G Defender case… especially if you are often outdoors, Geocaching or whatnot. There are a few caveats to this case, though: while your phone will fit into your pocket, the case’s rubber is quite grippy/sticky and makes putting it into your trousers’ pockets a bit unfeasible. The upside is that the case’s rubber is quite grippy, so …you can really get a grip on it.

    One other note: non-Apple/approved connectors probably won’t fit. The regular USB cable/charger fits with the case on just fine. But the USB interface to our Citroën C4 is too fat, as is the no-name brand cigarette plug charger that we bought. Disassembling the case takes about a minute or less.

    One last note: I really DO recommend this case, especially if you’re going to be outdoors in the dust, rain, snow, etc. You’re going to feel a LOT better about having your phone with you in those sorts of environments and you’re not going to worry about it all because this case is pretty rugged.

  8. Futuna says:

    he way i lose phones I buy cheap Digicel phones and wrap them in Cling Film when I am near water,I live on a beach on the caribbean.Where ? Go here

  9. theawesomerobot says:

    The intec slider cases are hands down the best cases for the iPhone.

    Can’t go wrong with the screen protectors from PowerSupply though – more important than a case IMHO.

  10. Nerfgun says:

    “The processor is noticeably awesome” – that got a laugh from me

  11. Ikenishi says:

    If you want to try your new Iphone at its bests, you can dowload – legally and for free – a movie called “Torno Subito”, which is the first free movie available on Itunes Store!

    “I’m proud that Apple decided to welcome our movie on their platform – declares Damiani – using my friend’s iPhone i discovered how it is simple to download applications and songs; so i decided to put my movie there for free!”

    “After only one single day of broadcasting – affirms the director – “Torno Subito is the most downloaded content on the Italian version of iTunes. I really hope we will get a similar success also abroad! Our movie has ben accurately subtitled and the theme is pretty universal and enjoyable in every corner of the planet!”

  12. Anonymous says:

    It’s awesome that you own up to being an irrational fanboy. You are a beacon of insanity in a far too sane world and I love you for it.

    Sadly for you, I am not a nubile young starlet.

  13. chrisr says:

    For something on the minimal side, I can highly recommend the Clear Air Jacket from PowerSupport.

    Particularly good for folks that are carrying the phone in their pocket because it adds almost zero bulk to the phone.

  14. Dillenger69 says:

    Honestly, my current phone works fine and has a gazillion features I never use already. Why would a plunk down a wad of cash to have a phone with even more features I won’t use?

  15. remmelt says:

    This one looks good. It’s very shiny and green in real life.

  16. mudpup says:

    When traveling on the bike I keep a zip lock bag handy, it makes for a light water prof case. Even with the heaver freezer bag you can operate you phone without getting it wet.

  17. Skwid says:

    I highly recommend the Sena Walletskin. It is unimaginably convenient having *everything* you need all in one package like that, and they’re quite handsome IMO. I’ve had several friends pick one up after seeing mine.

  18. Jason says:

    I also recommend the Otterbox Defender. I had a cheap silicone skin on my ipod touch and a stray raindrop went right down the headphone jack, which was pointed up in my shirt pocket. The best feature of the Defender I think is the rubber covers over the dock and headphone ports.

    You do have to put a fine dusting of baby powder on the inside of the screen protector to prevent an oil-slick effect between the screen and screen protector though.

  19. therevengor says:

    So, how long are you reviewing this one? When do you have to return it?

  20. oodlesOfNoodles says:

    I would highly recommend the iFrogz cases: Dirt cheap, fit like a glove, protect like no-body’s business, and look damn good too.

  21. playghost says:

    awesome post..Thanks boingboing
    Internet Games

  22. scaught says:

    I don’t like bulky cases and want to use my phone as apple intended, sans some kind of rubber thing that dirt can just get under and GRIND into your phone anyway.

    Out and about I use my pants pocket. Ooh. very nice.

    When I go to the gym or need to stash my phone in a bag, I use a microfiber sleeve from Waterfield.

    doesn’t protect from dropping, but I don’t think anything really will.

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