iPhone 3GS: Homerun or Hype?

Apple’s strategy to dominate the smartphone market is hardly a surprise. As much as Apple does its best to keep its technology shrouded in secrecy, it is a surefire guarantee that Apple will release new versions of its technology and/or better pricing each year during its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). After the release of the original iPhone in 2007, Apple faithfully released a better version last summer with the iPhone 3G. At this year’s WWDC, Apple hit the mark again with the iPhone 3GS.

Landscape keyboard mode
Landscape keyboard mode

Although the 3GS does not offer any drastic changes from its 3G counterpart, there are enough improvements to make you think about making an upgrade, especially if you were an original iPhone owner and your contract is up. First of all, the 3GS offers more memory, either 16GB or 32GB, up from the current 8GB or 16GB models. Pricing remains the same for the two models at $199 and $299 respectively, with a two year contract commitment with AT&T. One word of caution, if you are in my shoes and bought the iPhone 3G last summer and you still have time left on your contract, you will have to shell out an additional $200 to get your hands on the 3GS. Ouch.

Other improvements that are exclusive to the 3GS include a better camera (3MP, autofocus) up from a 2 Megapixel on the current iPhone models; voice control, which allows the user to use voice commands to dial calls or play music in your iTunes library; video capture and editing, which was absent on previous models; and improved speed, about 2X over the iPhone 3G. Apple also released new firmware (3.0) that allows all iPhone owners to benefit from improvements. The most notable improvements in the 3.0 firmware are the ability to cut, copy, and paste text, send multimedia

Video record screen
Video record screen

messages, tether your phone to a computer for internet access, use a landscape keyboard in most applications, record voice memos, and easily search for any information on your phone. In addition, Apple is going after a broader market in the smartphone competition. They lowered the price of the iPhone 3G 8GB model to $99. This is a price point that is very attractive to most consumers and may allow Apple to stay ahead of its smartphone rivals such as Verizon’s Blackberry Storm and Sprint’s new Palm Pre.

If you are still on the fence about whether or not to take the iPhone plunge, waiting may still be your best bet. Despite the 3GS’s impressive array of new features, AT&T still is not supporting multimedia messaging or internet tethering on the iPhone. This makes AT&T the only one out of 29 global carriers that offer the iPhone to lack support for these features. AT&T’s exclusive contract with Apple expires next year. Although AT&T has expressed desire to extend that, many iPhone users have complained about the slowness of AT&T’s network in several major markets, and it is rumored that Verizon is in talks to offer a version of the iPhone sometime next year. Additionally, there were reports last week of potential overheating issues with the new 3GS. Apple has stated that the updates to their service bulletins are merely advisory, but it may be wise to wait and see if there are any recalls around the corner.

All cautions aside, the iPhone is a solid device. It offers superior features and usability compared with its other smartphone rivals. Chances are if you can think of something you would like to do with the iPhone, “Yep, there is an app for that.” The 3GS offers an impressive feature set that should whet the appetite of both new and old iPhone users alike.

Images courtesy Apple, Inc.

1 thought on “iPhone 3GS: Homerun or Hype?

  1. I bought an 8gb iPhone 3G for $99 at the beginning of June – hell of a deal! I’m not at all dissapointed on not waiting for the 3GS… It has some great improvements, but nothing earth-shattering… (Although I will admit that the cut copy paste feature would be nice). Either way you really can’t go wrong – such an amazing device! Nice write-up; Dave! -B

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