Apple iPhone 3G Review

Introduction and Design
UPDATE: You can now read our iPhone 3GS review!

This is a GSM phone offered with AT&T.

It’s finally here, the first phone to beat the iPhone. Or is it? The iPhone 3G is out, with high-speed data and GPS and Exchange support and a whole slew of new features due to the new 2.0 software. It’s been slightly redesigned, but remains 100% Apple. It now has an App Store, where developers can create applications for the device and distribute them through iTunes. Paired with Apple’s new MobileMe service the everyday user can get the wireless syncing benefits of an Exchange account. Best of all, the phone’s ridiculous price tag has been slashed by $200. The new software is available to original iPhone owners, however, so is it really worth the upgrade?

Included in the box you’ll find:
  • Headphones
  • USB data/charging cable
  • AC adaptor with USB plug
  • SIM removal tool


In a case the iPhone 3G looks nearly identical to the iPhone. It has the same chrome trim around the huge glass touchscreen. The circular indent of the home button still lies below the display, and above it is simply the earpiece. There are still only three buttons along the sides; at the top left is the switch to silence the phone, with the volume rocker just below it, and at the top on the far right side is the lock button. The dock connector, speaker and mic are at the bottom, and at the top left of the back is the small 2 megapixel camera.

There are differences though, most notably is the back housing. Gone is the metal with the black plastic bottom, replaced with glossy plastic in a black or white finish. The white is only available on the 16GB version; you can get black on both the 8 and 16GB models. With the silver finish gone, the side keys have been changed from black rubber to silver metal. It’s a small gripe, but the key edges are rough and while it won’t cut you, running your fingers over them isn’t a smooth experience. The speaker and mic at the bottom are much smaller, and like the earpiece are covered in silver metal mesh rather than the previous perforations.

Overall dimensions have actually increased, though the 0.5mm thickness difference is offset by the rounded edges of the 3G.

You can compare the Apple iPhone 3G with many other phones using ourSize Visualization Tool.

This beveling makes the phone feel more comfortable in the hand as compared to its predecessor, and we like the plastic casing more than we’d have thought. It is a high quality plastic, and not as slippery as we had expected, though to a small extent we miss the solid feel of the metal backing. The weight is virtually unchanged though; the 3G checks in at just 0.1oz lighter than the original.

Build quality is excellent, but then again you’d expect that from a company as design-obsessed as Apple. We can’t figure out why Apple hasn’t developed a fingerprint resistant material though, because you can’t think about the phone without covering it in fingerprints. We do have a quirk with ours though; on the right side of the phone near the 3 and 6 on the dialpad, where the chrome trim and glass display come together, there is a piece of plastic hanging out. It looks like it’s a piece of the protective film found on most new gadgets, like it had gotten stuck and ripped off. We’ve actually see this on first generation iPhones as well. It does not seem to be a wide-spread issue, but an issue none-the-less.

One thing we don’t like about the new design is the Apple logo, at least on our black unit. The shiny fruit stands out in stark contrast to the jet black background, and it’s a bit too flashy for our tastes. It’s less gaudy on the white, where the colors blend better. A grayed screen print, like iPhone text at the bottom, or even a brushed metal logo would have been more subtle. We realize most owners view the logo as a badge of honor, but to a non-believer it’s just another smug move by a company that is already plenty full of themselves.

The iPhone 3G is a superb piece of hardware. It’s beauty lies in its simplicity, and that all starts with the minimalistic design. Our plastic flap non-withstanding, the iPhone 3G picks up exactly where the iPhone left off, with the new plastic backing affording the phone a sleeker feel and appearance, despite the slight size increase. It is another fine piece of work by the designers over at Cupertino.

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