Apple iPhone 3GS Review


Again, this is pretty much unchanged from the 3G with one very big exception.  Users can FINALLY rotate the phone for a landscape keyboard in Mail and Messaging.  While it takes up most of the screen, meaning you can’t see much of what you’re typing, it’s a feature that users have been screaming for since day one and we’re happy to see has been addressed.  It makes typing so much more pleasant, often a knock on the iPhone.

Another welcome addition is copy/paste, one of those things that should be in there from the beginning but at least Apple has finally addressed it.  Lastly, and no doubt unofficially, is the addition of four letter words to the dictionary.  No more being ducking livid!

Data and Connectivity:

We touched on it earlier, but Safari is noticeably faster.  This is due to better rendering, but eventually we’ll also be able to chalk this up to the addition of HSDPA 7.2Mbps.  Right now Chicago is the only market where ATT is trialing this, so most users won’t notice any difference and by the time ATT’s full rollout is complete (2011) there will no doubt be a few new iPhones out there.


The biggest addition on this front is to the camera, which not only gets a spec bump to 3.2 megapixels with autofocus, but also finally allows for video recording.  While a pedestrian feature, Apple at least did it right with 30fps VGA and included video editing software.  It is very basic and lets you choose the start and end point, but it’s more than most phones have and we appreciate the effort.  Like many other phones the Apple iPhone 3GS lets you upload directly to YouTube, which makes the on-device editing even handier.

Apple iPhone 3GS sample videos at 640x480 pixels resolution - Sample 1, Sample 2

As mentioned the camera is now 3.2MP with autofocus.  It will automatically focus on the center, but if the user wishes they can tap on an area onscreen to change the autofocus area.  It is rather quick, happening in less than 2 seconds, and the shutter is almost instantaneous.  It may have taken a fraction of a second longer to focus in low light conditions, but really not much at all.  Results were good for what it is; colors were a bit muted and fine details- especially in the distance- were a touch blurry, but as this is not a high end camera phone the results were perfectly acceptable.

Apple has a great multimedia platform, but the gap is closing.  The video quality is good and interface easy to use, but that is no longer unique to the iPhone.  Among others, the Pre and Storm are both very good multimedia devices as well.  While they (arguably) may not be better than the iPhone, their interfaces are good enough that it won’t leave users wanting for the Apple experience, like it used to be.  We’re not saying that there is anything wrong with it, but they have definitely lost their edge.

The great YouTube client is still around, and Pandora offers a wonderful free streaming music app.  The Pre’s multitasking abilities really come through here though, while Pandora is great we’d love to be able to do other things while listening but the iPhone does not allow it.  One oddity we noticed, though two grills would indicate that the Apple iPhone 3GS has stereo speakers, they are actually mono or they only play out of the left side.



1. AlaneCzeQ

Posts: 19; Member since: Jun 12, 2009

camera resolution - 10 when other phones have 8megapixels and get 9 for that ... weird imo

2. Masters

Posts: 22; Member since: Apr 15, 2009


8. Osukaru

Posts: 68; Member since: Jul 02, 2008

Its the iPhone, everyone /Drools for it..... Sad

13. AlaneCzeQ

Posts: 19; Member since: Jun 12, 2009

and when im sayin here is a proff : this phone is 3 megapixel one and resulution is 10 -> HTC HD 5megapixels and score is 8 and I dont talk about quality but RESOLUTION it means HOW MANY MEGAPIXELS it has got it was first example second one: supported formats - 7 HTC HD - 6 what the hell its win mo it plays everything ! and here u need to conver it on your pc ... I know that the quality of screen is 10 but its resolution ist not top notch coz on the market we've got 800x480 so it suppose to be lower I think this review was good about 2 years ago when nokia n95 came out now I think that Iphone sux big time ... why coz everybody supports it and that is why apple hv made so little changes coz all of reviewer loved it and the are giving better marks than the phone deserves i know that people like AVERANGE JOE will love this phone coz its easy but why TECH JUNKIE who would like to get TODAY : AMOLED, flash with cam, multitasking, bluetooth to send files (maybe its possible dont know sorry if im wrong), better screen res, antiscratch surface and some design changes and i can count more. look what have samsung done ... they are cheaper and better ... lg also :) well maybe its only me but ITS still IPHONE the FIRST ONE with FEW CHANGES (mainly in soft)

28. behold--me

Posts: 679; Member since: Jun 22, 2009

pathetic ........its not even that great I AGREE WIT U

3. Arielnyc2006 unregistered

Thats the main reason I have not acquired the iphone, poor ATT call quality.

4. LGVX1993

Posts: 260; Member since: Jan 27, 2009

This is one of the few times where ive seen a phone with bad call quality.

5. drewsky

Posts: 147; Member since: Jan 04, 2009

I agree with who made this review. It makes to sense to get the 3GS, just get the 3G, with the 3.0 software. The camera is a little better, the processor is faster, but thats really it. I expected Apple to change the design s little bit more. And what happend to ATT making the data plan cheaper? Thats the main reason I don't have one. I would hate to pay $30 a month for any phone.

7. vmatikov

Posts: 55; Member since: Jan 28, 2009

AT&T never said they'd change the price of the data plan lol... Anyway you're right, there's a slim diff between the 3G and 3G S, but I think it's a matter of taste.

10. drewsky

Posts: 147; Member since: Jan 04, 2009

There was a rumor, that ATT would make a LIMITED data plan for the Iphone that would cost $20. But I just found the article that killed that Idea. oh well, I'd much rather have a Omnia i8910.

11. vmatikov

Posts: 55; Member since: Jan 28, 2009

Hence, it's a rumor. Lol anyway what diff does it make? In my opinion if you want an iPhone, you're gonna pay what they tell you to. And you clearly aren't that person (not that that's a bad thing btw)

6. vmatikov

Posts: 55; Member since: Jan 28, 2009

Hey just a little note to the reviewers... You guys mentioned that of the two grills on the bottom, audio only comes out of the left one, and you also mentioned that the two grills would naturally indicate stereo speakers. Idk if you guys know or not but I just wanted to mention that under the right grill is the mic.

9. pathmarkpolice

Posts: 102; Member since: Feb 05, 2009


12. davidneary01

Posts: 16; Member since: Nov 25, 2008

its just suprising that apple the "kings of cool and innovation" have now let this phone go 3 generations with zero and i mean 0 design changes..even the instinct tried to improve itself a little with curvier edges and a sleaker doubt it's a great phone but if you aren't moving forward your moving backwords..

14. MTLance unregistered

Lol Apple don't have to do much these days thanks to lazy competitors but now the competitors are working way harder than they would. i.e. Nokia just woke up from iPhone kicking its butt and coming out with E72(Very sexy phone and I'm in love, I just hope there is a good review for it), Palm has an Apple man with Pre totally kicking iPhone butt, and not to mention BB ain't giving that up that easy but with Storm 2 on its way.

15. donchichi

Posts: 1; Member since: Jun 25, 2009

I'm very surprised the review for Iphone is rated so high and the N97 so low. There are advantages on both phones whereas the Iphone is more for viewing videos and music but not a good phone overall. Be a bit fair on the reviews as I have 5800 and iphone and after a while the hype just dies with the iphone. Its like a very beautiful lady but she can't cook, can't clean and can't do nothing. After a short while you'd go for the average girl who can do more.

16. mulda71

Posts: 42; Member since: Jun 25, 2009

How do you rate a phone so high if you say the phone call quality blows? Because I agree, every iphone I have tried is absolutely unusable as a telephone. I really want to buy one, but I just can't buy a phone that, you know, doesn't work as a phone! How do so many people put up with that?! I mean I know it's cool and all, but...

53. jje1953

Posts: 1; Member since: Mar 11, 2010

Well, I think you make the proper point. For a lot of folks, the iPhone is an iPod that you can make calls with. It's fairly apparent, that call quality is the least of Apple's concerns, because they know the typical iPhone buyer is probably more interested in the other features, than they are in the call quality. I'm considering an iPhone myself, and I could tell you, that the other features outweigh call quality, because frankly, I don't make that many calls. Not that I want a phone that sounds like two cans connected by string, but I've always wanted an iPod, and maybe you kill two birds with one stone.

17. sushjames

Posts: 19; Member since: Apr 11, 2009

well i think reviewer gets paid if they praise the iphone...well i'm not offending anyone but still if you notice reviews about iphone from all the website they only say good thing about it.. i don't understand.. Anyhow can't believe apple just introduced one phone (iphone) now it's taking most of the mobile market.. well it's great for them.. sad for other manufactures because they generate 20 - 30 models per year still they can't compete with this one...can someone please explain me what makes apple product so special ?? .. well thanks for reading my comments.

27. behold--me

Posts: 679; Member since: Jun 22, 2009

im kinda glad to hear that this scored below a 9 look at this link BEST SMARTPHONE where do u see the iphone 3G? its below the motorola Zine ZN5 i dont even think that was meant to be a smartphone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

18. madlaw1071

Posts: 7; Member since: Jun 25, 2009

#16 nails it and I'll go a step further, the 3 most common uses for a cell phone the Iphone excels the least at. It sucks as a phone, has no push email for most providers and still has no MMS(no definitive date). Other than that it's a great phone.

19. martycota

Posts: 28; Member since: Jun 15, 2009

Is the iPhone taking most of the mobile market? I like to think that most of the millions of people who bought it, are the ones who keep buying them when they release new ones, meaning that overall, 1/3 only equals the total subscribers...

20. Jyakotu

Posts: 867; Member since: Dec 12, 2008

All these comments are acting like Phone Arena gave the iPhone 3GS a perfect score. Heck, it scored lower than it's previous iPhone counterparts.

21. sprntfanboi02

Posts: 41; Member since: Jun 25, 2009

yeah plus we know how much better this phone is than the previous iphone.....oh wait thats right its the same phone....oh wait thats right apple finally put cut and paste in their phone....didnt my htc 6700 have that

25. behold--me

Posts: 679; Member since: Jun 22, 2009

doesnt every smartphone have that my phone from 2006 had some of the features that the iphone didnt have (video) it was DISCONTINUED IN 2007 AND STILL BEAT THE IPHONE WITH THAT ok uh appple get real it shouldnt take 3 yrs to get video capture or QWERTY on a full touch....... my behold? 5mp landscape qwerty almost 8 months before the iphone video and pic editing

26. behold--me

Posts: 679; Member since: Jun 22, 2009

oh wait and the all original MMS MESSAGING dammit apple get with the program haha

45. FU2

Posts: 11; Member since: Jun 27, 2009

DISCONTINUED should be the key word in your entire paragraph...There is NO smartphone to this day easier or more fun to use than the iPhone, thats why its selling like hotcakes.. Unlike your Moto Q or whatever other Discontinued JUNK you were carrying around...

22. theman414

Posts: 132; Member since: Jun 08, 2009

I'm so glad I got rid of vx6800 for this today!

23. rshackindian

Posts: 21; Member since: Apr 11, 2009

scored lower than the sprint palm pre. ha ha

34. FU2

Posts: 11; Member since: Jun 27, 2009

Yet it has sold more than double..hahahahahaha stick with the ghetto i mean sprint
iPhone 3GS
  • Display 3.5" 320 x 480 pixels
  • Camera 3 MP
  • Storage 32 GB
  • Battery 1219 mAh(12.00h talk time)

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.