Apple iPhone 3GS Review

Messaging:

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.



Multimedia:

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.

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