Apple iPhone 3GS Review


The battery gets a modest bump from 1150mAh to 1219, but thanks to other hard and software improvements battery life has increased to 5 hours of 3G talk time and 9 hours of Wi-Fi browsing.  More talk time is great, assuming you can make a call.  While our reception seemed just fine, call quality was awful.  Despite showing full 3G signal strength callers complained that we were static-ey, cutting in and out, tinny and just generally poor.  Our end wasn’t much better; the volume was low enough that we had a hard time understanding callers even in quiet environments.  There were a few calls we had to abandon because the quality was so poor.


Whether or not to get an Apple iPhone 3GS isn’t as clear-cut as it used to be; first, and for many users foremost, is the fact that it just isn’t much of an upgrade from the 3G.  If you’re a 2G owner or a new user looking to hop aboard then the decision should be easy.  The other issue complicating the issue is the competition.  All things considered, we like the Pre better.  It may not have the app support yet, but the platform is more advanced.  Symbian just announced some monster spec potential and we still haven’t given up on Android.  Hell, even HTC is making Windows Mobile look good (OK, that may be stretching it.)

Last year the addition of 3G was a very compelling reason for users to upgrade or jump ship, but this time around we don’t really see anything that will grab the user’s attention.  It may entice some 2G owners to finally give up their aluminum back, but save for the gamers 3G owners have very little reason to upgrade their hardware, in our opinion.  The new internals make for a faster experience, there is no doubt about that, but we couldn’t justify spending a minimum of $300 (and up to $500) for such a minor tweak.  Since 3.0 is available as a free download, the new hardware just isn’t that compelling to us.

We were concerned last year that Apple missed the boat, but the App Store at least brought a software revolution to the table.  Let’s face it, it’s still a great phone and will sell like crazy, but there are minimal software improvements and the hardware isn’t head and shoulders above the competition anymore.  What once was a truly innovative phone has fallen into a rut, while the competition is breaking out of the box.

Apple iPhone 3GS Video Review:

UPDATE: You can now read our iPhone 4 review!


  • Apple finally listened, adding MMS, video recording, voice dialing, A2DP and copy/paste
  • OSX 3.0 seems more stable than 2.0
  • Improved memory, processing power, 3D rendering and a more friendly price tag


  • The excitement just isn’t there anymore. Moreso than ever, it’s more of the same.
  • The decreased price point of the 8GB 3G may be good for Apple’s bottom line, but it’s starting to feel like the RAZR all over again.

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