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iPhone 3G: Your top 25 questions answered

Apple iPhone 3G FAQ

(If you need to know more about the iPhone in general, see our review of the original iPhone, and check-out our hands on preview of the iPhone 3G.)

Just scroll through the whole article (three pages of glistening information), or click on these individual question links. If you have any further questions, just ask at our Mobile World forum - registration is free.


Apple iPhone 3G FAQ

  1. What is the difference between an iPhone and the iPhone 3G?
  2. What does the “3G” in the name mean?
  3. How much faster is it than the current iPhone?
  4. Is 3G available everywhere?
  5. Can I upgrade my current iPhone to use 3G?
  6. Is the 3G iPhone’s built-in camera the same as with the original iPhone?
  7. Is it true that the iPhone 3G has better audio than the original iPhone?
  8. Since the iPhone 3G has built-in GPS, will I be able to use it for driving directions like I do with my portable GPS now?
  9. Is battery life better on the iPhone 3G?
  10. Do I need to buy an iPhone 3G to install third-party apps on my iPhone?
  11. When is the Apple iPhone 3G available?
  12. Where is the Apple iPhone 3G available?
  13. How much does the 3G iPhone cost?
  14. What are the iPhone 3G UK tariffs?
  15. Can anyone buy an iPhone 3G?
  16. Can I activate the iPhone 3G via iTunes, like I did with the original model?
  17. Does an iPhone 3G work with Windows?
  18. Can I get an iPhone without signing up for an 18-month contract?
  19. I want to buy iPhones for me, my wife and my Aunt Doris; can I do that?
  20. Am I likely to get a 3G iPhone on launch day?
  21. If I buy a new iPhone 3G, how do I transfer data from my old iPhone?
  22. Will my new iPhone 3G be able to retrieve my existing voicemails?
  23. What do I do with my old iPhone once I’ve got my shiny new iPhone 3G?
  24. Why would I pay more for an iPod touch?
  25. Can I add the iPhone to my O2 business contract?


What is the difference between an iPhone and the iPhone 3G?
The main difference is data-download speed: using 3G technology as opposed to the older EDGE network – see “What does the “3G” in the name mean?” below.

The back of the new iPhone is now plastic (black on the 8GB model, black or white on the 16GB model) and the volume buttons on the side are now silvery metal.

The headphone port is now flush with the iPhone’s body, not recessed like the jack on the current model. That means you if you have a favourite pair of headphones, you’ll no longer need a headphone adaptor to make them work with the iPhone.

The handset’s edges are thinner and more curved than in the previous version. That helps hide the fact that in the middle, this model is a little thicker than the original. Of course, the new phone also weighs a little less than the current model, though we’re talking about 3 grams (that’s 3g – spooky!).


What does the “3G” in the name mean?
If you’re familiar with iPod naming conventions, the term 3G might make you believe that Apple is releasing its third generation of iPhone. No, you didn’t sleep through an iPhone product introduction - 3G in this case stands for third-generation mobile technology. It’s a wide-area wireless technology that allows for much faster data transmission than the EDGE network used by O2 with the iPhone right now.


How much faster is it than the current iPhone?
AT&T says that the iPhone 3G will have typical download speeds as high as 1.4Mbps versus average data speeds between 75Kbps and 135Kbps on its EDGE network. During Steve Jobs’s keynote, it took 21 seconds to load a graphics-heavy Web page using 3G versus 59 seconds on EDGE. Similarly, an email attachment took 5 seconds over 3G and 18 seconds on EDGE.

Of course, comparing 2G and 3G browser and email attachment loading times isn’t the most revealing exercise. The most important thing to know about 3G is that data transfer speeds will likely be faster than what iPhone veterans are used to - and more important, that there’s room for 3G to grow.


Is 3G available everywhere? What happens when I don’t have 3G coverage in my area?
O2's 3G coverage map shows the areas where you’ll find fast data speeds. Enter your postcode and select HSDPA to find out what the coverage is like in your area. It's worth noting that several readers have pointed out to us that this map is out of date.

Although O2's 3G network is not as comprehensive as Orange's or Vodafone's, it does cover most cities. If you’re in an area without 3G coverage, your iPhone will instead get its data over the slower EDGE network.


Can I upgrade my current iPhone to use 3G?
No. Using the 3G network requires new internal hardware that the current iPhone just doesn't have. If you want 3G, you'll need to buy a new phone. The same goes for GPS.


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