Those who waited for the 3G second edition of the iPhone will appreciate dramatically faster cellular data access and an impressive software update including a raft of third-party programs.

UPDATED: July 28 2008.

iPhone 3GS review

Apple iPhone 3GS review

The iPhone 3G is still available, even following the release of the newer Apple iPhone 4.

Apple iPhone 4 review

Latest Apple iPhone news

When the original Apple iPhone arrived in June 2007, it was greeted by massive hype and long lines at Apple and O2 stores. But a lot of people who were interested in the iPhone held back, guided by a thoughtful and careful technological principle: "Never buy version 1.0".

With the release of Apple's iPhone 3G and its iPhone 2.0 software, the hype and the lines are back, but the era of iPhone 1.0 is officially over.

Those who waited for the second edition of the iPhone will appreciate dramatically faster cellular data access and an impressive software update including a raft of third-party programs. For original iPhone buyers, however, the iPhone 3G is only a must-have upgrade for those who will take full advantage of the fast 3G data network.

NEXT PAGE: Apple iPhone 3G hardware > >


  1. Apple iPhone 3G review
  2. Apple iPhone 3G hardware
  3. iPhone peripherals and the 3G iPhone
  4. Apple iPhone 3G software
  5. 3G: full speed ahead
  6. Where am I? iPhone GPS
  7. Loud and clear
  8. Strange lapses
  9. 3G iPhone power and battery
  10. The price

Click on the link below to see our iPhone 3G video

Original 3G iPhone review


  1. Does the iPhone 3G justify the hype?
  2. Above all, a phone
  3. Internet to go
  4. Check your mail
  5. Oh yeah, the iPod
  6. The iPhone 3G in use
  7. Apple iPhone 3G: first look, June 2008

Visit Mobile Advisor for the latest mobile phone news, reviews, tips & tricks, as well as PC Advisor's unique Apple iPhone 3G Spotlight

Related articles:

Those who waited for the 3G second edition of the iPhone will appreciate dramatically faster cellular data access and an impressive software update including a raft of third-party programs.

Apple iPhone 3G hardware

At a casual glance, the iPhone 3G looks just like the original iPhone. Front and centre is its bright, beautiful high-resolution 3.5in diagonal touchscreen, offering a resolution of 480-by-320 pixels.

It's only when you look at both models side by side that you notice the face of the iPhone 3G is slightly wider, allowing a bit more black space between the sides of the screen and the chrome frame.

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On the bottom, the black speaker and microphone grilles of old have been replaced by two oval cut-outs with recessed silver grilles. Between the grilles and the iPhone 3G's dock connector are two recessed Philips screws.

It's not every day that you find an Apple product, especially a slick consumer-electronics product, that's got visible screws.

At the top, the most obvious change is the replacement of original iPhone's recessed headphone jack - which required the use of an adaptor in order to attach most non-Apple headphones - with one that lies flat. That recessed jack was one of the most ridiculous design decisions in the original iPhone, and it's great to see that Apple has addressed the problem and made the iPhone 3G accessible to just about any set of headphones in existence.

The iPhone 3G's left side includes a volume rocker switch and a sliding switch to place the phone into silent/vibrate mode, just like its predecessor. These buttons, as well as the Sleep button on the phone's top, are now made of metal rather than black plastic.

While they're a pretty silver colour, the metal edges are also much sharper than the original iPhone's plastic ones, and they press uncomfortably into your fingers as you're using them.

We also found the iPhone 3G's Vibrate switch to be more difficult to slide than the original model's, although that extra resistance does mean it's less likely that your phone will slip into or out of silent mode by accident.

Although it's more curved (and therefore thinner) than the original iPhone at its edges, it's slightly thicker in the middle. However, your hand curves to hold the phone (unless you've got really small hands), and that curve is where the extra thickness is, making it undetectable. Apple truly designed the iPhone 3G to feel identical to the original iPhone.

The iPhone 3G's back is curved shiny plastic (available in black or, in the 16GB model, black or white), rather than the flat matte aluminum of the original model. Whether that's better or worse is a personal, aesthetic choice, although the plastic case shouldn't block radio signals as much as the aluminum did. However, the shiny plastic is much more adept at collecting fingerprints and smudges than the old textured aluminum.

Visit Mobile Advisor for the latest mobile phone news, reviews, tips & tricks, as well as PC Advisor's unique Apple iPhone 3G Spotlight

The curved back does make the iPhone 3G slightly unstable when laid on a flat surface, but it only wobbles slightly, and we found it acceptably stable for typing and tapping. There's a gap between the sides of the iPhone's display and the edge of the phone itself, making it unlikely that you'd touch close enough the edge to cause the phone to wobble dramatically.

The extra width also makes typing on the iPhone with two thumbs slightly more comfortable by giving the thumbs a bit more room on which to roam. We don't know if my thumb typing was any more accurate on the new phone, but it was certainly more comfortable to thumb-type on the iPhone 3G than on the original model.

Although the physical changes to the phone are subtle - so subtle that if you haven't spent a lot of time with an original iPhone, you'd never notice them - they're enough to prevent some old iPhone cases, docks and other accessories that are carefully tailored to the original model's dimensions from working with this new model.

NEXT PAGE: iPhone peripherals and the 3G iPhone > >


  1. Apple iPhone 3G review
  2. Apple iPhone 3G hardware
  3. iPhone peripherals and the 3G iPhone
  4. Apple iPhone 3G software
  5. 3G: full speed ahead
  6. Where am I? iPhone GPS
  7. Loud and clear
  8. Strange lapses
  9. 3G iPhone power and battery
  10. The price

Original 3G iPhone review


  1. Does the iPhone 3G justify the hype?
  2. Above all, a phone
  3. Internet to go
  4. Check your mail
  5. Oh yeah, the iPod
  6. The iPhone 3G in use
  7. Apple iPhone 3G: first look, June 2008

Those who waited for the 3G second edition of the iPhone will appreciate dramatically faster cellular data access and an impressive software update including a raft of third-party programs.

iPhone peripherals and the 3G iPhone

If you buy an iPhone 3G to replace a first-generation iPhone, you'll probably want to bequeath your cases and dock to your old iPhone's new owner and prepare to invest in new accessories.

It's always hard to judge a brand-new product when it comes to issues of durability, since we only have a few days to test the product and it's very hard to short-circuit the test of time. However, our colleagues at PC Advisor's US sister title PC World chose to sacrifice an iPhone 3G in order to see how rugged the product was.

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Although PC World's iPhone 3G did end up completely shattered, the editors who tortured it were mightily impressed with its durability. The iPhone 3G survived several simulated trips through a pocket full of keys and other sharp objects, withstood being dunked in a bowl of cereal and milk, and even kept on working through a few drops on concrete from 5ft up.

The iPhone 3G's glass screen cracked beyond repair on the fifth drop. The moral of this story: the iPhone 3G is pretty tough, but don't use it to play a game of catch in a car park.

NEXT PAGE: Apple iPhone 3G software > >


  1. Apple iPhone 3G review
  2. Apple iPhone 3G hardware
  3. iPhone peripherals and the 3G iPhone
  4. Apple iPhone 3G software
  5. 3G: full speed ahead
  6. Where am I? iPhone GPS
  7. Loud and clear
  8. Strange lapses
  9. 3G iPhone power and battery
  10. The price

Original 3G iPhone review


  1. Does the iPhone 3G justify the hype?
  2. Above all, a phone
  3. Internet to go
  4. Check your mail
  5. Oh yeah, the iPod
  6. The iPhone 3G in use
  7. Apple iPhone 3G: first look, June 2008

Visit Mobile Advisor for the latest mobile phone news, reviews, tips & tricks, as well as PC Advisor's unique Apple iPhone 3G Spotlight

Those who waited for the 3G second edition of the iPhone will appreciate dramatically faster cellular data access and an impressive software update including a raft of third-party programs.

Apple iPhone 3G software

Although this review is supposed to focus on the iPhone 3G as a hardware product, it's impossible to fully separate it from the software it runs.

The iPhone 3G ships with version 2.0 of the software that powers both the iPhone and its non-phone cousin, the iPod touch.

Related articles:

This new version adds numerous features not present in the previous iPhone until now, including support for push email, contacts, and calendars via a corporate Microsoft Exchange server or Apple's new MobileMe service. The most impressive feature of this new software is the App Store, which allows users to download programs written by software developers outside of Apple.

The 2.0 Apple iPhone software is, in many ways, the most important feature of the iPhone 3G. And it's excellent. However, because that software is also available for the original iPhone and the iPod touch, we've chosen to review it separately from the iPhone 3G hardware.

Here's our Apple iPhone 2.0 software review.

NEXT PAGE: 3G: full speed ahead > >


  1. Apple iPhone 3G review
  2. Apple iPhone 3G hardware
  3. iPhone peripherals and the 3G iPhone
  4. Apple iPhone 3G software
  5. 3G: full speed ahead
  6. Where am I? iPhone GPS
  7. Loud and clear
  8. Strange lapses
  9. 3G iPhone power and battery
  10. The price

Original 3G iPhone review


  1. Does the iPhone 3G justify the hype?
  2. Above all, a phone
  3. Internet to go
  4. Check your mail
  5. Oh yeah, the iPod
  6. The iPhone 3G in use
  7. Apple iPhone 3G: first look, June 2008

Visit Mobile Advisor for the latest mobile phone news, reviews, tips & tricks, as well as PC Advisor's unique Apple iPhone 3G Spotlight

Those who waited for the 3G second edition of the iPhone will appreciate dramatically faster cellular data access and an impressive software update including a raft of third-party programs.

3G: full speed ahead

What puts the iPhone 3G head and shoulders above the original iPhone is the addition of support for 3G networking. The third-generation wireless network that gives the iPhone 3G its name is much faster than the EDGE network. If you're in an area with 3G network coverage, you'll find that the iPhone 3G's internet connection is quite fast.

In our tests, an iPhone 3G on AT&T's 3G network downloaded media files and loaded web pages between two and four times as fast as an original iPhone on an EDGE network. Of course, not even the 3G cellular network can match up with pure Wi-Fi. For example, downloading a 1MB MP3 file took 87 seconds on EDGE, 21 seconds on 3G, and only 8 seconds via Wi-Fi.

Related articles:

More impressive than the raw download speeds is the fact that they enable internet features that simply weren't practical on the slower EDGE network.

We were able to walk along listening to a radio station streamed over the 3G network by the free AOL Radio program we downloaded from the App Store. Similarly, we could watch US Major League Baseball video highlights downloaded by the MLB At Bat application, also downloaded over the fast network.

Phones on the 3G cellular network also have the capability to download data and make voice phone calls simultaneously. On the previous model of the iPhone, you couldn't talk on the phone while downloading data over the phone's cellular data connection. But if the iPhone 3G is on a 3G network, you can talk and check Google Maps simultaneously without trouble.

One downside of the 3G network is that using it drains the iPhone 3G's battery more than the slower EDGE network. However, if you're worried about running out of juice, Apple has provided an option (Settings, General, Network, Enable 3G) so that you can turn off 3G networking. Once 3G is disabled, the iPhone 3G uses the same 2G network as its predecessor.

As far as we can tell, the iPhone 3G is "faster" than the original iPhone solely because of the access it has to a faster cellular network. On Wi-Fi and EDGE connections the phones seem to be about the same speed, and taxing games such as FreeVerse's Wingnuts Moto Racer appear to perform the same on both devices.

NEXT PAGE: Where am I? iPhone GPS > >


  1. Apple iPhone 3G review
  2. Apple iPhone 3G hardware
  3. iPhone peripherals and the 3G iPhone
  4. Apple iPhone 3G software
  5. 3G: full speed ahead
  6. Where am I? iPhone GPS
  7. Loud and clear
  8. Strange lapses
  9. 3G iPhone power and battery
  10. The price

Original 3G iPhone review


  1. Does the iPhone 3G justify the hype?
  2. Above all, a phone
  3. Internet to go
  4. Check your mail
  5. Oh yeah, the iPod
  6. The iPhone 3G in use
  7. Apple iPhone 3G: first look, June 2008

Visit Mobile Advisor for the latest mobile phone news, reviews, tips & tricks, as well as PC Advisor's unique Apple iPhone 3G Spotlight

Those who waited for the 3G second edition of the iPhone will appreciate dramatically faster cellular data access and an impressive software update including a raft of third-party programs.

Where am I? iPhone GPS

The other major new piece of hardware in the iPhone 3G is a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver. GPS is a technology that lets devices figure out exactly where they are by triangulating radio signals from satellites in orbit.

The iPhone 3G uses Assisted GPS, which in essence means that the phone's search for GPS information is assisted by computers at mobile-phone towers, improving speed and reliability. (And if the iPhone 3G can't get a GPS fix, it can use Wi-Fi and mobile tower information to guess at its position, just as the first-generation iPhone could.)

Related articles:

Several included applications on the iPhone take advantage of GPS, and numerous third-party App Store programs do as well. The built-in Maps application uses GPS to track your current location, represented by a pulsating blue dot at the centre of the map.

When we first tested this feature, we weren't very impressed. Our location was not displayed very accurately (the blue dot was surrounded by a very large blue circle, representing the iPhone's uncertainty about where we were) and the information seemed to lag behind our true location by as much as 30 seconds.

However, we think our initial problems were mostly due to a lack of a strong GPS signal: we were traveling in a bus through streets full of tall buildings, and as a result, the iPhone was probably cut off from most GPS signals. Once we got out into the wide-open spaces, the blue dot's accuracy improved greatly and there was much less lag.

The iPhone's camera also uses GPS to embed the exact latitude and longitude of every picture you take (though you can turn this feature off), a process known as geotagging.

Visit Mobile Advisor for the latest mobile phone news, reviews, tips & tricks, as well as PC Advisor's unique Apple iPhone 3G Spotlight

(The feature generally worked as advertised, although we did discover a strange bug when using a Mac: copying a geotagged image out of iPhoto and into the Finder corrupted the embedded data and convinced Flickr (a photo-sharing website that supports geotagging) that our backyard is located somewhere in China's Yellow Sea. It isn't.

Of course, the killer application for a GPS-enabled mobile phone is probably turn-by-turn driving directions. The included Maps application will show you where you are in the context of driving directions, but unlike dedicated GPS devices, it won't speak to you when you need to turn, and if you're driving though an area with no cellular service, it won't be able to download map data from Google.

A program that can use the GPS data to give you more precise directions and doesn't need to rely on Google's map data would be a welcome addition. Here's hoping it happens.

NEXT PAGE: Loud and clear > >


  1. Apple iPhone 3G review
  2. Apple iPhone 3G hardware
  3. iPhone peripherals and the 3G iPhone
  4. Apple iPhone 3G software
  5. 3G: full speed ahead
  6. Where am I? iPhone GPS
  7. Loud and clear
  8. Strange lapses
  9. 3G iPhone power and battery
  10. The price

Original 3G iPhone review


  1. Does the iPhone 3G justify the hype?
  2. Above all, a phone
  3. Internet to go
  4. Check your mail
  5. Oh yeah, the iPod
  6. The iPhone 3G in use
  7. Apple iPhone 3G: first look, June 2008

Those who waited for the 3G second edition of the iPhone will appreciate dramatically faster cellular data access and an impressive software update including a raft of third-party programs.

Loud and clear

If you tried to call someone on an original iPhone and just got voicemail, they probably had a good excuse: they may have wanted to talk to you, but just didn't hear the phone ring. The original iPhone's speaker, you see, was a bit quiet, which made it easy to miss calls and a bit hard to use the speakerphone. It was serviceable, but you had to crank the volume to the maximum at all times.

The good news about the speaker on the iPhone 3G, then, is that it's noticeably louder than the one on the original iPhone. That's an improvement because it's more audible for speakerphone use. It also means that phone ringtones are much louder.

Related articles:

The phone's internal speaker, the one you press against your ear, sounds better and is also a little bit louder. And when we called people on the two phones, they generally preferred the sound of the iPhone 3G.

Finally, there's one way in which the iPhone 3G improves the quality of all your other sound-producing devices: the frequencies used on the 3G network are, unlike those on the 2G network, not likely to generate loud humming and buzzing noises on every device in your vicinity that has speakers attached to it.

We were able to set the iPhone 3G right next to a clock radio, and never once heard that famous "GSM buzz". (Of course, if you live in an area that doesn't have 3G service, you'll be on the old GSM network, and the buzz will be back!)

NEXT PAGE: Strange lapses > >


  1. Apple iPhone 3G review
  2. Apple iPhone 3G hardware
  3. iPhone peripherals and the 3G iPhone
  4. Apple iPhone 3G software
  5. 3G: full speed ahead
  6. Where am I? iPhone GPS
  7. Loud and clear
  8. Strange lapses
  9. 3G iPhone power and battery
  10. The price

Original 3G iPhone review


  1. Does the iPhone 3G justify the hype?
  2. Above all, a phone
  3. Internet to go
  4. Check your mail
  5. Oh yeah, the iPod
  6. The iPhone 3G in use
  7. Apple iPhone 3G: first look, June 2008

Visit Mobile Advisor for the latest mobile phone news, reviews, tips & tricks, as well as PC Advisor's unique Apple iPhone 3G Spotlight

Those who waited for the 3G second edition of the iPhone will appreciate dramatically faster cellular data access and an impressive software update including a raft of third-party programs.

Strange lapses

A year ago, when the original iPhone arrived, it was clearly lacking some fairly obvious and useful features. At the time it was easy to give Apple a bit of a pass, given that the iPhone was a brand-new piece of hardware running on a brand-new operating system. However, now a year has passed and both the hardware and software have been completely revised - and yet some of these feature gaps still inexplicably remain.

Related articles:

The camera: for a product as on the cutting edge as the iPhone, its built-in camera is an embarrassment. Like the camera on the original iPhone, it's got a basic 2Mp resolution, doesn't zoom, has no flash, doesn't work well in low light, and doesn't take videos. With still subjects in well-lit areas it produces nice results.

In terms of quality, the consumer point-and-shoot digital camera we bought seven years ago still blows it away, and most of the iPhone's smartphone competitors offer better cameras as well.

Bluetooth: and if you think you could just send that picture to your mate via Bluetooth, you're wrong there too. The iPhone's Bluetooth implementation is rudimentary at best. Pairing headsets works fine, although Apple has removed the feature that let you listen to voicemail via the headset - a company spokesman says they're working on a replacement for that functionality.

And the phone seems to pair with most in-car Bluetooth systems, although we've heard some reports of cars that have had trouble pairing with the device.

But that's about it. You can pair an iPhone to a Mac, for example, but there aren't any configurable services available - for example, a quick Bluetooth exchange of photos.

And despite the fact that the iPhone 3G has a very fast connection to the internet, there's no way to share that connection with your Mac or PC. The iPhone 3G also doesn't support stereo bluetooth headphones, so you can't listen to music wirelessly.

Visit Mobile Advisor for the latest mobile phone news, reviews, tips & tricks, as well as PC Advisor's unique Apple iPhone 3G Spotlight

Select, copy, and paste: there's still no way to pick up text from one place on the iPhone and drop it down somewhere else.

Say someone emails you an address where they want you to meet them. There's no way to extract that information and, say, place it in the Maps application or add it to their Contacts entry. We've talked to numerous iPhone users who have done what we've done in that situation - find a piece of paper, write the address down, switch apps on the iPhone, and type it back in.

Perhaps the old desktop computer metaphor of cut, copy, and paste is not appropriate for the iPhone. We're sure Apple's iPhone interface wizards have given it a lot of thought. But the fact remains, transferring arbitrary information from one place to another is a necessity on a device like the iPhone, and after a year, the phone still can't do it.

Getting horizontal: the built-in applications on the iPhone are still largely tied to a portrait orientation, despite the iPhone's ability to operate in landscape mode. In many cases, landscape mode is a much more appropriate format - especially if you're doing a lot of typing.

And yet key Apple programs such as Mail and Notes simply don't work horizontally. At a time when new developers are coming to the iPhone and looking to Apple's programs for cues about how to develop a good iPhone application, it's a shame that Apple can't provide more examples of support for both portrait and landscape orientations.

Multimedia messaging: the iPhone has no support for MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service), a way to send photos and videos between mobile phones that even ancient phones offered years ago. Yes, you can send photos via email and upload them to the web, but if you take a photo and quickly want to send it over to your mate's MMS-capable phone, forget it.

Unified inbox: Apple has addressed several of the biggest drawbacks of its Mail application, most notably by making it possible to delete or file several messages at one time. Unfortunately, one glaring problem remains: the inability to view all new messages in a single, unified inbox. You can do it in Apple's own Mail application on the Mac, and you view all your calendars together on the iPhone, but if you've got four different mail accounts on your iPhone, you have to check them all separately.

Voice dialing: the trend toward handsfree use of mobile phones - the law against driving and holding a conversation with a handheld phone being a good example - would logically lead to providing users with a way to dial their iPhones without having to take their eyes off the road.

The situation is even worse on the iPhone, which lacks physical buttons that users could navigate by feel alone. And yet the iPhone 3G doesn't support voice dialing, a feature that should probably be available on a systemwide level, not added by a third-party dialing program.

NEXT PAGE: 3G iPhone power and battery > >


  1. Apple iPhone 3G review
  2. Apple iPhone 3G hardware
  3. iPhone peripherals and the 3G iPhone
  4. Apple iPhone 3G software
  5. 3G: full speed ahead
  6. Where am I? iPhone GPS
  7. Loud and clear
  8. Strange lapses
  9. 3G iPhone power and battery
  10. The price

Original 3G iPhone review


  1. Does the iPhone 3G justify the hype?
  2. Above all, a phone
  3. Internet to go
  4. Check your mail
  5. Oh yeah, the iPod
  6. The iPhone 3G in use
  7. Apple iPhone 3G: first look, June 2008

Those who waited for the 3G second edition of the iPhone will appreciate dramatically faster cellular data access and an impressive software update including a raft of third-party programs.

3G iPhone power and battery

The iPhone 3G tech specs claim battery life of up to five hours of talk time (10 if you turn off 3G networking), five hours of internet use (six on Wi-Fi), seven hours of video playback, 24 hours of audio playback, and 300 hours of standby time. Those specs are basically the same as the ones Apple claimed for the original iPhone. However, Apple arrived at these figures under testing conditions that may not necessarily reflect your own use.

Battery testing takes time. We'll be running battery tests of our own, and we'll post the findings once we have them. Anecdotally, it appears that if you use the iPhone heavily - which is a lot easier now that there are so many snazzy new applications that take advantage of the iPhone's computing power and internet connectivity - you'll drain the battery pretty fast.

Related articles:

Take it from a one-year iPhone veteran: charge your iPhone at home and at work, and if you're someone who spends a lot of time in the car, get a car charger too. Heavy iPhone users won't be able to go a full day on one charge without some serious power management and restraint in using the latest and greatest iPhone apps.

The iPhone 3G will only accept a charge via the 5V connection that's a part of the USB power specification; the previous iPhone and previous iPod models also supported charging via the FireWire specification, which allowed as much as 18 volts.

If you own an existing charger, it may not be compatible - even if it doesn't have a visible FireWire plug anywhere. Apple representatives say that several companies will be offering adaptors to address this issue, so depending on the physical design of your charging accessories, you may only have to buy an adaptor, not an entirely new charger.

While on the topic of charging and connectivity, it's worth noting that unlike the original iPhone, the iPhone 3G comes only with a USB charging cable and AC adaptor, not a dock. If you want to place your iPhone 3G upright in a dock, you'll need to buy the Apple iPhone 3G Dock.

NEXT PAGE: The price > >


  1. Apple iPhone 3G review
  2. Apple iPhone 3G hardware
  3. iPhone peripherals and the 3G iPhone
  4. Apple iPhone 3G software
  5. 3G: full speed ahead
  6. Where am I? iPhone GPS
  7. Loud and clear
  8. Strange lapses
  9. 3G iPhone power and battery
  10. The price

Original 3G iPhone review


  1. Does the iPhone 3G justify the hype?
  2. Above all, a phone
  3. Internet to go
  4. Check your mail
  5. Oh yeah, the iPod
  6. The iPhone 3G in use
  7. Apple iPhone 3G: first look, June 2008

Visit Mobile Advisor for the latest mobile phone news, reviews, tips & tricks, as well as PC Advisor's unique Apple iPhone 3G Spotlight

Those who waited for the 3G second edition of the iPhone will appreciate dramatically faster cellular data access and an impressive software update including a raft of third-party programs.

The price

When we reviewed the original iPhone last year, a 4GB model cost £269. Over the past 12 months, Apple slashed the price of the iPhone, increased its capacity, and has now introduced these new iPhone 3G models, all of which provide a fine value.

An iPhone 3G with twice the capacity of the original iPhone costs nearly £200 less than that phone's initial sticker price.

Related articles:

Apple has managed to drop the price so aggressively by changing its financial terms with O2, so that the telephone company pays Apple a subsidy for each iPhone sold. In essence, this means that with the iPhone 3G, consumers will pay for some of the value of the phone as a part of their monthly bills.

For some users, this won't make any difference. For others, it's quite an inducement, because it trades a single large financial hit for a somewhat increased set of payments over a few years.

In the end, as with any product, it will be up to all prospective buyers to do the maths and decide if the phone is worth it for them.

Unlike most Apple products, the iPhone is not a device with a single price - it's a complicated combination of a ticket price and a two-year monthly commitment.

However, generally we have to think that making it cheaper to get your hands on an iPhone is a good move, even if the result is a higher monthly bill.

NEXT PAGE: PC Advisor's original Apple iPhone 3G review > >


  1. Apple iPhone 3G review
  2. Apple iPhone 3G hardware
  3. iPhone peripherals and the 3G iPhone
  4. Apple iPhone 3G software
  5. 3G: full speed ahead
  6. Where am I? iPhone GPS
  7. Loud and clear
  8. Strange lapses
  9. 3G iPhone power and battery
  10. The price

Original 3G iPhone review


  1. Does the iPhone 3G justify the hype?
  2. Above all, a phone
  3. Internet to go
  4. Check your mail
  5. Oh yeah, the iPod
  6. The iPhone 3G in use
  7. Apple iPhone 3G: first look, June 2008

Visit Mobile Advisor for the latest mobile phone news, reviews, tips & tricks, as well as PC Advisor's unique Apple iPhone 3G Spotlight

Few devices have ever been hyped to the extent of the Apple iPhone, and the iPhone 3G has seen the excitement reach fever pitch. It's hard to believe any device can live up to such expectation. So does it? UPDATED: July 11, 2008

Yes. And, also, no.

Related articles:

The device that went on sale on July 11 is an improved version of the Apple iPhone that went on sale in the UK last year. For one thing, it has a 3G chipset that enables it to use fast mobile data networks when available.

For another, it has real GPS, rather than the pretend GPS that the old Apple iPhone and iPod touch can use, which fakes your position based on nearby mobile phone towers.

Also, it has a plastic back instead of a chrome back, making it less like an iPod touch and more like a phone.

All of which is very relevant to you if you've used a first-generation Apple iPhone and therefore have something to compare to.

We've been using a 3G iPhone for a few weeks now. At this stag it's important to point out that we were using the iPhone 3G with the Optus and Vodafone networks in Australia, where review samples are much easier to come by - this being the iPhone's debut in that part of the world.,

Note also that services such as MobileMe and the App Store, which add key functionality to the iPhone 3G, had not been launched before this was written so we did not have an opportunity to test them.

NEXT PAGE: Above all, a phone > >


  1. Does the iPhone 3G justify the hype?
  2. Above all, a phone
  3. Internet to go
  4. Check your mail
  5. Oh yeah, the iPod
  6. The iPhone 3G in use
  7. Apple iPhone 3G: first look, June 2008

Apple's much-hyped second generation 3G iPhone landed in the UK on July 11. Here's PC Advisor's first review of the Apple iPhone 3G.

Above all, a phone

There's a reason Apple didn't call this device the 'iPod phone' or similar. The iPhone 3G is, first and foremost, a telephone. And it's a good one.

We had a great deal of difficulty finding anywhere we couldn't get at least some reception. Even seven levels underground in a multistory carpark elevator, we could make and receive phone calls. That's pretty impressive. What's more, the iPhone 3G squeezes the most out of whatever limited signal it can get, so even those deep underground phone calls sounded clear.

Tapping the Phone icon on the touchscreen brings up a large standard-format alphanumeric keypad, so you can dial numbers such as 133-MAC. Once you've dialed, another screen comes up with options to put the call on speaker, mute, hold, add another call or pop out to your Contacts list.

Related articles:

The Contacts list is synced with your OS X Address Book and, at a touch, you can dial a phone number, send an SMS or an email to anyone in the list.

The favorites list on the iPhone 3G isn't all that clever, but without a physical qwerty keyboard how could it be? Instead, you click the Home button (the only physical button on the front of the iPhone) twice, and up comes your Favorites list. Only eight favourites are displayed at a time, but scrolling through is a flick of a finger, and you can have more than 26 if you need to. To call one, just tap.

So the iPhone 3G isn't the best at handling fast access to favourite numbers, but we'd put it a close second to BlackBerry handsets.

The speaker is also good and loud, so it's very effective for times when you want to chat without holding on to the Apple iPhone 3G.

The Settings screen lets you configure many of iPhone 3G's functions, but not as many as you might like

NEXT PAGE: Internet to go > >


  1. Does the iPhone 3G justify the hype?
  2. Above all, a phone
  3. Internet to go
  4. Check your mail
  5. Oh yeah, the iPod
  6. The iPhone 3G in use
  7. Apple iPhone 3G: first look, June 2008

Apple's much-hyped second generation 3G iPhone landed in the UK on July 11. Here's PC Advisor's first review of the Apple iPhone 3G.

Internet to go

The other thing the Apple iPhone 3G is noted for is access to the internet wherever you happen to be. The addition of 3G makes that an even more attractive proposition, at least if you happen to be in a 3G area.

The Apple iPhone 3G comes with a mobile version of Safari pre-installed. It's unclear at this point whether or not Apple (which as the operator of the App Store has final say over which applications get distributed) will allow another developer to release a web browser for the iPhone. PC Advisor understands that Opera, for instance, has an iPhone flavour of Opera Mini ready to go as soon as Apple gives it the go ahead. We hope it will.

However, even the web browser pre-installed on the iPhone 3G is far superior to any web browser we have used on any mobile device. Speed and usability have just generally been poor.

Not on the iPhone 3G. The big, bright screen and simple interaction with the touch interface make it much easier to interact with than other mobile browsers.

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The touch interface makes the difference here. Using a scrollwheel or a little ball or even a stylus to work your way around a website just doesn't work as intuitively as grabbing, sliding and tapping.

As well as the web browser, the iPhone 3G comes pre-installed with a number of other applications that make use of mobile data. A Weather widget allows you to look up the weather in any number of cities around the world if you need that kind of thing, and a Stocks widget keeps you up to date with your portfolio.

And of course there's YouTube. If you thought YouTube ate too much of your time when you're at your desk, just wait until it's something you can waste time with on your way to work. Searching for videos is easy, downloading over 3G is surprisingly quick, and anything halfway decently encoded looks great on the wide screen.

Before you buy an iPhone 3G, be sure that you're happy with the mobile data component of the plan you're on. Unlike with other phones, you will use it.

Unfortunately, the iPhone 3G can't be used as a modem connected via Bluetooth. This presumably is a nod to telcos that are also ISPs, so people can't use their iPhone's data connection for 'real' browsing. But it's very unfortunate. It's not a feature we use a lot, but it's handy to have.

The iPhone 3G's Bluetooth connection is presumably just there to connect headsets and the like, which it does smoothly and works well (we used a Plantronics headset with no problems).

NEXT PAGE: Check your mail > >


  1. Does the iPhone 3G justify the hype?
  2. Above all, a phone
  3. Internet to go
  4. Check your mail
  5. Oh yeah, the iPod
  6. The iPhone 3G in use
  7. Apple iPhone 3G: first look, June 2008

Apple's much-hyped second generation 3G iPhone landed in the UK on July 11. Here's PC Advisor's first review of the Apple iPhone 3G.

Check your mail

We're treating email separately to other internet applications, because we think this is an area that needs particular attention.

At the moment the king of mobile email is RIM with its BlackBerry platform. The BlackBerry, it's fair to say, is an email device that's had other functionality tacked on the back for good measure. It could similarly be argued that the iPhone 3G's email functionality feels a little bit tacked on.

On the BlackBerry, you have your choice of seeing all your messages from all your accounts (plus SMS) in one big inbox, or having them separated out into separate lists. If you choose the latter, you can go straight to each separate inbox from its own icon on the main screen.

On the iPhone 3G, however, you have to have all your accounts separate, and you access them by clicking on the Mail icon on the main screen. Clicking on that brings up the various different accounts, and you tap the account you want and then tap 'Inbox' to see your new messages — three clicks to achieve what you can do on the BlackBerry in one. For a company that prides itself on user interface design, this is a problem.

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Of course it's no problem at all if you only have one email account, so let's move on.

When reading a message, you have five icons at the bottom of the screen: a circular arrow for 'refresh' (useful if an email is taking a while to load); a folder with an arrow on it for 'move to a new folder'; a trash can; an arrow pointing up and to the left, universally understood to mean 'reply'; and a square with a line in it, which means 'compose a new message'.

The 'move to a new folder' option is only useful if you have an IMAP account and you've created folders using your desktop computer. There's no way to create new folders using the iPhone. Or at least none that we could find. If you have a POP account, you have the Inbox, Sent Items and Trash. And that's it.

You may notice that we didn't list an icon there for forwarding a message. We puzzled over that one, until we discovered that tapping the 'reply' icon gives three options: Reply, Reply All and Forward. It's not quite of the order of clicking Start to shut down, but it's getting there.

We mention the placement of the 'compose new message' icon because in the email application it's in the lower righthand corner of the screen. In the SMS application it's in the upper right corner of the screen. In the email application the upper-right corner of the screen is either arrows for moving between messages or, if you're in a list view, it's the 'Edit' button for deleting or moving messages en masse. Having the 'compose' function in one app in the identical location to where one finds the 'delete' function in another app seems a bit un-Apple to us.

The ability to delete and move emails en masse is a new feature of the iPhone 3G email client. We can tell you that an email client that has no mechanism for marking a message as read without actually opening it (such as, for instance, the iPhone 3G) is irritating.

And then there's notifications. The BlackBerry allows an incredible amount of customisation in how you're notified that you've received a message. For any given contact, you can specify a different (customisable) sound to play if they send an SMS or to each of your different email accounts, as well as custom ringtones. Some might say the BlackBerry offers a bewildering array of options in that regard, but once you're used to working with them it's useful.

iPhone 3G, on the other hand, lets you set custom ringtones. And that's it. You can choose from a set of pre-installed sounds for SMS notifications, but can't add your own. And for receiving mail you're restricted to one sound and one sound only. You can turn it off if you want.

We could go on, but we won't. The short story is that if Apple wants to compete with RIM for the email power-user market it needs to do a lot better than this. Or if it can't it should let someone else develop a proper email client for the iPhone 3G.

RIM, maybe?

NEXT PAGE: Oh yeah, the iPod > >


  1. Does the iPhone 3G justify the hype?
  2. Above all, a phone
  3. Internet to go
  4. Check your mail
  5. Oh yeah, the iPod
  6. The iPhone 3G in use
  7. Apple iPhone 3G: first look, June 2008

Apple's much-hyped second generation 3G iPhone landed in the UK on July 11. Here's PC Advisor's first review of the Apple iPhone 3G.

Oh yeah, the iPod

You may be aware that Apple manufactures a very popular portable media player, and the functionality of that media player is incorporated into the iPhone.

At 8GB and 16GB capacities, the iPhone 3G is a fairly limited iPod (compared to, say, 160GB on the iPod classic) so unless your multimedia demands are fairly modest it probably won't replace your primary iPod. Which is a pity, since one of the cool promises of the device is rolling the two mobile doodads (phone and iPod) that people walk around with into one.

If you've used an iPod touch you know how the iPhone 3G works as an iPod—it's identical. You can search albums in Cover Flow, play videos in widescreen, buy songs from the iTunes WiFi Store, all that. (You can't purchase songs over a 3G connection. Trust me, that's a good thing.)

One thing the iPhone can do that the iPod touch can't is play music without headphones plugged in. It's got speakers, so why not? The sound quality isn't great, but it can do it.

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One thing the iPhone (and iPod touch) can't do that certain other iPods can is record audio. Many people (such as journalists) have taken to using iPods as voice recorders and note takers, and the iPhone fails to replace that function. Apparently this is because of a different 'handshake' procedure required by the iPhone 3G and iPod touch compared to previous models. So it's a matter of someone making a compatible microphone.

Like any other iPod, you sync your data with the iPhone via iTunes. Using iTunes you can copy your Address Book, iCal calendars and synchronise Mail folders (presuming you use Apple's Mail) between iPhone and your Mac or PC. Unlike any other iPod though, the data is actually useful to have on an iPhone. And when it's available you'll also be able to download applications from the App Store using iTunes and install them on the iPhone.

One slight annoyance for Mac users is that if you've taken any pictures using the iPhone 3G's camera, iPhoto launches as well as iTunes when you plug in the iPhone. It may be too much to ask, but given we can sync iPhoto libraries to iPhone via iTunes, it'd be a whole bunch more elegant to be able to go the other way as well.

NEXT PAGE: In use > >


  1. Does the iPhone 3G justify the hype?
  2. Above all, a phone
  3. Internet to go
  4. Check your mail
  5. Oh yeah, the iPod
  6. The iPhone 3G in use
  7. Apple iPhone 3G: first look, June 2008

Apple's much-hyped second generation 3G iPhone landed in the UK on July 11. Here's PC Advisor's first review of the Apple iPhone 3G.

In use

The iPhone 3G is more than just a phone, an iPod, a mobile web browser and an email client — it's a unified whole made up of these parts. It's that unity that sets it apart from other devices.

The iPhone 3G is, for want of a better word, fun to use. And that can be a good thing and a bad thing.

For one thing, the cost of mobile data is very hard to pin down. The temptation to use the iPhone heavily — to look up web pages on a whim, check email every fifteen minutes to sort of replicate the BlackBerry push service, and to download maps from Google just to prove you can — is very high. Some users may well find that 250MB or even 500MB plans don't make the cut. And that might mean some very expensive surprises.

Our recommendation: whenever possible, use Wi-Fi and switch off 3G (in Settings > General > Network). You'll save some money on data, get faster access, and the batteries last longer.

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Speaking of batteries, the 3G network eats them like popcorn. And since you can't swap in an extra battery as with pretty much every other phone ever made, you need to be a bit conservative. In normal usage (not when we were deliberately trying to run the battery down) we found we could barely get a working day out of a single charge. We ended up with the included charger plugged in next to the bed and a USB cable plugged into the Mac on our desk, so it could be plugged in and charging whenever possible.

We also found we sometimes had a hiccup or two when roaming from one network to another. Going from 3G to Wi-Fi, for example, we sometimes found the phone couldn't connect to my email server and we had to shut it down and restart to get things working again. It may well be that this was because of the pre-release software we had on board, so it may not be a problem in general availability.

And the elephant in the room is of course the third-party applications that aren't yet available. We have had a brief play with some of the applications on a pre-configured machine Apple had on hand for demonstrations, but not in-depth. The fact is the App Store will expand the iPhone's horizons virtually infinitely. With the App Store the iPhone 3G becomes a genuine computing platform.

NEXT PAGE: our first look at the iPhone 3G, from june 2008 > >


  1. Does the iPhone 3G justify the hype?
  2. Above all, a phone
  3. Internet to go
  4. Check your mail
  5. Oh yeah, the iPod
  6. The iPhone 3G in use
  7. Apple iPhone 3G: first look, June 2008

Here's what we found when we spent time with the new Apple iPhone 3G, available from July 11, and for free to some subscribers.

Perhaps being the first to touch the Apple iPhone 3G is not as impressive a feat as it was to be the first to review the original Apple iPhone when it was announced back in January 2007. But still, for the next month we’ve got one up on most members of the general public.

Here's what we found when we spent time with the new Apple iPhone 3G. Get the latest Apple iPhone news, visit PC Advisor's dedicated Apple iPhone Spotlight.

Fundamentally, the iPhone 3G feels very much like the old iPhone. It’s apparently lighter than the old one by a minuscule amount, but in the hand it doesn’t feel any different from the current iPhone. (Although it will feel different in the wallet: see Apple and O2 confirm iPhone 3G's pricing details.)

The biggest cosmetic changes are on the back panel, which is now shiny plastic instead of metal. The back panel is curvier than the one on the current Apple iPhone, and the recessed headphone jack has been replaced with one which lies flush with the iPhone’s body, meaning the days of iPhone headphone adaptors are gone forever. (Unless you want to use a microphone with a clicker, in which case you’ll still need one.)

The iPhone 3G’s edge buttons are now silver metal, rather than the black plastic on the current model. The buttons had a sharper edge than we're used to, although we pushed them only a couple of times.

“It feels great in the hand, but in the same volume as the current phone, we’ve packed in great battery performance for a 3G device,” Bob Borchers, Apple's senior director of worldwide iPhone product marketing, told us.

That plastic back should also improve the range and signal strength of the iPhone 3G, for Wi-Fi, cellular, and even GPS purposes, which is good news for anyone who has had signal issues with their current iPhone.

When we asked about the new GPS features of the iPhone 3G, Borchers explained that iPhone’s Core Location function - which uses Wi-Fi and cellular tower locations to compute a location on current iPhone models - will simply add GPS to the mix.

Since GPS only really works well with a clear view of the sky, the combination of the different location-finding approaches gives the iPhone three different ways to figure out where you are. And photos will be geo-tagged - in other words, when you take a picture, the picture will contain metadata indicated exactly where you were on the globe when you took it.

Apple won’t be providing detailed map data for the iPhone, instead relying on data streamed over digital networks from Google’s servers. Into this breach will most likely step third-party software developers: in fact, GPS-maker TomTom says it’s already got iPhone GPS software ready to go, and we expect a lot more competition in this area too, providing features such as audio feedback and detailed maps that can be pre-loaded on the iPhone, so if your data connection vanishes, you can still find your way.

NEXT PAGE: let's talk battery life, and our expert verdict > >

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Here's what we found when we spent time with the new Apple iPhone 3G, available from July 11, and for free to some subscribers.

Now let’s talk battery life. The iPhone 3G is rated for up to 10 hours of talk time on a 2G network, or up to 5 hours on a 3G network. That’s not too surprising - 3G radios use up a lot of power. That’s one reason why last year’s iPhone didn’t do 3G.

Get the latest Apple iPhone news, visit PC Advisor's dedicated Apple iPhone Spotlight.

“Fundamentally, 3G radios are different from 2G. 2G radios have been around a long time, so they’re more optimised,” Borchers said. “Five hours for 3G is a great benchmark in and of itself. What we’ve been able to do is be very aggressive on power management to achieve those numbers.”

If you need to squeeze more life out of your battery, you can turn on a setting in the iPhone’s preferences that will force it on to the 2G network, although Borchers suggested that “the vast majority of customers will want to stay on 3G".

Then there’s the new, laughably small, iPhone power adaptor. The old adaptor looked like a tiny version of the iPhone or MacBook power brick. This one looks like of those plug adaptors we had to buy to plug a three-pronged electrical cord into an outlet that only had two prongs. On one side are three prongs, and on the other side, a USB port. That’s it. We don’t know who at Apple is obsessed with tiny power adapters, but just when you think they won’t get any smaller, they do.

We didn’t get much time with the iPhone 3G, although we did run a couple of third-party programs.

One such was the game 'Super Monkey Ball'. We found controlling the little monkey in the ball to be pretty difficult, although we may have been holding the iPhone wrong. Still, the graphics and frame rates were quite impressive. Maybe not quite up to the level of the Nintento Wii at home, but definitely good for a handheld game system. (Didn’t you know that the iPhone was a handheld game system? Well, it is now.)

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OUR VERDICT

If you've been cautious and waited a year for the second generation of iPhone, your patience will be rewarded. The iPhone 3G improves on the original iPhone's audio quality, offers access to a faster data network, and sports built-in GPS functionality. You'll also be getting in on the ground floor of the exciting new world of third-party software written for the iPhone. And business users will appreciate the iPhone's new Exchange syncing features. If you're an existing iPhone user, the fact that your current phone will be able to take advantage of all the iPhone 2.0 software features, including Exchange syncing and third-party applications, blunts some of the excitement of this upgrade. If you live in an area with a 3G network and find yourself chafing at the comparatively slow speeds of the EDGE network all the time, it's probably worth the upgrade. But if you don't mind the internet experience on your current phone, you'd be better off installing the 2.0 software update and holding on to your existing device.

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