Should I buy an iPhone 3G S?
If you already own an iPhone or iPhone 3G and want to know if it's worth upgrading, check out this features comparison.
If you don't own an iPhone but are tempted by Apple's latest offering, the iPhone 3G S, read on to see if it's worth switching.
iPhone 3G S main features
At a glance, the iPhone 3G S's main features are:
- Phone with visual voicemail
- Threaded (conversational) display of SMS
- MMS with video
- Full iPod music and video player
- Desktop-class email system
- Advanced Internet browser (Safari)
- A-GPS with Google Maps plus digital compass
- YouTube integration
- Huge range of third-party applications (both paid and free) available via iTunes
- 3MP camera, autofocus, VGA 30fps video recording
- 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
- Ability to add various third-party hardware via dock connection
Should I buy the iPhone 3G S?
The iPhone 3G S is an advanced smartphone, and comes with a serious price tag, but is it right for you?
Consider what the main reasons are for having a smartphone and then consider if the iPhone 3G S fits the bill.
- I want to take stunning photos:
The iPhone 3G S is not the best phone for taking photos on. Its 3-megapixel camera, though able to autofocus and take VGA movies, is not the best by a long shot, considering that 8MP+ smartphones are now available offering a much wider range of features (consider Samsung i8910 HD or LG Viewty Smart)
- I want a high quality music/video player:
The iPhone 3G S encompasses all of the features you'd find on the latest iPods. If you only want the iPod functionality, buy an iPod Classic. If you want some additional features such as apps but don't care about the phone, get an iPod Touch. If you don't want to be tied to iTunes, buy another music phone or PMP.
- I want maps and sat-nav:Each generation of iPhone builds in more advanced mapping and sat-nav features. The iPhone 3G S primarily uses Google Maps for mapping services, though third party developers can also include their own map software. There is GPS, a digital compass and support for turn-by-turn navigation, though it's worth noting that a number of other mobile phones have this functionality built-in, and currently do it better (think some of the Nokia Navigator handsets)
- I want email:
The iPhone 3G S uses a version of Apple's desktop Mail client, offering rich text emails and a number of other features. It can be integrated with Google Mail and synchronise with services such as Exchange, but if you are after business-class email you may still be better off with a BlackBerry or Windows Mobile device. It's still possible to access web mail via the iPhone's web browser.
- I want access to web sites:
The iPhone 3G S has a fast, reliable browser built in, based on the desktop version of Safari. It displays full web pages with zooming, but can't handle Flash. It's one of the best mobile web browsing experiences available, though some other handsets are coming close.
- I want games and apps:
The iTunes App Store has a huge number of applications, including games, ready for the iPhone 3G S. As you'd expect, some of it is very good and some pretty poor. You take your chances. It's a resource that is only going to grow, though it's worth bearing in mind that you can get smartphones that can access other online stores (think Android).
You'll also need to consider cost. Many people complained at the high cost of the iPhone when it came out, though it's fair to say that the relative cost has gone down quite a bit, particularly when you consider the range of smartphones from Nokia, LG, Samsung and others that are also very expensive.
Do you want to pay a huge amount up front and go for pay-as-you-go (no contract) or a cheaper monthly tariff, or be tied in to a lengthy, expensive contract but get the phone for free?
Most networks will tie you in for at least 18 months, often two years, when you opt for a high-powered smartphone - not just the iPhone 3G S.
Can you cope with being tied to O2 (in the UK) or AT&T (in the US)? Or are you going to rebel and jailbreak the iPhone, bearing in mind that you could risk locking the device, rendering it unusable?
Do you need the extra speed and functions of the iPhone 3G S, or can you get a better deal on an iPhone 3G (bearing in mind that it's only available in an 8GB capacity now, unless you can find surplus stock of the 16GB version)?
The iPhone 3G S is a great device, as is the original iPhone 3G, and you'd expect me to promote it as the best smartphone currently available. True, I like the handset, but it doesn't excel at everything. It's a highly usable device but it's not for everyone.
I was a little surprised that Apple didn't beef up the hardware more than it has. In a year's time (maybe less), expect to see an upgraded handset with better display resolution and camera. Apple needs to do this to keep up with smartphone trends.
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