Apple iPhone 3GS: A Review

I work at a mobile store so, when a gadget review peeked its head around the corner, I mused to myself, “A phone it has to be”. Considering I have spent what I call a sizeable part of my life dealing with these, I guess I’m qualified enough to pass a judgement. Or maybe just an offhand review.

The gadget in question here is the Apple iPhone 3GS. After all the hoopla that has surrounded it ever since the phone has been conceived, when Apple launching the first generation of iPhones, my curiosity was inflamed beyond the infantile stage of awe. We, the mobile carrier ‘Vodafone Hutchison Australia’, guarded our stand of not succumbing to peer pressure and launching the phone with heavy scepticism. We believed we had some good reasons of our own. After much wrangling, we decided to give this monumental advancement in mobile phone technology a go. As a result, we got an opportunity to beta test the phone and discover what it had to offer.

As a part of promotions, we were given demo models and asked to give them a test run. I had my very own Apple iPhone 16GB 3GS! Oblivious to the envious looks it would attract, I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible, wrapping it up with layers of skins and covers, cradling it like a newborn. I have traditionally been a Windows Mobile fan, the fact that Windows mobile phones let you do pretty much everything, where the windows professional operating system acts as a framework which aids you in building a web of your own customized applications. They are no-nonsense phones with phenomenal processing capabilities. The standards set lofty, I proceeded to give the iPhone a run for all the money it claimed to be worth.
The initial impact is pretty impressive. The dimensions have been retained from the older versions (2G and 3G), the 3GS being a millimetre, bigger in size, but that can be barely registered by the human eye. Albeit it has become bigger, it has been made lighter, the weight of the 3GS stands at 133 grams. The aerodynamic contours ensure that the phone just feels right in your palm. The finish is crowned by a metal lining that surrounds the phone’s huge 3.5 inch display and the trademark silver ‘Apple’ graces the back. So far so good.
We came down to dissecting the functionality. The touch screen capability of the phone is fabulous; it literally sticks to your fingers as you try to navigate the screen. The iPhone uses the capacitive screen technology which is heat sensitive. This could be looked upon as a potential spoil sport for those who have long fingernails and those who are used to playing with a stylus, but the point is that the touch screen of the iPhone is unrivalled as of now and the best in its class. The layout of the menu is straightforward, being a graphic user interface. There’s a solitary button to go back at any stage on the phone. The camera is a 3 megapixel autofocus capable of video recoding. The phone is powered by a 600 Mhz processor. The battery backup is decent, gives us a standby time of about a day and a half to two days, on being used to make a fair amount of phone calls, access email and listen to music.

What sets the iPhone apart from the regular run-of-the-mill phones is its emphasis on basking in a league of its own. The iTunes store makes it possible to buy your choice of music, an array of applications can be procured from the ‘App-store’, an exclusive application store accessible to iPhone users. There are some really handy applications such as Google maps, which puts you on the right track if you are stranded in the middle of nowhere, a synchronized mail platform which lets you access multiple email accounts simultaneously and set up a schedule to send and receive emails at regular intervals. The phone has a discrete iPod component which lets you store up to 1700 odd songs (on the 16GB version) and create playlists. A one-touch, tethering function has been added, which transforms the phone into a modem at the click of a key. If you feel miserly enough to not use your internet, you can jog to the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot, say a Starbucks, hook your phone up the access point and access internet. Dialling a number is easy and the phone scores a major coupé by integrating a motion sensor which auto-detects when you try to make a phone call, on which, the screen locks itself so that you don’t end up pressing random keys against your cheek. These seemingly trivial but essential features make the iPhone one of the most sought after gadgets in the market.

The ‘oomph’ factor is massive and the iPhone has come to the fore as more of a status symbol, a must of for the quintessential social butterfly. Many are convinced that it is the final word in mobile technology. There are non-conformists like me, of course. I have to admit that the phone did manage to dazzle me, but my discerning eye eventually caught the glaring glitches which were almost criminal in my opinion. To begin with, the actual back cover of the phone is the battery, which means it is non-replaceable. In case something goes wrong with the battery, the phone becomes as good as a paperweight. The Bluetooth function on the phone is only headset compatible, which means it is capable of only pairing a device, but prohibits file transfer. I guess this has to do even Apple’s paranoia regarding people transferring all the precious ‘Apps’ over Bluetooth, thereby harming their meticulously set up revenue generating mechanism. The rebel in me repels it I guess, Apple’s insistence on control. Come to think of it, Bluetooth is a function you’d find in the most basic of phones. The 3G version of the phone, the one previous to this, could not forward a text message, was not MMS compatible, the camera was only capable of video recording. Thankfully, Apple has fixed all these limitations in their latest offering.

Why would I recommend this phone? Simply because it’s a joy for the avid, fun-loving, media savvy user. It’s a music player that makes phone calls for a change. It can double up as a gaming device, a GPS, a wireless modem, an email hub, a mass storage device on command of a few clicks. It packs all the style and substance that a modern techno-freak craves. If you not a total geek, chances are that you will look beyond the few inconsistencies that it suffers from and embrace it as a way of life. It might not be one of those devices that completely transform the very basis of your existence, which would be asking for way too much from an unsuspecting phone, but it certainly manages to hold forte for all that it has been acclaimed. The iPod has been the world’s darling mp3 player for a long time now and the iPhone 3GS, the fastest and the most powerful iPhone yet, only helps cement Apple’s position as the forerunner in the field of dishing out innovative, customer-centric, state-of-the art technology.

It has been about three weeks now that I have been blessed by the presence of this creation. There are times when I have itched to get back to my HTC, but the games manage to keep me hooked. I hate to, but will sheepishly admit that Apple has made me a slave of sort in that sense. It’s a sensory addiction that’ll keep you keep you entangled for hours on end. In that sense, it is toxic. All in all, it is a very gratifying gadget indeed. Get one if you love your music, like to check your mail on the go, are online forever, like gaming, going shopping and checking out listings, you know, all the fine things in life. For a simpleton that I am, I’d rather stick with my HTC Touch Diamond and HD, Sony Walkman, HP laptop, Sony PSP and Logistic 5.0. Keep it basic, I’d say!

Bhushan Sawant

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