It’s no surprise that Apple has been late in bringing its iPhone upgrades in India. They skipped the original iPhone, brought iPhone 3G and released iPhone 3GS almost when the fourth-gen iPhone was months away. And though the world will mostly see the next generation iPhone tomorrow, we checked out iPhone 3G’s snappier successor. For sake of review, we’ll focus on improvements and additions of iPhone 3GS.
Apple has christened iPhone 3GS for a reason. The new iPhone is not revolutionary when it comes to design. In fact it’s almost identical to iPhone 3G but it’s the things underneath the hood that makes it special.
The ‘S’ in 3GS stands for Speed, which signifies the inclusion of the faster processor, more RAM and graphics prowess. To be precise, the 3GS has a 600MHz CPU from 3G’s 412MHz, 256MB RAM up from 128MB and PowerVR SGX chip supporting OpenGL ES 2.0.
Apple’s known for its minimal packaging and iPhone 3GS is no different. The small box includes the handset, earphones with remote and mic, USB data cable, USB power adapter, Dock connector, manual and SIM eject tool.
One change that is visible and not under the hood is iPhone 3GS’ display. Despite, the same screen size and resolution as iPhone 3G, 3GS’ display felt brighter. At the same display level, the iPhone 3GS was more brighter than iPhone 3G and even iPod touch (3rd gen 8GB). Another improvement in the display department is the oleophobic coating. The coating makes the screen less smudgy to fingerprints and is also to clean.
It’s good to see that iPhone 3GS stays true to its name. You could feel iPhone 3GS’ power when you try to open up applications. The device evidently loads apps faster than its predecessor. And it gets better when playing graphics and CPU intensive games or working with a CPU hungry app. Check out the small video where iPhone 3GS (left) is pitted against iPod touch (right).
Another improvement in the hardware department is iPhone 3GS’ camera. Apple has bumped the camera to 3 megapixel and now supports autofocus and tap to focus that makes the phone’s camera to focus on whatever the user wants to focus in the picture. While this feature is handy, the lack of dedicated camera key and no flash is a bummer. The image quality is decent but you’ll find a hint of graininess to the images.
Prior iPhone generations were devoid of video recording but this time Apple has included video recording as well as editing support.
The iPhone 3GS is able to record videos in VGA resolution at 30fps and has an output that won’t make your jaws drop but is ok going by today’s standards. There’s no flash so recording in dark is obviously worthless. Apple has also thrown in a video editor that can help you edit videos without the need to hook with a computer. The to-be-edited video is broken down into frames where user can trim it down to get the perfect result.
All the recorded videos can be sent as an email, MMS or upload on YouTube.
While an unusual addition, Apple also integrated Compass hardware that shows the direction you’re facing. The 3GS has a standalone app for that and though it’s not that useful, the compass integration with Maps does prove in handy. Activating the Compass in the Maps app shows you in which direction you’re heading.
Voice Control & A2DP:
Other things that comes with 3GS is the Voice Control and Bluetooth A2DP support. Voice Control when activated, helps user to control the iPhone verbally. You can make calls by saying the number, make a search from the contacts or control the whole iPod interface by asking the artist’s name, your favorite number and so on. Our test proved that though Voice Control is a nice addition, it did have some quirks picking up our words.
The iPhone 3GS now supports A2DP profile and it works as expected. Users can use wireless Blueooth headsets to play music from their iPhones, use Voice Control etc.
Our review unit was mainly tested on a 2G network and with a decent usage of Wi-Fi, phone calls and music we managed to get about 15-17 hours on a single charge.
Despite iPhone being one of most craved phones, its uptake in the Indian market has been mostly restricted to its price. It goes for a hefty Rs. 35,500 whereas 32GB for Rs. 41,500 and to make matters worse, users get their phones locked to Airtel or Vodafone – India’s two exclusive iPhone operators.
Also, this brings us to the important question – if it’s worth the upgrade or not? Well, it is speedier and has more storage than 3G but when you compare its price to features ratio with iPhone 3G, the extra bucks isn’t worth it. Besides the new iPhone due tomorrow is expected to be more revolutionary not only in terms of specs but also in design. The new iPhone debate is only valid if Apple and Indian operators decide to release the device soon and not after almost a year.
Pros: Fast, Excellent UI, massive app collection