updated 03:10 pm EDT, Fri June 19, 2009
3G S unboxed
There's nothing like a new piece of technology, especially one that's been as widely talked about as the new iPhone 3G S. MacNN has obtained a unit and already has some very early impressions. At first glance, the most noticeable change is the packaging: Apple has managed to shrink the box even further, barely larger than the iPhone itself and about three inches deep. As with previous models, there is very little paperwork, just a multi-touch guide, the required safety/legal notice and the customary Apple stickers.
The device ships with a tiny AC adapter and headphones with the updated in-line mic and remote controls first introduced in September. As before, the tiny volume control works by squeezing either end of the remote. It takes a moment to get used to, but it works smoothly and is conveniently located. A test using Voice Memos produced clean audio with built-in mic; it also works with Voice Control by holding down the center button.
Activation using iTunes is a relatively simple process but took a considerable amount of time, apparently due to the heavy load on AT&T's servers as tens of thousands of new iPhone owners attempt to activate their devices at the same time. The 3G S MacNN tested replaced a first-generation iPhone, which we had backed up just before trying to activate the new 3G S. The most annoying part of all this that the process has left both of our phones deactivated while awaiting the switchover. Its been more than an hour as of the posting of this story -- we'll update when the phone finally activates. AT&T has said it may take as much as 48 hours to process, though we hope this isn't the case.
Transferring content was much easier. It's simply a matter of restoring the new device using the backup of the old one. Applications purchased for the first-generation iPhone were seamlessly transferred to the new 3G S.
Apple has been touting the new, supposedly smudgeproof oleophobic coating on the iPhone 3Gs screen. A hands-on test shows it does, indeed reduce smudges considerably, rivaling the aftermarket matte-finish cover that was installed on our first-generation iPhone.
Apple has promised significant speed boosts with the new model, and this does appear to be true. Applications open much more quickly than with our first-generation phone, and the OS seems to respond faster even compared to the iPhone 3.0 firmware, which itself improved responsiveness.
We'll be taking a more in-depth first look as soon as our iPhone 3G S activates, including a review of the new camera, video, compass and other features specific to the new hardware.
Update: After waiting more than two hours, we finally erased and reset our iPhone 3G S and tried again to activate, this time it came to life almost immediately and is now working on the AT&T network.