Still the champ among consumer smartphones. (July 13th, 2008)
Product Manufacturer: Apple
Price: $199 (8GB, two years), $299 (16GB, two years)
- Still the best mobile OS for web browsing and media playback.
- 3G is much faster and changes the nature of what the iPhone can do.
- Improved audio quality going in and out.
- GPS is useful for both first- and third-party apps.
- New design is easier to hold and finally allows most earphones.
- iPhone 2.0 software greatly expands the phone's feature set.
- Lower price for some customers.
- Using 3G shortens battery life; usually need to plug in every day.
- GPS is purportedly limited in hardware; Google Maps no stand-in for full navigation.
- Still no MMS, voice dialing, or improved camera.
- Black model too easily shows fingerprints, and may show scratches.
pack-ins and what's missing
In the earlier days of the iPod, Apple had a reputation for packing in virtually every conceivably important accessory. A third-generation iPod would come with a FireWire cable, a USB cable, and even a dock; it was only when cutthroat competition (and, most likely, a desire to maintain profit) pushed Apple to start dropping accessories to where even its most expensive iPods come only with a USB cable and a polishing cloth. When the first iPhone was released, the inclusion of both a dock and a power adapter gave some hope that Apple would return to its halcyon days and make sure customers were never lacking.
Unfortunately, the iPhone 3G is more evidence of Apple repeating history than improving on it: the dock is now just a $29 option rather than a standard feature. It's not a dealbreaker, but it's certainly less value for money and dampens the initial experience. At least the extra money is well-spent: the new dock is just as easy as the first for slotting in the phone, and takes up considerably less space than a Universal Dock -- although it does lack the infrared receiver of the latter (more expensive) model.
The nature of the phone market does dictate that Apple include an AC adapter, however, and it's here that there's some real ingenuity: the iPhone 3G's power adapter is much smaller than the original and sees the actual brick barely longer than the prongs that plug into the wall socket. Not every country gets this exact adapter -- a number of European territories need a bulkier connector -- but it's considerably smaller than what comes with most phones and is easier to stow away in a bag for a trip.
The stereo headset is the same as ever, which is helpful for some but an annoyance for others. It's very low-profile compared to the headsets bundled with other media-savvy phones and incorporates a clever squeeze action for answering calls and skipping tracks, but the audio quality for music and videos just won't appease discriminating users; it tends to mask higher-quality recordings and muddles some of the high and low end frequencies. It's better than many of the earbuds tried in the past, but not good enough to deter some from preferring the more advanced mic/remote headset of the Nokia N95, which also lets you put in your own earphones without giving up the extra controls.