The much awaited iPhone 3G has arrived and is considered a huge hit, going by the 1 million handsets sold in the first three days.
According to Apple’s chief executive, Steve Jobs, the new iPhone 3G is off to a great start all around the world, when compared to their original iPhone that had taken 74 days to sell the first 1 million handsets.
However, the huge demand caused unexpected technical difficulties across the U.S. and Europe. Some of the buyers in the U.S. were unable to use their new handsets for many hours after purchasing them, due to the iTunes store grinding to a halt under the burden of the huge number of requests.
These problems are attributed to the unprecedented demand that was not anticipated.
Analysts at RBC Capital Markets are of the opinion that the low price and the demand, along with the distribution across 22 countries and 28 mobile operators may be the cause of issues that caused frustration to buyers, due to limited stock.
They also feel that the target of selling 5.1 million iPhone 3Gs throughout the world, during the third quarter of 2008 will be met by Apple. They are confident that Apple is highly likely to meet its long-term target of launching the 3G handsets in 70 countries and selling about 14 million iPhones in the next year.
As has been mentioned in our previous pre-release article, the iPhone 3G comes in two forms, 8GB and 16GB, with either white or black back. The front is black for both. The 16GB model is available in both these colors, while the 8GB is available only in black and it appears as if most people appear to like the black much more.
The iPhone 3G, bearing a slightly tweaked design, is almost identical to the old iPhone, except may be for a slight difference in the thickness. The old one was 0.46 inches thick, while the new 3G is 0.48 inches; however this is not a visible difference because Apple has slightly refined the shape at the back. The backside seems thinner than the old iPhone when held in hand, in spite of being slightly thicker. The metal back is now in plastic making it look better, less slippery, provides better signal strength and reduces the weight of the iPhone by 2g too without making it feel cheap or shallow. The Wi-Fi reception also seems to be a bit better.
People had issues with the old iPhone and there were many complaints of not being able to hear any notifications; however, with the iPhone 3G, that problem has been taken care of and email notifications can be heard easily even across a big room. The external speaker volume is significantly higher when compared to the old iPhone and the quality seems to be better as well. The speaker is also much louder when playing music. However, now the complaint against the speaker is that it gets covered when holding it in the hand or when playing games. If one finger goes over the speaker, it is almost as if there is no speaker at all.
Surprisingly, Bluetooth is still left out, so for those looking for wireless music enjoyment, this proves to be a great disappointment. There is also no video recording.
The screen retains its sharpness and brightness just as the old iPhone and is impressive. However, many people have noticed a yellow tinge on the screen. This is hardly noticeable, unless the old and the new iPhones are kept side by side and compared, and cannot be considered a negative trait. In fact, Apple’s explanation is that this is done by design to give a more natural feel for the iPhone.
The iPhone’s built-in camera has not changed much; although, the size is 1mm bigger than the old iPhone. It’s still placed on the top left corner and not the front and has two megapixels resolution. A higher resolution and a front camera would have been preferred. The problems that still exist are lack of auto focus functionality and the problem with dim lighting.
This iPhone comes with a whole load of new features, such as GPS, access to 3G wireless network that is much faster, MicrosoftExchange server email, and a whole lot of third-party software from the iPhone App Store.
The iPhone 3G has Assisted GPS that is supplemented by satellites, which has a better capability of pinpointing the location. It tracks the signals well and provides live tracking for users to track their own progress as they drive or even walk. The use of Google Maps provides point-to-point directions but not turn-by-turn real time directions.
The Apple Applications store is a new feature that is being appreciated by the web development community, for the simple interface for selling games, message features and location tools. This proves the success of the amalgamation of the iPod with iTunes. To be able to download from the appstore, the iPhone has to be paired with an iTunes account.
The general consensus is that nobody likes the trouble of having to follow a tedious signup process, which involves walking into an Apple retail store or an AT&T store and signing a contract to get the iPhone activated immediately. However, Apple seems to think it is fair enough to protect the device from being unlocked, what with it being so cheap.
Another sore point is the battery life, and the early reviews reveal that it is considerably less. The battery is also non-replaceable. Users that spend a lot of time traveling will find the inability to replace the battery, a problem. Although, there have been several reviews that expressed concern over the battery life of the iPhone 3G, market analysts claimed that the phone still outperforms handsets that are comparable, such as the LG Voyager and HTC Tilt.
Although, the iPhone 3G is being marketed as not only a faster device but a business device as well, first set of buyers say that it is good as a consumer device and not worthy enough to be considered an enterprise device. In fact, Blackberry users may find it frustrating to use, due to lack of efficient Enterprise support.
The iPhone 2.0 software update provides Exchange server support without any added cost. AT&T says that using the Exchange server support will require a business data plan, costing much more.
The iPhone 3G does come with a few disappointments. The dock is no longer there as Apple looks at cutting costs. The web browser comes with no Flash support and the absence of 3D mapping is felt. Apple left out multimedia messaging, video recording and Bluetooth. The battery life is said to be not as good as expected and the battery is also non-replaceable. Other disappointing factors include, in-store activation; requirement of a two-year contract with AT&T in the U.S. and other operators in different countries, where the contract period may differ.
Looking at the good aspects of the iPhone 3G, the data speeds are much faster, external speaker louder and clearer, includes third party applications and has an unscratchable screen. There are several new features, such as the remote wipe for the enterprise, which erases data in case of losing the phone or the phone being stolen. It also has the ability to take screen shots with ease and they are stored in the photo gallery.
Price may remain a big concern. Although, the cost of the iPhone 3G, 8GB model is only $199 and $299 for the 16 GB model; either way, the monthly payments to AT&T over a period of two years will add up.
The iPhone 3G experience will depend on many factors, such as the 3G coverage in the area, the pages one is trying to access and understandably busier pages will be slow in loading. While it is AT&T in the U.S., the iPhone’s tri-band support will deliver 3G coverage throughout the world. Remember to switch off the iPhone when not in use, as 3G is a monster that seems to love sucking juice from the iPhone.
Overall, this will make a good buy for people who have never owned an iPhone and for those that may already own an iPhone but are looking for a faster network.