iPhone 3GSeventeen hours have passed since I upgraded to the new iPhone. Can it possibly be too early for me to make sweeping generalizations and pass judgment? No. I didn’t think so either. The folks at Apple sort of painted themselves into a corner on this one. The original iPhone was just so incredibly, amazingly, stupendously better than every other cell phone on the market. I am sure most users are going to be thrilled with the 3G, even ones who used the original. So far, though, I am not.

The Good

  • GPS: Okay, this is just a bitchin’ cool feature. This alone was probably worth the $350 I paid for the phone and the additional $360/yr I’ll be paying AT&T in service fees. Last night I needed to find a gas station and when Google Maps asked if it was okay to “use my position” I clicked ok. The little crosshairs zoomed down to my exact location almost instantly. On the original iPhone the Google Maps would — I assume — attempt to triangulate my position based on my proximity to cell towers, and therefore it was always “kinda accurate” but often missed by as much as a mile. If the GPS in the new iPhone is always this good, that’s going to revolutionize a LOT.
  • The new iPhone is noticeably lighter than the original. Less weight in my pocket is always good.
  • There was a new, smaller AC adapter in the box. The headphones and USB cable seemed to be exactly the same as previous versions, but the little power cube is about half the size as the old one.
  • The speakerphone and handset seem to be a little bit better than the original. I haven’t done any side-by-side tests, so this is just a hypothesis. But the overall sound quality does seem to be a smidge better.
  • Update: I forgot the best new feature of the new iPhone software! The ability to bulk delete in email is worth the whole upgrade.

The Bad

  • The plastic back is rounded and not flat, like the metallic back of the original. That means when I lay the new iPhone on a flat surface and attempt to tap text messages, the phone rocks from side to side. This annoys me beyond comprehension. Surely I cannot be the only one who frequently sends text messages (or types anything else) with the phone laying flat. Are you telling me that no beta testers complained about this? What is the reason for the rounded back? There is no legitimate benefit or improvement, so why was the change made?
  • The plastic back simply seems less solid than the metal one did. I’m no klutz, but I definitely dropped my phone more than once in the last few months and never had a problem. The metal back could withstand quite a shock and was, as far as I could tell, pretty scratch-proof. The new iPhone’s plastic back feels flimsy. It just feels like it will shatter if I drop it, and I can’t imagine it’s as scratch-proof as the metal one was.
  • In the car just now I plugged my headphones into the jack; I was about to make a call. The instant the new iPhone detected the insertion of the headphones, iTunes began playing “About Her” by Malcolm McLaren, from the Kill Bill, Vol. 2 soundtrack. (It’s the song that’s most alphabetically superior right now.) That was annoying. My previous iPhone did not decide to start playing music as soon as I plugged headphones into it. If there is not a way to disable that new “feature”, I will be severely angry.
  • Web access is obviously faster on the 3G network than it was on EDGE. But your ability to connect to the 3G network (in Los Angeles) is just as bad. I still can’t get cell service in my backyard or my bedroom. This is certainly not Apple’s fault, but it is pretty annoying. Don’t get me wrong: AT&T provides by far the best cell coverage in Los Angeles. I was hoping that the 3G network would have a little better penetration, but … that disappointment is my fault; I am guessing that a month ago I could have read somewhere to learn that there is no difference.
  • I have not yet been able to receive email on my new iPhone via the 3G network. This is very, very bad. I’m likely going to have to make a phone call or a trip to a store to resolve this. I am … <ahem> … pretty good with technology. There is a slim chance that there is some setting configured incorrectly on my new phone, but … (a) I had no problems receiving email via EDGE with my previous iPhone, (b) I was able to receive email on my phone via the wireless network in my house, and (c) I’m only using POP3, not IMAP or “Push”, so this shouldn’t be an issue at all.
    Update: I deleted all my mail accounts from my phone and did a hard reset. Then I added the accounts again and now they’re all working.
  • I connected my new iPhone to the USB cable from my 2nd generation iPod and a message appeared on the screen telling me that it was unsupported device and would not be able to charge. I can’t imagine why Apple would decide to change the properties of the bottom connector to such an extent that a previous charger would no longer function. (Several other of my chargers worked as expected, and that charger works with every other iPod and iPhone I used.)
  • When I checked the phone this morning, the battery level was at about 55%. This is a little bit unsettling because it was at an almost full charge when I went to bed last night and — as far as I know — I didn’t make any calls in my sleep. But I’m not going to get worried about the battery yet. I need to give it a week or two of average use before I can take a guess about whether it’s better or worse than my old iPhone. (Note: My old iPhone had (has, actually) the best battery life of any cell phone I’ve ever had.)

The Ugly

  • Fingerprints are much, much more noticeable on the plastic back than they ever were on the metal one.
  • For some reason, to me, the rounded back seems less “futuristic” than the previous version.
  • The three buttons on the iPhone — (1) power, (2) silent/audio, and (3) volume — were inexplicably changed from black plastic to chrome metal. The new buttons have very sharp edges and I predict many complaints of torn pockets and sliced fingers.

There is one comment on this post

  1. That why I’m waiting for the xperia. I thought jobs said the iphone was under 200 this time?

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