iPhone 3GS – In-depth Review


  • 3.5-inch (diagonal) widescreen Multi-Touch display
  • 480-by-320-pixel resolution at 163 pixels per inch
  • Video recording, VGA up to 30 frames per second with audio
  • 3-megapixel still camera

I’m almost ashamed to talk about how many times I confessed on Twitter, to being very sad at having to give this iPhone back. It took me a while – and it was tough being parted from my BlackBerry, but I must say that overall, my experience with the iPhone wasn’t as bad as I expected.

Once I’d gotten used to the fact that this handset was more about an index finger operation and less about using it with both thumbs – I was okay with the touchscreen experience. In fact, it didn’t take long before I was typing on that touchscreen keypad, just as fast as I was used to, on my BlackBerry. Even my Kid loved the touchscreen concept (and took to it instantly) and loved flicking through the Camera Roll and scrolling through the pages of apps.

The phone itself fit rather snugly in my right hand, whilst my left hand was doing the all the touching. The rotating display is a nice enough concept – but I found sometimes that it would get stuck (usually in landscape mode, which, when you’re trying to type an SMS one-handed is a total nightmare) and take ages to flip back. Also, if I was lying in bed, reading something on the iPhone, it would switch to landscape mode, even though I wasn’t holding the iPhone horizontally – more like a 45 degree angle. (Sidenote: Apple fans, is there some way to lock the orientation temporarily?) It’s a bit difficult (okay, nigh impossible) to read the screen in full sunlight, but we expect that from most backlit devices, anyway – so we can’t really count that as a negative.

As for the browsing experience on the iPhone – after the crap that I’d endured from BlackBerry with their standard browser, Safari was an absolute pleasure. All the web pages I viewed looked as if they would on my MacBook, only much littler. I also happened to enjoy the way Safari deals with dropdown menus – it’s neat, useful and nowhere near as frustrating as trying to scroll through a dropdown menu with a trackball. The 3G connection is a treat, and web pages load fairly quickly. Hooking up to a Wi-Fi hotspot couldn’t be simpler.

I could see this kind of phone being better suited to someone who has a wireless internet connection both at home, and the office – as browsing, e-mail and IM apps all involve costly data charges, if you’re using the iPhone’s 3G connectivity. Alternatively, shell out for a data bundle with your iPhone, and consider it money well-spent.

Most of my time was spent using a small clutch of apps – Echofon (for tweeting), WhatsApp (to chat with my iPhone and BlackBerry user-friends) Hipstamatic (to take photos as proof that my friends, family and I are having new age fun with a vintage feel – watch the video for an explanation of that joke) Tumblr (for everything that doesn’t fit on Twitter or on my blog), and the Mail app (for mail, obviously, duh) and of course, Safari. Everything worked excellently and smoothly but I missed the ability to switch between applications, like I could on my BlackBerry.

Mail also wasn’t the wonderful push experience that BlackBerry has nailed (and nailed well) – although I did like the ability to be able to search my entire gmail account from the iPhone (on BlackBerry one can only search messages stored on the device) and the threaded messaging feature was a nice touch, as well.

I demand longevity and endurance from my smartphone (okay, all I really want is for it to last until I get home in the afternoon from work before needing to be charged again) and the fact that I spend most of my time using it (when I’m not at my computer, I’m more than likely stuck on my phone) means that it needs to be able to keep up. The iPhone failed to satisfy in this regard, and I’ve gone so far as to charge this phone twice in one day. Battery life? Appalling.

I did, however, love the way the iPhone and my Mac just fit together – snycing the iPhone, transferring contacts and content – all easily doable. The one pain I experienced in this regard was using the iPhone to store music (and therefore be able to use the iPod functionality was the fact that after I loaded 3GB of music onto a 16GB iPhone nothing worked the same anymore, and applications kept hanging and freezing. Once I’d removed all the music, the problem was gone.

The 3MP autofocus camera is adequate – nothing spectacular when you consider the fact that phones like the Samsung Pixon 12 are sporting 12MP worth of detail-capturing goodness. To be fair, I didn’t spend a great deal of time using the Camera app directly, prefering to take my pictures instead, using Hipstamatic. There’s also the ability to record VGA video.

After two months of using the iPhone, I can safely make the following statements:

  • I could ditch the phsyical QWERTY keypad, and be okay with a touchscreen.
  • If you want a device that’s all about fast, efficient ommunication – get a BlackBerry. If you’re looking for a toy/something to flash around, get an iPhone.
  • The apps (the few that I tried) were pretty freakin’ awesome. The idea of being able to download squillions more is also very appealing. (I’m always looking for some or other new way to procrastinate productively)
  • RIM needs to spend more time focusing on developing awesome apps for BlackBerry, if they ever hope to hold an edge over Apple in this country (like I saw someone point out the other day – If it weren’t for the R60 BlackBerry Internet Service, BlackBerry users would probably be iPhone users.
  • I am in love with the iPhone, and it will be very difficult to return to my BlackBerry.

In fact, I predict, that once I’ve switched back to my BlackBerry, I will spend a lot of time poking it in the screen, and expecting it to respond. Here’s hoping that the people who come to collect this shiny little number get lost en route, and stay that way.

Turn ons:

  • Love the glossy white rear exterior, it’s smooth, slick and gorgeous to look at.
  • Browsing experience is simply superb.
  • User-friendly, hassle-free, intuitive operation.


Turn offs:

  • Accelerometer has a tendency to get stuck in landscape position, even if the phone isn’t being held horizontally.
  • Mail experience wasn’t that wonderful.
  • Couldn’t actually use the iPod functionality, which I didn’t mind, seeing as I already have an iPod touch.

Rating: 4.5/5


SRP: R8500.00

About the author  ⁄ Tamaryn Watkins

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