iPhone Face-off

As Apple launches its new iPhone 3G S, JOHN HARRIS asks whether it is worth upgrading from last year's model.

The old saw that change is the only constant in technology is no salve when a favourite toy is superseded.

After a year of ego gratification from the iPhone hanging from my belt, last Friday I sat next to a colleague as she set up her new Apple iPhone 3G S.

While not overwhelmed by envy, I was curious to discover whether the new version was worth the change. So, when Vodafone offered to let me review the new handset over the weekend, I put it through the paces against my iPhone.

Physically, they look the same, except for the worn silver iPhone logo on the back of mine. The phone’s software is also similar, thanks to upgrading my iPhone to OS 3.0 last month.

What sets the iPhone 3G S apart is its quicker performance: This was evident despite installing a backup of my handset’s data to the new phone to make the comparison fair.

Opening the Messages app on the new phone took just one second while my old phone took twice as long. The calendar and calculator apps delivered the same sort of difference.

As well as voice controls, the new Phone 3G S boasts a three-megapixel camera with autofocus and video recording, a major improvement on the old model’s two megapixel camera.

However when I used it to take photos in my office, images were not significantly better than those of the old handset, despite containing nearly twice as much data.

Despite customers reporting that the new model struggles to make it through a day without a power top-up, a major attraction to the iPhone 3G S is Apple’s promise of improved battery performance.

So I gave the review unit a good charge up and then hammered it with phone calls and neglected to charge it overnight, a routine that is lethal for my handset.

When I checked it next morning, the iPhone 3G S still held a charge, although it displayed a warning message.

The new iPhone’s call quality is also better: I even successfully made a call while I walking under high voltage power lines that typically disrupt calls with my own phone.

The Apple iPhone 3G S is definitely an improvement on last year’s model, but is it worth $879 for the 16GB version or $1040 for the new 32GB model?

For my money, the answer is no: I’ve decided to limp through the rest of my contract with Optus using my current handset to see what Apple offers this time next year.

John Harris is managing director of Impress Media Australia. www.johnharris.net.au.
 

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