Apple iPhone 3G 8GB Review: More Support

Apple released its first version of iPhone with a great amount of features to keep phone lovers on the edge. Now, with access to a faster 3G wireless network, Microsoft Exchange server e-mail, and support for a staggering array of third-party software from the iPhone App Store, the new handset is the iPhone everyone should upgrade to ASAP. It still lacks some basic features but when compared with what the original model was year ago, this device sets a new benchmark.

With the iPhone 3G, Apple appears to have fixed some call-quality performance issues we had with the previous model–in our initial tests, the volume is louder with less background buzz than before. The 3G reception could be improved, however. Music and video quality were largely unchanged, but we didn’t have many complaints in that department to begin with.

Price may well remain our largest concern. New AT&T customers and most current AT&T customers can buy the iPhone 3G for $199 for the 8GB model and $299 for the 16GB model. If you do not qualify for that price–check your AT&T account to find out–you will pay $399 and $499 respectively. Either way, you will pay $15 more per month ($74.99 total) for a plan comparable with the original iPhone ($59 per month). So, while you will pay less outright to buy the handset, you will make it up over the course of a standard two-year AT&T contract.

So should you buy an iPhone 3G? If you haven’t bought an iPhone yet, and have been holding out for a new model, now is the time. If you’re a current iPhone owner and you’re yearning for a faster cellular network, then you should take the plunge. But if you’re an iPhone owner who will not use 3G (or can’t; check your coverage at AT&T), then you should stick with your current model. The iPhone 2.0 software update provides Exchange server support, third-party apps support, and many new features without the added cost.

Design

You’d be hard-pressed to notice any design differences on the front of the iPhone 3G. The minor changes–the silver rim is thinner and the silver mesh behind the speaker–are so minimal we didn’t notice them for a few hours after picking up the device. Turn the phone on its side, however, and you will see more changes. Apple has replaced the aluminum silver back with a plastic face in either white or black.

Features

The iPhone 3G hangs on to all the original iPhone features and throws in a few more, so we will concentrate on what’s new. Lucky for first-gen iPhone owners, most of the impressive array of additions–save 3G support and enhanced GPS–come along with the free 2.0 software update.

App Store

When you select the iTunes Store, you’re taken to the App Store main menu, which somewhat resembles the mobile iTunes store in design. You search applications by name and category and you can browse through the lists of Featured applications or the Top 25. There also is a feature for seeing if your purchased applications have any updates.

We have mentioned already that Apple has left out multimedia messaging, stereo Bluetooth, and video recording. But we also wish we’d gotten a landscape keyboard for messaging, cut and paste, voice dialing, Flash support for the Web browser, tactile feedback for the touch screen and a memory card (or at least a 32GB model). Hopefully, Apple will add these features in time —hopefully

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