iPhone 3G: The Hype and The Myth


After a while of being the proud user of an Apple iPhone 3G, I think that it is time for me to be very candid about using this cool baby of a device.  After all, I’ve written a few articles on this device before and this is not going to be the last.

Prior to this, I had the pleasure of using the Apple iPhone (2G version) and now a 16GB 3G version.  Essentially, the experience is the same although the 3G data gives a slightly better data transfer speed than its 2G brother.

To cut a long story short, this is my conclusion for those of you who are thinking of getting one.

If you have been bitten by the iPhone fad bug, you can stop now.  Go out and get your iPhone 3G.  What are you waiting for?  Don’t waste time thinking, its a MUST GET and SHOW OFF device.  Join the club NOW!

If you have not been bitten by the bug and is wondering if you should get one, ask yourself the follow questions and answer them truthfully and follow your sentiments after that.

a)  do you have a phone that you are very thrilled with that you are not going to give up?

b)  do you really enjoy using a full function, rich experience PDA with WiFi access for games, music and video?  are you a proud owner of a Windows Mobile PDA?  Symbian phones don’t count.

Question a) NO, then you want to read on.

Question a) YES, then be ready to find a compromise.  You should keep that phone you are using and consider getting an Apple iPod Touch instead of the iPhone.  The reason is simple.  The iPhone phone portion of the device is not exciting to say the least.  Keep your phone and get an iPod Touch and you will still get hours of thrill and show off as if it was an iPhone and both cheaper and lighter than the actual iPhone.

Question b) NO, then stop reading.  You are definitely NOT a candidate for Apple.

Question b) YES, and if you don’t have a phone you enjoy using right now, stop reading and go get yourself an Apple iPhone 3G.

There are a few major things you must really think through before getting your iPhone.  These are my personal experience and use them as input for your decision making.

Poor Phone Experience

Now, if you are an expert with T9 or a frequent texter (meaning send lots of SMSes), you must have enjoyed a phone pad and is a must have.  You either are a fan of the phone dialer or a QWERTY keyboard in some of the PDAs available in the Windows Mobile world or even the Palm world.

The iPhone on-screen keyboard is the most hopeless (not useless) input mode I’ve used.  After using real keys (whether QWERTY or dial pad), you will find that typing is the slowest and making the most number of errors because of pressing the wrong keys.

However, a friend of mine swears that it’s the best keyboard he’s used.  To be fair, he’s not an avid texter and probably never used a QWERTY keypad on a PDA phone.

Furthermore, you can’t forward your SMS.  Now, why do you want to forward your SMS?  Hah!  It’s a very important function for texters.  Of course, if you “jailbreak” your iPhone, you can find a 3rd party software to do that.  More on this later.

The 2MP camera is not much of a scream but it works well as a basic camera.  I’ve always told my friends.  If you want to take great pictures, go get a proper digital camera.  There is always a compromise of feature/function in a multi-function device like the iPhone.

Great PDA, Game, Music and Video Device

This is by far the most impressive in any PDA device I’ve used.  I’m at awe with the quality that Apple put into the device.  Let me elaborate.

I’m sure Apple must have gotten a bunch of people who had been avid users of PDA phones and locked them in a room and asked them to give the Apple designers their wish list.  I guess it was around Christmas and we got the entire list.  Well, almost!

The few key features that is a “must have” in a future PDA device are:

a)  great screen, beyond the 264K colors in a Windows Mobile device – Apple gave us 1M with photo realism (makes the pictures taken by the cheap 2M iPhone camera looks really good on the screen)

b) lots of memory, beyond the 256MB internal memory in a Windows Mobile device – Apple gave us 16GB (I heard a 32GB is coming out soon)

c)  sturdy, quality and exquisitely made body structure – Apple gave us the best value for money which is a dream to hold – small and feels and looks expensive

d)  lots of accessories – Apple and 3rd party manufacturers gave us loads of accessories and not originating from China manufacturers (although the branded principals are making them in China)

Now, Apple added a few more thrills like the motion feature which some of the games use that gives a whole lot more realism and natural movement instead of a joystick or a trackball.  This motion tracker is sets the iPhone (iPod Touch) from other PDAs and is really cool and responsive and real.  The games that uses this feature really gives a new experience to playing them.

More importantly, after you got yourself an iTune Shop account, you can download quite a number of FREE applications and games, some which are quite fun.  Soon you will realize there is NO free lunch.  These freebies are all “lite” version for trial use only.  If you like them, you can buy the full versions at the iTune Shop.

Soon, you will also realize that you must be prepared to spend some money to get some more worthwhile applications and games as freebies can only get you that far.  Same goes for songs, TV shows, movies and books.

Certainly, if you have a way of getting MP3, AVI, AA3, MP4 versions of these content, you can download them into your iPhone.  You can use the WiFi to wirelessly gain access to the Internet and download them.

Before I go on, what I have just described are all found in the iPod Touch.  If you don’t need the phone, go get the Apple iPod Touch.  Much cheaper and lighter than the iPhone and you get the same experience that is easy on your budget.

Jailbreak your iPhone

A warning must be given at this stage.  If you do this, it is at your own peril.  Not for the non-geek or the faint hearted (in case it junks your iPhone).

“Jailbreak” is a term coined to describe unlocking your iPhone.  Every iPhone is locked to the service provider you register with.  In jailbreaking the iPhone, the operating system of the device is replaced with one that is totally open yet works like the original.  Now, you can use any service provider and install applications that is not downloaded from the iTune Shop.

Is this a dream?  Well, you must know that many users who jailbreak their iPhone must have bought the devices from non-operators, meaning from parallel importers.  The other reason these users jailbreak their expensive iPhones is to be able to install “cracked” applications which is illegal.  There are a number of websites that can direct your attention to these illegal applications.  Of course, there are legal applications that you can find which needs your iPhone to be jailbroken.   You are discouraged from doing this and this information is merely provided for educational purpose!

Once jailbroken, you may not be able to install the next release of the iPhone operating software coming out soon.  Then again, I heard that somebody out there has jailbroken this new release too.  Well, that’s only a rumor.

Combine your notebook with your iPhone

Certainly, you can use your iPhone without a notebook and you can download applications from the iTune Store directly.  But you can create backups, setups, etc. on the notebook using iTune from Apple.

If you are NOT a geek, a computer literate user, do not fret!  The iPhone can be used without you ever having to switch on your notebook and you can do everything from the iPhone (or iPod Touch).

If you can use iTune, you will have more functionality on the notebook as a companion to your iPhone (or iPod Touch).

To iPhone or iPod Touch – that’s the question

Again, allow me to repeat my observation.  If you have a phone you enjoy using now, go get an iPod Touch.

If you don’t mind a lower phone experience, the iPhone 3G is just great for you.

After using a great Samsung i600 and an HTC Touch Dual, I’m a true believer of a real dialpad or a QWERTY keyboard.  The iPhone doesn’t even come close to that experience for texting.

I will most certainly go out now to get myself an iPod Touch 16GB (or 8GB if my budget doesn’t allow).  I won’t complain about the iPhone if some kind soul would like to buy me one.

So, what are you waiting for?  Don’t hold your breath for the next Apple iPhone device that’s been under wraps for a while now.  Get the iPhone or the iPod Touch whichever fits your needs but get one today and join the gang!

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