Apple iPhone 3GS Review
The iPhone 3gs is unlike most other smart phones as it is so many devices in one with the phone only being one small feature.
Web browser, iPod, compass, gps, game console, camera,PDA before even starting to download apps.
As a photographer the screen is great for showing sample photos and video clips. The touchscreen makes apps a doodle and very fast for typing email or text messages. One of the biggest benefits of the iphone 3GS is the ability to download apps from the Apple App store. These cover virtually any requirement for a mobile device from sat nav to cooking cards to games. My favouurite apps are the trainline, road trip and tube map. Talking carl is a hit with the children and adults alike.
The only downside of the iphone 3gs is the poor reception. The iphone is significantly less sensitive than other phones at a given location and so the iphone experience is very network dependent.I have tested iphones on all the uk networks officially selling them and for my main locations only vodafone has an acceptable 3g signal. O2 and orange signals are far too variable often giving the dreaded no service and searching messages.
It is important to remember than due to the intense data nature of the iphone that a 3g signal is essential. If the iphone connects to a 2g network then apart from any downloads being incredibly slow, all your calls will go straight to voicemail for the duration of the data connection. Calls going direct to voicemail when the phone has full signal strength is a common complaint of iphone users but invariably due to the phone only being connected to gprs or edge 2g signal.
My overall experience with the iphone 3gs is very positive. If I hadn't liked using the iphone I wouldn't have had the patience to try all three networks to enable me to keep one. All the benefits and ease of use combine to make it a very versatile device and outweigh the slightly poor reception that it can suffer from.
If the iphone 4g could build on the features of the 3gs and improve the signal strength then the iphone 4g will be a winner.
Overall I rate the iPhone 3Gs to be 9/10 for features and functionality. Better reception would give it 10/10.
[Latest update - Searching/No Service seems to be quite a common problem as Orange customer services are receiving many calls about it and this blog is receiving lots of hits about "orange iphone no service". Further testing I have done shows that for any network the iPhone does seem to have lower network coverage at a specific location than a standard Nokia 3G handset, perhaps one of the compromises of cramming so much into a compact device.]
I have purchased an iPhone on the Orange network and have been finding some signal/network coverage problems with the phone that appear to be quite common.
Sometimes the phone seems to lose all signal and show either "No Service" or "Searching" errors. This appears to be related to the phone not being able to switch between 2G and 3G networks fast enough.
There are also several articles that mention that this problem with the Orange iPhone may be related to OS (firmware) 3.1.2 although it has been happening for some time before this as well.
The phone itself is fantastic and an incredibly useful device - just a little frustrating when the phone shows no service when you know there is coverage in the area.
UPDATE - As you may see from later posts I have now cancelled my Orange iPhone contract and now moved to O2. The difference in service between the networks in the area is marked. Orange certainly have much higher 3G network coverage where signal exists but the way the iPhone operates between the Orange and O2 networks is also quite different.
The Orange iPhone appears to attempt to hold on to a 3G signal for as long as possible even if the service has dropped to one bar or even getting to the No Service message. The O2 iPhone seems to be much more aggressive with its switching between 2G and 3G networks to presumably avod the dreaded No Service message. The downside is that on O2 the phone is more frequently on the 2G (GPRS/EDGE) network but does have full signal. Another finding is that the iPhone does seem to have lower coverage at a specific location than a standard Nokia 3G handset.