iPhone 3G review – Is the Second Coming good as advertised?

The first iPhone is a tough act to follow and with good reason: it changed the way we used mobile phones. Before the iPhone, we were accustomed to chunky handhelds with small screens and 16-button keypads. Ever since Apple introduced its smartphone, we now expect almost every phone to have touch screens and allow us to do things with a flick of a finger. The arrival of a new iPhone a little over a year later poses a few questions: Does the iPhone 3G have what it takes to surprise us again? Does it address the limitations of the previous model? Does it revolutionise mobile phones like the original? We try to answer this today.

At first glance, the iPhone 3G looks almost the same: the huge 480 x 320 resolution, 3.5-inch screen is still here. The device still attracts fingerprints easily, especially now that its rear has changed from matte aluminum exterior to shiny plastic. The solitary Home button is placed in the same spot (at the bottom of the iPhone’s “face”.

What’s different now isn’t strictly “in” the iPhone 3G, but in the App Store service, which allows you to download thousands and thousands of applications (or “apps) for just about everything. One lets you read Japanese manga; the other downloads movie trailers; and another measures your internet speed. This is in addition to the endless number of games that you can load your iPhone with.

The device now supports Microsoft Exchange, which means you can now use the iPhone 3G to send and receive work e-mails. All you have to do is add an Exchange account in your phone’s “Settings” menu. Once you have the necessary information from your company’s IT department, setup is easy and pretty much hassle free. E-mail syncing is generally painless, but it’s not comparable to a Blackberry’s messaging capabilities.

Another obvious addition, hence the “3G” suffix, is 3G. You can use 3G for downloading apps or making calls. Fortunately, if the 3G service isn’t available, you can still use EDGE for your browsing—just don’t expect to enjoy the same speeds. However, if you turn everything on—3G, Bluetooth, music or video, then push and fetch data—your battery life would be significantly shortened.

The iPhone 3G isn’t without its faults. They’re not deal breakers, but these issues can affect the user experience. First is that you can‘t turn off the predictive text input, so if you send messages in another language, expect some problems. Another is the lack of a copy/paste function. The 2-Megapixel camera isn’t bad, but the absence of a flash makes it a chore to use in dim settings.

Thanks to its new features, the iPhone 3G was able to address the limitations of the first and still manage to surprise us with new features, particularly the App Store. This gives the iPhone and its future iterations a seemingly endless supply of applications that we can reliably return to, again and again. In just its second attempt, Apple has proven that it’s set to conquer the tech world. We can’t wait what happens next.