Tech focus: should you upgrade your old iPhone?

You really need a 3G iPhone – unless you’ve already got a 2G one

TODO alt text

After the storm, a period of calm reflection. We've had 2G iPhones in our hands for 10 months now, so how does the new one stack up? This writer first held the new 3G model on Friday morning in a Carphone Warehouse in Edinburgh, and the first thing we noticed at the time it seemed much lighter than the older model.

But those shiny new 3G models we've held since reveal the truth; the new model is 133g – just 2g lighter than the old phone. Most of the change in feel is due to the plastic back of the new model (apparently giving better reception) while there is a slight lessening of thickness. Footprint is, however, much the same.

In terms of reception, call quality has improved, while the in-built speaker has also been given some much-needed beefing up.

The old speaker was fine for well-encoded music, but some criticised the ringer for simply not being loud enough. The old model's call quality was also patchy, again something that appears to have been enhanced.

Better also is the headphone jack – no longer recessed and so able to accept standard headphones. Top marks on that one – perhaps Apple's desire to compete with other well-specified mobiles has forced its hand there.

What about the camera?

With such relatively minor enhancements being made, it's a wonder Apple hasn't been more widely criticised for its approach to imaging – my goodness, how the camera now seems so out of date it might as well be disabled. Was it an issue of cost? Of space? Whatever it was, a good camera isn't currently on Apple's priority list.

So what of the old iPhone? Well, if you've been using one for a few months, you'll know that the data speed is a major problem. However, we reckon you'd want to be an obsessive to upgrade – the iPhone 3G-style is a superb handset, but upgraders won't find the user experience much enhanced – especially if you upgrade the iPhone 2G to the new 2.0 firmware – a reasonably painless experience.

One major hardware enhancement is – naturally - the addition of GPS functionality. While mapping is far better with it, the module will have a lot more bearing once sat nav software is released – though there is some suggestion of further complication as far as that's concerned. If, however, an approximate location is OK for your mapping needs (or you've got no interest in it) and you can cope with the slowish internet speed, upgrading probably shouldn't be on your radar.

Unless you want the best phone around.