TODO alt text

iPhone 3GS review

The definitive verdict on the new 3G S iPhone

Did you know that the older generations of the iPhone had a rubbish 2MP camera? They did, you know. We're talking fuzzy pictures, no flash (therefore a complete absence of night time shots) and video being totally out of the question.

Apple being Apple, we were convinced that better cameras weren't necessary on a mobile phone, that people carried around point-and-shoot cameras all the time, and that to bung anything else on the phone would result in an ugly device.

But we all believed something better was coming. Rumours of a 5MP option with flash and video recording came thick and fast, but in the end we were only given a 3MP upgrade and no flash (albeit with VGA 30 fps video recording as well).

But it's not just an improved sensor that Apple has brought with the iPhone 3GS, but also a better overall camera experience. Auto-focus is achieved simply by tapping a section of the screen, and auto-exposure attempts to keep the light balance corrected.

The AF function, considering how underpowered the camera is in comparison to its high powered mobile brethren, is actually very good and simple to use. Tapping a section of the screen not only quickly brings it into focus, but also attempts to balance out the screen's light levels to make it more visible.

Macro mode has also been added, and despite Apple stating that it's good to take in-focus shots from up to 10cm away - in real tests we found this was an understatement from the fruity ones (which may be the first time ever) and we could actually get to around five cm (in good light) before the shot started to blur terribly.

The camera clearly can't compete with efforts from the likes of Sony Ericsson or Samsung, which can take long range shots with a multitude of scene options with high-end flashes, but for day to day snapping it's fine. Perhaps the discerning mobile phone buyer has been slightly spoilt in terms of what's actually needed for mobile photography, but we can't help but feel like 3MP simply isn't good enough for one of the most expensive phones on the market at the moment.

That's not to say Apple is lagging well behind its smartphone peers in terms of camera ability, as most phones (such as the HTC Magic, Touch series and Palm Pre) also have similarly poor-specced snappers, mostly due to trying to fit everything in to one tiny chassis.

But with the likes of the Samsung i8910 HD, we've seen that it can be crammed in, so while we're not expecting a 12MP marvel, it would be nice to see a decent lens, a better sensor or (whisper it) a flash on there in the next iteration.

How our iPhone 3GS camera compares to a fancy Olympus SP-565UZ:

The iPhone 3GS manages to capture a well-lit scene well with minimal colour loss:

The iphone 3g s

Olympus SP-565UZ

Olympus sp 565uz

The iPhone 3GS struggles to pick out detail when a variety of light levels are present:

The iphone 3g s

Olympus SP-565UZ

Olympus sp 565uz

The iPhone 3GS has good background definition, although we were attempting to get the doll in focus:

The iphone 3g s

Olympus SP-565UZ:

Olympus sp 565uz

The iPhone 3GS is excellent for text, perhaps even sharper than the Olympus SP-565UZ:

The iphone 3g s

Olympus SP-565UZ:

Olympus sp 565uz

The iPhone 3GS's macro mode is strong in close up, although colours are quickly washed out:

The iphone 3g s

Olympus SP-565UZ:

Olympus sp 565uz

The iPhone 3GS struggles badly in low light - come on Apple, what is it with you and no flash?

The iphone 3g s

Olympus SP-565UZ:

Olympus sp 565uz

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBNo
Contract TypeSIM-free
Built-in Memory8 GB
Built-in FlashNo
Memory Card SlotNo
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyEDGE, GPRS, HSDPA
SAR Value0.45 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationNo
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyiPhone 3GS
Cellular Generation3.5G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100
Rear Camera Resolution3 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraNo
Phone StyleBar
ColourBlack
Operating SystemiOS
Brand NameApple
Battery Talk Time12 Hour
Product ModelMC637BA
Screen Size8.9 cm (3.5")
Screen Resolution480 x 320
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)135 g
Maximum Video Resolution640 x 480
Processor ManufacturerARM
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 2.1
Operating System VersioniOS 4
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email
Height115.5 mm
Width62.1 mm
Depth12.3 mm
Radio TunerNo
Battery Standby Time300 Hour
ManufacturerApple, Inc
Product NameiPhone 3GS 8GB Smartphone
Processor Speed600 MHz
Processor TypeCortex
Product LineiPhone 3GS
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeDigital Compass, Accelerometer, Proximity Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor
Manufacturer Part NumberMC637BA
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.apple.com/uk
Marketing Information

iPhone 3GS. More to love. Less to pay.

Keep applications open in the background. Organise your apps with folders. Shop for books in the iBookstore. The 8GB iPhone 3GS takes advantage of all the great features of iOS 4.

Multitasking

Now you can run your favourite third-party apps - and switch between them instantly - without slowing down the performance of the foreground app or draining the battery unnecessarily. So you can listen to a football game while emailing. Or receive a VoIP call while playing a game.

Folders

Drag and drop to organise apps into folders on your Home screens and get fast access to your favourites.

Package Contents
  • iPhone 3GS 8GB Smartphone
  • Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic
  • Dock Connector to USB Cable
  • USB Power Adapter
  • Documentation