NEW DELHI: After a few days of playing around with the new iPhone 3G, I’m convinced that Apple’s iconic piece of gadgetry is a misnomer. The “mobile phone” is clearly the most unimpressive and probably the most unimportant part of the third generation iPhone. It’s a great computer , or rather, a great mobile internet device—probably the best ever made—and it’s a pity that it’s debuted in the country before 3G networks are up and running.
The other pity, of course, is that the two Indian operators whom Apple has chosen—Airtel and Vodafone—have both decided not to subsidise the handset as AT&T , for instance, does in the US, where it retails at $200 (approx Rs 8,600) with a compulsory extra charge by the operator for a two-year usage plan. At a whopping Rs 36,100 for the 16GB (which comes in black and white rear panels) and Rs 31,000 for the 8GB model, the iPhone is destined to border on being a luxury product rather than a mass appeal phenomenon.
The 3G iPhone has plastic rear panel and metal external buttons (the 2G version—which was widely available in Indian grey marketshad metal panel and plastic buttons ). The ‘flush’ port allows use of any standard 3.5 mm earpiece you wish (the original iPhone allowed only bundled headphones, to the frustration of its customers).
The smoother rounding off on the sides means that the phone’s dimensions have undergone a tiny change — too small to notice, but small enough to prevent it from fitting into speaker docks that were made for the original iPhone. Aaargh!
The actual phone itself is just a programme that you can access from the home screen and is average, to say the least. Simple things like transferring contacts from the phone to the SIM card or selecting multiple contacts are unavailable, while the SMS program lacks the ability to forward or copy-paste text.
The absence of flash, auto-focus , optical zoom or video recording takes the camera well behind the curve. The saving grace is that pictures once taken, can be expanded or shrunk or moved around by literally squeezing them on the screen with two fingers or flicking them with a single finger. This is the quintessential iPhone experience and typically the first thing you would want to show off about your gizmo.
The “iPod” program that controls music and movies is great if you’re familiar with the iPod-iTunes system. If you’re like most Indian users who get music onto their phones through bluetooth transfers or memory cards, you’re in for a steep learning curve.
After all there’s no external memory option on the iPhone and the bluetooth feature—which most other high-end phones exploit for data transfer and wireless music—is configured to only allow handsfree calling.
The star of the show is clearly internet browser Safari, which renders web pages better than any browser on any mobile device I have seen. Most websites are shown true to their form instead of scaled-down mobile versions and the multi-touch features allows you to easily move the page around, zoom in on the region you want to read and tap on a link to navigate.
This single-handedly takes web-surfing into a new dimension compared to clumsy joysticks , keys or even a stylus. The iPhone 3G’s browser allows you to click and save pictures in web pages.
The crowning glory though is App Store, an online marketplace where users can download software applications. These apps could range from games to medical encyclopedias to social networking tools to online auctions to pretty much anything that one can use a computer for.
The games are especially addictive since iPhone has no controls except one large screen button. All the movement in a game have to be controlled by physically moving the phone so that the accelerometer can detect which way you’re orienting the device.
The 3.5 inch screen puts your gaming experience on par with handheld devices from Nintendo and Sony while the improved loudspeakers guarantee that the experience will be incredibly annoying to those in your vicinity if you decide to dump the earphones. Some apps are free to download while others cost anything from a few dollars to a few hundred.
If you’re an incurable gadget freak, then go ahead.
Pictures can be expanded or shrunk or moved around by literally squeezing them with your fingers
Assisted Global Positioning System is there
Google Maps comes pre-installed
Net browser Safari renders web pages better than any browser on any mobile device
You can download apps ranging from games to encyclopedias to social networking tools from App Store, the online marketplace
The 3.5 inch screen puts your gaming experience on par with handheld devices of Nintendo and Sony, and it has loudspeakers
Pushmail and enterprise-grade data security
THE PRICE! At Rs 36,100 for 16GB model & Rs 31,000 for 8GB—against $300 and $200, respectively, in the US—iPhone 3G looks a luxury
SMS can't be forwarded or copy-pasted
No external memory option
Bluetooth can be used only for handsfree calling
Camera does not have flash, auto-focus , optical zoom and video recording facilities
Options to transfer contacts from phone to the SIM card and select multiple contacts are unavailable
6 months ago