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With all this talk of new hardware and design tweaks it's a miracle we've yet to mention the continuing majesty of the iPhone interface, so let's remedy that. Forgive us if "majesty" sounds needlessly deferential but few phones, if any, can approach the ease of use and intuitiveness of the iPhone. Picking up, for example, another touch screen phone like the LG Viewty tells you everything you need to know: the iPhone is in a league of its own.
Ostensibly the basics haven't changed one iota. There's still the sliding bar to unlock and the grid based main menu is still navigated through effortless prods and flicks. Indeed, it's hard to underplay exactly how responsive the 3.5 inch, 480 x 320 multi-touch screen is. Every action is swiftly enacted and you're never left wondering whether a request has been registered: it just works.
It's a lovely screen to behold, too. Bright, bold, sharp and clean, it brings photos and video to life and is another facet few can match at this moment in time. If anything, though, its viewing angles aren't as wide as on the original iPhone. It's hardly a big problem, one generally looks at phones straight on whatever you're doing, but a difference exists.
Predictably, however, Mobile Safari is still the jewel in the iPhone 3G's crown and despite the recent beta launch of Opera Mobile 9.5, it's still by far and away the best mobile web browser on earth. It renders pages quickly and accurately and its excellent scaling makes them easy to read, too. Throw in the intuitive interface, multi-touch controls, Wi-Fi and now the faster 3G data access and browsing the web on the move has never been so good. Want a Mobile Internet Device? Look no further.
There's little new to report in the iPod stakes. As with most things on the iPhone the interface is slick and responsive and music, audiobooks and podcasts are all well organised and easy to access. Switching to landscape mode reveals the Cover Flow interface, a neat but not wholly adored feature that can either be enjoyed or ignored. Double-clicking the Home button will, when specified, bring up the iPod controls anywhere including when the handset is locked. It's a small but incredibly useful navigation tool and one that negates the need for any hardware control buttons.
Sound quality is generally good. It'll never match that found in the dedicated players from the likes of Creative, Sony and iRiver, and, like the original, the 3G produces an ever so slightly compressed sound, but only the fussiest of audiophiles will be disappointed provided one avoids the dreadful bundled headset.
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