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Apple iPhone 3GS - The Bottom Line
Even though the iPhone has been with us for two years now, it hasn't lost any of its ability to impress. Despite having this time to catch up, there isn't another phone on the market that can compete with the iPhone when it comes to usability. The multi-touch interface is as impressive today as it was when I first picked up a first generation unit.
It's true that Android looks like it has the potential to truly compete with the iPhone in the usability stakes, but the hardware that Android has been limited to hasn't really shown it off to its best effect, yet. That will definitely change in the near future, and I fully believe that we're going to see some great handsets based on Google's mobile OS soon.
The other potential fly in the iPhone's ointment is the Palm Pre, which, by all accounts, looks like a stunning handset. OK, so there's no doubt that the Pre has taken a lot of, err, cues from the iPhone, but that's not something that I'd complain about. The only real downside with the Pre is the fact that it's exclusive to O2, just like the iPhone. So, if you're not on O2, you're still out of luck, unless you're willing to unlock a Pay & Go handset.
Unlike the iPhone 3G which was available in 8GB and 16GB capacities (I wish I'd gone for the 16GB!), the 3GS comes in 16GB and 32GB flavours. The 16GB 3GS costs slightly more than the outgoing 16GB 3G model, setting you back £184.98 on a £35 per month contract, compared to £159 for the old phone. Are there enough new features in the 3GS to warrant it costing more than the 3G, probably, but there's still no getting away from the fact that it's an expensive phone even on an 18 month contract.
if you want a 32GB 3GS, that will set you back £274.23 on the same contract, which seems like an eye watering amount of money until you realise that a 32GB iPod touch will cost you £283. I know that you're not taking on an 18 month contract with an iPod touch, but I imagine that most iPod touch owners also have a mobile phone with a contract.
The real question though, is whether the iPhone 3GS is worth going for, but the answer depends on your current situation. If you've got a first gen iPhone and you're out of contract, there's no doubt that it's worth going for a 3GS. Likewise, if you're using pretty much any other smartphone, it's worth stumping up the cash for a 3GS - assuming you're on O2, or at least willing to switch networks.
However, if you're already an iPhone 3G user, I'm not convinced that the 3GS is enough of an update, especially once you've updated your phone to the 3.0 firmware. That's not so much a criticism of the 3GS, just that the 3G is still a great phone, that has just got better with the implementation of 3.0. And if the 3GS hadn't just launched, the iPhone 3G would probably still be the best handset out there.
The iPhone 3GS is the fastest, most feature rich model so far, and if you don't already have a iPhone 3G it's well worth the money. If you do have an iPhone 3G though, it's not quite so cut and dry. The 3GS may be faster than the 3G when it comes to rendering pages and general operation, but the O2 data network makes the faster 7.2mbps HSDPA support moot, while the inconsistent Wi-Fi performance is also a bit of a worry.
For now though, the iPhone 3GS takes the crown as the best consumer handset available, but with the imminent Palm Pre and new Android based handsets on the horizon, it will be interesting to see how long it keeps it.
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