iLounge’s 10-page iPhone 3G review now available | iLounge News


iLounge’s 10-page iPhone 3G review now available


We have just posted our comprehensive 10-page review of the new iPhone 3G. Battery life, data speeds, audio performance, and more are tested and discussed in detail as we take a look at Apple’s second-generation handset. A must-read for potential new users, first-generation iPhone owners looking to upgrade, and anyone else that wants the full report on the iPhone 3G. Read the full review here.

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This review is why I waited all weekend until iLounge’s review came out…engadget, cnet, usa today, and all those guys don’t get into the details like you guys.  Thanks for doing the dirty work for us

Posted by GregV on July 14, 2008 at 1:40 PM (CDT)


Thanks for the review - very detailed.  I’ve had the original iPhone for a year and am still on the fence about whether to upgrade.  Based on the prices that the original iPhone is fetching on eBay, this could be a “free” upgrade, but then I may “pay” next year when the 3rd iPhone comes out and is everything we all want.

One thing I’m very curious about is the battery life.  I know most reports have it being very bad.  However, with the v2.0 software and some new apps on my original iPhone, my battery has been hammered all weekend and hasn’t been making it through a day, which is very unusual.  It will be interesting to see what the battery life is like once people settle down and get into more of a normal routine with the 3G.

Posted by Rod Dunn on July 14, 2008 at 2:56 PM (CDT)


Great review.. spot on, although the comments about increased TCO only apply to US users (in the UK it’s significantly cheaper than its predecessor, for example).

Posted by Tony on July 14, 2008 at 4:45 PM (CDT)


You were a lot harsher on the device than I would have been, particularly in the area on battery and build quality. I don’t see the design of the 3G phone as a step backwards at all. In fact, I think the new, rounded plastic back makes it feel a lot more like a phone than an iPod. Plus, the plastic is high quality. There’s nothing wrong with high quality plastic IMO.

Posted by Surfmonkey on July 14, 2008 at 5:23 PM (CDT)


This review is interesting and well detailed, but essentially irrelevant for new iPhone buyers.  Normally when iLounge does a review for new iPods, for example, it makes a distinction for upgraders vs new purchasers.  In this case, that wasn’t done.  And what I detect in this review is “I wanted to buy this but I can’t get excited enough about it” from an EXISTING iphone owner. 

I say this because I too wanted to upgrade—I really did.  But there’s not enough going on here to justify trading “up.”  That does not mean, however, that new iPhone buyers won’t find this phone the “bee’s knees.”  They will love it.  The “cost of entry” is lower, even if the “cost of carry” is higher.  And most consumers only care about—and analyze—the cost of entry.

By contrast, the “cost of carry” for new users is irrelevant.  They do not have the current version, so for them it is not important that the cost of carry is higher than for the old version.  They want a cheaper faster phone, and they get that with the current version.

What I read here, between the lines, in some disgust with the Apple marketing machine.  I get that.  But 1,000,000 people voted with their feet in three days and bought this new version.
My bet is that most of them were new iPhone buyers.  And that, my friends, is the group that the Apple marketing machine was targeting.  There are, after all, far more of “them” than there are of “us” (existing iPhone buyers).

It’s clear to me that Apple was not targeting “us” (current iPhone holders.)  For one thing there aren’t (yet) too many of us.  For another, they did not market “to” us—I received no classic Apple announcement, etc.

This new phone is not for current iPhone owners.  It is for those who don’t have one.  And for those, it rocks.

So iLounge, reissue this review, and do one for the newbies out there.  If the old iPhone got a B+, the new one should get at least that, if not an A-.  And let’s face it, the 3g phone was aimed at those who don’t already have one.  That’s the whole point.

I’m happy to wait for the next gen.  I’ll satisfy my gear lust with a new case (yikes I have at least six of them and none of them satisfy me) and of course with 2.0 which absolutely ROX.  As we’ve learned with iPods, not every version warrants an upgrade.  But every version invites a new crowd to the party.  And that, Apple fans, is the whole point.

Posted by random person on July 14, 2008 at 8:25 PM (CDT)


#1, #2 + #3, thank you. #2, using the 3G phone and data services eats a lot more into the battery than before, as noted in the review. It is not a trivial change.

#4: To each their own. Apple’s moves away from plastic to metal and glass have been very positive for iPod durability and appearance, regardless of one’s aesthetic preferences.

#5: Not really. The idea of “I wanted to buy this but I can’t get excited” gets a fundamental concept backwards—people want to buy things after they get excited about them, not the other way around. In order for us to recommend something highly to all of our readers, it has to be something we think is a great deal, and we don’t feel that way about the iPhone 3G.

Regarding new users: not everyone views the current pricing model solely from the front end, though obviously that was Apple’s intent with the “$199” announcement. Adding $30 per month to a typical calling plan may be trivial for some users, but for most, that’s a lot of money, especially right now. People who approach the iPhone without any smartphone or 3G experience will still see these monthly fees as substantial.

As far as prior iPhone owners are concerned, some will be enthusiastic about it, while others will totally pass. We’ve heard both viewpoints expressed and understand where each crowd is coming from; our own editors are split on this topic. Speaking for myself, the quality of 3G coverage I am getting where I live and work is not worth paying extra for, no matter what I might think about the concept or the hardware. In Europe, and in some places in North America, that mightn’t be an issue.

Our A ratings and high recommendations are reserved for the decreasing number of products that offer truly great experiences for all of their buyers, not just some of them. For various reasons, the iPhone 3G is going to inspire mixed reactions, and as we said about the iPod touch last year, a lot of people—not everyone, of course—will be better served to wait this one out. A used first-generation iPhone with OS X iPhone 2.0 will provide a lot more bang for the buck.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz on July 14, 2008 at 9:48 PM (CDT)


I couldn’t agree more with the above comment. I’m actually surprised you gave the iPhone 3G a B rating. Reading the review, it sounded to me that the Editors are very disappointed with the product. But then again as pointed above, the Editors are reviewing the iPhone 3G as an existing iPhone owner.

I am not an iPhone owner yet, but will purchase one in the upcoming weeks. I’m just waiting on my upgrade status to change. Even with the “harsh” review, my excitement is still building up.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy iLounge’s Product reviews, I just felt some ‘hate’ reading this particular article. random person’s comment hit the nail though, now I understand why.

Posted by willzilla on July 14, 2008 at 9:57 PM (CDT)


#7: There’s no “hate,” and it wasn’t “harsh.” If the basic suggestion is that we need to pretend to be thrilled with something that doesn’t always deliver thrilling results, sorry, we can’t do that. We actually buy and use these things ourselves, so it matters to us—a lot—when a sequel doesn’t do certain important things as well as the original, or when it promises to do new things but doesn’t totally do them.

First-time buyers might not care. That’s their choice. There are always going to be people who never saw The Godfather or The Godfather II and think that The Godfather III is an amazing movie; of course, anyone familiar with the series would disagree. Our job is to provide everyone with both facts and our opinions, and then let individuals make their own informed buying decisions. Feel free to revisit the review after you’ve bought and used one or two, and if you still disagree, let us know.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz on July 14, 2008 at 10:27 PM (CDT)


“First-time buyers might not care. That’s their choice. There are always going to be people who never saw The Godfather or The Godfather II and think that The Godfather III is an amazing movie; of course, anyone familiar with the series would disagree “

Nicely put, Jeremy.  Your point about Excitement was excellent also—what I should have said was that I was incredibly excited about the 3G —and wanted to buy it—until I read more about it as it was released.  And yes, it was a letdown to end up thinking that my old original iPhone was the better product—but I truly think it is.

But that’s ok, really.  We shouldn’t have to feel we HAVE to buy EVERY version of anything Apple offers!!  But for newbies who waited?  I say, let them feel good about it.  It’s still the most innovative mobile platform out there.  And that’s a good thing!

Posted by random person on July 14, 2008 at 10:50 PM (CDT)


Very fair review. I have to agree that the original is better looking. Your overall thoughts on the 3G are inline with the reaction I heard on a recent MP3 Insider podcast - disappointed.

I spent the past year resisting the urge to buy the first iPhone - mostly due to sticker shock. The thing that I really find appealing though is the transparency in the features/pricing. Ever since the original iPhone was announced, I’ve read comment after comment about how much more powerful and feature-packed other smartphones were, but whenever I would visit a store to find out more about them, either the TCO was higher, there were hidden fees or the carrier had blocked certain features altogether.

It’s pretty crappy that Apple once again chose to discontinue the dock. This is the second Apple product I’ve purchased where the dock was suddenly eliminated from the package. Oh well, with a little scotch tape and plaster of paris, I’m sure I’ll be able to survive without their over-priced plastic brick.

After reading this review, you’re sort of left with the impression that the 3G’s most valuable feature is AT&T’s 30-day return policy. Thanks for being honest.

Posted by Paul on July 15, 2008 at 3:02 AM (CDT)


To be frank I don’t find iLounge’s reviews very helpful. Everyone has different taste and I find your reviews of cases/ phones is extremely personal and therefore bias.

With the iphone 3g I find the plastic casing much more classy - when clean -  as it is uniform as opposed to the dual colour metal/plastic.

Metal is classier, but also heavier and slipperier and you mustn’t forget the iPhone is a phone so it needs to enable better reception and plastic does that.

Posted by Amir on July 15, 2008 at 4:18 AM (CDT)


Aother great review from iLounge, the review is very detailed and in that regards much better than most other reviews on the web.

The batterylife is not that great, however it would be nice to see some more testing of the battery. This could also be helpfull for the people who already own an iPhone 3G. It would be great if you could check how the battery holds up when calling on 3G and 2G. Does it live up or exceeds Apple’s claims? How long the battery will last when playing games (f.i. Monkey Ball) and how long the battery will last when using GPS.

Furthermore, it would be nice if

Posted by Rogier on July 15, 2008 at 5:55 AM (CDT)


Jeremy Wrote:
“Overall cost of ownership is higher than prior model, despite regressing from last year’s stunning design, screen quality, and pack-ins”

Isn’t the screen the same exact screen as the first gen?  Or at least of equal quality and resolution?

Posted by Steve on July 15, 2008 at 6:17 AM (CDT)


#9, #10, #12: Thank you. #12, though the review included audio and video battery test results, as well as general comments on the 3G call time, we are still conducting battery tests and have actually updated the review with another video test result; more details are coming. Some dimensions of performance, such as game and GPS run time, are hard to legitimately quantify because different games and different uses of GPS will demand different amounts of power; also, the buggy 2.0 firmware is creating serious problems with game stability for the time being.

#11: Our reviews provide you with photos and facts to help you make your own decision; if you don’t agree with our opinions, nothing is stopping you from buying something you see and like more than we do. We see many common, boring, and poor designs around here and try to sort the best stuff we see from the rest. You may be satisfied with something we don’t like. Different strokes for different folks.

#13: Please see the review. The resolution is the same but the color tint, viewing angle, etc. are not.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz on July 15, 2008 at 8:55 AM (CDT)


As far as battery life goes, I haven’t noticed a lot of difference from the 2G model.. there’s obviously the ‘new toy’ effect where it gets used a lot more therefore drains faster, but it’s nothing to worry about.. eg. I had an hour on a game last night, put the phone down and forgot to charge it overnight, so with the hours gameplay plus another 15 hours or so idle it was still at 80% battery - that’s with 3g, wifi and bluetooth all enabled.  The 2G performs much the same. 

I wonder if it’s a US/Europe difference.  Pretty much every cell tower here is 3G/HSPDA enabled and you’re rarely out of signal whilst near a city, so the phone doesn’t have to work very hard to get a signal.  In the US is it having to increase its transmitter power to reach distant 3G towers perhaps?  Just a theory.

With the 3g also I wouldn’t normally have wifi enabled (because wifi is rare in these parts and 3g makes it unnecessary anyway) which offsets any extra power usage of the 3g antenna… which has an effect.

I’d be interested to see in a battery test.. comparative standby (or ‘normal usage’) time with any one of 3g/wifi off or them both off or both on.  Comparitive time also when in a strong 3g area vs. a weak one (fly one of your hacks to europe on holiday :p).  All compared to the 2g and maybe a couple of other smartphones like the N95.

Posted by Tony on July 15, 2008 at 10:01 AM (CDT)


I use the iPhone with MobileMe’s push functionality. I live in the Netherlands and my 3G reception is excelllent (full bars). However, I do have wifi turned on. Apple states on its site that the phone will last longer using wifi than 3G. However, that’s using Safari to browse the web.

I’m also curious about the battery impact of push and pull (or fetch) email. I can find on the web that in general push is more battery efficient, than pulling on a high interval. Only which interval is that? 15 minutes? 30 minutes? I don’t know.

But coming back to the first part. I’m also wondering whether push via 3G is more power efficient than through wifi. It seems to me that it has to connect to wifi every time, while the 3G connection is there permanently. So that’s using power anyway, while wifi is sucking up additional power, especially on very low data-consuming services such as MobileMe’s push functionality.

I’m doing some test on my own iPhone. However, it’s hard to compare. Because I’m using it as my phone, I cannot create identical conditions, which makes the results more or less worthless.

Posted by Rogier on July 15, 2008 at 10:20 AM (CDT)


“Everyone will pay more for the new model and data services than they did for its predecessor”. You really do need to acknowledge international variation here. As an example using the cheapest tariff in the UK:
old iPhone 8GB = £269 + 18*£35 = £899
new iPhone3G 8GB = £99 + 18*£30 = £639
That is significantly less.

Posted by Will on July 15, 2008 at 12:34 PM (CDT)


Thank you SO MUCH for this review. I purchased my 1st Gen iPhone on day 1 of the release and I’ve love every minute of owning it. However, I’ve been on the fence about upgrading and, after reading your review, I’ll wait until the next release. The 3G sounds great but doesn’t have enough bells and whistles to make me abandon my 1st Gen baby… not just yet. Thanks again iLounge!

Posted by GigiMars on July 15, 2008 at 12:41 PM (CDT)


One thing that’s not clear from the review, Jeremy: Does the iPhone 3G really have “enhanced call quality” as Steve Jobs said, or not? It sounds like the answer is no with regard to talking on the iPhone itself (as a handset). Which is disappointing technologically (as 3G is also supposed to provide better call quality), and shameful factually (for it calls into question Steve Jobs’ credibility).

Posted by Herr Doktor on July 15, 2008 at 3:54 PM (CDT)



I did read the review and to be honest I think that you are not making it clear what is done in software and what is hardware.  Your review makes it sound like hardware differences, but there have been many reports of a firmware version that changes the tint.

The viewing angle I can’t speak to, is it possible the tint had something to do with that?

Posted by Steve on July 16, 2008 at 6:46 AM (CDT)

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