iPhone 3GS Getting Started and First Impressions

I got my hands on an iPhone 3GS 8GB early today, and as usual I will be putting up a review of the device here on Mobility Nigeria.

While some may consider the 3GS a little old (it was released back in June 2009), the consequences of its age are not so severe, seeing that it runs the latest iOS versions. Minus the higher resolution display, higher specified camera, video calling, and some other features, the 3GS is a pretty much up-to-date device in the iPhone world.

iPhone 3GS

iPhone 3GS Specifications

Here are the specifications of the device:

  • iOS 4.1
  • Weight: 135g
  • Size: 115.5 x 62.1 x 12.3 mm
  • 3.15 MP camera with autofocus
  • 3.5-inch TFT capacitive touchscreen that displays 16 million colors at 320 x 480 pixels with Scratch-resistant surface
  • 8 GB internal storage, 256 MB RAM
  • ARM Cortex A8 600 MHz, PowerVR SGX535 graphics
  • GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/HSDPA
  • Multi-tasking
  • Cut, copy, and paste
  • TV-out
  • GPS with A-GPS support
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, Bluetooth v2.1, USB 2.0
  • 3.5 mm headset jack

Setting Up The iPhone 3GS

iPhone 3GS Getting Started and First Impressions 1
The 3GS looks sleek and feels good in the hands. Turn on that screen and it looks even better.

Setting it up was just as easy as setting up my X10 Mini Pro. By setting up, I mean getting my contacts, mails and calendar entries on it. All I had to do was setup an Exchange account with my Google Apps email and in a few moments, I was home dry. This is something that Samsung/Bada and Nokia/Symbian in particular need to learn from and implement well. I remember the nightmares that I had setting up the S8003 Jet and N900.

Of course, for the very first time in my life I had to download and install iTunes (eeeek!) to my netbook. I connected the 3GS to my netbook and was prompted to setup an iTunes account. Thereafter, I was notified of an iOS 4.1 update, which I am currently running.

First Impressions

In the meantime, email looks good, web browsing has been good. My networkโ€™s internet settings were downloaded in the background and everything that needs data just worked out of the box. I am also glad that multi-tasking is here on the 3GS, as the absence of that would have been an immediate turn-off for me. I am also happy to see the cut, copy, and paste function.

Oh, I must mention too that taking screenshots is dead easy! Phew! No rooting; no hunting for 3rd party apps; no PC needed.

After completing the ongoing firmware update, I intend to download some free apps from the Appstore, including: Yahoo Messenger, Skype, and hopefully DropBox.

In the meantime, I am having to copy my files (documents, music, and video) from my MicroSD card to my PC so iTunes can sync them to the 3GS later. Why didnโ€™t Apple just put a MicroSD card slot on this thing? Everything has to go through iTunes. Sheessh.

Anyway, so far so good. The iPhone 3GS has left me with good impressions and I look forward to bringing you the usual drill.

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48 thoughts on “iPhone 3GS Getting Started and First Impressions”

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  2. The iphone 3GS has been a little dated because of the iphone 4. Nevertheless, I believe it can hold itself among other recent smartphones right in the market now.

    YEs, Taking screenshot with the iphone 3GS is easy. ALl you need to do is to press the power buttin and the home key simultaneously. Well thought of, but I kind of learned that by mistake after months of use. How were you able to learn that so quick, Yomi??

    Another question for you sir, is how you were able to create an itunes account? Was your Nigerian credit card accepted or you use a card from over the shores?

    ALso, my ios device (iphone 3G) does not support multi-tasking, so I am waiting impatiently to hear your take on the multi-tasking your 3GS!

  3. Afewgoodmen,

    Funny, after connecting the 3GS to my netbook, I was asked to create an account. When asked for my country, I selected “Nigeria”. I guess because Apple does not support credit card payments from Nigeria, I wasn’t presented with an option to enter credit card details.

    One thing I am sure of is that Apple really does let you create a free, card-less account so you can download free apps. If the process detailed above does not work, take a look at this Apple support page: Create an iTunes App Store account without a credit card.

  4. This is lovely, Yomi. Bosun and co were trying to create itunes app store account without success. So what you’ve just revealed now gives some iphone users in Nigeria a big relief! The link you posted above noted that users trying to create an account should make sure that they are in the app store and not the itunes store. I am sure that was why we were having problem creating a cardless account earlier on. We were in the wrong store! Though I settled my problem by getting a card from the UK. I am waiting for you to confirm thaT YOU can ACTUALLY DOWNLOAD free apps with this account!

    Finally, How were you able to learn how to take screenshots so soon?

  5. Hahaha!

    The best way out with the ios 4.1 update is to try downloading it via a download manager and then installing it manually via itunes. It is faster and maybe better than using itunes alone.

  6. Hey Yom, becareful if you are using a Jailbroken iPhone. Updating the firmware may end up locking your iphone. You may have to Jailbreak and unlock again. I know you don’t want to go through that trouble. And if somehow your baseband is upgraded to version 5.14.02, your phone cannot be unlocked until next week when apple release iOS 4.2.

    All in all, using an iPhone in Nigeria is not for the faint hearted.
    But knowing you as a mobile phone adventurer, I should let get a feel of it.

    Good Luck.

    1. IG,

      Where on earth were you before I proceeded with the update???? ๐Ÿ˜€

      Unfortunately, the 3GS is now on version 5.14.02 and that means it will remain a glorified iPod till 4.2 is released God knows when. Why am I such a sucker for updates?

  7. Yomi, everything depends on your download manager. I use Free download manager (FDM). It is better because you can pause it and resume download later. In itunes, you always have to start from the beginning if there is any pause or break in internet data consumption.

    The fastness all depends on your internet speed, but it is at least 5 times faster than using itunes to download.

    you can get the firmware from any of this links. They are just mirrors that lead to the actual itunes sites/files;
    1. http://www.redmondpie.com/download-ios-4.1-final-version-for-iphone-4-3gs-3g-ipod-touch/
    2. http://www.blogsdna.com/12212/ios-4-1-is-available-now-direct-download-links-below.htm

    After downloading, do not copy or transfer the files from the particular place on your netbook.

    Now, with your phone connected to your laptop via the USB port, you should press the shift key while simultaneously clicking “update” or โ€œRESTOREโ€ button in the โ€œSUMMARYโ€ page of itunes. Then select the downloaded file from the dial up box that comes through. And viola, itunes will do the rest.

    N.B. Make sure you have an internet connection when you do this. And also, donโ€™t unplug throughout the stages of upgrading. Expect it to last between 45 minutes to one hour or even 1 hour 30 minutes. All the best!

  8. Yomi, IG’s comments are pertinent. If the iphone 3GS was bought in the US, it would have probably been locked to AT&T and must have been jailbroken before it can work with another network eg Glo. If you upgrade to iOS version 4.1, you will need to jailbreak it again.

    Not to worry, there are many sites and tools to use to jailbreak it if you take that step. It will be sad to miss out on all the amazing features you’ll find in version 4.1 iOS.

    Finally, If you had bought it Manufacturer (Apple) unlocked from UK or Europe, then you do not have to be afraid!

    ALl the same I can’t wait to read the full review. Best wishes!!

  9. What on earth is baseband? I was thinking that you upgraded to version 4.1? Surely there are lots of site on th web with instruction on how to jailbreak an iphone 3GS running iOS version 4.1?

    And mind you, jailbreak for version 4.2 isn’t out yet!

  10. Hello! It’s good to hear that you’re finally giving an iOS device a chance, but the truth is you’re starting off on the wrong foot by reviewing a Phone that was released 17 months ago!! You wouldn’t review a BB Bold 9000, HTC hero right now.. Would you??

  11. Anyone here in Lagos have (or know someone who has) a SIM from any of the following networks:

    – AT&T (US)
    – O2 UK,
    – Orange UK
    – Vodafone UK
    – T-mobile UK

    I simply need to borrow it for just 15 minutes. Please holla!

  12. Sorry Yomi, saw your post too late. Anyway an unlock will be out hopefully by next week. The iPhone Dev team promised to release the unlock two days after the release of iOS 4.2. They have it ready but refused to release it so that apple will not block their exploit in 4.2.

    Apple promised to release iOS 4.2 in November, and all indications point to Tuesday 16th November. Hopefully you will get your unlock by Thursday.

    When it’s available, just install Ultrasn0w via Cydia, and your super iPod will turn into an iPhone again.

  13. @Yomi, it still feels a little strange to me that you are using an Iphone, even though I know you’re very adventurous.

    Anyways, I just might know someone who has one those SIM cards. Hope it doesn’t matter if the SIM hasn’t been used for a very long time?

    Finally, can you please tell us what happened with your firmware update? Did it lock the phone or did it upgrade your baseband according to one of the commenter?

    1. Dayo, The update upgraded my baseband. An active AT&T SIM will solve the problem. I am wondering though if it won’t require AT&T network coverage, in which case I am still stuck ๐Ÿ˜›

      Will still give it a try though.

  14. its funny to see people who are used to nokias and blackberrys discuss iOS, though its nice for a change. I’m a bit surprised yomi of all people fell for update palaver. Unfortunately, if you really got your fone from the U.S ( even if unlocked and at unsubsidised retail price of like $500) you wont be using it for quite a while. i have regularly updated myself with info on iOS devices since early 2009 and theres one thing all unlockers must drive into their heads – never update via itunes with software update- you can lose your unlock possibly forever. but there is still some light at the end of the tunnel. i think the dev-team (God-sent team of hackers (not crackers)) who write jailbreak programs have something cooking. perhaps when iOS4.2 comes out hopefully next tuesday, we may have at least an E.T.A on the next jailbreak. I recommend people who buy iOS devices to familiarise themselves with the restrictions of apple and the few outlets there are. And yomi for your next update i suggest you use pwnage tool(you may need a mac computer to do that). its the most reliable way of updating your firmware while retaining your baseband. if i start talking jailbreaking, unlocking, baseband and firmware i wont leave here. you can just google it or use wikipedia. take care and best of luck.

  15. Yomi,if your bootloader is not version 8.09 you can downgrade the baseband using an app called fuzzyband. I think you can find fuzzyband via Cydia. If you have 8.09, sorry, till next week ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Please pardon me to post my comment which i prepared this morning when i first read the post.

    @Yomi
    I really like to know how you registered in the app store because i know Nigeria is not there. My sister just bought an iPad (i need to help her get to the app store) and I just bought Apple TV (I requested for a Seagate media player, but the person bought me this — i might have to sell it)
    This is the funniest part
    In the meantime, I am having to copy my files
    (documents, music, and video) from my MicroSD
    card to my PC so iTunes can sync them to the 3GS
    .(what if you dont have a laptop)

    I cant wait for the total review, Niga style

  17. I had a really tough day and to top it Opera suddenly stoped working with MTN and trafic was so much I got home late.

    @Yomi and @Afeegoodman
    I am happy to inform you that we were able to register in the app strore just like Yomi did and we have downloaded lots of apps about 50 free apps on the iPad 64gb wifi plus 3G. We succesfully modified a glo sim and inserted it into the ipad but I was unable to configure the ipad to browse using the sim (already subscribed to glo data bundle).

    I have always looked at Apple devices from afar and i must say that the iPad is the first Apple device i physically spent time with. It is awesome, fast, delivers and looks smaller than I thought. Makes me join Steve in saying, are you sure 7′ is ok for tablet.(who cares, if it runs Android)

    And pardon me to say that the Apple TV is useless if you dont have a good internet connection that can stream movies on your TV. Still thinking of what i will do with it.

  18. brym,

    So much for the Iphone in our climes, you really need to be a SUPER geek to use it maximally!!!

    You can say that again. All this wahala just to review a phone. At least, my foray into this has helped people know that they don’t need a credit card to register with iTunes and download free apps.

    Hopefully, the whole exercise will also help people who are eyeing the iPhone here to decide whether they want all this wahala or not (of course, they can just stay away from updates entirely, though that will sort of leave them with outdated devices over time).

    Syncing via iTunes too seems a pain in the neck, albeit a relatively lesser pain. Anyway, I’ll patiently waddle through it all and see how it goes. Let’s just say that I am having fun the way only a geek can ๐Ÿ˜€

  19. @Bosun, Why don’t you get the already prepared microsim for ipad from a nearby MTN store? That should fix it. And it wouldn’t be bad if we have an ipad review from you!

    @Yomi, Buying an iphone from the Apple store in the UK comes totally manufacurer (Apple)unlocked like other pay as you go phones in which you can use with ANY network SIM without the need to jailbreak.

    Presently only the US still has the iphone’s exclusivity deal with only ONE network carieer (AT&T). This deal is reputed to end next year (2011), when Verizon would also get the iphone too. By then, you should be able to buy an iphone in the US from the Apple store without considering a jailbreak!

    For now, if you were to buy an iphone, I strongly suggest getting from the APple store in the UK or even Canada where you do not have to grapple with a LOCKED phone and jailbreaking and unlocking. The price is higher but certainly, it is worth all the heartache.

    I, for instance have never needed to grapple with all that.

  20. All these trouble and considering how much you pay to get one of these funny things called iPhone, i pass

    Symbians, Badas, Androids, and Berries are ok for me. Thanks

  21. @Afewgoodmen
    before i try MTN customised sim, i plan to try Etisalat sim when next I visit.
    The main issue i had with the glo sim was where to enter the proxy and port numbers in the ipad. But etisalat does not use those.

  22. Hi Yomi,

    I was sent a 3gs iphone from U.K which up till today i have not been able to unlock. I live in Ilorin. Why is it so dificult to unlock here. I have now been told to wait again till 27th. What advice can you give me pls. I am a first time user of iphone. Thanks.

  23. Thanks Yomi. I guess i have no choice. Why pay so much money for a phone only to begin night vigils waiting for one software before it can be operational. Na wa o. Pls. keep me informed. Thanks once again.

  24. Ahh…, good thing for you ….and us.

    We shall now have a pure and unbiased review of this thing that has generated so much money for Apple and so much controversies amongst mobile geeks.

    What’s so special with iPhone anyway. My Samsung Wave badaOS can stand shoulder to shoulder with it. Nokia N8 is even taller.

  25. My dear Yomi, I gather that the review that you so quoted above was only a MINI review. WE are still awaiting the full one. It is sad that you may no longer do that. I would love to have your say on the iphone 3GS and the reason why you do not wish to keep it, At LEAST a little Longer. 16 Days is a very very Short Time!!!

  26. I went through the unlock site you posted above and the option for unlocking goes for both 4.1 and 4.2 iOS versions. I wonder why you did not use the opportunity of makeing the 3GS 4.2?

    1. I went through the unlock site you posted above and the option for unlocking goes for both 4.1 and 4.2 iOS versions. I wonder why you did not use the opportunity of makeing the 3GS 4.2?

      I tried it. Still ended up with iOS 4.1 on my unit. I’m not trying anything again. I’ve had enough headache nursing this patient. It works now and works without any glitches. I’m a happy man ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Afewgoodmen

    The 3GS is just too limited in functionality for me.

    Also, I am selling it early so as to get good money out of it. It is expensive business buying phones for review and keeping it for long periods when it will be difficult to sell them at good prices.

    I will update the iPhone 3GS mini-review with more detailed impressions from my time with it, and that’s it.

  28. @Yomi

    …succumb…just yield…it’ll be so easy…you’ll really enjoy yourself…

    plus we’ll get an even greater review of an unlocked iPhone 3GS that’s been in silent bondage all this while!!!

    Nelson Mandela – “In my country, you have to go to prison first, before becoming the President !” {hope I got the quote right}

    Let’s make the iPhone 3GS reach its Zenith…

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