I have had a few days with the iPhone 3Gs, playing games, surfing the web taking pictures, chatting on Yahoo via wi-fi, and listening to

iPhone 3GS review

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I have had a few days with the iPhone 3Gs, playing games, surfing the web taking pictures, chatting on Yahoo via wi-fi, and listening to music, among other tasks. In this iPhone 3GS Review, I present my impressions of the device.

iPhone 3GS review: User Interface

I have found the user interface really very fluid and fun to use. The iOS user interface is not wanting for eye candy. However, it is not without its glitches and annoyances. For example, while the capacitive display is very good, I keep reading reviews of how every tap is registered and responded to. This is simply not true. Like on competing platforms (Android, Symbian, Windows), not every tap is registered.

Also, I found the 3GS homescreen limiting. It is simply nothing but a menu – no widgets and no app integrations of any sort. It is not a very useful homescreen for a smartphone. Still, I am sure that there are people who like it that way anyway. That kind of simplicity is not necesarilly a bad thing even though it won’t fly with hardcore smartphone users.

Another usability glitch is the fact that the homescreen does not have landscape mode. As such, you may be web browsing or checking out photos in landscape and hit the menu key to launch an app from the homescreen. You get portrait right away and have to adjust. Double-tapping the menu button for a list of running apps too displays the app manager in portrait as well even though you may have been in landscape elsewhere.

This user interface inconsistency exists in other areas of the phone as well. Landscape view is simply not enabled for some menus e.g. in Settings, as well as apps e.g. in Maps and App Store. I wonder why there is so much talk about inconsistencies in say Symbian S60 5th Edition, and none about the inconsistencies that exist on iOS.

Besides the above, the user interface is indeed very polished. It is just that the above are an annoyance in use.

iPhone 3GS Review

iPhone 3GS review: Text Entry

The onscreen keyboard is indeed good, but suffers a usability flaw that I keep running into with many such keyboards – the lack of arrow keys for navigating through blocks of text. You have a correction to make in some text that you have already typed and there’s no way to scroll to the very point where you need to modify or insert text. Many times, you have to delete entire words just to correct one letter or number. Or did I miss something? Seasoned iPhone users may help here.

Again, the keyboard is available in landscape in some apps and available only in portrait in others. Quite annoying for me.

iPhone 3GS Review: Web and Email

Web browsing on Safari is very good – and again enjoyable. I miss Flash, and it is my opinion that Apple needs to re-think their policy on Flash.

Safari has its quirks too, though. For example, I find it very frustrating and time-wasting that I have to scroll back all the way to the top of a page in order to reload/refresh the page.

Email is superb. Setting up an Exchange account got my mails, contacts and calendar items syncing without issues. Those are winning qualities for me any day.

iPhone 3GS review: Gaming

I have already spent some time on gaming on the 3GS. It is superb. I haven’t tried many games on it but from the two that I have, I can say that gaming on the 3GS is as good as on the Nokia N900 which was my best gaming experience before now. Perhaps it is even better.

iPhone 3GS review: Photography

The camera produces good shots. Nothing exceptional, and certainly not a strong point of the 3GS.

Like all other menus on the 3GS, the photo gallery looks sleek and does a good job of displaying your pictures. However, I love the way you can select multiple items for deletion off the device. Sweet.

iPhone 3GS review: Wi-fi

Because my unit is currently network-locked, I had to resort to Wi-fi for data. Unfortunately, wi-fi on the 3GS has been unreliable. Getting a connection is a hit-and-miss affair. Sometimes, even after a connection has been made, data transfer is painfully slow.

I cross-checked with a Google search on the internet and found that this is a well reported issue, so it isn’t just my unit.

iPhone 3GS review: Music and Video on the iPhone 3GS

Music playback is very good and the built-in speaker is okay. Unfortunately, it isn’t as loud as I had expected it to be. I ran a comparative loudspeaker test with a Nokia 5800 and the Nokia came out tops.

Video playback is lovely on that beautiful display. Codecs are limited and the same not-so-loud speaker is a minor let down again.

iPhone 3GS review: File Transfer

Now, this is where I have a big headache with the 3GS – and indeed the iOS platform. There is no USB mass storage mode and no Bluetooth file transfer, so getting files on to and off the device is a pain.

Yes; I know there are third party apps that let you transfer files from one iPhone to another. I take pictures, and I can send them only to other iOS devices? Honestly, that is a joke; right?

In an age in which other products are toting USB-on-the-go, not having such a basic function as USB mass storage is unbelievable.

At the end of the day, all that you have for file transfers is iTunes, and that software is choosy and picky too about what and how it transfers them. File transfer (or the lack of it) is a very strong disappointment with the 3GS. I cannot use a device with this kind of limitation as a primary mobile device. Apparently, many others don’t mind, because the iPhone continues to sell.

Different strokes for different folks.

iPhone 3GS review: Appstore

The Apple appstore has tons of apps available. As has already been said before, you do not need a credit card to register in the appstore and download freeware. There are lots of free apps to download too, so if you have an iPhone, go get those apps now.


I love the iPhone 3GS. It is a phone I could use, especially because it handles both email and web browsing well. The fluid user interface stands out and is a huge plus. But beyond that, it has its usability annoyances and functional limitations just like with any other mobile OS platform.

One thing you cannot fault with the iPhone 3GS, though, is how the 600 MHz processor keeps everything running smoothly. Everything looks and feels good. The user interface is indeed very fluid and fast> But let no-one make the mistake of confusing that for user friendliness. There are a number of glaring inconsistencies that I have found not friendly in the interface.

Eye-candy? Always. But user friendly and/or intuitive? Not always.

Still, this guy gets a 4 out of 5 points from me.


  1. Yomi from your posts i feel you a strong symbian fan…you seem to try to bring out i0S and androids fault..justifyin the fact that no mobile OS is actually perfect anyway!

  2. That problem of the phone alternating between landscape and portrait when using the menu key also exists in the Samsung Wave. Its quite annoying. Also some submenus in the Settings menu dont have landscape modes. It seems Samsung imitated quite a bit from Apple without really improving what they copied.

    How is typing on the 3gs? Does it have Swype? That’s a feature i am looking forward to when samsung releases bada 1.2 later this month.

    Any word about iOS 4.2?

  3. @Yomi, was wondering why you had to obtain the JoikuSpot . Now i know y. To use the N8 as your wireless hotspot for the glorified (for now) iPod Touch! (x tongue,-in-cheek x)

    ‘Landscape view is simply not enabled for some menus ‘

    I wonder why that is so difficult for the os to implement / accomplish! Turn on the landscape mode, call up the menu. End of story.

    In connection with this, when you select landscape mode in. the UC Mobile Browser I am usin, it is sooo smart it turns on the internal landscape mode of the phone. It then uses the new screen coordinate to readjust and know where to display screen elements. How do i know? The Swype application comes up in landscape mode to. That is what i call top notch programming.!

    Talk about the bunch of iPhone pots calling the kettle black!

    My Symbian^1 (s60v5) phone (with the latest firmware) has that little bit firmly sewed up tight. @ least the reputed menu inconsistency with Symbian does not include that one.

    ‘I keep reading reviews of how every tap is registered and responded to.’

    I iyen both the Nokia 5800 and the 5230. While both of them run the same Symbian^1 os, i find that the responsiveness of the touchscreen is better on the 5800 – which has the latest firmware onboard. I have not upgraded the firmware of the 5230 for a while. So I guess that is the reason.

    Also when using several touch apps (e.g ScratchPad vs Sticky Notes // DasurSlideIt vs Swype), i find that the touch responsiveness / sensitivity of the pair of applications listed above VARY GREATLY.

    I can therefore reasonably conclude that the degree of touch sensitivity in any given situation depends on the implementation method of the application you are using at that point in time.

    @SpacyZuma, ‘That problem of the phone alternating between landscape and portrait when using the menu key also exists in the Samsung Wave.’

    What do you expect when you are using a BAD-a phone..lol

    Conclusively, with the trillions of applications existing for the iPhone (*sarcasm intended*), i am cocksure any software-addressable useability weaknesses will have been adequately addressed. Not so?

  4. Shayman,

    I am platform agnostic. That means I am not a fan of any mobile OS over another. I say things as they are.

    Before the N8, my phone was the Android-powered Xperia X10 Mini Pro – and I had almost nothing but praises for that device. People who read my reviews of the Mini Pro would have thought I was an Android fanboy too. My problem is that I do not get sold on hype. I tell things as they are.

    The user interface inconsistencies on the iPhone 3GS that I pointed out exist on the Samsung S8003 Jet and Samsung S8500 Wave (as already pointed out above by spacyzuma) – and they were an irritation each time I used those devices. The same inconsistencies are just as irritating on the iPhone 3GS.

    I have read scores of iPhone reviews and not one of those reviews – not one – ever mentioned these issues. Yet they exist. Is it a case of what is good for the goose is not good for the gander? iOS clearly has its flaws just like Windows Mobile, Android, Symbian, Bada and even webOS.

    Does that make the iPhone 3GS a bad or poor device? Certainly not. Unfortunately, iPhone fanboys often think that everything else is crap because of some minor issues too.

    iOS is just as flawed as the other platforms that it is often touted as superior to. And I daresay that some of those platforms are ahead of iOS in many ways besides eye candy.

  5. Yomi..well you’ve seen them all anyway..am very familiar with symbian and blackberry but dont know much bout i0S and Android but for the media hype…

  6. I think that it all boils down to one man’s food is another man’s poison. If you like a product, go for it, annoyances or not. After a while you get so used to the product and the way it works that what was initially annoying becomes accepted as the way the product operates.

    For instance, while people complain about double tapping on the 5800, I’ve used it for so long that I’ve come to see it as the way the phone works. In fact I like it because it makes it feel like a computer to me since I have to double click on the computer to launch an application.

    At the end of the day, the different software implementation will be loved by some and hated by others and they should not be the basis for writing off a platform.

  7. balanced reporting. Unbiased and objective. Reporting the the iphone 3gs as it is not as it should be.

    When Yomi wanted to do this iphone review, I was initially worried that there would be an ios bashing. I need not have, because this is an examplary piece of reporting. Kudos to the Almighty Yomi in Tech matters. I shall NEVER doubt your genious again.

    Just one thing though, for those of us who are used to ios devices, the portrait view in the menu and settings were well thought of and not anachronisric to all the impeccable user interface suaveness. I don’t think it was a shortcoming, but rather an icing to the fabulous cake. It improves ease of use. And maybe why other reviwers have not mentioned it is because it wasn’t a problem but parr of the ios quality and intricate user interface!

  8. I will like to invite all those concerned about landscape mode to check the galaxy s out. initially I though the orientation only changes when you tilt the phone sideways to the left…but was shocked when I tilted it to the right as well if you tilt the phone 180 degrees from one landscape mode to another. the best part is this all occurs in every menu and application…sgs… so convinient.

  9. If iPhones had been cheaper, I am sure more people will be using it in Nigeria, but staring at around 100K. Waiting to see how it goes when operators decide to subsidize. If that ever happens.

  10. Yomi, ABeg; Better late than Never. Abi no be so Oyibo man talk am?

    The public ios 4.2 APple firmware for the ipad , iphone and ipod touch has been officially released. You can check the Apple website; Installing it is easy, just plug your ios device to your computer and click update and allow itunes do the rest. That is if you have a good internet connection. Broadband better.

    If not, then you are in my shoes; You can download the firmware from a direct link from APple servers from this site for instance; http://osxdaily.com/2010/11/22/ios-4-2-direct-download/
    Then manually install the the Software.

    Maybe this should be a panacea to Yomi’s iphone woes! The jailbreak for ios 4.2 is also ready using redsnow

  11. Hi Yomi, its me again. Please enlighten me on the following terms. Like i told you a few days ago, i was sent a 3Gs iphone about June which has to be jailbroken and unlocked. I was told the software was 4.1 then that i have to wait for it to be released. Now i am told it has been released and the phone jailbroken only. The unlock i was told is yet to be released. What it all boils down to is that i still cannot use the phone. 1. What is the meaning of jailbreak and unlock? 2. Why cant the phone be unlocked even when IOS 4.2 has been released and mine is 4.1? 3. What further actions will you advice me to take. Thanks.

  12. Yomi, On texting; You do not need to delete entire words! You just place your finger on a word and a baloon would appear, then you take the cursor to the point that you wish to delete and that’s that. you can then delete and replace the word.

    And by the way, You could also make use of the integrated dictionary which marks non-English words.

  13. Yomi, On texting; You do not need to delete entire words! You just place your finger on a word and a baloon would appear, then you take the cursor to the point that you wish to delete and that’s that. you can then delete and replace the word.

    Thanks for that tip. I’ll give it a go and revert.

  14. @Yomi. On Web and Email; You do not need to scroll to the top of the page. You just need to tap the top of the screen where you see the time written and the phone automatically takes you to the browser page top where you can refresh, take back or retype the url!

  15. Afewgoodmen,

    I tried out both the text and email/web tips.

    The text replacement feature is sweet. Sadly, there is still no way to scroll through text. After correcting an error in the middle of a block of text, I couldn’t find a way to go to the last line of text in the block. Any tips for that?

    Tapping the top bar while web browsing or reading email takes me right back to the top just like you said. It’s odd though, as one is used to tapping that bar for system information or notifications on other platforms.

    I’ll add these tips to my review above. Thanks again.

  16. yomi, it appears you got me wrong in the text editing. What i mean is that you tap on the text you want edit and leave your finger on it. A pop up balloon would appear like a magnifying glass. And mind you, your finger does not leave the screen all these while. Then drag your finger and the cursor to the point on the text you wish to edit. There is an how-to-do on the apple website.

    But i think with this you should be able to do it. When the balloon or magnifying glass appears, do not take your hand off the touch screen but slide it to the point in the text that you want.

  17. Yomi,

    reddevil11 mentioned about the Codec issue on the iphone. I checked it out and it is true. THe VLC app only works for the iphone 3GS, Iphone 4, ipad and ipod 4th generation. VLC for iphone/ipad jut like the pc variety is very handy and can handle any (At least Most) codec you throw to it.

    iphone 3G cannot install it, but my 4th gen ipod could play varied codecs from my hands-on ranging from flash video, AVI, DivX, MP4, DVD format codecs and more! Bosun should definitely give it a try on his ipad. The app is FREE!

  18. The larger screen estate on the iPad makes everything you do on it more convinient and wonderful.
    The VLC player is awesome on the ipad.

  19. @Bosun99uk. It is nice to know you have the VLC Media player on your fabulous iPad. It really transforms your device into a movie watching behemoth!?

  20. Just to let you know – tomorrow is iPhone 3GS day for me. Don’t ask me what that is about yet. Follow me on Twitter and also look out for my post at midnight.

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