iPhone 3GS review

The definitive verdict on the new 3G S iPhone

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Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 8 GB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 3 Megapixel
  • Battery Talk Time : 12 Hour
  • Screen Resolution : 480 x 320

View full specification


  • Great touchscreen
  • Faster processor
  • iPhone 3.0 software
  • Camera with autofocus


  • Poor coverage at times
  • Expensive to upgrade to
  • Internet tethering costs extra
  • Battery life doesn't seem to have been improved

Update: read our iPhone 4s review.

The iPhone 3GS was delivered by Phil Schiller rather than Lord Jobs on high, and a packed crowd hung on his every word, lapping up every new feature Apple had deigned to bestow upon us. The thing is it didn't take long, as essentially Apple has released a new phone that bears a very significant resemblance to the original version.

In fact, the only palpable difference in the chassis is the iPhone lettering is now mirrored in the same way as the Apple logo was on the last iteration.

Of course, with the new iPhone 3GS (the 'S' apparently standing for speed) we're getting a whole host of new features, essentially an improved processor (up to an apparent 600MHz according to a recent T-Mobile leak), a better 3MP camera with video recording and an upgrade to 32GB of memory.

The curious thing about the new iPhone release is not only that it doesn't bring a whole lot of new hardware in the latest upgrade (we're not talking the essential jump from 2G to 3G here) but it's also been released to coincide with the launch of the iPhone 3.0 firmware update.

That in itself brings a whole host of new extras to the iPhone game. Check out our in depth review of the new software to find out what snazzy extras Apple has brought to the party.

http www techradar com news phone and communications mobile phones hands on iphone 3 0 review 609090 artc pg 2

But this upgrade is obviously available for the previous Apple handset, meaning that for the most part an updated iPhone 3G is the same phone as the iPhone 3GS, and presents most users with a real dilemma: is it worth shelling out for the new upgrade less than a year later?

The iphone 3g s

In the box

As most iPhone users will know, there's not usually a lot in the tiny Apple iPhone box, and once again, the company has perfected minimalism. There are the standard accessories bedecked in white as well as the phone itself of course.

The headphones are the same as normal, the bundled white buds symbolising that you've bought into the Apple brand and are indeed proud to wear the badge of Jobs-honour. It's a shame that Apple hasn't followed the lead of the likes of Samsung with its recent handsets, such as the i8910 HD, and realised that having a phone built for top end media should come with some decent headphones.

The iphone 3g s

We would have at least have liked to seen some in-ear buds with this iteration, or even some Bluetooth cans (something Samsung again does with certain models in its PMP range) but that would cannibalise the healthy accessories market Apple has lovingly crafted, so it's hardly a surprise to see the standard fare here again, although we were pleasantly surprised at how well the hands free kit worked on the bundled buds.

And Apple is again banking on some customer loyalty in only including a USB lead with wall-plug connector. We know this is Apple's usual game, but we'd reckon a good portion of mobile phone owners have lost their charger in the past and been forced to use the USB lead to charge the handset before buying a new charger, so if you lose this one, it's a dead iPhone for a while.

Clearly Apple is assuming that its customers have many iPhone compatible leads lying around (in the same way that Nokia chargers will grow in any draw full of wires) so has kept things minimal, and of course saved packaging, and therefore penguins and polar bears, in doing so.

Indeed, in comparison to the likes of the Palm Pre and the HTC Magic, Apple is doing the same thing in trying to reduce packaging (as it always has done). We still can't feel like there should be more in the box however, even though a video output lead is always going to be out of the question.


Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
Wireless LANYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Built-in Memory8 GB
Built-in FlashNo
Memory Card SlotNo
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyEDGE, GPRS, HSDPA
SAR Value0.45 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationNo
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyiPhone 3GS
Cellular Generation3.5G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100
Rear Camera Resolution3 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraNo
Phone StyleBar
Operating SystemiOS
Brand NameApple
Battery Talk Time12 Hour
Product ModelMC637BA
Screen Size8.9 cm (3.5")
Screen Resolution480 x 320
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)135 g
Maximum Video Resolution640 x 480
Processor ManufacturerARM
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 2.1
Operating System VersioniOS 4
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email
Height115.5 mm
Width62.1 mm
Depth12.3 mm
Radio TunerNo
Battery Standby Time300 Hour
ManufacturerApple, Inc
Product NameiPhone 3GS 8GB Smartphone
Processor Speed600 MHz
Processor TypeCortex
Product LineiPhone 3GS
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeDigital Compass, Accelerometer, Proximity Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor
Manufacturer Part NumberMC637BA
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.apple.com/uk
Marketing Information

iPhone 3GS. More to love. Less to pay.

Keep applications open in the background. Organise your apps with folders. Shop for books in the iBookstore. The 8GB iPhone 3GS takes advantage of all the great features of iOS 4.


Now you can run your favourite third-party apps - and switch between them instantly - without slowing down the performance of the foreground app or draining the battery unnecessarily. So you can listen to a football game while emailing. Or receive a VoIP call while playing a game.


Drag and drop to organise apps into folders on your Home screens and get fast access to your favourites.

Package Contents
  • iPhone 3GS 8GB Smartphone
  • Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic
  • Dock Connector to USB Cable
  • USB Power Adapter
  • Documentation