Did you know that the older generations of the iPhone had a rubbish 2MP camera? They did, you know. We're talking fuzzy pictures, no flash (therefore a complete absence of night time shots) and video being totally out of the question.
Apple being Apple, we were convinced that better cameras weren't necessary on a mobile phone, that people carried around point-and-shoot cameras all the time, and that to bung anything else on the phone would result in an ugly device.
But we all believed something better was coming. Rumours of a 5MP option with flash and video recording came thick and fast, but in the end we were only given a 3MP upgrade and no flash (albeit with VGA 30 fps video recording as well).
But it's not just an improved sensor that Apple has brought with the iPhone 3GS, but also a better overall camera experience. Auto-focus is achieved simply by tapping a section of the screen, and auto-exposure attempts to keep the light balance corrected.
The AF function, considering how underpowered the camera is in comparison to its high powered mobile brethren, is actually very good and simple to use. Tapping a section of the screen not only quickly brings it into focus, but also attempts to balance out the screen's light levels to make it more visible.
Macro mode has also been added, and despite Apple stating that it's good to take in-focus shots from up to 10cm away - in real tests we found this was an understatement from the fruity ones (which may be the first time ever) and we could actually get to around five cm (in good light) before the shot started to blur terribly.
The camera clearly can't compete with efforts from the likes of Sony Ericsson or Samsung, which can take long range shots with a multitude of scene options with high-end flashes, but for day to day snapping it's fine. Perhaps the discerning mobile phone buyer has been slightly spoilt in terms of what's actually needed for mobile photography, but we can't help but feel like 3MP simply isn't good enough for one of the most expensive phones on the market at the moment.
That's not to say Apple is lagging well behind its smartphone peers in terms of camera ability, as most phones (such as the HTC Magic, Touch series and Palm Pre) also have similarly poor-specced snappers, mostly due to trying to fit everything in to one tiny chassis.
But with the likes of the Samsung i8910 HD, we've seen that it can be crammed in, so while we're not expecting a 12MP marvel, it would be nice to see a decent lens, a better sensor or (whisper it) a flash on there in the next iteration.
How our iPhone 3GS camera compares to a fancy Olympus SP-565UZ:
The iPhone 3GS manages to capture a well-lit scene well with minimal colour loss:
The iPhone 3GS struggles to pick out detail when a variety of light levels are present:
The iPhone 3GS has good background definition, although we were attempting to get the doll in focus:
The iPhone 3GS is excellent for text, perhaps even sharper than the Olympus SP-565UZ:
The iPhone 3GS's macro mode is strong in close up, although colours are quickly washed out:
The iPhone 3GS struggles badly in low light - come on Apple, what is it with you and no flash?