What adding 3G means for the iPhone

Apple iPhone
Apple's iPhone: finally worth buying now it's 3G?

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has finally admitted what we’ve known all along: that 3G is where’s it at when it comes to mobile browsing and web surfing on the iPhone.

Ironically it was Jobs himself who explained the difference. He compared the web surfing experience on the old GPRS / EDGE iPhone and the new 3G version during his WWDC 2008 keynote today.

Over EDGE, browsing proved to be a painfully slow and frustrating experience, while the 3G version just flew.

Apple claims the 3G iPhone is twice as fast its predecessor when it comes to serving up web pages and accessing emails, and boasts 'best in class' performance when set against rivals like the Nokia N95.

It's about time.

iPhone excuses?

Jobs has previously argued that Apple didn’t include 3G in the original iPhone, because of concerns over battery life, and because many users preferred Wi-Fi for surfing when in reach of an access point.

These arguments always looked spurious, and were conspicuous by their absence today.

That’s no doubt due to the fact that the iPhone 3G actually boasts much better talktime than its predecessor on 2G networks (up from 8 to 10 hours).

iPhone 3G talktime and web-browsing have been pegged at five to six hours apiece, so why offer 3G belatedly now?

iPhone 3G: a change of heart

The iPhone 3G introduction today can partly be explained by the launch of new generation of 3G chips (from Broadcom, InterDigital, etc,) that are simply more efficient than previously. This enables the iPhone to do more, more quickly.

But it's likely also due to the fact that Apple has stepped outside of its reality distortion field and faced up to facts:

  • That 3G is seen as essential in Europe and many other territories; and
  • That Apple was actively harming the iPhone's chances of success by leaving it out

So is 3G on the iPhone a good thing? On paper, absolutely. But you’ll know for sure when we finally get our hands on a UK review sample.