Thursday, 25 June 2009

Tech Review: Apple iPhone 3GS

It had been a long time since I possessed what could be called a 'good phone'. This is because I always found myself willing to sacrifice having a decent handset for the sake of a free xbox 360, PS3 or Wii with my phone contract.

I finally got out of contract with Orange, and was dying to get a new phone with unlimited net access because it was becoming more important that I have instant access to email on the move. The only two competitors were the Palm Pre...

...and the new iPhone.
Both have a touch screen, both have unlimited data access, both can be used as an iPod (the Pre tricks iTunes into thinking it's an iPod), both have GPS and Wi-Fi and just about everything else you can imagine (see here for a full side-by-side comparison).

But initially, when comparing the two online I couldn't help but be more impressed with the Pre. It looks very sleek, and as if a lot of thought has gone into designing both the hardware and the WebOS operating system on it. It has brilliant multitasking capabilities, lots of ways to intelligently organise your data and do cool stuff with GPS and social networking sites.

That, in addition to the fact that I've never liked the look of the iPhone, meant that for the past couple of months the Pre had been at the top of my wish list.

At the recent WWDC conference in San Fransisco Apple announced the iPhone 3GS, which is basically a pimped out version of the iPhone 3G handset, with a few new features and a faster user experience. It appealed, but still sat second in my wish list when compared with the Pre.

Palm have released the Pre in the US already, but for some reason they have not released it in the UK. I think this is because they haven't completed the compatibility with our slightly different GSM networks.

In the incredibly competitive smartphone market where the Pre is undoubtedly Palm's 'do or die' handset, this is an unbelievable planning error.

There must be literally thousands of people like me, who wanted a new phone and couldn't decide between the Pre and the iPhone. These people would like to see what the Pre can do, but are not willing to hang around for months until Palm get their act together and set a release date. So I lost patience, and bought a new iPhone 3GS last week.

It was disappointing not to have the choice between the two, but if Palm want to compete with Apple, they needed to play the game.

And Palm's move should have been to release the Pre in the UK before the iPhone 3GS, or at least a matter of days or weeks after. Now of course I'm not saying that Palm will fail because I personally did not buy a Pre, but surely it's damaging to their prospective Pre sales that since launch, Apple have sold 2 million iPhone 3GS in the European market alone.

Maybe they underestimated the importance of the European consumer electronics market. But they shouldn't, have because it could have made the difference between the Pre becoming their saviour, or the iPhone becoming their downfall.

The point of this post was really to review the iPhone. And I must say, I absolutely love it. It's a complete pleasure to use, and the hype is correct - the App Store is the killer. So many cool little applications to download, and a large portion of them are completely free. It's not perfect though, the email client is a little overly simplistic and the battery life is horrible. But I don't regret for one second buying the iPhone, and by the time the Pre finally hits the UK shores I will be content that I shouldn't have hung about for months with my old Nokia 6300 and chunky Orange contract in tow.