• iPhone 3G first impressions

    by  • 25 August, 2008 • Tech • 3 Comments

    This is the sequel to my previous article iPhone 3G lands in Greece, describing my first experiences with the iPhone 3G in Greece. Disclaimer: this is not a product review, I don’t even try to pretend to give you a balanced report of the iPhone 3G. That has been done many times, and there are numerous sites where you can find those reviews

    Arriving at home with my new toy, I immediately connected it to my iMac over the USB interface. I thought I would be have to charge the battery, but that turned out to be unnecessary. iTunes started up automatically and invited me first to register. I was under the assumption that this was the famous activation process, but it turned out to be just a simple registration of the serial number. Or maybe that is the activation, I don’t know, the word “activation” never showed up. That done iTunes invited me to downloaded the latest release, version 2.0.2. It also — and at the same time — started synchronizing with MobileMe (previously dotMac): bookmarks, contacts, calendars, e-mail settings, the works. The OS upgrade is a big file and downloading over my 4Mb ADSL connection took more than 15 minutes. After a restart I proceeded to synchronize my locally stored iTunes and iPhoto libraries. Everything was bliss.

    At first I didn’t have any 3G connection at all. I didn’t know if I needed to do something to activate that (and which they forgot to tell me at the Vodafone shop) or if this was a problem of me not living in an area that is covered by Vodafone’s 3G network. To be honest, I hadn’t had a chance to do a lot of diagnosing as we left early on Saturday morning for Lendas. I was planning on going back to the Vodafone shop on Monday and was sure it would be sorted out then. Yannis, the young man I met at the Vodafone shop (which ceded his place to let me be “the first iPhone user in Iraklio”), called me in Lendas on Saturday evening. He confirmed that he did have a 3G connection. In Lendas of course you hardly have any connection, so that didn’t necessarily mean anything. I also noticed that the iPhone apparently kept searching for networks. This morning, on my way to the bus station, I powered off the iPhone. I don’t know why, it seemed like a good idea. When I got off the bus in the center of Iraklio I powered it back on and — lo and behold — there was my 3G connection! Jumped right back onto the bus. The connection has been stable since then, with at least 3 bars showing for the signal strength, and with up to the maximum of 5 bars on the whole stretch of Knossou Road. It is also fast enough to comfortably load my own weblog, which is rather heavy in graphic elements. I’ll try a small post from the iPhone, possibly with a picture, at a later stage. At home my wi-fi connection takes over, which I think is a nice touch. Now I only need to find a decent VOIP client.

    Greek characters are no problem in e-mail messages and in my address book entries. There is no input capability in Greek however. I can live with that for a while, but I sure hope that Apple will include a Greek keyboard in an upcoming software release.

    Battery life seems to be as good as with my Nokia E50 (with 3G disabled most of the time since I had no access anyway). When we came back from Lendas on Sunday evening I still had 3/4 full battery after initial power up on Friday, more than 48 hours ago. I didn’t make or receive many calls though, but that corresponds to my regular usage on the Nokia. I didn’t want to ruin my brand new iPhone in the sand of the beach anyway, but leaving it at home seemed like not quite right. I’m doing a full charge right now, after Usage of 6 Hours, 9 Minutes and Standby of 2 Days, 16 Hours, according to the iPhone itself. I’m curious how the battery will fare after that, with 3G enabled.

    [Edit on 2008-08-26] Whooaaaaah! After my iPhone went through a full charge, I enabled all those hot options on my iPhone 3G (3G reception, Wi-Fi services, Data Roaming and Location Services all set to “On”) around 19:00. I subsequently used my iPhone to show off in my local kafeneíon using the 3G connection for about 15 minutes, sent and received some SMS messages and made 1 call. I went to bed around midnight and let the iPhone in sleep mode (I did not power it off). This morning at 07:30 the battery was completely empty and I could not wake the iPhone before I had it connected to the power supply. Big letdown for power consumption. Booh!

    [Edit on 2008-08-27] After the full battery recharge of yesterday, I again switched off Enable 3G, Data Roaming (in Settings > General > Network) and Location Services (in Settings > General). Wi-Fi (in Settings > General > Network) was still enabled and the iPhone was connected to my local network.  I kept the iPhone in sleep mode overnight, just like the previous night and this morning the battery still had a 90% charge. Tonight I will Enable 3G (but keep Data Roaming and Location Services off) and see where that leads in terms of battery consumption. 

    [Edit on 2008-08-29 at 11:27] Yesterday evening, just before midnight, my iPhone decided it was time to recharge the battery. The message prompting me to do so indicated that there was 20% juice left. The Usage figures were: 4 Hours, 31 Minutes and Standby: 2 Days, 13 Hours. The iPhone went through 2 consecutive nights of sleep mode. I had not — contrary to what i said in the previous Edit — switched on 3G reception. I will do that now, after a full recharge cycle and see what the effect of that will be on the battery.

    [Edit on 2008-08-30 at 21:16] After the full battery reloading yesterday at 11:30, I switched on 3G reception. It lasted until now, almost 34 hours. I took some pictures, made a few calls, updated my Twitter status and checked Twitter several times, used Google maps and posted a picture on TwitPic. Not too bad for 3G enabled. Data Roaming and Location Services were off all the time. Wi-Fi was on.

    The one application that really blew me, was Google Maps: I entered my address here in Iraklio, Crete and let it search directions to go to my fathers place in Belgium, as a test. You don’t need to enter any technical coordinates, not even the addresses, you just pick them from the address book. Within seconds I had a detailed map plotted, taking into account the ferry crossing from Iraklio to Piraeas, accross Greece, into FYROM, through Serbia, Hungary, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and finally Belgium. Nothing Google Maps wouldn’t do on any personal computer, I know. But watching this take place on a small 3.5″ screen is truly awesome. 

    Did I say that Twitterrific is fantastific on the iPhone? It is.

    3 Responses to iPhone 3G first impressions

    1. Luc
      25 August, 2008 at 16:36

      Commenting from the iPhone on my own article

    2. 12 September, 2008 at 9:14

      Being you somehow a power user in computers, I’d like to ask you about how much data you consume.

      I mean, after one or two months to make a post here with the data you spend in a month.

      For now I have a 5GB plan, but with a computer and I can do more than 10MiB per day if I do some flickr.

      Thanks :)

    3. luc
      13 September, 2008 at 15:45

      @graffic Sure, I’ll do that, but I don’t think it will serve your purposes. After 3 weeks usage I still have less than 25MB data traffic in. I always try to hop on a wi-fi network if at all possible. The fact of the matter is, I didn’t even *want* a 3G iPhone, the first model would have been fine for me (even though I might have regretted not having location services), but this was what I could get at a very reasonable price. Τι να κάνουμε; 😀

    Leave a Reply