Testing: Battery Life
3G speeds come at the price of reduced battery life. Owners of both the EDGE and 3G iPhones will find themselves charging once a day with the new iPhone if they’re heavy users.
With the following settings…
- 3G enabled
- Wi-Fi enabled
- .Mac account set to Push
- Gmail set to fetch every 15 minutes
- Regular surfing, GPS and YouTube usage
- Firmware 2.1
…my iPhone 3G lasts on average just over five and a half hours on a charge. Your results may vary as early 3G iPhones and earlier firmware versions are reported to have comparitively poor battery life. Turning the 3G radio off, disabling Wi-Fi, setting the push and fetch to slower intervals, etc will extend battery life by quite a bit. To contrast, I found I could use the original iPhone for two or three days before requiring a charge. However, at the same time, I didn’t have a data plan prior to the 3G. Consensus is that the 3G, for the most part, is quite a drain on the battery.
Contrary to popular belief, many of the features of the iPhone have been available on mobile phones from Nokia or Sony Ericsson (amongst others) for awhile now. However, what the iPhone does is bring things like 3G to a mainstream audience. However, this move isn’t without its problems as the iPhone struggles with bugs, freezes and crashes on occassion. Strangely enough, you still can’t do some very elementary things on the iPhones such as cut and paste or features you might expect on next generation phones such as video recording.
On the other hand, I’ve used a lot of mobile phones and browsing on the iPhone 3.5″ LCD and Safari is of the best ways to use the web on the move. That’s before you even get to all the great apps available from the App Store, which is available over 3G. Personally, I don’t find the battery life a big deal as charging is quick and it isn’t a big deal to plug the phone in before you go to bed every night. The advantages you gain such as the accelerated 3G speeds and the surprisingly useful GPS are worth the trade-off.
Is it for everyone? I really don’t think so. Most people aren’t going to need to spend nearly $70 each month for one of the plans that include 3G data. Over the course of a three year contract, that’s more than $2500 and that’s quite a commitment when you consider that most people are only talk plans that go for about $20.
However, if you are in need of mobile e-mail and a robust web browser you can take everywhere, give the iPhone a serious look. All the “cons” below are rather minor relative to the important things like the inclusion of GPS and the greater data speeds. Don’t forget that there are ways to tether your laptop to your iPhone for true mobile internet everywhere (although I’m almost sure that violates all the TOS) and having things like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube making the iPhone a great digital lifestyle device.
It isn’t the first to include many of its selling features but the iPhone 3G is by far the slickest, most refined and probably best designed implementation of all this technology.
- 3.5″ 480×320 LCD is bright and looks great.
- Great design, easy to learn and use.
- 3G is quick, meaning everything works faster and better.
- GPS is also quick and mostly accurate.
- Lots of great, cheap apps on App Store.
- Cheaper than first-gen.
- No stupid recessed headphone jack.
- Battery life could be better.
- No turn-by-turn GPS navigation.
- Plans might be more expensive or longer term.
- Occassionally unstable.
- Very little improvement in terms of camera. No video.
- Dock no longer included.
- Plastic backplate instead of metal.
Overall Rating: 8.5 / 10.0
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