A Look at an Apple iPhone 3Gs from True Move (1)

By Graham K. Rogers


iPhone 3g and iPhone 3Gs

At the end of September, True Move, the carrier for the iPhone in Thailand, gave me one of the new 16G 3Gs models to play with for 10 days. This has gone on my shopping list of things to buy when finances permit.

Externally, the 3Gs model is identical to the 3G that Apple has let me use. In this case it was more evident as both iPhones have the white back. Internally, however, there are several useful differences. Apart from the background image, when on it was easy to tell the two apart as the new model displays battery life as a percentage. Apple's technical specifications show the dimensions are the same, but the 3Gs is 2 grams heavier (at 135gms).

There are a few other useful changes, like the wider availability of languages, including Thai: menus, keyboard and dictionary. The 3.0 update also makes these languages available on the iPhone 3G. The camera with its automatic focus now takes takes movies as well as still images: more on that next week. Bluetooth is now 2.1 while in the 3G it is 2.0. The screen is fingerprint resistant: oleo-phobic. That also made it easier to identify.

Internal changes include a faster processor and more memory. As a simple test, I used almost-identical photographs and applied the same effect. While the 3Gs image was 2048 x 1536, applying the filter took less than two seconds. Applying the same filter to the 1600 x 1200 image on the 3G iPhone, took 20 seconds.

Battery life has apparently been improved -- video playback and wifi use have been extended -- but this iPhone 3Gs seemed to charge slower than the 3G, either attached to the computer or using a charger.

One of the main purposes of the loan was to enable me to use the phone with the new 3G speeds. I was told that True has recently lifted the 3G ceiling from 2Meg speed download limit to the theoreticalÊmaximum speed of 7.2Meg. The older 3G units are still limited to 3.6Meg due to hardware. Normally, this would mean me spending time round the Siam area to check this out, or Hua Hin, but True also has 3G at Salaya where I work and I was able to take advantage of this.

When I picked up the phone from True's Siam Square coffee shop, I was asked not to install the 3.1 update. I queried this, but a day or so later was given the go ahead. The problem was not with the True phone, but with owners using other SIM cards (like me) as there were problems after update with tethering. This is a feature that allows a connected computer to access the internet via the iPhone. The 3.1 update was fine and allowed access to all of the new features, including app sorting in iTunes 9. When I put the original True SIM card back into the iPhone 3G to replace my normal DTAC card, tethering was available. I will be looking at this next time.

compass app While the battery display is a minor (but useful) change, there are a number of other improvements. One of the first I tried was the new compass app, which allows true North or magnetic North to be used.

At the bottom of the panel, as well as coordinates, there is a link to Google Maps which has also benefitted from the magnetometer: a processor that measures the strength and direction of the magnetic field. The locator button now has a North setting and when used, the blue locator has a trailing beam (to the South), while the map rotates depending on the position of the iPhone.

Macs using OS X have Universal Access: to allow those with physical difficulties to use the device more easily. Similar features are on the 3Gs via the Accessibility panel in General Settings. These make it easier by allowing "VoiceOver", Zoom and White on Black. With VoiceOver items the finger touches on the screen, are announced by a system voice. Currently there are 21 language options, but not Thai. When active, buttons must be pressed twice to make them work. White on Black reverses colours to help those with certain visual problems, while Zoom uses three-finger tapping on the screen to change magnification. Other controls in Accessibility change the way audio operates as well as the Home Button operation.

accessibility voice voice

Related to accessibility, I found Voice Control to be most interesting. By holding the Home button, the screen changes and the Voice Control panel appears. A user can speak commands for iTunes or the phone function. When I say, "Play songs by U2" the music will start. We can also say "Call" (or "phone") and a name. With more than one choice, the voice announces this. In my case I was offered "Mobile, Home or Work." I said "Mobile" and the call was made.

iPhone 3gs and iPhone 3G

Part Two: More of a Look at an Apple iPhone 3Gs from True Move


Made on Mac

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