Thursday, July 30, 2009

iPhone 3G S review - Hardware

Does it really need one?
No not really, the iPhone is a proven device since the start but, there has been some little changes since the release of the first iPhone 2 years ago. It is the first time two iPhones generation live together in the stores. You now not only have to choose how much space you want. If you're planing on getting an iPhone and you're not sure which one you want, this review is for you.

Decisions, decisions, decisions...
First of all, the 3G S is not only about having a compass in a phone. Even if many people only see that in the 3G S, there's so much more. In fact, it was enough for me to get one at full price! Yup, no one is sending me hardware for review. I do this all on my own! At least, for now... Anyway, back to the iPhone. Well go through some specs comparisons and well talk about software features after that.

Component
iPhone 3G
iPhone 3G S
Core
CPUARM 1176JS(F)-S v1.0 @ 412 MHzARM Cortex-A8 @ 600 MHz
RAMDRAM, 128 MBDRAM 256 MB
GPUPowerVR MBX Lite 3DPowerVR SGX
StorageNAND Flash, 8 or 16 GBNAND Flash, 16 or 32 GB
Connectivity
Wifi802.11 b/g802.11 b/g
Bluetooth2.0+EDR2.1+EDR
CellularGSM 850 900 1800 1900
GPRS/EDGE
UMST/HSDPA 850 1900 2100
GSM 850 900 1800 1900
GPRS/EDGE
UMST/HSDPA 850 1900 2100
7.2 Mbps HSDPA
Navigation
GPSA-GPSA-GPS
CompassNoYes
Others
Ear-PhoneStereo ear-phone
Microphone
Basic remote
Stereo ear-phone
Microphone
Advanced remote with volume control
Voice ControlNoYes
Screen3.5"
320x480 px
18 bit colors
Scratch resistant glass
Two fingers touch-screen1
3.5"
320x480 px
18 bit colors
Scratch resistant glass
Three fingers touch-screen
Oilophobic coating1
Camera2 megapixel still3 megapixel still
640x480 30 fps video
Auto-focus
Automatic macro mode

Majors changes
The iPhone 3G S was advertised as a very fast iPhone and there is specs to back those claim up. The Cortex-A8 is between 2 and 4 times faster than the older one. This make your web-browsing faster, your games smoother, and since the CPU is the bottle neck of that device, even data transfer is getting faster. Believe it or not but the iPhone 3G S sync 80% faster than the iPhone 3G.

With more memory, you can now run bigger and more complex applications without continuously getting interrupted by low memory warnings. With the iPhone 3G, applications had about 40 MB of free memory to run2. This is not very much when the interface itself is using a lot of graphical elements. OS 3.0 doesn't eat very much RAM than OS 2.2.1 so if you choose the 3G S, you will literally get 128 MB of unused memory over what there already is. This is a real plus since, even with all that RAM, you'll often run around 25% of free memory. But this time, no app will fill it up. At least, none that I know of!

The GPU also got a bit refit. The SGX is up to 4 times faster than the MBX Lite. This means better frame rates in games, smaller CPU usage when playing videos because of it's wider support for hardware decoding codecs and more complex animations with support for Open GL ES 2.0.

Limited world
If you're beginning to see my point you've probably stop reading here and got the iPhone 3G S. It's not like the iPhone was a closed platform with very little developers. They will use those new technologies at their full potential. They will not cut features just to support the old 3G. If you don't upgrade to the 3G S, you will see more and more of those low memory warnings and softwares that can't keep up with the old CPU and GPU.

If you are using the iPhone solely for business purpose and can wait 2 or 3 seconds for your apps to load then the 3G is for you. On the other side, if you PLAN on using the iPhone only with business software, then there's 90% you're wrong and you'll want to try that last game. If that happen, you might suffer a big deception.

Minor changes
The rest is pretty much minor. They are just add-ons that might be nice to have. First there is that support for 7.2 MB HSDPA which is nice but the iPhone can't process data at that kind of speed anyway and there is no support for HSUPA which limit the 3G upload speed to 384 kbps. The new ear-phone are nice, specially if you own an iSkin Revo for the iSkin Solo. As this belt clip block the volume control, it's nice to still have them on the ear-phone. There's also a pretty nice new camera (which I use a lot by the way) which is nice addition and already well implemented. On the other side, there's been report of issues with the oilophobic coating which loose grip with time and let marks on the screen under very high température.

Conclusion
That's it! If you already own a 3G and feel that the app you use are a bit slow, you might love the speed boost the 3G S can give you as it make it feel just like if you had multi-tasking. See you next week with the iPhone OS 3.0 software review!


1:This data is not official but it would match the accessibility feature set, only available in the iPhone 3G S.
2:This is a best case scenario. There's about 44 MB of available RAM when the device is rebooted. After 3 days, there's generally less than 20 MB of free RAM remaining.

No comments:

Post a Comment