IPhone 3G: Hands-On Reviewer's Notebook

I'm writing Macworld's review of the iPhone 3G over the next couple of days. This time, I thought I'd try something different--sharing some of my notes as I'm using the product. That's what I'll be doing here. Stay tuned for the full review, most likely on Monday.

Friday Morning: Getting Started

I obtained my iPhone 3G (Black, 16GB model) at about 10:05 a.m. Friday. After a quick walk back to the Macworld offices, I was in my chair by 10:15 and attempting to activate the phone. Unfortunately, all I kept getting was an "Unknown error (-4)" in iTunes.

That kept going until about noon, when all of a sudden the dam burst and a lot of people's phones--mine included--suddenly activated. I restored from a backup of my original iPhone and we were up and running.

Judging by Appearances

Before we get going, let's take a look at the old and new iPhones side by side.

From the front, the original iPhone and the iPhone 3G are almost indistinguishable from one another. Only when you look at them side by side do you notice that the iPhone 3G is slightly wider, with a bit more black space between the sides of the screen and the chrome frame.

On the bottom, the black speaker and microphone grilles of old have been replaced by two oval cut-outs with recessed silver grilles. Between the grilles and the iPhone 3G's dock connector are two recessed Philips screws.

At the top, the most obvious change is the replacement of the accursed recessed headphone jack in the original iPhone with one that lies flat, so just about any headphones on the planet can attach without an adapter.

The phones' right sides are featureless, but the left sides of both include a volume rocker switch and a sliding switch to place the phone into silent/vibrate mode. These buttons, like the sleep button on the phone's top, are now silver metal instead of black plastic. Some reviewers have hailed these metal buttons as an advancement, but while they look pretty, I'm not convinced that they're better. The metal edges are much sharper than the old plastic ones, and they press uncomfortably into my fingers as I'm using them. I also found the iPhone 3G's vibrate switch to have much more resistance than the original's, which I don't like--although I do appreciate the fact that the old one perhaps slid into and out of vibrate mode a bit too easily on occasion.

Jason Snell's observations will continue later.

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