Overseas iPhone 3G Review: Great But Not Perfect

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GPS Inside--Only With iPhone 3G

While some of the changes found in the iPhone 3G will be available to owners of the original iPhone following the release of version 2.0 of the phone's OS, GPS (Global Positioning System) tracking isn't one of them.

In conjunction with Google Maps, the iPhone can use GPS to pinpoint your exact location, provide step-by-step directions and offer real time tracking of your movements. The iPhone uses something called Assisted GPS, which uses triangulation of cellphone transmitter sites to assist the actual GPS receiver in finding your location in areas where GPS can sometimes struggle, like cities where tall buildings can hinder the lines of sight to the GPS satellites.

f you have no GPS signal whatsoever, it can still provide you with a rough location using triangulation alone. Actual GPS sensitivity gets a thumbs up from me, and it was able to find my location in just a few seconds while outside. Sitting in the office next to a window it took a bit longer but still managed to locate me.

Broadband To Go Plus Wi-Fi

The addition of fast 3G internet means the iPhone is suddenly much more viable than its predecessor for tasks such as e-mail and Web surfing (thanks in no small part to the ease of use the superb touchscreen and navigation system provides).

Apple has even given business users some love this time round with the addition of Microsoft Exchange compatibility and VPN capability.

But let's face it, while being a perfectly capable business tool, the iPhone is a consumer-targeted device built with leisure in mind. As such, YouTube integration is tight, you can buy songs and videos (well, not if you live in New Zealand, our iTunes store doesn't stock any video yet) direct from iTunes (but oddly only if you're connected to a wi-fi network...the store won't work over 3G).

It works well, also, although your experiences, like all Internet-related tasks, are subject to choppy performance if signal strength is low.

For instance, using the iPhone on the bus journey home each day is a tad flaky as I travel from one cell site to the next. But if I'm stationary, 3G performance is top-notch. Once I get home the phone automatically switches to Wi-FI (important if your monthly plan includes a finite amount of data...which of course it does in New Zealand).

Making voice calls and texting is, well, no different from any other phone you've ever used really. One nice trick though--during a call the touchscreen automatically detects when it is near your face and turns itself off until you take it away again.

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