Overseas iPhone 3G Review: Great But Not Perfect

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Surprise! It's Not Perfect

While my inner gadget-lover is drawn to the iPhone 3G like a magpie to a golf ball, I'm not so enamoured that I can't see the many omissions and imperfections.

Call me old-fashioned but I miss a built-in FM tuner with my MP3 player. Pretty much every other MP3 player ever made has one, why not my iPod?

I also can't record movies using the built in 2-megapixel camera, nor can I send picture messages or make video calls. I can't record voice clips and, worse, I can't even use the iPhone as an external hard drive when it is connected to my computer.

And why can't I use any MP3 I have stored on my iPhone as a ringtone or message alert--what's so hard about that? Bluetooth is supported, but why can't I use a wireless stereo headset with the iPhone? And why on earth isn't Flash supported on the built-in copy of Safari Web browser?

On the Other Hand: Touchscreen Is a Delight

Aside from a volume control and ringer off/on button on the side, a "lock" button on top, and the central "Home" button on the front, all control of the iPhone is carried out via the touchscreen display.

At 3.5 inches, it's bright and crisp and, as far as touchscreens go, easily the best I've come across. The iPhone's interface is fast and intuitive, offering users an immediacy of response that provides a reassuring sense of accuracy to your inputs. It's all deliciously animated too, scroll through your music, video or photo collections with the swipe of a finger and things keep moving before gradually slowing to a halt, as if by friction.

The screen is multi-touch, which means you can press different parts of the screen at the same time to perform different functions--a rarity among touch-enabled devices and a feature that opens up a number of opportunities for application developers to get creative in their programming.

Accelerometers inside the iPhone mean that if you turn it on its side, the screen will automatically rotate to display in widescreen. Which is kinda neat. Although my review unit came with no third-party applications installed, Apple PR folk demonstrated a 3D racing game that used the accelerometer to steer. Also neat.

Even though Apple promises the screen is scratch resistant and hard wearing, I couldn't stop myself from cradling the iPhone as if it were a baby bird. It just feels so precious, so utterly dependent on me to care for it, nurture it, love it. Which is a worry, as my mobile phones typically take quite a hammering. Owning an iPhone would require a concerted effort to change my carefree mobile-owning ways.

Here is a complete rundown on the iPhone's tech specs .

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