iPhone 3GS Review

Everyone’s seen an iPhone, and most people want one, but can you tell the difference between an iPhone 3G and an iPhone 3GS? The answer is most certainly no; they look identical to each other and are no different to the naked eye. Once you’ve used an iPhone 3GS, however, you’ll realise just how different it is in this review.

It’s been around 6 months since the iPhone 3GS was released and at the time many people thought that it was somewhat of a low-key upgrade from the iPhone 3G, certainly it was more of an evolution than a revolution, especially when you consider what some of the 3rd generation iPhone rumours that had been going around prior to Apple’s announcement in which they introduced us to the iPhone 3GS.

So what can be added to our previous review of the iPhone 3G? Well here’s the key improvements that we’ve come to appreciate in using the iPhone 3GS, especially if you now go back to using an iPhone 3G – these differences are then immediately obvious!

Improved Performance

I’m not talking about the user interface or any additional applications – everything that runs on the iPhone 3GS can run on the iPhone 3G, but the 3GS is significantly faster. I was skeptical when Apple decided to concentrate on speed rather than introduce new features to the previous iPhone, and without using it myself I’d never have paid the extra money for a ‘more powerful’ model over the previous one.

When looking at the specs, the CPU in the 3GS is clocked at 600MHz, compared to 400MHz on the previous generation. As well as this, you’ll be getting 256MB RAM compared to 128MB in the 3G. When you’re using the 3GS it feels a lot more responsive, and the speed at which applications load (especially more intensive ones such as Sims 3) is staggeringly quick compared to what you’d get on the older generation.


A surprising feature of the 3GS is increased battery life, despite a higher clock speed in the device. Battery life is always a concern in smartphones, with most lasting no more than a few hours of intensive use, but the average user will be able to get a full days charge with the new improvements to battery life.



Apart from the increased speed and battery life, you’ve also got another reason to opt for the 3GS over the 3G or other smartphone. The camera in the iPhone has always been pretty shocking, as with many other phones in the market. I could never use the iPhone’s camera as my main point-and-shoot, but you’ll find a 3MP camera in the 3GS, which also boasts video recording and auto focusing for when taking still shots.

You’ll be surprised how much this will increase the quality of your shots over previous generations, especially when used with the new auto exposure and auto white-balance features. Even with these improvements, I couldn’t use the 3GS as my main camera – Apple has still got a lot of work to do before that’s possible, but it’s a definite move in the right direction.

When it comes to the quality of your video recordings, you’ll be impressed with the quality for a mobile device, although it simply can’t compete with dedicated recorders. Still, it’s a nice feature to have, and you can tap the screen when recording to focus your videos. After capturing video, you can upload your shots directly to YouTube with the help of a nice feature from Quick Time X on Snow Leopard, which allows you to quickly trim your video, allowing you to edit out unwanted sections.


If you’re a current iPhone user with either the original generation or the 3G model, you’ll definitely notice a speed increase which is always nice, but depending on your budget, you may not want to shell out for what’s essentially the same iPhone with a few tweaks.

For those of you thinking of buying an iPhone for the first time, you’re in luck, especially with it now being on multiple UK networks, so you’re no longer restricted to O2’s network. By the end of January 2010 you’ll be able to buy a PAYG iPhone or get one on contract with O2, or an Orange iPhone, or Vodafone iPhone and even a Tesco iPhone – who’d have thought a few months ago, we’d end up having this much iPhone network choice in the UK?

Have you got an iPhone 3G/3GS? Which network have you got your’s running on? What do you think to both your iPhone and choice of network, let us know by leaving a comment below!


  1. James says

    I have the 3GS with O2 and i am completely happy with it, I have had other phones on all the other Networks (Orange, Vodafone, 3 and T-Mobile) and was never completely satisfied with the coverage, service etc so went back to O2 and can honestly say won’t be going elsewhere.

    My Brother-in-law has the IPhone on Orange and he has no end of problems with the Network but i put that down to the area we are in.

  2. says

    @Rob – I think there are rumours going around that Apple will be releasing a new iPhone this year, I’m guessing most likely around June/July as previous have been.

    @Chris – Indeed we might! Thanks for pointing that out, have now corrected it, cheers!

    @James – I personally have had an iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS on O2 and while in large towns and cities I’ve not experiences issues, once you you’re outside those areas, especially around where I live, even the standard non-3G signal is a bit hit and miss.

    Also, I’m sure that the iPhone has a tendency to drop network reception on occasion too, for instance sometimes my 3GS will have good reception, while at the same time my brother’s 3G will have no signal and vice versa – this is normally fixed by itself after a short while or turning it off and on again resolves it straight away, although it is somewhat annoying that we have to do it at all.

  3. John Thompson says

    I’ve also come across network problems on the iPhone – the call drop rate isn’t great here in the UK, but when I was in New York, the service was woefully poor… This is probably due to the fact that up until recently, you could only have the iPhone on one carrier: O2 / AT&T, so if there are a lot of people around you with an iPhone all using data intensive apps and services, there are bound to be problems…

    The networks couldn’t have anticipated such an increase in bandwidth demand when the iPhone surfaced, and followed by other smartphones (or superphones?) the strain will only be greater until much more capable infrastructure is put in place to handle the increased data…

  4. Jeth says

    I had the 3GS with Vodafone as a pre-order upgrade which I received only last weekend. I have to say, it’s a great device, excellent interface, looks amazing, It’s just a shame I couldn’t get a any 3G signal on it and barely any on 2G when I switched the 3G off, so I sent it back. I personally think the phone has a fundamental design flaw and it’s not the network. You can pick up the handset with 3/4 bars of 2G signal showing, and then it drops to 1 bar and quite often ‘no service’ as a result. It must be a very sensitive antenna or something… My previous phone was a N95 8GB, which gets 3G sometimes and full 2G at my address. I also have a Samsung on T-mobile which gets good 3G service here all the time, so the iphone felt more like a downgrade! I might try the iphone on O2 or Orange, but having been reading up online it sounds like it’s the problem here, otherwise I might just give it miss and buy an ipod touch instead to run apps and the internet using wifi, which was all I managed to do with the very expensive iphone anyway. Shame, could of been so good….

  5. says

    I have a 3gs, on o2. you are right about using it. i had an ipod touch, and that was the thing that got me used to the touch interface. i was going to go for an android phone, but i didnt want to risk it – the iphone is just miles ahead of the competition =)

  6. anoriginaltecher says

    Miles ahead in what sense? Market share? Okay, sure. But not in functionality, nor in the looks department. I do like iPhones, but I mean I like to be able to actually have my e-mails open and my facebook at the the same time and switch screens. :/. It is a trade off between an Apple logo and a highly awesome OS like WebOS or Android I suppose.

  7. John Thompson says

    @ anoriginaltecher: I think you make a good point; I now use a Nexus One and love the flexibility that Android offers after being used to the iPhone interface as it’s so much more open you can essentially do what you like with it.

    Saying that, there needs to be a happy medium somewhere between the two.. Android is such an open platform it’s created too much diversity in the market, which is hard for users migrating between devices and for developers of the apps on the market. On the other hand, Apple are so controlling over the iPhone OS, there’s no room to make it your own without jailbreaking it, which is a huge disadvantage to someone who wants to add their own touch to their phone…

  8. says


    Good points made. I am guessing you are referring to the ‘simple as’ methodology, where by iPhones are soooo easy to use, and if Apple were to complicate things, then their main selling point would go.

  9. Suparuss says

    I know this is old now, but I’d be really interested in seeing a comparison of the 3Gs and the new iPhone 4….this particular comparison is really insightful

  10. Chris says

    I am a new iPhone customer, i have a end of line 3gs 32gb model, i almost went for the iPhone 4 but the issues with signal loss put me off, i did try one in the shop and sure enough the signal fell. The 5mp camera is nice but i have a semi pro DSLR camera so not worried about it.

    The 3GS suits me perfectly, it’s fast and with ios 4 it runs like a dream, battery life is ok not great but lasts long enough for my use. It runs all the apps I need to use and the compass is a great feature. it is my first iPhone and already I am hooked, I know i will upgrade when my contract expires. I like the way everything on it just works , email, internet, calls and sms, visual voicemail works great too.

    Finally a phone that does what I need it to do and without me tearing my hair out.

  11. Chapperz says

    With the iPhone 4 signal problems, I may be tempted to get the 3GS. The only thing that would make me get the iPhone 4 is the FaceTime feature, but I don’t know anyone else who has an iPhone 4, so it would be a pointless feature to have.

  12. Justin M says

    I have had a 3GS for about 5 months now and it is simply the worst phone I have ever owned. Think of all the features you want in a phone, good battery life, small size, good directory. quick access to numbers, the iPhone has none of them. The battery last about 5 hours then goes dead, what is worse the phone wont start for 10 mins after it has gone flat, so you can’t just plug it in and use it.

    I simply hate the thing.

  13. Billy says

    Justin M – I to have just started using an iPhone 3GS after years of using Blackberry. I was going to get the iPhone 4 but was put off by the signal/reception issues. Your comments are the most ridiculous I have ever read. The iPhone is the easiest phone to use that i have ever had. It is foolproof however in your case i would say obviously not 100% idiot proof. I have an old Nokia 3310 lying around if you really need something you can use.

  14. Sair says

    I have an iPhone 3gs on t-mobile iv only had it for about a month , but have always wanted one ! But they didn’t do it on my network provider up until recently ! Well what can I say it was def worth the wait ! I love it it will never look back xc

  15. Mark Gray says

    I’ve had my iphone 3gs for nearly six months now, and up to the last month or so i’ve had no problems, and have had lots of enjoyment out of it.. What i’m finding now, is that the iphone 3gs that I have gets very warm, sometimes hot, when only kept in my shirt pocket, this quickly drains the battery. From charging overnight to a 100% battery the following morning i’ve found the battery requiring a further charge by lunchtime, and that is with no open apps and maybe using the iphone 3gs for a 60 second call and to send a dozen text messages or so. I have been in touch with apple, and have told me I have to either take it into an o2 store, to be sent away for repair, or to take it to an apple store for a possible replacement. The nearest apple store to me is at least 2 hours away, and because of my work etc its not easy to find time to drive there..

    I have reset the phone back to factory settings, and synced the contents back to my iphone 3gs and have found it having made a slight difference. Who knows!!!

  16. Thyaghh says

    I have the iPhone 3GS and its really good but the the battery life is the worst from all the other phones I have had. 3-4 hours or someetimes 5 hours and thats about it the phone battery dead. Other than that it is a really good phone. :D

  17. Jim Wright says

    Received an IPhone 3GS as a Christmas present from my sons as a replacement for my Samsung Omnia. I am not disappointed. I honestly cannot see me using any other mobile phone having experienced the awesome abilities of the 3GS.

    My only initial concern was how quickly the battery drained. I could not believe the rapid reduction in battery power. I honestly almost returned to my Omnia because of this. However a friend suggested that I download an app called Battery Doctor. I was extremely skeptical but decided to give it a go. WHAT a difference! could not believe the degree of improvement. I don’t know how it does it but boy it works a treat. I am now a very happy bunny.

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