iPhone 3G S

Andy Warhol quipped that everyone gets 15 minutes of fame. Apple's iPhone 3G S is so fast, you'd best learn to live with 7 and a half.

The ability to record and share videos with an improved camera promises to make you the star of effortlessly directed, edited, and uploaded clips. Speedier processing makes games run faster and more smoothly. A new compass assures accurate globe-trotting. At a time when the iPhone continues its meteoric rise as the must-have mobile device, this newest iteration brings features that make it easier to connect with people, share content, and play games.

The iPhone 3G S succeeds not so much as a result of these features, but in the evolutionary manner with which it expands the scope of the platform to support a broad vision of the digital lifestyle. Yes, the compass makes orienteering possible and voice control finally brings home a feature long available on other handsets; however these are just layers within a new mobile paradigm.

While the iPhone 3G and the launch of the App Store surprised us by ushering a revolution in mobile content, the concept of on-the-go computing is fully embraced in this amped up model. To view the iPhone 3G S as an incremental upgrade is to take the perspective that new handsets must provide a slew of never-before-seen features to justify the iteration. Instead, this more powerful version subscribes to a different tack.

Similar to upgrading a PC with additional RAM and a faster graphics card, the iPhone 3G S possesses more power that results in greater efficiency and capacity for multimedia. It's twice as fast when accessing data over 3G and brings support for 7.2 Mbps HSDPA.

And for mobile gaming, it's a dream device. Like investing in the latest GPU, iPhone 3G S bulks up for gaming with OpenGL ES 2.0 support that allows for better graphics rendering, including advanced shaders.

Real Racing runs faster, smoother on iPhone 3G S than on previous handsets. Star Defense benefits from improvements to memory management and greater speed. Peggle loads faster, reducing the time spent on staring at the splash screen while the game boots up. Dedicated gamers will immediately enjoy the benefits of the increased performance.

The amplified performance works across the board too: it's not just games that benefit from greater speed. Web browsing moves from being a case of watching the progress bar as it loads the page to a rendering at a respectable clip. Apps pop up on the screen faster. E-mail downloads quicker. There are no more annoying hangs while typing out a text message. The entire iPhone experience has been streamlined, sped up.

Of course, the iPhone 3G S doesn't offer just a boost in processing power. It entertains a small host of exclusive features that make it a more attractive device. Voice control and the compass are nice additions, even if they are relatively minor.

If anything, we'd rather have seen a more dramatic improvement to battery life. Any claimed advance to the battery life over the iPhone 3G is negligible at best. These features - voice controls and voice over, compass, palette swapping, screen zoom, mono audio - ultimately add value to the handset, yet don't individually justify an upgrade.

Video does, however. A slightly improved 3 mega-pixel camera yields better still photos, as well as opening the door for video recording. Sliding your finger across the bottom of the screen flips the camera from still to moving image mode, a tap of the circular red button allowing you to record video. Clips can then be created using the scrub bar in playback. These clips are then shared via email or YouTube.

It's disappointing that the camera isn't 4 or 5MP of course, though an auto-focus feature helps in taking clear photos (at least clearer than the iPhone 3G). Nokia, Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson have long provided handsets with excellent high resolution cameras and this is one area in which Apple continues to take a backseat.

Still, while video has long been available on other handsets, the ease of recording and editing them here could result in an explosion of mobile video. Consider the impact the first generation iPhone had on mobile phones and music. Though not the first device to support music, it made it a mandatory feature.

In the same way, the effortless video functionality of the iPhone 3G S could have similar results. The fact that the new model comes with 16 and 32GB configurations shows that Apple sees this potential.

The augmented power of the device coupled with advent of easy video recording, editing, and sharing make the iPhone 3G S a compelling device. Conformity with the previous generation in terms of form factor, ergonomics, and general usability shouldn't be seen as limiting its appeal. On the contrary, it's an iteration and not a re-engineering of the device.

Hence the decision to jump on the iPhone bandwagon is clear when accounting for the advances made with this model. To upgrade from an existing iPhone 3G however, is a more pointed question.

If you're expecting a ton of new features to justify the price of the upgrade, it may seem less compelling. For the hardcore gamer though, the benefits are undeniable.

iPhone 3G S

Light on killer new features, the iPhone 3G S provides a dramatic improvement in processing power that caters to the demand of ubiquitous multimedia, and assures its status as the premier device for mobile gaming
Tracy Erickson
Tracy Erickson
Manning our editorial outpost in America, Tracy comes with years of expertise at mashing a keyboard. When he's not out painting the town red, he jets across the home of the brave, covering press events under the Pocket Gamer banner.