First iPhone 3G Reviews: Mossberg: Battery 'Significant Problem'; Pogue: Limited 3G, Good Audio

Staci D. Kramer
Wednesday, July 9, 2008; 2:00 AM

Two major?and somewhat mixed?iPhone 3G consumer reviews tonight in advance of Friday's second-gen rollout. The NYT's David Pogue and WSJ's Walt Mossberg find a lot to praise in what really isn't a very different phone but each also sees some drawbacks that could be showstoppers for some.

-- For iPhone, the 'New' Is Relative: Pogue likes the improved audio quality "which has taken a gigantic step forward. You sound crystal clear to your callers, and they sound crystal clear to you. In fact, few cellphones sound this good." He also picks up on the standard headphone jack (no more clunky adapters), the enhanced form factor, the 3G ability to talk and surf simultaneously, the software tweaks. But, he adds, "unfortunately, most of the standard cellphone features that were missing from the first iPhone are still missing. There's still no voice dialing, video recording, copy-and-paste, memory-card slot, Bluetooth stereo audio or phone-to-phone photo sending (MMS)." And a replacement battery will run $86.

And he's not thrilled by Apple's ( NSDQ: AAPL) choice of carrier in the U.S.: "There is, however, a catch: you don't get that speed or those features unless you're in one of AT&T's 3G network areas ? and there aren't many of them." (Turning off 3G doubles battery life from five hours to ten.) Also, AT&T's ( NYSE: T) increased service charges mean that "by the end of your two-year contract, the iPhone 3G will have cost you more than the old iPhone, not less."

But Pogue is thrilled by the App Store?"a central, complete, drop-dead simple online catalog of new programs for the iPhone. ... Above all, the iPhone is about to become a dazzling hand-held game machine. The games revealed so far feature smooth 3-D graphics and tilt control; in one driving simulator, you turn the iPhone itself like a steering wheel, and your 3-D car on the screen banks accordingly."

-- Software and Online Store Will Widen Its Versatility, There Are Hidden Costs: Mossberg: "I've been testing the iPhone 3G for a couple of weeks, and have found that it mostly keeps its promises." But that comes with two hidden costs: "First, in my tests, the iPhone 3G's battery was drained much more quickly in a typical day of use than the battery on the original iPhone, due to the higher power demands of 3G networks. This is an especially significant problem because, unlike most other smart phones, the iPhone has a sealed battery that can't be replaced with a spare." The other hidden cost is not so hidden: the two-year contract with AT&T increased costs and with text messaging will add $360 to the actual cost.

On the software side, Mossberg was able to use Exchange but corporate contacts and calendar erase personal. But still no copy and paste, no universal search, no IM. He doesn't rave about the App Store but says it could be the the biggest attraction. In fact, he suggests that existing iPhone owners who can use WiFi for data "probably should hold off and get the free software upgrade before deciding whether it's worth getting the new hardware."

Video of Mossberg's review:


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