All of this new hardware sits inside a slightly rubbish new plastic back. I just don’t find it anywhere near as aesthetically pleasing as the original model, and it attracts finger prints as badly as the screen. It’s a blatant cost saving exercise, and I suspect we might see the reintroduction of the metal back in a future product once the price comes down. For me, this is a major step back.
The new iPhone is also somewhat wider. This results in a more pleasurable typing experience, but has the downside of meaning it won’t fit in my car’s docking station any more. Win some, lose some.
Or in the case of a large number of 3g owners: just lose. Apple saw fit to remove the 3g’s capability to recharge using the Firewire pin configuration resulting in broken compatibility with a ludicrously large number of devices. I’ve asked a number of manufacturers about adapters or cables to get around this problem, but so far I have nothing to report. Watch this space.
The 2.0 firmware seems to have broken compatibility with a large number of car bluetooth systems too – BMW, Freelander, and other installations have stopped syncing their contacts with 2.0.
So where does all that leave the iPhone 3g?
After a couple of weeks of use, I’d be tempted to say: about the same, really. It’s got a quicker data connection, it’s got gps and it’s got a crappy new plastic back, but it’s really the same old iPhone everyone got to know and love. Except, they didn’t, because it was too expensive last time.
So what Apple have actually done is produced a cheaper, more accessible version of their product and shipped it to a larger number of countries. Along the way they caused chaos during the retail process – my own phone took four days to come online after I’d bought it – and upset a large number of loyal users by breaking compatibility with their existing hardware. All of which for a device that’s got some serious instability issues at the moment, and has some chocolate-teapot GPS functionality.
The inescapable fact though is this: it’s still an iPhone. It still has the best mobile browser in existence. It still offers a great user interface. It still has the iPod integration (except now you can use any headphones you like, without an adaptor), the multi-touch and Apple’s usual sense of style and elegance. It’s not without its flaws, but the things it does well more than make up for that fact.
I suspect iteration 3 of the iPhone will be a phenomenal product. Iteration 2, at the moment, leaves a little something to be desired. I still think it’s the best device on the market for the functionality that it offers, but I get this nagging feeling that Apple can do better.