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Apple iPhone 3G review: Apple iPhone 3G

Apple iPhone 3G

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Kent German Donald Bell
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Kent German

Senior Managing Editor / Features

Kent is a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and has worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog, or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).

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Donald Bell

Senior Editor / How To

Donald Bell has spent more than five years as a CNET senior editor, reviewing everything from MP3 players to the first three generations of the Apple iPad. He currently devotes his time to producing How To content for CNET, as well as weekly episodes of CNET's Top 5 video series.

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13 min read

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8.0

Apple iPhone 3G

The Good

The Apple iPhone 3G offers critical new features including support for high-speed 3G networks, third-party applications, and expanded e-mail. Its call quality is improved and it continues to deliver an excellent music and video experience.

The Bad

The iPhone 3G continues to lack some basic features that are available on even the simplest cell phone. Battery life was uneven, and the 3G connection tended to be shaky. Also, the e-mail syncing is not without its faults.

The Bottom Line

The iPhone 3G delivers on its promises by adding critical features and sharper call quality. The iTunes App Store is pretty amazing, and the 3G support is more than welcome. Critical features still are missing, and the battery depletes quickly under heavy use, but the iPhone 3G is a big improvement over the original model.

Editors' note: We have lowered the rating of this product from 8.3 to 8.0 in the wake of the release of the iPhone 3G S. For a full analysis of the iPhone OS 3.0 software update, please see our iPhone 3G S review. For ongoing coverage, please see our full coverage of the Apple iPhone. On September 25, 2009, AT&T activated multimedia messaging for the iPhone 3G and 3GS.

Just over a year after Apple birthed the first iPhone, the long-awaited, next-generation iPhone 3G has arrived bearing a mildly tweaked design and a load of new features. With access to a faster 3G wireless network, Microsoft Exchange server e-mail, and support for a staggering array of third-party software from the iPhone App Store, the new handset is the iPhone we've been waiting for. It still lacks some basic features but when compared with what the original model was year ago, this device sets a new benchmark for the cell phone world.

With the iPhone 3G, Apple appears to have fixed some call-quality performance issues we had with the previous model--in our initial tests, the volume is louder with less background buzz than before. The 3G reception could be improved, however. Music and video quality were largely unchanged, but we didn't have many complaints in that department to begin with.

Price may well remain our largest concern. New AT&T customers and most current AT&T customers can buy the iPhone 3G for $199 for the 8GB model and $299 for the 16GB model. If you don't qualify for that price--check your AT&T account to find out--you'll pay $399 and $499 respectively. Either way, you'll pay $15 more per month ($74.99 total) for a plan comparable with the original iPhone ($59 per month). So, while you'll pay less outright to buy the handset, you'll make it up over the course of a standard two-year AT&T contract.

So should you buy an iPhone 3G? If you haven't bought an iPhone yet, and have been holding out for a new model, now is the time. If you're a current iPhone owner and you're yearning for a faster cellular network, then you should take the plunge. But if you're an iPhone owner who won't use 3G (or can't; check your coverage at AT&T), then you should stick with your current model. The iPhone 2.0 software update provides Exchange server support, third-party apps support, and many new features without the added cost.

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8.0

Apple iPhone 3G

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 7Performance 8
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