As for other apps, you'll be glad to know that the App Store is live and already features over 500 programs. You don't need to use the badly implemented Web-based apps anymore, or unlock your iPhone. Some of the apps come free, while others you have to pay for.
Apps range from simple games to Internet radio stations and it's extremely easy to download them. All you have to do is click on the desired app and it pops up in your iPhone 3G's menu, installing relatively quickly, depending on the size of the file. Most of the free apps aren't very useful, and some are frankly bizarre (such as an alarm that doesn't have a timer), but as the App Store increases in popularity we're sure much better free apps will appear.
As an iPod, there's little difference in sound quality between the original iPhone and the new 3G version. And that's through studio-grade reference headphones -- through bundled and inexpensive earphones, the difference between the two phones is all but non-existent. This is a good thing, since the sound quality is certainly impressive.
The iPod classic, for example, offers a slightly warmer sound, and is certainly the preferable performer to our ears. But listening to rock, folk, metal and pop, the iPhone 3G proved itself a smashing music player. And although its memory is limited, supporting lossless audio formats means it's capable of handling vastly superior audio when compared to almost every other phone ever made.
If you're not a big fan of listening to music, browsing the Web and downloading apps, then aside from wondering why you've bought an iPhone 3G, you may be pleased to know that it supports Microsoft Exchange. This lets you synchronise all your office emails, contacts and calendar entries over the air. You can also view Microsoft Office documents, but you can't edit them, which is frustrating.
While there are plenty of improvements on the iPhone 3G compared to the original iPhone, we're still disappointed to see that not all of the old problems have been resolved. The iPhone 3G's 2-megapixel camera isn't an improvement on the old one, there's no flash you still can't shoot video. MMS messages are still no go and there's no stereo Bluetooth to let you listen to music wirelessly.
Some of the above issues may be resolved with third-party apps, but the lack of movement in these areas is disappointing to say the least. In our opinion those are basic features that should come as standard on a high-end smart phone. On a similar note, given the iPhone 3G's spec, we also think that a VoIP client should have come with the new firmware as a cheaper way of making voice calls.
The iPhone 3G vastly supersedes the old iPhone when it comes to audio quality during calls. You can hear people loud and clear, with no noticeable distortion. The iPhone 3G's loudspeaker is also louder than its predecessor, but still not as loud as we'd like. Compared to the Nokia N82, the iPhone 3G operates at a whisper, and isn't great for sharing YouTube videos, for example.
We haven't had the iPhone long enough at this point to properly test the battery, but from our usage so far, we think it should last for around a day with moderate use of 3G and GPS. We'll update this section when we've exhausted the battery. There is an option to turn the 3G off if you want to save power. It's annoying that the battery cover still can't easily be removed, however.
The iPhone 3G is still hampered by a few minor problems that may or may not annoy you, such as the inability to send MMS, but overall we found it a joy to use. You don't immediately think, "Isn't it a shame it doesn't do that?" because what it does do well is so far in advance of other phones you almost forget its downsides.
If you're not tempted by the iPhone 3G, you could opt for the similarly specced Nokia N82, which also comes with HSDPA and GPS. If you're after a more affordable touchscreen phone, the Samsung Tocco has a responsive screen, but isn't as feature-rich as either the iPhone 3G or Nokia N82.
Edited by Nick Hide