The 3G was the first iPhone introduced into Canada by Apple in July 2008, at that time it was only available on Rogers and Fido. The first version of the iPhone, which was released in 2007, was only sold in the US. The original iPhone was fairly slow as it used the first generation Edge data network. The biggest update to the iPhone 3G was the addition of support for the 3G data network, this resulted in faster downloads speeds and allowed for turn-by-turn navigation. The back facing camera was the same as the one that was on the original iPhone; it had a 2.0 megapixel sensor with no optical zoom, flash or autofocus, as well it did not support video recording.
When the iPhone was introduced it came with an updated operating system, iOS 2.0, which for the first time included support for the App Store. Previous to this the only way that 3rd party applications could be installed on the phone was by jail breaking it. When the App store first opened back in 2008 it only had 500 apps available to download, this number has grown significantly since then, there are presently more than 500,000 apps in the store.
Some of the apps that the author uses on a regular basis are:
- iPod: music and downloaded and streamed podcasts
- Mail: gmail and exchange
- Maps: locations of businesses, directions
- YouTube: music and videos
- Weather Eye: weather forecasts
- Engadget: latest tech news and access to podcasts
- TWit: access to live feed from the TWit network andpodcasts
- Wunder Radio: access to over 50,000 internet radio stations around the world
- Orb Live: access documents, photographs, music and video stored on your computer anywhere you have access to the internet; this also features support for live television viewing
- CBC Radio: access to CBC Radio One, Radio 2, Radio 3 and other on demand streaming radio services
- On line Banking App: paying bills, transferring money
- Flixster / Cineplex: checking locations and times of movies
- Speed Test: checking the speed of WiFi and 3G network connections
The original version of the operating system that was loaded on the 3G was 2.0 which added support for the App store, Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync and push email. The next major update to the OS, version 3.0, came in June 2009 with the introduction of the iPhone 3GS. This new OS introduced MMS support, the much anticipated copy and paste feature and Bluetooth stereo support. Version 4.0 was released in June 2010 and was the first time that there was a differentiation in features supported on the newer phones, the iPhone 3GS and 4, compared to the older 3G model. The 3G received support for a unified mailbox, folders, playlist creation but did not receive multitasking or home screen wallpaper support. When version 4.0 was released many 3G owners complained about the reduction in performance and in battery life compared to the previous version. Further updates released by Apple attempted to alleviate these issues. iOS version 4.2 was the last update that supported the iPhone 3G.
As with most Apple devices the battery in the iPhone can’t be replaced by the user. There are actually a couple of options available, it can be sent to Apple to have it replaced by them or a you can find a 3rd party local repair shop that can replace it. After checking local directories, a cell phone repair shop specializing in Apple products was found here in Ottawa. The cost of a battery replacement for the 3G was $39 and takes only 30 minutes to complete. If you send your phone to Apple the cost is $89 plus $10.77 for shipping. In addition, the Apple support site says that all data will be lost during the battery replacement and therefore the phone should be backed up on iCloud or on iTunes. During the replacement of the battery locally, a backup was not necessary as no data is lost in the process. It is suspected, although it can’t be confirmed, that Apple doesn’t actually replace the battery in your phone but simply sends another phone as a replacement. In any event, after replacement, the battery life of the iPhone 3G returned to what it had been originally.
Given the cost of battery replacement, another option to consider would be just to purchase a new phone. With present promotions from Canadian carriers it may actually be cheaper to get an older model of iPhone (e.g. 3GS or 4) than to replace the battery. Depending on where you are in your contract’s life this may not be an option though.
Being an early model of the iPhone, Apple has had to deal with its fair share of complaints and technical issues concerning the 3G throughout the years. Some of the issues that were described by their owners were:
- poor battery performance, especially with iOS updates
- hairline cracks in its case
- slow and buggy especially with newer versions of apps
The author still has a iPhone 3G and even though its lacks a number of features that the newer models have, notably support for multitasking, video recording and AirPlay capabilities it continues to perform most tasks fairly well. The only issues that I have had to deal with are replacement of the battery, slow performance and a hairline crack along the bottom of the case near the 30 pin port.