iPhone 3G in Action

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2008-09-03 Print this article Print

It's up to the 3G's namesake 3G and 802.11b/g radios to keep the device tethered to the cloud, and the radio duo performs this task fairly well, even if AT&T's spotty 3G network coverage means frequent fallbacks to the slower EDGE (Enhanced Data for Global Evolution) technology.

During my tests of the iPhone 3G from various locations in and around eWEEK's San Francisco offices, I clocked transfer rates of between 90K and 164K bps in EDGE mode, and between 300K and 747K bps in 3G mode. I also recorded a significant improvement in latency between the EDGE and 3G modes, with an average ping response of 476 milliseconds on the 3G link, compared with 779 ms on EDGE. I conducted my tests with DSL Reports' iPhone-optimized Web test tool.

There have been reports of voice call drops and related unreliability with the iPhone 3G, but in my tests of the 3G, I've found its voice performance was unremarkable. As I moved through the city, I would sometimes encounter holes in coverage, and could see the iPhone move between its 3G and EDGE modes, but the experience was similar to that with other cellular handsets I've tested.

In addition to the new radio, the iPhone 3G sports a GPS receiver, which supplements the cell station and wireless access point-based location awareness facilities present in the earlier iPhone. I tested GPS along with the copy of Google Maps that ships with the iPhone while driving and noted that my position on the map changed as I moved along the interstate. The driving directions I'd generated, however, did not update-Apple's iPhone SDK (software development kit) bans developers from designing or marketing real-time route guidance applications.

I look forward to seeing what application developers make of the GPS receiver, but wonder whether Apple's restrictions and the absence of GPS in the earlier iPhone version will slow the availability of GPS-oriented applications for the 3G.

As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at jbrooks@eweek.com.

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