Physical Characteristics

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


The iPhone 3G has slightly larger overall footprint than the Windows Mobile-based Treo 800w that eWEEK Labs recently reviewed, but the 3G is thinner and weighs a bit less than the 800w. The 3G measures 4.5 by 2.4 by 0.48 inches and weighs in at 4.7 ounces, compared with 4.41 by 2.28 by 0.73 inches and 5 ounces for the 800w.

As with the previous-generation iPhone, Apple has set aside the bulk of the unit's area for a relatively large, touch-sensitive 480-by-320-pixel display, at the cost of a physical keyboard or keypad. In my experience, the iPhone's on-screen keyboard is not as effective as a dedicated keyboard device, like the one that graces Palm's Treo devices. This is a matter of personal taste-my colleague, Andrew Garcia, takes the opposite view. However, keyboard quality aside, I find mobile devices more useful for information-viewing than for entry, which is why I hold that the limited real estate on the device is better devoted to the unit's 3.5-inch-diagonal display.

The 3G is reportedly (Apple doesn't publicly disclose this information) powered by a Samsung 620MHz ARM processor and packs 128MB of RAM. I found that the iPhone 3G handled its Apple-provided and third-party application load well and performed responsively. During the course of my testing over two months, I did experience a number of unexpected reboots, but nothing like what I experience with my own Treo 650 handset.

The iPhone 3G ships with either 8GB or 16GB of RAM, but offers no option for storage expansion. Storage cards can be useful for deployment, for moving data around and, in some cases, for helping with authentication. It would be great to see Apple offer an expansion slot in a future iPhone model.

Also relegated to the "I would like to see" category is the oft-requested removable iPhone battery. As in the previous model, the 3G's battery is not user-replaceable. However, Apple has drastically reduced the size of the iPhone's wall outlet adapter, which, along with the product's iPod-standard USB sync cable, makes for a pocketable charging package.

Apple rates the 3G's battery for 5 hours of talk time in 3G mode or 10 hours of talk time in 2G (EDGE) mode, and for up to 300 hours of standby time. In my tests, the iPhone's battery lasted through around 7 hours of talk time. In daily use, I found that the iPhone ran short on power toward the end of the day-heavy iPhone 3G users will find a combination of diligent home, car and office charging essential for staying connected via the device.

eWEEK Labs Executive Editor Jason Brooks can be reached at

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

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel