Apple iPhone 3G Rises to the Top

The Apple iPhone 3G boasts such impressive features as a strong Web browser, a large display and support for Cisco VPN technology, making it a top-tier smart phone. However, the iPhone comes up short in some areas like management tools and its reliance on iTunes for updates.

Maybe you can't judge a book by its cover, but the label that Apple has chosen for the second version of its popular smart phone sums up the unit awfully well. The iPhone 3G is more or less the same device as the one Apple launched in June 2007, with the addition of a faster, so-called third-generation cellular radio.

However, the iPhone is better positioned to take advantage of a cellular speed-up than most other smart phones, as Apple's device boasts an excellent Web browser, an uncommonly large display and an effective mechanism for zooming in and out of Web pages and other content.

Toss in the new features included with the iPhone's 2.0 firmware-such as support for Exchange ActiveSync and for Cisco Systems' VPN appliances, and for natively running third-party applications (see our story, iPhone 2.0 Raises Device's Enterprise Profile)-and the iPhone 3G easily qualifies as the most impressive smart phone I've ever tested.

Still, the iPhone 3G falls short of earning eWEEK Labs' Analyst's Choice designation, due to a set of enterprise management shortfalls, including the iPhone's reliance on Apple's music store front end, iTunes, for device updates, and the relatively immature state of Apple's device management tools.

Management warts aside, Apple's iPhone 3G is well worth considering as a business tool, as it provides a compelling mobile portal both to Web-based applications and to the emerging crop of iPhone native applications.

The iPhone 3G comes in a $199 model with 8GB of storage capacity and a $299 model with 16GB of storage. Both models require a two-year service contract with AT&T, which includes a voice plan along with a $30-per-month unlimited data plan or a $45-per-month enterprise data plan. AT&T broadly defines enterprise access as "access [to] corporate e-mail, company intranet sites and/or other business solutions/applications."