REVIEW: iPhone 3GS Is a (Small) Hardware Step Up - Page 2

Apple claims the iPhone 3GS offers greater battery life than its predecessors, particularly when using the device's data features over a Wi-Fi network (up to 9 hours). Like its predecessor, the 3GS is rated for 5 hours of talk time with a 3G connection (12 hours for 2G) and up to 300 hours standby time.

I started a few talk time tests in our San Francisco offices and found that after a 4-hour call the battery still reported more than 50 percent charge available. However, I noted the connection occasionally moved between 2G and 3G coverage, so I could not obtain a definitive battery number for a strictly 3G call.

For all practical purposes, I did not notice any significant differences in battery performance on the new device. I still found myself charging the phone after a day and a half of usage along my normal patterns. (I typically disable e-mail push and notifications unless specifically needed for an application, such as instant messaging.) However, I did greatly appreciate that the 3GS can be set to display the battery's remaining charge capacity (by percentage), which provides a clearer understanding of just how much juice is actually left than the graphic depiction shown on previous iPhone models.

The other big difference between the iPhone 3GS and its predecessors is the camera. As a still camera, the iPhone 3GS provides a slightly better resolution than the iPhone 3G or the original iPhone-3 megapixels instead of 2-as well as a new tap-to-focus feature using the touch-screen. With the 3GS, users can also easily switch to video capture mode, which captures video at 30 frames per second. After capturing video, users can then do some basic editing on-device, cropping off the beginning or end of the segment.

The iPhone 3GS also includes a built-in compass, which can be viewed via an included application. Of slightly more interest, however, is the integration with Google Maps, which uses the compass to orient the map to the direction the user is traveling.

Senior Analyst Andrew Garcia can be reached at [email protected]