Apple iPhone 3G

Cool Yule Rating: 5 stars

Price: $199 (for 8GB); $299 (for 16GB)

Product Web site

Description: I've already written a lot about the iPhone 3G this year -- my original review is here, and even last week I wrote about it in the Guide to Mobility in terms of the device's ability to be deemed enterprise worthy. So it's no surprise that I'm recommending the device as a great holiday gift.

Since being launched in July, several software updates from Apple have improved the 3G coverage that plagued early users (and battery life seems to be slightly improved). The biggest change since July, and what makes me recommend the device even more, is the abundance of applications for the iPhone. Every week I can find something new on the App Store to try out (the raft of free applications amazes me regularly), turning the device into something I didn't expect, but am happy to discover

Through the App Store, I have turned my iPhone 3G into a streaming radio (via Pandora and the AOL Radio applications), a tip calculator (the CheckPlease app is a favorite), a handheld encyclopedia (The Wikipanion and Geopedia app), sports news service (Sportacular), pedometer (StepTrakLite), digital voice recorder (the awesome iTalk from Griffin Technology) and child distractor (Bubbles, BubbleWrap and Lightsaber). Speaking of kids, I was able to use the iTalk app to record my daughter singing her ABCs -- I know I could have done so with other handheld devices and smart phones, but the process of recording on those devices would have taken more time, and my daughter would have lost interest in singing if I had said, "wait, wait, wait, OK, go". With iTalk on the iPhone, I launched the app, pressed the big red button and immediately started recording her.

There are still many things I would like on the iPhone, including Adobe Flash support on the Safari browser, and faster network access from AT&T. But because of the App Store and its abundance of apps available, I'm willing to accept those limitations because of the unlimited nature of what I could turn my iPhone into this week or next week.

If you don't want to deal with the monthly service of the phone part, consider the iPod Touch, which is basically the same device as the iPhone, but without 3G access. Be warned, though, that even though you might not make a lot of phone calls with the iPhone, the 3G network is valuable for data access for times when a Wi-Fi network isn't available.

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Keith Shaw

Keith Shaw

Network World
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