August 13, 2008 11:21 AM   Subscribe

Should i buy a 3G, buy a 2G (Gen1), other device or wait?

After waiting a year for the new iPhone 3G to come out, i'm somewhat disappointed with the technical aspects. Not only that, the phone seems to have a lot of issues. Many claim running the 3G in EDGE seems to cure a lot of connectivity issues - so should i buy a 2G (gen1) instead?This leads to me want to get a gen1.

But since the 3G is newer, im partial towards it instead of the Gen1.
With all the plastic cracking/bubbling issues - will these get resolved anytime soon?

Are there any other devices as nice as the iphone coming out soon?
posted by AMP583 to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If this problem is fixable its most likely fixed via a firmware upgrade, so I'd just buy the 3G and wait for apple to resolve the issue. Being stuck with the original EDGE phone seems a little silly if this is just a radio firmware issue.

The big con with the 3G is that the lowest monthly rate is 69.99. That seems overly expensive for slightly higher bandwidth than EDGE. I get EVDO and 600 minutes or so from Sprint for 50.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:34 AM on August 13, 2008

I have been waiting to get an iphone but am still not ready. For me the issues are that need to be resolved are that ATT doesn't (yet?) have 3G coverage where I live so I can't take advantage of the higher bandwidth and 16 GB is nowhere near enough memory for all the media I would want to load on it to use as an iPod, watch video, pictures, run software, etc. If and when those are fixed I will be ready to take the plunge.
posted by TedW at 11:51 AM on August 13, 2008

There still appears to be reports of connectivity issues with the 3G model stems from the chipset used. However, Apple hasn't said anything about chipset problems. Sounds like some speculation, but they had similar reports over in Europe when they launched their 3G network. I would personally wait a few more months, then pick up the 3G model. By then most of the major hardware bugs will be sorted out and there will most likely be another firmware upgrade/fix for the connectivity problems.
posted by rand at 12:07 PM on August 13, 2008

Wait. At least a little while...

I have the 3G iphone (I waited and didn't buy the 2G)...

There are definitely issues with 3G coverage, at least here in Chicago, sucking for the iPhone specifically... and supposedly not other AT&T phones...

Not sure if it's going to be fixable in the firmware, or if as rand noted, it's a chipset issue...

Wait and see. If it's fixed via firmware, get one. I absolutely LOVE the device... but if it can't make/receive phone calls when I need to, then I'm not happy regardless...

I can say that shutting off 3G when I'm not using it, while stupid to have to do, has helped significantly. Still, if I could do it over again I'd have waited a couple of months to see how things pan out.
posted by twiggy at 12:14 PM on August 13, 2008

I have great 3G coverage in Detroit which is weird because our coverage for most services (save Verizon) is spotty.

In other news, there were some issues with the 2.0 software running slowly, but that seems to be mostly fixed with 2.0.1. As for the cracking, I haven't experienced any of that on mine and neither has my wife on hers, and I have a leather case and she has no case. I suppose I should note that I have even dropped mine once already.

Now, I'm not saying to run out and buy one, but if you are always making the decision to wait for the next generation of a gadget you're missing out on a lot and you might as well be waiting forever because the next best thing is always around the corner.

Oh, and 16GB should be enough for anyone. ;)
posted by fusinski at 12:29 PM on August 13, 2008

I'm not sure how soon it will come out or how nice it will be, but there are rumors that T-Mobile will be releasing the first android phone by the end of the year.


Although this may not apply to you, since you seem to be in the AT&T market. Plus AT&T and T-Mobile's 3G networks run on different frequencies, so you can unlock a phone and use it on the other network, you wont be able to get 3G.
posted by aGee at 12:39 PM on August 13, 2008

Although this may not apply to you, since you seem to be in the AT&T market.

Not entirely, im up for anything thats reliable that also carriers a nice selection of phones. Tmobile and android is a consideration but like another OP wrote: if you are always making the decision to wait for the next generation of a gadget you're missing out on a lot and you might as well be waiting forever because the next best thing is always around the corner.

And who knows if the OS/phones will even be that great.

I guess the consensus is to wait and by then we'll see how Android stacks up to a hopefully fixed 3G.
posted by AMP583 at 1:12 PM on August 13, 2008

I'm pretty happy with my 3G in Chicago, purchased 2 weeks ago. The 3G coverage ain't great, but I had a Samsung Blackjack w/ ATT 3G previously and it's about the same. The difference seems to be that the iPhone is slower to switch to EDGE and tries to cling to a tiny 3G signal.

I have the Pandora app, which streams music to your phone, and it works without skipping the entire time I'm on the bus from downtown all the way north to my place, which to me is a good indication of connectivity. I should note that I don't use the phone for calls all that often - no more than one or two calls a day. I'm more of a text/internet girl.

I had an issue the day I got it, where it had little to no connectivity and was giving me SIM card errors. I took it to an ATT store, and they replaced the SIM card and did a phone reset, and everything's been working fine since then.

My fiancé has a 1gen and I think the form factor on the new one is a bit nicer.
posted by misskaz at 1:21 PM on August 13, 2008

Ars Technica discussed some of the teething pains with the 3G yesterday. Battery life with 3G seems to be especially troublesome. Makes me very happy to own a first gen 4GB iPhone which does everything marvelously.
posted by porn in the woods at 1:26 PM on August 13, 2008

I turned off wifi, and since then my battery life is great. Not even down a notch after a whole day of standby plus surfing, texting, etc on my commute (40 min each way). Of course again, I was used to the Blackjack which had such abysmal battery life that it came with two batteries so you could always have one plugged in.
posted by misskaz at 1:58 PM on August 13, 2008

I own an iPhone 3G and it's hands-down the best mobile phone I've ever purchased.

The 3G connectivity issues seems to hinge on your coverage. I live in southeastern CT, and sitting in my office, I have full 3G.

The cracking issues seems to really only show up on the 16GB White models. The pictures (found with a quick search on the Google) indicate that they're dark-ish grey cracks, but nothing that you can really feel. So if you're going with the black (I have the 16GB black myself), it's nothing you should worry about.

Software reliability issues have (mostly) cleared up with 2.0.1. With 2.0.0, I experienced hardcore lag when composing SMSs and pulling up Contacts (with Contacts, the interface came up, but I had to wait a few seconds before scrolling through the list or selecting anything). Since the update, Contact lag is completely gone, however SMS lag is intermittent. I have experienced stability problems with applications--mostly third-party apps, and in some cases Safari--most of which has been resolved w/ 2.0.1 and application updates.

Speaking of applications, my god there's a lot. Sure, the SNR may seem a bit low at times, with shit like I Am Rich and the seemingly-hundreds of tip calculators and flashlight apps, but I go through the app store on a weekly basis and tons of stuff is added all the time.

Some faves:
  • Aurora Feint: The Beginning (iTunes Link) - A Puzzle Quest-esque RPG, and it's free, and apparently the precursor to an MMO. An iPhone MMO.
  • Ambiance (iTunes Link) - $0.99USD. Noise generator for sleep assistance.
  • Pennies (iTunes Link) - $2.99USD. Simple-as-hell budgeting app. Not that extensive, but within moments you'll know how to use it.
And upon preview, I've noticed that battery life has been brought up. It's a nonissue for me (especially since my last phone was the goddamned Motorola Q). I haven't used mine much today, and there's no battery life lost with wifi/3G enabled. There are days where I use it constantly and come home after an 8 hour day with a third left. That said, it's really how intensely you'd be using it. I'm not disappointed because it's such a capable device.

Get it, you know you want to, etc. etc.
posted by booticon at 2:10 PM on August 13, 2008

If I can sneak in a related question: anyone regret upgrading to the 2.0 software? I'm still using 1.1.4 and I can't tell if the slowness of the initial 2.0 upgrade has been fixed.
posted by letitrain at 2:23 PM on August 13, 2008

Also, it's worth mentioning the interface is pretty slick. With the attention to detail you can really tell someone sat down and used this device. One word that immediately comes to mind is fluidity. Certain UI things that are hard to describe unless you sit down and play with one (you have done that, right?). Example: Go to a webpage, or let's say the Settings app. Scroll all the way up, or all the way down. Notice how you can scroll beyond the top or bottom, and it sort of bounces back, telling you you've hit the end/beginning of the page without the abrupt stop. Told ya it was hard to describe.
posted by booticon at 2:27 PM on August 13, 2008

I don't know how much of this is legit and how much is raindancing, but I read a thread on Apple's support board that suggested a lot of 3G problems are due to the SIM cards used in the iPhone. People commenting there said AT&T was replacing SIM cards with a newer version that cleared up their problems. If you follow that link, you'll see a few posts claiming to have isolated the problematic model or serial numbers.

Reading that thread, I got the sense that AT&T's store personnel are replacing SIM cards as a routine first-line troubleshoot kind of thing. I also got the sense that 3G coverage is worse than the heat maps they provide on their site suggest, making it hard to sort out who got their problem fixed with a new SIM card, who never really had a problem to begin with, and who has the misfortune of living in an area where 3G coverage is just plain poor, making whatever a new SIM card might fix irrelevant.

One other problem with 3G on the iPhone: In some cases it screws up the GPS pretty badly. Since GPS was what attracted me to the device in the first place, I've opted to just keep the phone set to use EDGE, since I'm usually operating inside a Wi-Fi network anyhow.

The blog entry rand pointed to suggests the 3G chipset used in the iPhone is immature, and that the issues it's having are out of the reach of firmware updates. Don't know how the analyst quoted would know that until something widely reported to be broken stays broken for another update or two, which is how long I'd wait if I were bothered by the connectivity issues people are reporting.

I understand there will be another update that'll introduce push services for third party apps next month. Checking around a week or so after that's had a chance to propagate might give you a better idea of whether the problems people are reporting are baked into the hardware or are something firmware updates will cure.
posted by mph at 2:37 PM on August 13, 2008

reasons why i'm not rushing to upgrade from my 2g:

i don't think i'd qualify for the (incredibly misleadingly advertised) $199 discount price as i already received a begrudging refund for buying an iphone shortly before the initial 4GB
discontinuation/8GB price drop.

i feel like i'm already paying a shit-ton for service and another ten bucks a month is irritating.

i prefer the metal back to the plastic ones (aesthetic).

despite the all-plastic back, reception seems to be worse than ever (it is NOT GOOD even on the 2g).

sketchy availability of 3G, great if you have it in yr hood, but kind of annoying to pay extra if it's spotty.

battery life, already abysmal, being even worse. i know that a solid day of using the ipod functions, doing some mapping, web browsing, and regular phone / text use, WIPES the battery.

don't really care about the 'real' GPS, as the pseudo-GPS actually works well and is generally pretty handy.

i use the ipod functionality only sparingly, and the small capacity of the older models still suffices when you're loading a few albums at a time on (and rotating them out).
posted by tremspeed at 2:03 AM on August 14, 2008

i feel like that reads like i hate the iphone. not the case, in fact i'm so into it that i've just learned all about the tiny things that aren't so hot about it.
posted by tremspeed at 2:05 AM on August 14, 2008

I love my iPhone 3G. It is my first mobile phone and I find using it to be as enjoyable and rewarding as my MacBook Pro or Tivoli Model Two. It is well-designed and its flaws, as tremspeed mentioned, are outweighed by the experience.
posted by vkxmai at 7:43 AM on August 14, 2008

tremspeed said: "don't really care about the 'real' GPS, as the pseudo-GPS actually works well and is generally pretty handy. "

Yeah, when I first discovered that there wouldn't be turn-by-turn software on the 3G, I was frustrated, but it certainly wasn't a dealbreaker. Then I thought about it some more, then came to the realization that I wouldn't want to use the iPhone as my GPS; let's say I'm driving somewhere unknown, using the GPS and listening to music. What happens when I get a phone call? I know I know, shouldn't talk and drive, blah blah. But it's a phone--I should be able to use it. Getting a dedicated GPS is really the way to go.

I actually used it to navigate with my girlfriend at the wheel last weekend, and going 45MPH, it was surprisingly responsive. I couldn't imagine tooling through Maps while driving, but if you don't have to worry about that, you can figure out where you're going and where to turn.
posted by booticon at 8:20 AM on August 14, 2008

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