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iPod Touch 1st Gen to iPhone 3GS

iphone3gs_2upFor the past (almost) two years I have used my iPod Touch every day as a web browser. email client, PDA, eBook reader and even a music and video player. It’s been reliable, flexible and even better once jailbroken. As a computer user who’s experiences started with a one kilobyte ZX81 29 years ago I have never ceased to be amazed at what such a small package could do. Even after all this time I still turn it sideways and wonder how so much power can fit in such a thin case. Just like most of the iPod’s that came before it, the Touch will be remembered as a design classic.

The one thing I have missed all this time was a permanent net connection. The iPhone is an expensive proposition in the UK but I finally succumbed on Tuesday and visited the Apple store at Lakeside Thurrock intent on a 32Gb 3GS. I had initially been contemplating a pay as you go contract for an eye watering £540. This initially sounded a good deal, you put £10 a month credit on the phone and get 500 free minutes. Unfortunately these free minutes are only to other O2 phones and landlines, so it’s not quite as good as it initially sounded.

My first attempt to enquire about availablity at the Apple store was abandoned quickly once the sales assistant turned out to be smug and irritating. I asked how long it took to buy and activate an iPhone and was told around half an hour, as they have to take me through how to use it. I replied I have owned an iPod touch for a while and have read extensively about the iPhone but was told I wouldn’t be able figure out everything it can do so they would still have to show me. Really? Do you build hackintosh’s and jailbreak iPods? Even Mrs Basshead later commented that she would have walked off at that point.

I had cinema tickets booked for 40 minutes later so said I would be back after the film. On returning I spoke to a different assistant named Ben, and the improvement in attitude was immense. Ben explained that as my existing O2 contract had expired I could move the SIM straight to the iPhone without having to transfer the number and just upgrade my contract. The process was completed without incident, and Ben asked if I would like anything about the iPhone explained. When I replied again that I was familiar with the device he just asked me to return to the store if I should need any help in future. This is what the Apple store should be like, cater for all levels of buyers without assuming you automatically know more than they do.

So on to the iPhone. The 3GS has been thoroughly reviewed elsewhere so here are a few thought. It’s fast, everything feels much snappier and smoother than my iPod Touch. moving between launcher screens has a better fps giving smoother motion. Apps launch noticeably quicker. The screen is a little warmer in colour than the iPod, but it’s only noticeable in direct comparison. The iPhone 3Gs has a higher sound output level through the headphone jack than the 1st gen iPod Touch. I use a cable to connect the headphone output to my Blaupunkt car system, and run iVolume on all my audio files to balance their levels. This results in very even song and podcast volumes in the car. The iPod Touch is quieter than my previous 30Gb iPod 5th gen, and the iPhone 3Gs is at least as loud as the iPod 5th Gen and much louder than the iPod Touch. To use numbers here, the Blaupunkt shows volume as a number between 0 (quietest) and 50. It defaults to 20 when turned on, and with the iPod 5th gen I rarely changed this. The iPod touch had to be turned up to 25 for the same level, but the iPhone 3Gs I turn down to 18 for the same perceived volume.

The one thing I missed most in the move to an iPhone was the loss of the SB settings addon from the jailbroken iPod. Some of the iPhone’s setting I use frequently are buried three levels deep, so things like 3G, bluetooth and WiFi are a pain to switch on or off. This is one area Apple really has to improve. Apart from that though it’s a pretty smooth transition. Safari is much faster to load pages, even using 3G on the iPhone compared to WiFi on the iPod. NetNewsWire is even usable with 3G and WiFi off, so I can stay connected even in poor coverage areas. The digital compass is far better than it sounds, even showing the direction in the Maps app.

On connecting the iPhone to my hackintosh for the first time I was asked to set it up as a new device or restore from the previos iPod backup. I chose to restore so all my apps and setting moved across without issue, and the first sync replaced all the media. This is how upgrading should work, no error messages or data loss.

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