Justice League of Journalists take on the iPhone 3G


JusticeleagueMere mortals have around 48 hours to wait for their iPhone 3G, but the Justice League of Journalists have been using the device for a few weeks. This morning debuts their mission debriefs and there’s not much here that you didn’t know. They’re all still worth the read, so I’ll pass the links with the basic premise followed by the few scant tidbits that are new to me:

  • Walt Mossberg found the battery to drain much faster (around 30% from the first-gen model) due to the 3G usage and explains the added costs of data and text messaging. He also notes that the speaker sounds louder. One interesting bit: Walt says that if you configure your iPhone for Exchange, it will wipe out your personal contacts and calendar.
  • David Pogue cautions folks about AT&T’s limited 3G coverage areas and also covers the "half the price" marketing lingo of a subsidized phone with higher plan pricing. He too is very impressed by the speaker and call quality. Concerning to me (and possibly solidifying my rationale not to upgrade my iPhone) is this quote on the GPS: "According to Apple, the iPhone’s G.P.S. antenna is much too smallto emulate the turn-by-turn navigation of a G.P.S. unit for a vehicle,for example.Instead, all it can do at this point is track yourposition as you drive along, representing you as a blue dot slidingalong the roads of the map." I still believe that LBS or Location Based Services will find the GPS very handy, however. 
  • Ed Baig quickly found holes in AT&T’s 3G coverage in his North Jersey neighborhood, reiterating the fact that you should check your area for coverage before upgrading. Most of his review is more of a device capability description, but one interesting note: he couldn’t charge the iPhone 3G in his Bose SoundDock or Belkin car kit; I’m assuming he mentions this because he was able to charge the first-gen iPhone with these devices. That’s speculation on my part though.

In the end, I believe that the App Store and the 2.0 firmware are the much bigger story here. Not to say that the iPhone 3G isn’t an improvement or worth the money for some. After all, I love me some 3G on a daily basis too. But the semi-opening of the iPhone platform and the feature upgrades for the older phone are pretty compelling too.



“According to Apple, the iPhone’s G.P.S. antenna is much too small to emulate the turn-by-turn navigation of a G.P.S. unit for a vehicle, for example.Instead, all it can do at this point is track your position as you drive along, representing you as a blue dot sliding along the roads of the map.”

Wait… what? There are a view ways to parse that sentence. The only one that makes sense is that the antenna is so small that it’s not very good at picking up GPS signals at all; hence turn-by-turn is not possible, since the device will end up thinking you’re off of the advised route and end up trying to “re-route” you when you are in fact taking the proper route. If that’s the case, I’d be very wary of trusting that blue dot even just to see where I am!

Otherwise, the size/sensitivity of the antenna should have no effect on whether or not turn-by-turn navigation. So in other words, Apple cheaped out. Consider that the Freedom Bluetooth GPS (which I have) ( http://www.engadget.com/2007/05/31/freedom-inputs-bluetooth-gps-receiver-hangs-on-your-keychain ) is the size of a larger matchbox, yet has been tested as a damn good gps receiver (http://blog.treonauts.com/2007/11/treo-gps—free.html). The new one is supposed to be even better, with an MTK chipset.

In any case, if the GPS is only “good enough” for a pinpoint location, I would have to take that off the list of benefits of upgrading, leaving only 3G and redesigned casing. I’ve been out of a contract with T-Mobile for a while now and was trying to decide if I should wait for the Android phone before pulling the trigger. This settles the matter.


So nice that in US (an some few other countries too) you can afford to say “i will choose not to upgrade” PLEASE remember those of us in the other parts of the world too that this IS the first time around ;)

I too think that apps store and third party apps are going to be BIG and interesting with this platform….

I don’t think many has really understood how remarkable this delivery platform is, I mean every one that has itunes store account or some other account with apple and will have iPhone can instantly start buying apps, no new site to register…. And for developers, no tough choices to make or payments to choose for delivery channel, since there can only be one ;)

I think I should go to sleep early and try to sleep late, so that time would just pass faster… ;)


I’ve now written Mr. Murray, Executive Editor at the WSJ, to see if he can get Walt to make a 911 call on his review iPhone 3G to test if it does E911.

Mike Cane

Mossberg writes:

>>>no MMS for sending photos quickly between phones.

Yeah, but isn’t that, like, for sending a photo to, say, a phone of the Finnish AntiChrist? Or a Samsung or LG or HTC (if they can do that!)?

Otherwise, wouldn’t iPhone-to-iPhone photos go just fine via built-in email?


I went to Apple’s web site this morning and what do you know? There’s no listing of E911 support for the new iPhone 3G!!! I’ve got an email into Pogue and Steve asking if this is true. If it is, I think this would be unforgivable. I can geotag my photos but if I’m dying 911 won’t know where I am?!!?

Believe me, I can personally attest: there is no E911 without GPS in the handset. If I hadn’t been able to communicate where I was by voice I would have been like that poor lady in NY: lying in the ER with no one looking after me.

My meds got adjusted yesterday and I’m perking up this morning. Last Wed was quite an education. The trip, which included an angiogram, will probably cost Aetna $32,000 and they couldn’t even adjust my meds.

Anton P. Nym

Scotty, hope everything’s alright now… that must’ve been a terrible experience.

James/Kevin, have you been following the iPhone coverage here in the Great White North? There’s been a huge controversy over the data plan offered by Rogers, in that users may find themselves spending upwards of $100/month because of the plans’ structures for services that cost much less in the US. The Globe and Mail article discussing it is http://tinyurl.com/5dctpe

It’s puzzling, because Canada’s DSL/cable and WiMax plans are normally comparable to or better-priced than those in the US. Then again, cellular data is appallingly expensive here. With the iPhone’s appetite for data and this bad press, you may not see as many Canadian subscribers as expected.

— Steve

Matthew Miller (aka palmsolo)


It was good to see these reviews and I have to say they seemed to be quite objective and not all Apple fan-boy gushy or anything. I was thinking Apple had some kind of magic up their sleeves for 3G and battery life, but Walt cleared that up.

I made the decision and I will NOT be buying the iPhone 3G on Friday because like you, I think upgrading my current iPhone to the latest firmware is the real story and I have other devices that are better for 3G and GPS.

Upgrading my current iPhone will give me a chance to see if the iPhone will work as a primary device since right now it is only a media player and basic phone for me since I can’t sync it wirelessly to my hosted Exchange service.

Kevin C. Tofel

Wow, that’s not good and I hope everything worked out OK! I thought that AT&T used time difference of arrival or TDOA for E911, meaning you don’t need a phone with GPS for E911. I’ll dig around, but I thought that many non-GPS phones are E911 by law. Hmm….


Kevin, what Pogue, and others, are forgetting is that with out the GPS you don’t get E911. The 911 operator doesn’t know where you are when you call with an iPhone.

Last week I had the displeasure of needing medical attention while in what is purported to be Seattle’s best Hospital. I was lying there on a bench in the ER clutching my chest and breathing hard whilst there was no one there to help me. I had to use my first generation iPhone to call 911 from the ER to get help.

I can personally attest that trying to clearly communicate your address and then try to convince them that really is your address is not what you want to be doing when you are in desperate need of medical attention.

This Friday I’ll be getting an iPhone 3G and the 3G will be the least of the features I’m looking for. For me its all about the E911.

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