Anand Reviews the Apple iPhone 3Gby Anand Lal Shimpi on July 16, 2008 8:00 PM EST
Please Get This Thing a Faster Processor
The iPhone spoils. In one fell swoop Apple made all other smartphone, touchscreen and many computer interfaces completely obsolete. There have been many imitators since the original iPhone, but I suspect that we’re a good 6 - 12 months away from a real competitor on the interface front.
As I mentioned in my original iPhone review, Apple made the interface so fast and responsive, that any sluggishness elsewhere is amplified. Originally the slow browsing on Edge was a problem, but now it seems that there are more rough edges.
It now seems possible to type a string of letters too fast for the iPhone. It used to be that every now and then I’d be waiting on the iPhone to catch up to my typing, but generally that had to do with other stuff going on in the background - e.g. attempting to connect to a new cell tower. Now on the iPhone 3G with the 2.0 firmware I find that several times in a sentence the iPhone will pause slightly between entering two characters and burst the second one at a nonuniform rate. For the most part it doesn’t actually slow down my typing, but it does diminish the value of the keyboard’s audible feedback (the only feedback you get).
Remember that the iPhone’s virtual keyboard provides no tactile feedback, but whenever you hit a key it makes a typewriter-esque keystroke sound to let you know that you actually made contact with the key. Typing four characters used to sound like this “tap-tap-tap-tap”, but more regularly than ever I’ll hear this instead “tap--taptttap-tap” with the two middle characters being output faster than the first and last. I find that if my ears can’t rely on proper audible feedback from the keyboard, my typing tends to suffer. I’m hoping this is an issue that’s fixable with a firmware update, it’s not enough to hate the phone but it’s definitely something that hurts the user experience. It is possible that with the App store and the rest of the features added in the 2.0 firmware that the iPhone’s ARM processors aren’t fast enough to keep up all the time.
As I mentioned before, performance with A-GPS leaves something to be desired. The UI will stall as the A-GPS processor attempts to locate you, which isn’t normally an issue but absolutely hurts the experience on a phone that is built around a lightning quick UI.
With three full screens of icons, switching between them is fast but the animations could be smoother at times. Much of what Apple did to make the iPhone feel quick is to make sure that everything animated smoothly, as some of that begins to suffer, so does one of the iPhone’s biggest strengths. I’ll accept that Apple focused on getting the App store launched this time around, but the next major iPhone update had better address performance and the UI, otherwise it runs the risk of turning into Windows Mobile from Cupertino.
Pretty much anything else happening in the background, or attempting to multitask a lot results in a performance hit on the iPhone. It’s no worse than on any other smartphone, and it’s quite possibly a lot better than the competition, but the problem is that the iPhone’s UI is so fast that when things do get slow, it’s frustrating.
It’s like building an ultra fast Core 2 Extreme QX9770 machine, even with four of the fastest cores on the market, you still feel the pain once your OS starts accessing the disk.