iPhone4 vs iPhone3GS – making the case for an upgrade

I loved my iPhone 3GS – except on those occasions when I left town and dropped off Vodafones 3G network. Worse than that in some out of the way locations like Waikanae Beach I couldn’t even reliably make or take calls on the 2G network.

The problem is that the iPhone 3G’s are 3G tri-band phones that operate on 850, 1900 and 2100 MHz. The Vodfone 3G network operates on 2100 (metro areas) and 900 (everywhere else).  The much maligned Telecom XT network runs 850 and 2100 making it a very good option for an iPhone 3G/GS.

The iPhone 4 is a quad band phone and runs on 900 Mhz (plus 850, 1900 and 2100) so it will have 3G everywhere there is a Vodafone network.

A quick bit of number crunching showed me that it was marginally cheaper for me to sell my iPhone 3GS and buy an iPhone 4 outright rather than break my Vodafone contract and switch to Telecom.  I was too early in the Vodafone plan to upgrade and I didn’t want to lock myself in for two years again as mobile rates are going to drop lots in the next year or two making some plans look very expensive.

After making the change and owning the iPhone4 for what seems like a lifetime but is actually 3 weeks I can say this:

  1. 3G coverage much improved – no issues there now.
  2. Battery life is much improved.  Running my Bria VOIP app on the 3GS by 5pm I’d be down to 30%, on the 4 it’s 5pm and 70%.
  3. The photos are definitely better and the flash very handy.
  4. Yes there is a grip of death problem – bridge the two aerials with your hand as I naturally do and the bars drop from 4 or 5 to 1. Calls didn’t drop out but data rates died. This was fixed by an Incase Snap under the iPhone case programme. The smoke coloured case hardly looks like it is there. Incidentally the iPhone 3G also drops bars when you grip it tightly – just not quite to the extent that the iPhone 4 does.
  5. Apps start a bit faster.
  6. The design is a triumph of form over function but you get to like it – functionally the iPhone 3 has it all over the iPhone 4 – with the iPhone 3 you can tell which way it is facing when it’s in your pocket and you don’t need a case.

Bring on the iPhone 5….