iPhone 3G and the Car

I managed to get an iPhone 3G yesterday, upgrading from the original iPhone. What’s the best way to get one without waiting online for hours?  Just call your local Apple Store and see if they’ve gotten in fresh stock that day.  Apple has a web page that will tell you which stores have stock for the next day (you have to access the page after 9pm) but it only gives a snapshot of the inventory that night.  So, calling the store during the day is the most direct way to go.  When I called the Apple Store in Bridgewater, NJ they had just received their delivery, all of the models, and they had no one waiting in line.  I got there an hour or so later and a short line had formed (about seven people) but my wait was only 25 minutes.

How is the phone?

The phone is great.  No, it’s not a huge difference from the first model but there are some new features plus subtle differences that are worth it in my book.

3G

3G is nice and significantly faster.  DSL Reports has a test page setup for the iPhone.  Over 3G I get 758 kbps and over the Edge network I get 100 kbps. The difference is obvious when surfing using the iPhone’s web browser.  The 3G network is now fast enough to hear streaming music.  I’m a big fan of the Internet station Radio Paradise.  They have updated their web site so that you can access the music stream when you visit the site from your iPhone.  Very cool.

GPS

GPS is in the new iPhone and for the moment it is a bit of a novelty.  You can see yourself moving along a Google Map.  I look forward to some full fledged GPS navigation programs coming out and to using the GPS function within other third-party apps (like MyWeather Mobile and GoSkyWatch).

Shape

The new iPhone has a curved back and more tapered edges.  Again, not a huge change but it’s well designed and feels comfortable.

Screen

The screen on the iPhone 3G is noticeably better.  It’s slightly warmer and slightly sharper.  Photos are reproduced more accurately and the color gamut is improved.  The old screen showed some posterization and the new screen has none visible.  I’ve read that it’s actually the same screen as the original iPhone. If that’s the case then Apple created a much better display profile for the new phone.

In the Car

This is the first issue I’ve found with iPhone 3G and apparently it’s very common. I have a third-party interface from USA SPEC that allows me to play the phone through my car’s stereo system.  It makes the car think the phone or an iPod is a CD Changer.  It’s always worked well, the music sounds great and it charges the phone or iPod at the same time.

With the iPhone 3G the music still plays but the phone no longer charges.  The culprit is the iPhone/iPod connector used by many of these manufacturers.  The connector has 30 pins inside, each pin has a job to do.  Some pins are reserved for power over firewire, some for power over USB.  The iPhone 3G can only get power over USB where the first generation iPhone could get power over either. So, if the connector is only providing power via the firewire pins then the new phone will not charge.  The good news is that USA SPEC has told me they are working on a new cable (should be about 6 weeks) and one of the editors at MacWorld posted on a forum that he expects to see adapters as well which will shift the power from the firewire pins to the USB pins.  There is no word on when those adapters will come or from whom.