iPhone 3G: 6 Days and Counting Down to Faster 3G Speed!

iPhone 3G Rumor Roundup

This is it. We're in the home stretch. Bottom of the 9th, basebands loaded with 3G, and Steve Jobs is at bat. In 7 days we find out if Apple scores a home run, the two-peat for smartphone (even gadget) of the year, or if they strike out with their mostly evolutionary, not so much revolutionary, next generation handset.

What's the difference? The big one -- at least this time around -- is in the name. 3G, which stands for 3rd generation, but not for the device itself -- for the 3rd generation cellular technology that powers it.

Read on after the break to find out just why 3G will make a big difference to you!

The original iPhone is limited to 2.5G/2.75G mobile data technology, better known as EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution), which is analogous to a dial-up internet: SLOW. Even with their "fine edge" boost in anticipation of the original iPhone, AT&T's speeds topped out at a crawl. Another drawback is that EDGE did not allow for simultaneous voice and data connections. You couldn't talk on the phone and surf the web over EDGE at the same time. And while theoretically your iPhone should have elegantly quit surfing, for example, to take a call, all too often it would simply dump incoming calls to voice mail rather than switch.

The iPhone 3G, thanks to its In uses the 3G HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) technology, both HSPDA (Downlink) and HSPUA (Uplink), which is much closer to low-end broadband DSL speeds. While not yet as common or widespread as EDGE, AT&T (and other carriers around the world, especially in more advanced and populated areas like Europe) are rapidly building out their networks, and these speeds are, well... like a power walk. (We'll have to wait for 4G LTE in several years before we can get our run on). And the bonus? HSPA can handle simultaneous voice and data. So with the iPhone 3G, you can chat with your friend, hit up a webpage for an image, save it to your camera roll, and then mail it to the same friend before you even finish talking. That's next generation!

The drawback to 3G? It consumes more battery life. Using 3G, your iPhone is rated at only 5 hours talk time. Switch it off and degrade back to 2G and you get double -- 10 hours.

Not everyone will have a choice, of course. Many areas in North America don't have 3G coverage yet, but if yours does, and you value multi-tasking communications, the iPhone and its 3G power will definitely appeal to you.

I know I want it. What about you?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iPhone 3G: 6 Days and Counting Down to Faster 3G Speed!


Rene, awesome details about 3g... however.. one big problem (that will freak a few people out) only 6 more days! until the iPhone launches.
Other than that, keep up the great work on the articles! Always informative and appreciated.

Or not, if you happen to live in Utica, New York or any of the hundreds of other metropolitan areas not covered by 3G. I'm not even tempted to trade in my iPhone for a the new model.

Anyone know where I can find a map of 3G towers? I am often in an area that has bad reception and would upgrade if there were a new 3g tower near by.