Disclosure: I have not bought an iPhone 3G S — I’m still unsure if I will. Apple gave me a review unit to play with for 60 days.
So, I’ve now had a full day with the latest iPhone, the 3G S. So far, so good. This isn’t meant to be a full review — that will come later. But I wanted to give an initial reaction based on the last 24 hours, because as someone who has more than extensively used both the original iPhone and the iPhone 3G, a lot of users may be interested to know what immediately strikes me as different in this version.
The obvious answer would be its speed. There’s no denying it, it is fast. But that speed is severely hampered by AT&T’s often bad service and the fact that while this phone is capable of transferring data about roughly twice the speed of the iPhone 3G, AT&T’s network isn’t yet capable of doing the same, rendering that advantage moot. So instead of iPhone 3G S, I really would have called this thing the iPhone 3G V — for video. Because that feature, quite simply, is awesome.
Yes, plenty of other devices have done video in the past, but the combination of the overall package of the iPhone with this video recording capability is a game-changer in my opinion. And as we wrote last night, this could spell big trouble for the Flip. Others are saying the same thing. The way that the 3G S handles video is more than good enough for the average consumer. And I think we’re going to see that play out over the next several months.
Not only does the 3G S shoot video in fairly nice (VGA) quality (with the possibility of doing HD quality someday), it is dead simple to upload to YouTube — it is literally the click of one button. Almost immediately after unboxing the 3G S I shot a quick 30 second video (embedded below), and within minutes it was online being viewed on YouTube — and that was transferring it to YouTube via 3G. (Over WiFi, it’s obviously even faster.) No, that’s not as real-time as live video streaming that a service like Qik would like to offer (but is currently being restricted from doing so), but again, it’s fast enough for most consumers, and it’s much better quality to boot.
And one thing that sets it apart from competitor smartphones with similar functionality, like the Google Ion (aka the G2 or HTC Magic), is that the 3G S has dead-simple video editing capabilities right on the device. You simply drag your finger across the video timeline along the top of a video to trim it down to just the part you want before you upload it. And playback of these videos on the device itself looks great.
But really, it’s the whole package of the iPhone as an extremely consumer-friendly device mixed with this video functionality that is killer. Just think about all those popular Twitter applications on the iPhone. When those add video sharing functionality, these iPhone videos are going to be everywhere, just as iPhone-shot pictures are.
And it’s already happening. The increasingly popular yfrog was the first such service to support video from the 3G S, as it already is offering it through Twittelator. And the video attachments are already coming in from the new device. You can expect a surge of other Twitter apps to follow, as TweetDeck, Tweetie and Twitterrific are all ready to launch video support with yfrog, we hear.
And you can bet that other services like TwitVid, the other TwitVid, 12seconds and possibly even TwitPic are sure to follow. But the fact that you can record a video and upload it with one click to YouTube is huge. And with YouTube’s new social features, those videos can auto-tweet out when you upload them, as I learned yesterday.
I asked YouTube for its thoughts on the new iPhone. “It’s a truly amazing world – and great for YouTube – if everyone has an IP connected video camera in their pocket 24/7. Examples such as the protest videos in Iran display the incredible impact of getting video online and shared with the world. The 3G S is only going to increase the velocity of realtime creation and sharing via YouTube,” Hunter Walk, the Director of Product Management at YouTube, tells us.
I can already see it — there will be so many simple ways to get video from your iPhone 3G S to the web, that we’re about to enter the next phase of mobile social sharing: Full-on video. And I think that’s fantastic, I just hope all these services are ready as obviously video is an entirely different game than pictures are. Yfrog claims to be ready, as does YouTube. “We’re already seeing thousands of uploads from new iPhones, but we’re built for scale and receive more than 20 hours of video every minute, so overall quite confident that iPhone users will have a great experience sharing via YouTube,” Walk says.
Really, the only thing I see inhibiting this video revolution on the iPhone 3G S is, not surprisingly, AT&T. How the service is going to handle all these relatively big video files flying over its network all the time now is a huge question mark. We already saw that it couldn’t handle a few thousand geeks with iPhones being in the same place at the same time during SXSW this year — just imagine the first event where there are thousands of geeks with thousands of iPhone 3G Ss, uploading video.
AT&T says that it is continuing to upgrade and improve its network. But the company couldn’t even get MMS ready to go in the U.S. for the iPhone 3G S launch, so I’m skeptical.
The time for excuses is over for AT&T. If it wants to prove it deserves that iPhone exclusivity, it needs to be ready for what’s about to occur. The mobile video revolution is upon us. And that’s why this device should have been called the iPhone 3G V.
Below find a couple more tests, one in widescreen (horizontal) mode, one in vertical mode — featuring me as I am in most social situations, on the iPhone.