iPhone 3GS

After many years good service I have decided to retire my iPhone 3GS. It was the first iPhone I had purchased, though I had been using an 3G for work for about a year. When I got it I was totally impressed compared to the 3G and it did so much more and much better than the Nokia N95 it replaced (which was in itself a replacement for the LG Viewty I had that was an awful phone and was “broken” from when I got it). The Nokia N95 is, or was a great phone, it still has one of the best cameras in any phone I have used, and there are features of the Symbian operating system that seem to work much better than the same features on iOS. There were a few apps that I used on the N95 which I really liked and again haven’t been really surpassed on iOS.

I used JoikuSpot for many years to tether my laptop to the internet. This was a great app and very reliable, though it did kill the battery. The Nokia N95 was one of the first phones to have 3G and WiFi. I have never been that impressed with tethering on the iPhone and as a result rarely use it, much preferring to use Android on a Google Nexus One for tethering.

The other app I liked was Shozu which made it really simple when taking a photograph to upload automatically to Flickr or my blog. As it linked into the phone operating system, this meant you could use the standard camera app. Due to Apple limitations with how apps work with iOS, you can automatically upload images to iCloud, but not to other places. You can have an app that automatically uploads when you take a photograph, but you need to be using that app when taking the images. I have tried Shozu on iOS, but it isn’t as smooth as it was on the Nokia N95.

Despite my reservations on those two aspects of iOS, the rest of the features of the 3GS were very impressive. The key ones that stand out to me were the way it handled text messages, once I got the 3GS, was when I started to use SMS and texting. I really never got the hang of it on other phones, but with the “real” on screen keyboard I found I could handle that and I did a fair bit of texting compared to before. The camera was certainly a big improvement on the 3G, but still not as good as the N95. One aspect of the improved camera was that the iPhone could now more easily read QR Codes. The big difference really though was how easy it was to buy and install apps. Getting apps through the iTunes ecosystem made it very simple to get them. With previous smartphones you would need to go to different developers to buy apps and install them in different ways. If you needed to reset the phone you would need to ensure you had backups. With the iPhone you could get software from a range of developers from just one place. As a result I got hundreds of apps over the last few years for iOS. At least with Google Play today, you can have a similar experience with Android.

The main downside of the 3GS was the battery life, with careful conservation you could make the battery last a day, but if you did anything too power hungry then you would find, as I did, that the battery would run out in the afternoon. In the end I bought a case with an integrated additional battery. This did work well and ensured when I was using the phone intensively it would at least last the day.

The real tricky part of retiring the iPhone though was cancelling my contract with O2! I was out of “contract” on my pay monthly account, so there was no termination fee, but cancelling was very difficult, even when you eventually worked out that you had to “speak” to an adviser, all they tried to do was to keep you as a customer, can’t blame them I guess, but it was annoying. It also seemed to take ages…

iPhone Pain

I am getting more and more annoyed with my iPhone 3GS. I keep losing signal, it crashes way too often when making phone calls and O2’s 3G coverage seems more patchy than usual.

It’s saying something when you find that you don’t want to use your phone for making phone calls. Apart from finding on a regular basis that the phone loses signal, if you are making a phone call and this happens, the phone crashes and reboots. This is very annoying and when it happens it seems to take an age for the phone to reset so you can reconnect and call back the person who you jsut cut off. I ought to keep a log of when it happens, but it does seem to be correlated with a weak signal.

Though I have no scientific evidence to back it up, I am also finding it much more difficult to find a stable 3G signal when travelling. That seems to be getting worse. I often notice my phone losing the 3G signal and then finding it again. As a result streaming or even just pain web browsing becomes less reliable.

I have not yet upgraded the 3GS to iOS 5 as I was awaiting the verdict of the community if I should or not. I do remember when iOS 4 came out and ruined the iPhone 3G experience.

So do you have problems with your iPhone 3GS or is it just me?

If you do have a 3GS have you upgraded to iOS 5 and how is that working for you?

QR Code Vino

So are QR Codes going mainstream?

A few weeks back I mentioned how I had seen one for the first time on mainstream television. Now as I was opening a bottle of red wine (present from a friend) I noticed the QR Code on the back of the bottle.

I have found in the past that the iPhone is not the best phone for reading QR Codes and in the end I found that the best QR Code application was Optiscan.

Optiscan lets you create, scan and share QR codes straight from your device.

Having tried a few free apps, I found that if you have an iPhone 3GS then this app works the best. As the camera in the iPhone 4 is better, you can have more success with some of the free apps, however (as I have it already) I use Optiscan on my iPhone 4. I like how fast it is, how it can capture virtually all QR Codes I aim it at and the subsquent actions I can then take. For example it is very easy to e-mail my history of scans so I can use them on a desktop computer.

So though I have had very few issues with Optiscan with other QR Codes, I did find scanning the QR Code on the bottle quite a challenge. It took a fair few attempts to get it captured, but once I did it bought up a URL which then opened in the mobile browser.

Impressed it was a mobile version of the website and in French!

However one click and I was in the English version.

Now there wasn’t much on the site, no more than was on the bottle really.

However at least if I wanted to buy the wine myself I now had a record of it on my phone. Much easier with a QR Code than typing in an URL on the phone (which to be honest is the point of QR Codes really).

So that’s a TV programme on cooking, a bottle of red wine, wondering where my next encounter with a QR Code will be!

TomTom Car Kit for the iPhone

Oh I don’t know sometimes you wonder if companies realise that you might actually want to buy something… you know pay out money for goods!

Having got an iPhone 3GS and purchased the TomTom Application from the iTunes Store I was looking at ways in which I could mount the iPhone in the car.

The obvious choice appeared to be the TomTom Car Kit for the iPhone.


The TomTom app on your iPhone 3GS or iPhone 3G puts award-winning technology at your fingertips, like IQ Routes which gives you the smartest, most efficient route any time of day. That’s just the beginning. Combine it with the TomTom Car Kit to experience enhanced GPS performance for the ultimate in-car navigation.

  • TomTom Car Kit features
  • Secure docking
  • Enhanced GPS performance
  • Clear voice instructions
  • Easy charging
  • Hands-free calling
  • Your music on the move

Now I know that I could buy a £15 generic phone holder from Tesco, however the extra features did seem to make the £99 seem like quite good value for money. Enhanced GPS performance is always welcome, I remember having lots of problems with GPS reception with an Acer PDA running Co-Pilot. Hands-free calling would be useful and the FM transmitter was something I had been considering buying for sometime. As it says

The Car Kit dock is compatible with all iPhone models…

This meant that I could use my main iPod in the car when I wasn’t using the iPhone, and listen to podcasts and music through the radio.

Seemed like a good idea, so where could I buy it from.

I initially checked the Apple Store and was disappointed to see that though it was going to be released on the 5th November, it was going to take 4-6 weeks for shipping, which in Apple speak means seven or eight weeks! So I checked Amazon and was pleased to see that they could ship within 24 hours of release.


I placed my order on the 26th October

I waited.

Amazon sent me an e-mail on the 6th November, which said that they now couldn’t deliver on time and also couldn’t give me a revised shipping date.

On the 9th November I got another e-mail from Amazon, cancelling my order…


Well that didn’t work out did it.

So with a little reluctance I went back to the Apple Store and though it was still saying 4-6 weeks shipping, I placed my order with them on the 13th November. The confirmation e-mail gave me a delivery date of the 28th December! Just over six weeks.

You can imagine my surprise (and a little delight) when on the 20th November, just one week later, I got an e-mail from Apple saying that my order had shipped.

So not 4-6 weeks, under two!

Once I have it, I will let you know how I get on.

O2 Tethering on the iPhone

Despite some issues with JoikuSpot with some mobile devices, it is still one of my most useful applications on my Nokia N95 and I use it a lot.

I have considered getting an iPhone 3GS and this (alongside the iPhone 3G) now (eventually) comes with tethering, the ability to use your phone as a modem with your laptop. I have done this for years with various phones including the Nokia N95.

The only downside is the cost!

I have tethering included as part of my T-Mobile deal which costs roughly the same per month as the O2 iPhone deal, however O2 want an extra £15 per month for a 3GB limit for tethering.