Four years ago I got my iPhone 3G. To this day it’s my daily driver smartphone and constant digital companion when I’m out and about. The world has since long moved on to newer devices with far more capacity and capabilities than my lowly little black iPhone can muster. Yet, I still use mine and haven’t really found many reasons to upgrade. I don’t want to be pulled down into a cesspool of unnecessary consumerism and get a new device every year, just because I can. Since it’s also not broken, there’s just no way I can justify replacing it. No reasons that outweigh the fact that it’s still a fully functional device that serves my needs remarkably well for something of its age. Not everything is roses and pizza of course, but it works really well, and has by a wide margin exceeded my expectations.
With each new model Apple releases I see so many people pour their thoughts and opinions out on the Internet. Frequently they take some walks down memory lane and complain about how horrible the iPhone 3G and 3GS were, and that everything about them was an affront to everything Apple stands for. I really don’t understand the complaints about the plastic body back of the iPhone 3G. As far as comfortable devices go, I think it’s one of the by far best designs I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing so far. The aesthetics of the newer iPhone models might be nicer in comparison, but when it comes to actually holding and using the device it’s hard to beat the older, smoothly rounded design of the iPhone 3G and 3GS.
Some of my favorite features of the iPhone 3G are paradoxically also some of the features I dislike the most. I love to write on the iPhone 3G because it forces me to write slower and I have to choose my words with greater care, similarly to how a lot of people prefer to write with pen and paper. This forced limitation greatly annoys me when I really need to get an idea, a paragraph, or other fragment of text out of my head fast. It’s just not possible, even with Simplenote. Since I rely on the iPhone 3G as my infinite scratchpad and notebook I always have with me, this is slowly pushing me towards an upgrade.
Apps have with time become a bit of a problem, simply because almost nobody makes them for the old iPhone 3G anymore. I personally don’t feel it so much since I already have apps for most of the activities I want to perform on a device of this type. But when services depend on newer versions of apps than I can run, it’s problematic to say the least. In the case of app.net there’s simply no alternative for a native app, and I must rely on web apps instead. This is fully workable though, and I don’t suffer from it. If I want to use a social network, I have to have an Internet connection anyway, so if it’s a web app or not doesn’t really matter.
However, the inability of getting newer apps has also made me focus a much more on what I have and what I am able to do. Games are a hopelessly lost cause, but I tend to like those better on a dedicated games console anyway, and my trusty Game Boy is never far from my side. Most forms of communication are surprisingly easy with a few apps covering most of the spectrum, from IP-telephony to instant messenger, and a very enjoyable e-mail experience courtesy of the native app built into the system. Video viewing is amazingly pleasant with both YouTube and streaming my movie collection via AirVideo, although I’m sure some people would be “disgusted” by the low resolution screen. For me, it’s perfectly fine and the experience lets me focus on what I’m watching, not arbitrary specifications.
The camera is yet another aspect I’m of two minds about the iPhone 3G. On one side I love it’s brutal simplicity, but I really hate the lack of speed, a flash and above all else; video capture ability. As I’m venturing further and further into parenthood I find myself in more situations when a video camera would be nearly invaluable to have with me at all times. Just snapping some basic photos in conditions with a good amount of light isn’t a problem, but pretty much everything else is. Still, I firmly believe the best camera is the one that is with you, and this camera has indeed been with me. I know the weaknesses and strengths of the camera and I just do my best to work with them.
On its back are uncountable scratches and scuff marks, the home button is slowly starting to get less responsive, and the front glass is a fingerprint magnet. But its served me brutally well over four years and I imagine it’ll continue doing that for a while longer. I can get to the information I want, talk to the people I want to talk to, and brain-dump my thoughts into a virtual blank piece of paper as the need arises. It’s still the closest thing to a PADD from Star Trek that I have, and every day I feel like I’m living a little bit in the future. Four years, and counting.