Apple iPhone 3GS, a touchscreen cameraphone that doubles as an iPod, boasts upgraded features from the previous 3G second-generation version, and now includes video. WDC reviews the iPhone 3GS to see how it performs

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Overall score:86%


  • Tap screen auto focus, video mode


  • Still no flash, not a massive improvement to 3G, downloading images & video is overly complicated using iPhoto


Apple iPhone 3GS

Price as reviewed:


Apple iPhone 3GS

£440 16GB

£538 32GB

Apple, never knowingly underselling itself, launched its iPhone 3GS to yet another blaze of publicity, trumpeting the plethora of upgrade features from the previous 3G second-generation version. For anyone who has been living in a cave for the past few years, the iPhone is a touchscreen smartphone that doubles as an iPod, storing and playing music, movies and photos, and connecting to the internet for web browsing.

As with nearly all mobile phones these days camera capability comes as standard, and with some manufacturers placing more emphasis on this technology, the integration of both compact camera and phone seems an inevitability. But Apple is in no hurry to join this trend, and is happy to continue with marketing the iPhone as a one-stop entertainment centre that can do more than just make a call.

Now boasting a modest 3 megapixels (the original 3G had a 2MP sensor), the biggest development of the 3GS camera is the inclusion of autofocus, together with the tap-screen AF with exposure control. This touchscreen technology allows you to select exactly where you would like the camera to focus, simply by pressing the screen at the desired point.

Taking the picture is still somewhat cumbersome, though, with the small on-screen control button still at the bottom edge of the screen, which can accidentally trigger off a shot if you have big hands.

However, one nifty feature is the option to geotag your images, as well as the opportunity to bolt on extra applications sold through Apple’s iTunes store to expand the iPhone’s camera capabilities.

The inclusion of video is the biggest new feature, shooting VGA-resolution clips at up to 30 frames per second. There is also a basic editing/trim feature that can allow the user to snip each end of the clip to fine-tune the movie.

As with all Apple products, the new  upgrade features are drip-fed through each version, making each one more desirable than the last, and the iPhone’s camera functionality is no stranger to this. Though there is still no built in-flash, the small lens achieves reasonable results.


The camera on the Apple iPhone 3GS still seems to be somewhat overlooked by Apple in favour of other applications and gimmicks, though the small lens achieves reasonable results, given that there is still no built-in flash.