Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

iPhone 3G disappointments

Posted on 10 June 2008 42 comments

Article illustration for iPhone 3G disappointments

You know I’m an Apple fanboy, but even I was disappointed at the relatively minor upgrades Apple have just announced to The Wonder Machine.

Yes, it’s got 3G. Yes, it’s got GPS. These were features that iPhone 1.0 users were desperately crying out for, and it’s great that they’re here. But if there’s one complaint that has come up time and time again when I’ve spoken to friends, family, and colleagues about the iPhone, it’s about the camera.

Firstly, the iPhone 1.0 camera only has a 2 megapixel sensor and so competes rather poorly with the hefty cameras available on most other phones (I had a 3.2 megapixel camera on my old Sony Ericsson phone a whole two years before the iPhone came out). Secondly, there’s no video recording capability, which again has meant that it’s constantly fallen short when compared to fantastic offerings by other mobile manufacturers. So surely – surely – a camera upgrade was a given, right?

Apparently not. The camera is exactly the same.

“But it’s due to the form factor,” I hear you whispering in the back row. “It’s because you can’t have all these great things in one device.” Valid points, perhaps, but in my own personal experience, the number of complaints about the iPhone 1.0 camera far outweigh the complaints about its lack of 3G or GPS. “Oh, stop moaning,” someone shouts, as an egg just about misses my head.

Will I buy it? Of course I will. :p

42 comments

  1. Anthony

    Anthony

    10 June 2008 @ 01:39AM #

    “It’s because you can’t have all these great things in one device.”

    When a phone is referred to as the “jesus” phone, this is one of the many things I think of as well.

    Im with you sir.

  2. David Hughes

    David Hughes

    10 June 2008 @ 01:41AM #

    And still no MMS… my wife was stunned when I bought my iPhone and she tried to send me an MMS… “you paid how much for that?” was I believe the question.

    3G is great but I’d would have liked a better camera and of course a second camera for iChat video.

    Will I buy one? I’ll be queueing up with you…

  3. ruiner severhead

    ruiner severhead

    10 June 2008 @ 01:43AM #

    jesus was human & flawed – if he even existed at all.

    only nutbags called this thing a jesus phone.

    iphone is way cooler than jesus.

  4. Grant

    Grant

    10 June 2008 @ 01:45AM #

    I’m with you Elliot – will I buy it? yes – but it would be fun if I could buy it AND not miss something from my old Sony Ericsson. But I will miss the camera.

    I guess I’m hoping the lower-quality camera will be made up for in part by the ease at which I can post photos from the iphone to the internets – as opposed to the camera > laptop > internets route my photos take now.

  5. Shaun

    Shaun

    10 June 2008 @ 01:46AM #

    I think it’s a little harsh to critise such a great upgrade for the one thing it’s missing.

    Yes the camera is poor, imo i’d rather not have it there at all and make it even lighter and thinner still unless it’s a decent camera.

    BUT, the iPhone 2 has many, many improvements, 3G is massive, GPS is good and some of the small updates will make using the iPhone much better but most importantly it’s CHEAPER than the original iPhone!

    Surely that makes up for it? I could understand your problem more if they were charging more for it.

  6. Nate Klaiber

    Nate Klaiber

    10 June 2008 @ 01:47AM #

    egg in hand – just get a real camera, they work much better anyway!

    Just kidding. I agree, the phone quality is rather poor. Not only that, but ours has taken a beating in our pockets (I know, get a case) – so pictures are even more blurry than normal. I do wish there would have been an upgrade to the camera. Not sure I care so much about video, but that’s my opinion.

    launches egg

  7. Michael Montgomery

    Michael Montgomery

    10 June 2008 @ 01:48AM #

    Interesting, how different are people’s desired features.

    For me, couldn’t care less about the camera. (If I’m going to take pictures, will use my Nikon.)

    In contrast, I’d rather have a 32GB model, so I don’t need to subset my iTunes collection. (Still wondering how to do that?)

    I’m just eager to get rid of my 1st generation RAZR…(!)

  8. Jorge Quinteros

    Jorge Quinteros

    10 June 2008 @ 02:15AM #

    As a business person, I forgave Steve when he didn’t included video on the 1G iPhone and I figured that he left that feature out because he wanted the public to look forward to something big with the 2G but now he didn’t even give us that. My sentiments exactly on the 2MP camera as well. More than likely, I’ll end up purchasing the new one anyway.

  9. Elliot Webb

    Elliot Webb

    10 June 2008 @ 02:15AM #

    Wonder how good the battery is in this new version!?, before I bought V1 that was the highest complaint in the apple forums, almost put me off buying it, but I did, and actually the battery is not so bad, but could be allot better!.

  10. Mark Jardine

    Mark Jardine

    10 June 2008 @ 02:17AM #

    The current iPhone records video. Apple just doesn’t have software that does it. I’ve used a 3rd party app that recorded video. It will come, just maybe not from Apple.

  11. dave

    dave

    10 June 2008 @ 02:18AM #

    but what are you going to record on it anyway? say they had put the camera up to 3 or 4 megapixel, video recording is always going to be poor quality, i for one would never watch a video recorded on a phone just looks awful to me.

  12. johno

    johno

    10 June 2008 @ 02:41AM #

    2 megapixel or 4 megapixel for the camera has no impact on size, so must be a cost thing. The whole point of having a good camera phone, is that one doesn’t then need to carry an additional device (a compact camera). However, as soon as it comes to Japan (the camera could be 512k pixels), I’ll be buying it too.

  13. Shiva

    Shiva

    10 June 2008 @ 02:47AM #

    Damn! I’ll probably buy it even with that small upgrade… forever geek !

    :)

  14. Levi Figueira

    Levi Figueira

    10 June 2008 @ 02:52AM #

    Gosh, you guys are ahead of your time… A video camera?? Are you kidding? What else would you ask? Wait, lemme guess: optical zoom!! Right

    My main request was: MORE RAM!!!! I can’t stand Safari “blanking” my other tabs every time I load a “heavier” one and losing their history… GAH A little more CPU juice would be kinda nice as well!

    Will I do whatever I can to get this 3G one, even though EDGE suits me fine, since I’m mostly on Wi-Fi and don’t need GPS on my phone? Heck ya… :) hehe

    Oh, us Apple geeks… Dang you, Steve Jobs!! :p

  15. Shaun

    Shaun

    10 June 2008 @ 03:45AM #

    The 8gb iPod is FREE on the £35 a month tarrif.

    That is such amazing news I care even less about the camera now!

    https://www.o2.co.uk/iphone/paymonthly

  16. Matt

    Matt

    10 June 2008 @ 03:59AM #

    Yeh yeh, a better camera would be nice but remember there is a big wide world out there that actually NEEDS the 3G to have it work completely in their countries, ie. Australia.

    Give it time though, now that there are going to be a whole lot more iPhones sold world wide I’m sure it will only be a matter of time till we see that 2.5 or 3.0 upgrade with a nice camera built in..

  17. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    10 June 2008 @ 04:35AM #

    @ David Hughes: Yeah, the lack of MMS sucks too. As does the inability to ‘forward’ text messages. Oh well… iPhone 3.0?

    @ Shaun: Thanks for the well-discovered link! That really is great news about it being free. And for existing iPhone customers (like myself), you’ll be pleased to know that it’s a free upgrade, too! Note, though, that this is only on the £45 and £75 contracts.

    If you look at the tariffs you’ll also see that the number of minutes have been increased as well.

  18. davin greenwell

    davin greenwell

    10 June 2008 @ 10:36AM #

    If you are serious about taking photos, you would not be considering a phone for taking them. Also it should be noted that a higher megapixel count doesn’t equal higher quality. With a tiny lens there is only so much opportunity for resolution before you suffer in the signal to noise department because of the tiny image sensor. With those physical limits, it is a bit like scanning a magazine print. Sooner or later you’re going to see the dots.

  19. Keir Whitaker

    Keir Whitaker

    10 June 2008 @ 11:04AM #

    I am confused by the buy new/upgrade options. It states on

    https://www.o2.co.uk/iphone/paymonthly

    that you can buy the new iPhone for £99 on the £35 tariff. However it will also cost you £99 to upgrade if you are an existing customer. The difference being that existing customers will be required to enter into a further (from now or end of current contract?) 18 month contract. Does this mean that O2 will be activating the phones in store from now on?

    Previously, as you know, you could walk into an 02 shop and buy the handset and activate your plan via iTunes. If this is still the case what’s stopping an existing user buying a new handset and swapping the SIM over and not incurring the extra tie in?

    Having said all that I have probably missed the small print somewhere so if anyone knows please point me in the right direction.

  20. Al Power

    Al Power

    10 June 2008 @ 11:13AM #

    Totally agree.

    I know their price point is much lower, but really even upgrading to a 4MP surely can’t have added that much to the cost.

    For proper photography I will always use a DSLR, but ideally I want to be able to take snaps of things around and about, and not having to carry a camera and a phone around just makes sense.

    But like most posters, will be upgrading ASAP :)

  21. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    10 June 2008 @ 12:21PM #

    @ Davin Greenwell: I am serious about taking photos. We have a Nikon D80, which is used frequently for ‘proper’ photography. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want a higher quality camera in the iPhone, because it’s priceless for those little moments where you want to quickly capture the scene, as Al Power said. They’re never great photos in a ‘serious photography’ sense, but they’re moments that would’ve been missed, as it’s not feasable to have the D80 with us all of the time. You might say that I should buy a semi-decent compact camera for those moments and be done with that, and I do have one: a Sony W17, which is with me now in Norway. However, the difference between that and the iPhone camera is so marginal, that I’d really rather just have the iPhone replace the compact entirely.

    @ Keir Whitaker: That’s a really good point; it’ll be interesting to get clarification on what O2 actually plan on doing.

  22. Jonny Haynes

    Jonny Haynes

    10 June 2008 @ 01:08PM #

    A really big disappointment, they didn’t tell us anything we didn’t know already about the iPhone. Apple usually wow us with stuff we didn’t know or didn’t expect. A real let down.

    The best thing to come out of the WWDC was the showcase of the SDK, I’m going to have a play around with that and see what I can come up with.

  23. Brendan Falkowski

    Brendan Falkowski

    10 June 2008 @ 01:42PM #

    The number of complaints about the iPhone 1.0 camera far outweigh the complaints about its lack of 3G or GPS.

    I disagree. Complaints on EDGE network speeds (in America) far outweighed camera gripes, and 3G solves this problem. Still, wouldn’t it be nice if everything was upgraded every time?

    I’m getting one, too.

  24. Steve Killen

    Steve Killen

    10 June 2008 @ 03:31PM #

    Can’t believe they didn’t upgrade the camera, though I guess they need something to get people to buy iPhone 3. I’m just happy the price is more reasonable now, that’s the biggest selling point for me. I very rarely use the camera on my phone so, although a good camera would have been nice, I think I can live without it if I get one.

  25. JPH

    JPH

    10 June 2008 @ 06:44PM #

    Seems to me that a lot of people were disappointed with the announcement this time around. I’ve heard the camera/video complaint before too. Maybe they’ll get it right next time ?

  26. Jeremy Davis

    Jeremy Davis

    10 June 2008 @ 08:33PM #

    I think I’m going to wait it out a few months and see what rumors get started for 2.5. I really wanted 32 gigs and a better camera would be nice.

    After that I will have no hesitation because most other stuff should just be firmware updates.

    It’ll take a few months for the nicer SDK apps to come out and I’m wary of being an early adopter of Apple stuff lately because of their trend to upgrade the devices 2 months and still charging the same price as when it was first released.

  27. Kyle Meyer

    Kyle Meyer

    10 June 2008 @ 09:22PM #

    I’m happy it didn’t have video conferencing, it’s great for telecommuters and people overseas, but truth is most of us didn’t want it. I’m happy I’m not paying for it in the cost of the phone as a feature I could care less about.

    As for the camera, I’d rather keep the slim form to make up for the large surface area rather than carrying a ‘brick’ as I’m sure it would be termed if the thickness was increased. A flash would be more important to me as the camera is acceptable under normal lighting, but is horrendous in low light situations.

    As for video recording, there’s an app for jailbroken phones, and I’m sure one will come out swiftly for non-jailbroken phones with the SDK. The quality’s not great, but sometimes you just want to record a short video of something funny or to illustrate something.

    What I’m most excited about, is that the 3G phones require a contract at purchase with AT&T (in the US) which means my 1st gen phone is worth money to those who don’t wish to use AT&T; as all the 3G phones will be locked to contracts. :D

  28. Darren Alawi

    Darren Alawi

    11 June 2008 @ 06:44PM #

    I think the lacks of new camera hardware is based around what Apple want people to use the phone for. It wasn’t designed for photographers specifically so a 2 megapixel camera is fine. It allows you have ‘fun’ and share your fun with others.

    Equally I dont think Apple aimed the device at the teen demographic uploading video to Youtube and Bebo etc. it needs to be more sophisticated than that.

  29. Francis Booth

    Francis Booth

    12 June 2008 @ 05:20AM #

    Tsk – and Apple didn’t even include teleportation! :) As for the front-facing video conferencing camera, that surely would’ve added lots of possibilities for fun apps, but I can see how it could add arguably unnecessarily to the cost.

    I really just want to see “VOIP for the rest of us.” Apple are placing themselves centrally now to be the company to bring that to the masses.

    If the iPod touch 2 were to ship with an earpiece+speaker… now that’d be interesting….

  30. Lorenz

    Lorenz

    12 June 2008 @ 07:12PM #

    I mean, we are speaking about a phone, and when I want to take photos I can use my Camera. With the new features, including Microsoft Exchange Support and the developer’s toolkit, Apple made a huge step into the right direction. And for a quick shot, 2 MP are o.k.

    I think the new iPhone will be great, also without a camera that makes incredible sharp fotos.

  31. Dan

    Dan

    14 June 2008 @ 11:58PM #

    I’ve briefly mentioned this in my own blog about the 3G iPhone and I agree it’s a damn shame that they haven’t beefed up the old magic picture hole. However… it’s a phone. I have yet to see a phone camera take a decent picture. The phone manufacturers have spent too much time and effort one-upping each other over the number of megapixels their cameras boast and not enough time developing the optics.

    But I digress, I personally think that the camera is very low on Apple’s list of priorities for the iPhone and rightly so… Cameras and phones are two technologies that are only combined for convenient quick snaps on the go…and for this purpose I’m sure the iPhone’s 2megapixel pinhole does a fair-to-middling job. If you want amazing photos, are you really going to use your phone?

    That’s my .002c anyway.

    Dan

  32. Dan

    Dan

    15 June 2008 @ 12:00AM #

    sorry, that link should be http://www.minute44.com/archives/153

  33. William Li

    William Li

    16 June 2008 @ 07:07PM #

    Nah, i’m perfectly happy with my N95 8gb – great music player, best camera on a phone (same as n82) gaming with n – gage, one touch Flickr uploads – I could go on and on.

    3g is only useful if you have a data plan.

  34. Graeme

    Graeme

    17 June 2008 @ 04:07AM #

    I think the iPhone will take a while to get up to standard in comparison to other phones and appears to be suffering from a high number of features that something had to give and the camera was sacrificed in order to have the other features.

    It will come but not for a while I suspect.

  35. Sabino

    Sabino

    18 June 2008 @ 05:31PM #

    No cam uh? that sucks…
    even for mac

  36. paskal

    paskal

    21 June 2008 @ 06:22PM #

    And the biggest disappointment is – it’s not for sale in my country, Malaysia. Uurgh, i hate it when i can afford something but it’s not available. Could anyone tell Steve that we Malaysian also need this iPhone 3G?

    sigh

  37. stefan alexandreu

    stefan alexandreu

    25 June 2008 @ 12:59PM #

    Never liked apple, never will. Scrap you’re iphone, or throw it in a blender. Get something better.

  38. Josh Franco

    Josh Franco

    25 June 2008 @ 04:29PM #

    I hardly use the camera on any phone — and if at parties a 2MP would suffice completely… which makes me believe the iPhone’s camera or video cam (or lack thereof) isn’t really troubling me :D

    Here in Canada, I fear the data plan more… We have to pay steep prices for data plans / tariffs. Up until now the (only) provider here – Rogers – is withholding the prices which pretty much is scaring most people away from buying one.

    So I believe the camera is pretty much the least of my problems. Looks like I’ll be going with the iPod touch while enviously watching you across the pond enjoy the iPhone.

  39. Byron Rode

    Byron Rode

    25 June 2008 @ 07:23PM #

    Well I have mixed feelings on this one, for one the 3G is a great improvement as EDGE speeds in South Africa suck quite bad. In terms of the camera, I am a photographer and generally always have my camera with me wherever I go.

    From what I have seen in the comments though, is no one seems to be talking about Mobile Me. Which in my opinion is a really great addition to the Apple Suite. Plus the fact that it is cross platform (Mac to Iphone, Iphone to PC, PC to iPhone, iPhone to Mac) is a great addition, considering that I am “forced” to use PC at work, and Mac from home and on the road.

    One thing that I have read and as far as I know it is happening regardless of country or provider is Apple are locking the phones to one provider (we know that) but will not be selling the phones outside of a contract. So purchase is only possible by purchasing a new 24 month contract with the provider of choice in your country. Also according to what I have read, the phones price in will be in comparison to the price in the US, that being, if the 8GB model is $199 on a AT&T plan it will be around R1999 (ZAR) on a similiar plan here on the Vodacom South Africa network.

    One last thing for all you Jailbreak iPhone fans out there, speculation in the forums is that the activation HAS to be done instore and unlocking the phone has been made near impossible to do..

    My gripe with Apple is that it has taken so damn long to release them legally here in South Africa!

    Will I be in line for the 20/07/08 South African release? You can bet your bottom dollar I will be…

    That is all…

  40. Seth

    Seth

    03 July 2008 @ 09:52PM #

    Give me:

    - Video Conferencing
    - 4+ MP Camera
    - Camera Flash
    - Video Recording
    - Unlocking / Disarming my car alarm
    - Ability to use it as a wireless mouse
    - 50+ GB Storage
    - An on-board laser pointer

    yum.

  41. lyric

    lyric

    22 July 2008 @ 05:25AM #

    idk, i thought the ipod 1.0 had pretty good picture quality, i guess it depends on how much you need.

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