Click to viewIn my hand, the 3G iPhone is lighter, fits better, and noticeably thinner feeling as it doesn't have the same squarish shape. (You won't notice that it is thicker at all.) I made a call with it, side by side with my 1st generation iPhone, and the reception is noticeably better as well. I can't even believe this is frigging AT&T anymore. I'd called Lisa and asked her if she noticed if it was clearer or not. She replied, "It's a lot better, but it's also better that you're actually calling me." A tough crowd.
The reception increase is partly to do with the new plastic back. There are 10 radio bands in here, counting 3 GSM bands, 4 3G bands, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. (And one more I don't know?) I don't know how scratch resistant I believe it will be, but Apple says it will be more durable. It looks EXACTLY like the leaked images from awhile ago that were chalked up as iPhone 1 cases.
Apple wouldn't say why 3G life was so good, but I picked up a hint that it was both software and newer 3G chips up to the task.
3G data on the maps and browser were only slightly slower than Wi-Fi.
The locator tech wasn't working for me, on Maps. It spun and spun, probably because I'd turned the Wi-Fi off.
I noticed that the iPhone asked me for permission to give both the maps program and the camera app permission to use my location. It reminded me a bit of a Vista security prompt. It's my phone, of course it can use my location. The camera app was actually using it to do geotagging!
(The camera itself was not noticeably improved.)
The black is very very nice. The white? It's ok, but very feminine, so maybe it's good for Jason or Jesús.
I felt the screen wasn't as smooth as the previous, but that could be the fact that there was zero grease on it, unlike my personal phone. The screen's glass and LCD are identical to the previous iPhone's.
There still isn't any cut and paste, and Bluetooth software hasn't been updated to do A2DP, but the very smooth (and impossible to derail from Apple Messaging) Greg Joswiak didn't say the hardware wasn't improved. I asked if audio streaming was coming, and he looked hesitant to answer. (I'll take that as a yes.) Before he could answer, I spoke for him. "We don't comment on future product announcements." They also denied me a chance to take a photo.
There was a dock, very thin and rounded, with the phone sticking out of the face (there was no border from the dock obscuring the view. I also saw a 2 prong USB power plug much smaller than the old adapter.
Lastly, the metal buttons were chromed, and I frankly liked the black ones better. But these feel more precise, and indeed, the lock button is slightly more recessed than on the first generation phone. The buttons were not made metal for durability reasons, either; this was a pure design decision.
I also played Super Monkey Ball during my 15 minutes with the iPhone. I didn't like how to control the game, I had to set the screen to viewing angles that would compromise my view of the screen. But I did catch on how to play within a few seconds.
Audio? It was definitely clearer than the single mono speaker in the first iPhone. (Even if this one is not stereo either.)
Nothing much has been left unimproved. If you're going to stick with ATT for awhile, $200 seems like a good deal for such improved hardware. What's cool is that since the App store and a lot of the functionality in software will be coming to the first gen iPhone, current users don't really have to feel the pressure to upgrade. Me? I'm certainly going to.