Now we see why the first iPhone didn’t have the much-faster 3G network inside. Although 3G web browsing is at least 7 to 10 times faster than the speed we got with the EDGE network on the old iPhone, it really sucks the battery dry so quickly that it’s downright disappointing. In our battery testing of the iPhone 3G, it ran out of juice at a mere 2:54:32. That’s way short of Apple’s quoted “up to 5 hours” of Internet use.
This is a real-world test, too. Just as Apple tested its iPhone 3G, I had Wi-Fi running but not associated with any network, call forwarding on, and “Ask to Join Networks” and Auto-Brightness were turned off. Then I just browsed from site to site as I would normally do, checking email and downloading a few apps from time to time. It was all 3G, all the time.
While 3G isn’t as fast as a Wi-Fi connection, it’s still satisfyingly quick. In my testing I saw it as roughly half as fast as Wi-Fi, and so much speedier than EDGE that there’s really no point in comparing the two. EDGE is so slow that I would rarely use it for web browsing — only if I was desperate. Yeah, 3G's the way to go, but too bad there’s no way to swap out the iPhone’s battery, because after, say, an airline delay's worth of web surfing, this phone could leave you dead in the water in under three hours.
Coming next: real world testing of battery life watching movies on iPhone 3G.