I was the first customer in the entire world to activate an iPhone 3GS

It looks like I was the first person to have activated a newly-acquired iPhone 3G S. The people at Orange called me yesterday to ask whether I wanted to collect mine at midnight, as they were opening their Champs-Elysées store specially for the occasion, making them the first retail outlet in the world to sell the new phones as Paris is six hours ahead of Standard Eastern Time.

Because I’ve been using the iPhone from day one, the Orange team had arranged for me to be the first to collect a brand-new 32GB iPhone 3G S and they immediately activated it for me in-store. This was my third phone in under two years:

lThree generations of iPhones
Three generations of iPhones

Although registration of the phone in iTunes doesn’t run very smoothly when you get back home (I kept getting the message to “Register and set up your iTunes store account”), an issue I had already experienced with the 3G version, I decided to leave this till later and have been happily testing the phone since this morning.

The main improvements in the hardware are the much better speed (the lag you experienced with memory-intensive applications such as email and Contacts has vanished) and a much better camera. Although the improvement is only one megapixel the difference in photo quality is palpable.

Changes to the software (which of course you can use with your previous-generation phones) are more numerous. I’m particularly delighted with the new cut/paste function, which is incredibly easy to use:

lCut and paste on the iPhone 3GS
Cut and paste is at last available on the iPhone 3GS

Tethering and MMS are working on the Orange France network from day one. While I haven’t tested tethering yet, I like being able to send MMS, a feature not yet available in the US (in unlimited quantities, too, as my French plan has no cap on data, MMS or SMS):

lMMS on the iPhone
MMS on the iPhone with Orange France, from day one

So far, few applications have been updated to reflect the new OS 3.0 improvements, so I’m still sticking with those I was using before: CameraKit (which replaces the iPhone Camera software and does much, much more; probably the most impressive iPhone application I've seen), Facebook, Pingle, Evernote, Remember The Milk, BodyBook Fitness Book, 12C Platinum and Byline.

lMy iPhone home screen with the main applications I use
My iPhone home screen with the main applications I use

But my favourite feature by far is the appearance of video. A quick test this morning I found very satisfactory. I like being able to upload videos directly to MobileMe or YouTube, although I wish Vimeo were available as well:

A video taken with the iPhone 3G S: a vast improvement on many camcorders.

All in all, it's actually a collection of minor upgrades with nothing spectacular, but a lot of the issues that people have been complaining about have been addressed.

Now if only they would fix the spam problems with MobileMe mail and allow users to use their own domain, two issues I had complained about nearly a year ago, I might even consider using MobileMe for email instead of using it for calendar and contact items and relying on Google Apps Premier Edition for email.