What’s in an “s”? My first look at the iPhone 3Gs

iPhone 3Gs Launch events in Japan.
iPhone 3Gs Get! - 01

I think I might be sick. Mentally, you know?

Did I need a new iPhone 3Gs? Nope.

Did I need to stay up all night to wait in line to get one? Definitely not.

Was there a problem with my old iPhone 3G? Not really.

Do I have so much money I need to just throw it away? No way.

So that leaves me with the fact that I have a problem.

oh well. On with the review 🙂

So obviously I stayed up last Friday night at the all-night Softbank iPhone 3Gs launch event/party. To be honest, I had a pretty good time. Got to spend time with some good friends and meet lots of interesting people. I got to participate in a totally geek centered event that boosts my ego (always nice to know for sure that you are NOT the geekiest person in the room). Enjoyed the presentations, and even managed to win some cool stuff. And of course, I finished things off by taking my brand new iPhone 3Gs home with me.

Since I was mostly asleep when I first posted about this event, I'd like to start over and detail the events of the evening.

I started off my iPhone Night by first stopping by the Softbank store in Omotesando. I got there around 4PM and quickly ran in to reserve my iPhone. Had waffled for several days on the decision, but finally broke down and decided to go for it. Here are the things that led me to my decision.


1. Decided to get one from Softbank rather than importing an unlocked model. Two reasons for this choice. One was that after one year, I am now on my third iPhone 3G. Apple has kindly replaced my iPhone twice due to problems with the headphone plug and the center button. If I import, I can still probably get a replacement, but I doubt it will be unlocked. Second is the cost. By going with a two year contract, Softbank will pick up roughly 40,000 yen of the cost of my phone. Not getting that with an import.

2. Decided to upgrade my spare phone contract rather than upgrading or starting a new contract. Upgrading was an option, but since I had a second contract I get to enjoy the subsidy on both of my iPhones at the same time provided I do not cancel either contract. I had been thinking of canceling my spare phone contract, but well, I guess this works out in some way (rationalization). Oh, and three contracts seems a bit excessive. Even for me.

3. Sure I don't really need one. But gosh darnit. It's pretty, it's Apple, and I have no willpower. After seeing reviews on the improvement in speed for web browsing and heavy application loading it was just a matter of time. Navigation is one of the power apps on the iPhone for me and directional navigation is sooo needed, and video is getting to be a more common media for me (although I am still just starting).

So I duck my head in the shop and quickly reserve a Black 32GB iPhone 3Gs. It takes less than half an hour and I am back out on the street in no time. I guess it helps that I am a long time customer of Softbank, so the process was very simple. I just gave them my phone number, showed them an ID and my passport, and told them what I wanted and everything was set. Most of the time in the shop was used by the salesman giving me the whole disclaimer lectures (3 pages worth) and making sure I signed enough forms.

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Gizmodo Japan at the head of the line showing some Android Love. In back is the Focal Point team shilling Poken and Hugs.

Was tempted to join the already growing line in front of Softbank, but was not prepared so headed back home. Good thing too. Once home I took a quick shower, then put together my overnight bag. Not really the type of overnight bag most people think of though. This was my Tech Blogging Special var. I. It included;

1 Macbook Air

1 iPhone 3G

1 Sony A300 DSLR

2 Sony lenses. 18-80mm telephoto and 50mm prime

1 Sony HVL-F58AM Superflash

1 Sony vertical grip

1 Canon G10 with Eye-fi SD card, and spare battery

1 Cradlepoint PHS-300 portable wireless router.

1 EMobile D21HW USB 3G High Speed Modem

2 Eneloop Mobile Booster Professional batteries (Total of 10,000MaH power)

1 Black&Decker CPI100B Power to Go 100watt Power Supply/inverter

Ok, I know the sheer amount of mobile power I had in my bag was enough to set of Homeland Security warnings all over the place, but before you call it excessive, I have to say that every battery I had was practically drained by the time I got home.

After I got my stuff together, I caught a quick train to catch up with Danny Choo, Ken Lee, and Hector Garcia at Mirai HQ. Danny's wife kindly drove us all (Danny in full Trooper regalia) back to Omotesando. Instead of hitting the line however, we zipped over to Cafe Ratia for Appliya Night. We got there around 7:30.

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Danny in front of the Ratia Cafe bravely defending a little dolly.

Appliya Night was fun, but we couldn't stay for long. Appliya, being an iPhone development house was co-sponsoring the main event, so Appliya Night was used as a staging ground to gather iPhone developers together who would later present on the main stage. There Danny was joined by a troop of cosplayers who would later join him up on stage.

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The always Genki Yang-san in line at the buffet. For some reason I hardly ever eat at events even when I pay for food.

iPhone 3Gs Japan Launch Party - 10
Appliya boss Shiiya-san gathering developers to present onstage at the Softbank event.

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Some cosplayers from Circus who later joined Danny onstage.

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Akiba idol Ai Amano in what looks like Alice in Wonderland costume and Danny. I got to see her photo book that she produced, designed, photographed, and modeled herself. Check it out. Samurai Girl.

iPhone 3Gs Japan Launch Party - 22
A gang of Akiba types at the party. The girl dressed as Lakus said something to the effect that they were in the the Adult Video business. Not sure if she was joking… (-.-);

Around 10PM, we all marched about a block to the event hall that had been set up for the big event. The party was set up by Nobi Hayashi, one of the best known technology journalists in Japan. Around 400 iPhone fanboys were pulled from the line outside and allowed to spend the night in the event hall for presentations, contests, and a general geek-off. As we came in, both Joseph Tame and I were following the group shooting cameras wildly, so somehow we ended up with press passes. I thought it was pretty cool and took advantage of it by moving around the stage to get closer shots. This did cost me later on though.

iPhone 3Gs Japan Launch Party - 51
Joseph Tame, my fellow "Press" member. He picked up an iPhone 3Gs a couple of days later and has put up the BEST review on the internet to date.

For the next hour and a half, the event was a standard fare of presentations covering the iPhone and it's place in Japan. Appliya brought developers up to preview their applications and even sponsored a contest where anyone in the room could get on stage to pitch for a favorite app and compete for prizes. Danny was up first with his presentation of the new DannyChoo.com app written by Ken and published by Appliya. Here's a vid of his presentation and App.

The app is not available yet, but should be soon. I'm hoping to get a review code. 🙂

iPhone 3Gs Japan Launch Party - 43
Ken Lee, the developer of the DannyChoo.com app. He's also written up a blogpost about the launch here.

After the fun, Softbank President Masayoshi Son himself entered the stage (He actually charged right past me and I had to jump aside and he ran up toward the stage). He went on about how great the iPhone and Steve Jobs are for about 5 minutes until the countdown hit midnight.
Midnight hits and Pres. Son announces that everyone gets a Otousan-Ken doll and iTunes gift certificate. Here's where my press pass bites me. After the Softbank coolies speed past me, I ask for my goodies, but get told "No love for press." !!! Well, I get my revenge later though.

iPhone 3Gs Japan Launch Party - 60
Son-shacho waving his 3Gs around and telling us how great it is. Of course we have to wait until the press arrives before we get to touch one for ourselves. Kind of a jerk move really.

iPhone 3Gs Japan Launch Party - 67
Softbank President Masayoshi Son, Danny Choo, and Nobu Hayashi

After taunting us with the greatness that is the iPhone 3Gs, Son leaves the stage reminding us that we still have 7 hours left to wait. To help kill the time though we have lots of presentations and contest to keep us amused. A second round of iPhone app presentations is put together and this time I am somehow recruited. I choose for my app LogMeIn Ignition. The crowd seemed impressed with the remote desktop application if not by my post midnight presentation skills and I walked away with first prize, a Bose on-ear headset that works with the iPhone! I don't need no stinkin toy dog!

They also do a ton of Janken contests to give away iPhone accessories and other gifts.
After the big midnight countdown most of the crew goes home to get some rest.

iPhone 3Gs Japan Launch Party - 33
Trooper Danny was feeling the pain so went home to get ready to pick up his iPhone at his local cell Shop. Danny wrote up another huge review of this event as well and he even features some familiar pictures! Check it out here.

iPhone 3Gs Get! - 06
In fact, by 2am the only one left hanging out with me was Andrew Shuttleworth, who stuck around in spite of the fact that he wasn't even going to buy an iPhone!

iPhone 3Gs Get! - 05
Was nice to see Nobi hanging out with some of the crowd in spite of the fact that he must have been exhausted after MC'ing the event into the early hours.

iPhone 3Gs Get! - 07
Freshness burger pitches in around 5:30 with breakfast Hot Dogs to revitalize us before we head outside to wait the last hour in front of the Softbank Store.

We line up inside the building before heading out to make sure it is nice and orderly. Every person was issued a ticket when they entered the hall with a number corresponding to your assigned seat. This is the number that we use also to line up, so for the first time that night I check the number on my ticket.

iPhone 3Gs Get! - 08
Doh!

Since not everyone who lined up is actually planning to get an iPhone, this translated to roughly 150. Since there were almost a hundred people assigned to selling new iPhones, this meant my time in line after opening was about 45 minutes. Not that bad really.

So about 15 minutes after we line up outside I'm checking twitter and the news is just breaking about Michael Jackson. By the time 7AM rolls around the rumors and counter rumors are flooding all the news channels. I even hear a few of the news reporters panicking about being in the wrong place while the story is breaking. Luckily I can be in two places at once as Andrew takes my camera and shoots some pics of the grand opening.

iPhone 3Gs Get! - 14

iPhone 3Gs Get! - 17

iPhone 3Gs Get! - 20

iPhone 3Gs Get! - 24
That guy in blue was the first person to officially buy an iPhone 3Gs in Japan. I heard he actually waited over a day to make sure he would be first in line.

Of course, I see nothing of this. I'm a block and a half down the street and other than an occasional cameraman shooting the line we are left to waiting and reading Michael Jackson related news. Around 7:20 the first rounders start filtering out of the store.

iPhone 3Gs Get! - 27
iPod Style, another friend who waited the whole night passes by to show off his new procurement.
Another 20 minutes or so and I enter the enchanted realm.

iPhone 3Gs Get! - 29
Inside is a buzz of activity more ant-like than human. A bit disturbing to see so many people packed in going through the same related motions, but after the long wait I was happy to see the efficiency.

iPhone 3Gs Get! - 30
Spotted piles of iPhones all over the place.
Finally! My time arrives and I set up in a small booth with a very skittish looking salesgirl. All in all it goes well. I think the advance work done by the clerk the day before kind of confused her though and she had to ask others around her repeatedly for help, but about 20 minutes later I have a brand new iPhone 3Gs in front of me.
iPhone 3Gs Get! - 31
Grab it and run! I get out as quickly as possible, but manage to grab a couple more shots of news crews picking up a few stragglers for interviews.

iPhone 3Gs Get! - 32

Soon I am on my way home. I decided to leave it all packed up until I got back to my apartment. I had more events that night and by now all my batteries (including my internal one) were pretty much dead.
So home I go. As soon as i get inside I grab a few batteries and start charging stuff. Then for the moment I had been waiting for.

iPhone 3Gs Get! - 35
My brand new iPhone 3Gs. Fresh in the box.

iPhone 3Gs Get! - 38
Old meets new. White 16GB 3G vs. Black 32GB 3Gs. At least it should be easy to tell them apart.

iPhone 3Gs Get! - 34
Things I came home with that i didn't leave with. A CD and promo materials from Circus for a new video game. My beloved Press pass, A Tuneswear Tuneshell iPhone case I won in a Janken contest, The Bose headset, and of course my new hotness.

So that about does it.  I still have to write about by post-first charge experience, but this post is already mega-huge, so I think I'll call it a night.

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About Steve

Gadget Addict, Tokyo Resident and Techno-Luddite. Training, Solutions, and New Media Specialist. Not a fan of Mosquitoes.

Posted on June 29, 2009, in Mobility, Technology and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. would have loved a pic with the lovely ueto aya though… guess i’ll just have to be first in line next year! please be my wingman and bring me bentos then. ^^

  2. These pictures are really nice, and that shop is really great has very nice. I love iphone.

  3. I like this site and it is very informative and hence people who will come across this site will gain lot of information about it. I am very to being glad to be part of this site! I will visit this site in future too.

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