Initial Random Thoughts on the iPhone 4

By  |  Thursday, June 24, 2010 at 4:29 pm

I’ve had an iPhone 4 for around eight hours now, and have come to the conclusion that writing anything that reads like a review would be premature at this point. Too much of what’s important–video and photo quality, performance, battery life, and more–is dangeous to judge based on first impressions. (And multitasking, one of the key new features, might take weeks to get a grip on–I want to try multitasking-enabled versions of all my favorite apps.)

Herewith, some disorganized first impressions from my time with the phone so far:

  • The guy who sold me my phone at the Stonestown Galleria in San Francisco, Gabriel, was the same dude who I bought an iPhone 3GS from last year–and he instantly remembered me and greeted me like an old pal. (No, I don’t think he knew I’m a blogger.) My favorite Apple Store moment ever; a great retail experience, period.
  • One of the major pieces of news so far involves apparent mysterious dropped calls if you touch the bottom left-hand corner of the phone. As a southpaw, I was rattled by the prospect–but I’ve tried repeatedly to intentionally trigger the issue, and have failed.
  • I also don’t see any yellow spots on the screen. (Worst product-quality problem I’ve noticed to date: The protective plastic on the phone’s front and back was weirdly greasy and grubby. as if someone at Foxconn was eating Junior Mints while working the assembly line.)
  • So far, all my calls have gone through without problems, and sounded very-good-to-excellent. But I’ve made most of them around my neighborhood, where AT&T coverage is generally commendable. I’m planning to visit the AT&T Bermuda Triangle known as San Francisco’s SOMA district tomorrow, and am curious whether the 4 will fare better than my 3G and 3GS did.
  • I like the new industrial design–it’s infinitely posher feeling than the 3G or 3GS, and I wonder if it’ll set off build-quality wars among Apple’s rivals. Strangely, the thinner and narrower shape doesn’t look strikingly different to me when I stare at the phone and contemplate it, but it’s noticeably less of a spacehog in a shirt or pants pocket.
  • The “retina” screen looks great to my eyeballs–the difference between iBooks on an iPhone 3GS and iBooks on the 4 is startling. But I have a Verizon Droid X here as well–with an also-extremely-pleasing 4.3″ screen that packs fewer pixels–and I’m thinking that if all other phone features were equal, I’d take more square inches over more pixels.
  • I’m crossing my fingers that the glass-front-and-back construction is as tough and scratch-resistant as its reputation. (After years of buying iPods, I still reflexively assume that all Apple products will be coated in a veneer of scuff marks within nanoseconds of the time I remove them from their packaging.)
  • FaceTime is a lot of fun–in the image above, that’s me chatting with my friend Dale Larson, who was first in line this morning at Apple’s Union Square store in San Francisco. But it was a little bursty during my first call (both Dale and I have somewhat shaky Wi-Fi at home).
  • I haven’t formed any definitive opinions on the camera yet other than (A) I’m glad to have an iPhone with a flash; and (B) I need to get better at keeping my hand steady (I’ve been spoiled by point-and-shoots with image stabilization).
  • I thought about switching my AT&T plan from unlimited to the new cheaper 5GB option, but decided to stay put. I’m intrigued by multitasking VoIP apps and want to try them before I subject myself to a cap on data usage.
  • I should have seen it coming, but the iPhone 4 doesn’t work with the rather pricey iPhone 3GS stereo integration device I had installed in my car a few months ago. Apple doesn’t mess with the dock connector, but it keeps making electrical changes that render old peripherals worthless.

Much more to come. If you’ve got an iPhone 4, tell us what you think so far…

 
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9 Comments For This Post

  1. John Baxter Says:

    I bought both my first-day original iPhone and, in Nov 2008 after 3G arrived here on AT&T at my “nearest” AT&T store (45 minutes vs a 3 hour expedition to Apple store).

    I was served by the same friendly, competent guy both times.

    Apple’s supply problems are giving me plenty of time to think: iPhone 4 vs Windows Phone 7. But in a couple of weeks I’ll take a look at what Androids AT&T has (can’t use T-Mobile or Sprint; couldn’t use Verizon 3 years ago might be able to now). But something about the wild west aspects of Android turns me off–a phone I rely on should be a controlled environment, I think.

    Thanks for the quick look.

  2. Shawn Says:

    …so, size over density, eh?

    Jokes aside, this thing is head and shoulders better than a 3G, so anyone switching from that should be ecstatic–though, I can’t really do apples-to-apples (hehe) till I can jailbreak the 4. I’m dyin’ here without sbsettings and lockinfo. Having ha no meetings today, the lack of autosilent isn’t an issue yet, but it will be.

  3. Chelsea Says:

    Thank you for contributing to Gabe’s ever expanding ego. And yes, he totally knows your a blogger…

  4. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    > the new cheaper 5GB option

    The $25 option is actually 2GB. On that plan, if you use 5GB it will cost you $55.

    iPhone 4 will provide many ways to use more bandwidth. Skype for iPhone will start using 3G in a week or so, a Netflix client for iPhone will be released soon which also uses 3G, and we may see Facetime over 3G as early as September. Your iPhone photos just doubled in size, and your movies are now HD. Pandora can stream in the background now, and other music services will follow suit. So a 2GB plan may not be cheaper after a few months of use.

    > Apple’s supply problems are giving me plenty of time to think:
    > iPhone 4 vs Windows Phone 7

    Windows Phone 7 has even worse supply problems.

    > I’d take more square inches over more pixels.

    Hold the iPhone 4 20% closer to your eyes than you hold the Droid X. Then the screens will be the same size.

    I know that sounds stupid at first, but if you think about it, it is not, because of iPhone 4′s much, much higher-res screen. It can be moved closer to your eyes without the onscreen elements turning into mush. Yet iPhone 4 still fits in your pocket.

    The information is in the pixels. There is more information on the iPhone screen than the Droid X screen, so you can hold iPhone closer.

  5. missy Says:

    I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said. I was in line @ stonestown & i remember seeing you, actually i remember seeing you pass me up as i was in the line for ppl w/out pre-orders. Anyway, i live in SOMA & the “triangle” is still the “triangle.” Compared to the 3g the phone still goes out in the same areas, but not as quickly and not for as long. (if that makes sense.) On the 3g there was a 3blk dead spot right before my house, it has decreased to a 1-1/2 blk and if i drive fast enough i can get through w/out the call dropping (instead it will just go silent for a little while)

    I used my speakerphone a LOT today and and found that not only did people not notice i was on a speakerphone due to the improved clarity (usually u can hear “air”) but i could hear THEIR background noises more clearly. In fact a Droid user made a comment “dammit, you wouldnt have heard that whisper if u were on your 3g.” lol!)

    i love the flash, i did a test in my room, in the dark w/only the light of my tv & the image showed very clearly w/out that whitewashed look that normal camera phone flashes give. A friend w/an evo or droid (cant remember) alwys takes low-light pics & we end up looking all washed & half dead until he goes into his photoshop app & fixes them. **but we lose a lot of pics bc some just cant be helped, so this was a HUGE plus for me–low light pics that look like what im looking at** Drawback-the front facing cam is VGA & doesnt have a flash, so if i want to take a pic of myself it either has 2 be in the daytime, i’ve got to turn my phone around, or pull out my trusty point & shoot

    Oh a tip—make sure you’ve updated your software to leopard or snow leopard otherwise you can’t sync your phone to your computer. found that out last minute

  6. Jeremy Says:

    I’m happy with the new phone so far. My wife is probably happier with the speed boost because she’s moving from a 3G to the 4 and I’m coming from the 3GS.
    I can duplicate the antenna signal dropping problem whenever I want. My hand naturally touches that lower left corner when I use the phone. A friend suggested that if Apple didn’t do their external testing in cases that looked like the 3gs they might have noticed this problem sooner. I wonder if this is the reason they released the bumpers.
    Facetime is cool, but our firewall at work blocks it. I used it at home just fine, and am going to look into what exactly it needs to get through a firewall.
    I still try and treat it with kid gloves because of the glass. I’m probably going to get a case for it to protect it from my klutziness.
    So with less than 24 hours experience I’m happy overall, but worried about the antenna issue. I hope Apple comes out with a better statement than “you’re holding it wrong” soon.

  7. Dave Mathews Says:

    So the latest docks do not work to charge, show ID3 info, or control? How can they keep doing this to us? I get the dock upgrade from 3G iPod to the 4G, and again with the iPhone 2G to the 3G, but again on the 4th Gen too? Can’t wait to read more about this.

    As a guy who put a dock on my Vespa and factory integration in my last two cars, this is getting absurd at Apple, since the license is on the connector, it doesn’t make much sense to change the pins or just software.

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