Monday, July 19

iPhone 4. A review after practical use, part 2

Part 1 Linked here.


Buttons and other Cosmetics


The volume button, the lock button, and the silent/ringer switch all got the same industrial treatment the rest of the phone did. They work much better, have better tactile feedback and are much more defined, making it much easier to find one of these buttons in the depths of your pocket.  (Like to turn the volume down on your ringer or something)

There is the single button on the front of the phone, the Home button, which they made a bit more "clicky" I would say. But the one thing about the design of the phone is, when you reach in your pocket to grab the phone and bring it out of your pocket in one swift motion while mashing the Home button, you can't do it.

Since the 3GS had that rounded back, it was easy to feel where the backside was and hit the button. With the square design, it's hard to tell which side is the front and back when it's your pocket unless you try and find the buttons on the side.

This isn't a big deal at all. It's just a quirk that I found that I had that I've had to get used to.

FaceTime


FaceTime is Apple's new "video chat" feature. You use two iPhone 4s, call each other on the phone, and as long as both of you are on Wifi, you can then mash the FaceTime button.  If everything is okay, (NAT transversal, etc) you'll shortly be talking to each other via video chat. Is it cool? Yes.

Does it work? Yes.
Have I used it? A lot.

Is it revolutionary? No, video chat has been done before. But this time it's implemented correctly and easily. It works. You don't have to go to Fring and sign up with an account, and then use Video (btw, Fring's video quality sucks, and their audio is a close second).  You don't have to do anything extra.  Ensure you are on Wifi, and hit the "Facetime" button. The quality is good, audio quality is good.  It allows me to sit in my hotel and video chat with my wife and daughter while they are at home.  My daughter can show me her picture that she drew that day, she can show me what she's eating for dinner, she can show me her "beautiful dress" that she's wearing.  (All dresses, according to my daughter, are "beautiful dresses".)

Could we have done this before?  Yes, and still do, with iChat.  But there's two things about that.  First, iChat requires more bandwidth, therefore hotel internet most of the time, can't handle it, and secondly, my wife doesn't always have her laptop.  She most always has her phone.  And since my wife is 8 months pregnant, I'm not about to make her get up to get her laptop.   I have better sense than that.

I think this is a great feature, it'll be neat if my parents get an iPhone 4 so they can enjoy it as well.  Especially when it comes to seeing my new baby.

Speed


This thing is quick.  If you bought the 3GS, upgraded from the 3G, or you have the 3G, or if you have the iPhone original.  The new iPhone 4 is dramatically faster than the 3G or the iPhone original, the 3GS, yes, it's faster than that, but you'd have do some some really processor intensive stuff to notice a huge difference (like compressing video).  So, if you have a 3GS and want to upgrade to the iPhone 4, you need to use one of the other of the 100 new features of the iPhone 4 as your excuse to upgrade.  However, if you have a 3G or the original iPhone, you will be blown away by the speed.

Think about this in perspective for a second, the A4's rumored speed is 1 Ghz (after a cursory search of the internet, it's the best metric I could find).  Now the A4 is the same chip that is in the iPad and the iPhone.  The iPhone A4 is rumored to be clocked down, to preserve battery life.

The amount of RAM on the iPhone 4 is 512 MB (as evidenced by a particular slide  at  WWDC, Apple doesn't announce the RAM amounts or the clock speed in their mobile devices).  I remember, in 2003, my last computer before I bought an Apple computer, was a 1.7 Ghz chip with 512 bytes of RAM.  Seven years later, I have a phone in my pocket that is almost as fast, has the same amount of RAM, and as 32 Gb of storage on it.  Really puts things in perspective, how things are advancing.  I feel it's impressive.  (Of course, back then, I had a 1.5 Mb/s Cable connection to the Internet and I thought that was fast.  Now I have a 25 Mb/s Fiber connection.)

Camera


On the back is a 5 Megapixel camera, on the front is a significantly lower megapixel camera.  The front camera is primarily for taking pictures of yourself, if you are that vain, and also for Facetime. Which serves it's purpose quite well.  The back camera, with the LED flash, is for taking good pictures.  The iPhone does take good pictures.  Not GREAT pictures, not like Cannon 5D Mark II pictures, but it will easily replace that point and shoot my wife carries in her purse.  Anything where I can carry  less devices is a win for me.

Problems with the camera.  The Flash is okay.  If you try to take a picture, in the dark, and if the subject is close, it'll work great.  As long as the person you are taking a picture of doesn't actually look at the flash.  I don't know why, but every picture I have taken of people with the flash at night has a weird "red-eye" effect, except it's not red.  It's white.  Making my photo subjects a bit creepy.

In low light, and if there is any kind of motion, the iPhone will blur the motion in the picture.  Most cameras do this, so I can't fault the actual iPhone.

However, if you are taking pictures during the day, morning, or evening.  Indoors or outdoors, sunny or overcast, the pictures are great.  It replaces point and shoots.

The other feature of the iPhone is the ability to record 720p HD video.  I've done this several times already, recording video of my daughter jumping off the diving board for the first time and things like that.  The iPhone 4 handles it just fine.  The video looks great on playback on the Retina Display or even after you offload it to your iPhoto and play it on the Desktop.

Overall


I have some opinions, and this is the place to share them I guess, since it's my blog.  Overall, I like the iPhone, but I always have.  The iPhone 4 is much better than it's predecessor.  I'm still not too crazy about the Antenna reception "Don't touch this 2mm of the outside of the phone" thing, but I can overlook it by not touching it there, and getting a case.  Do I think it's a bad design?  No.  I understand why they did it, and it can be overcome easily, but it kinda sucks.

I'm not crazy about the glass on both sides, but according to the things I've read, I understand why it was done.  Apparently, they did away with the plastic back because plastic retains more heat than glass, and the iPhone 4 can heat up when doing really processor intensive things like compressing video.  It's slippery and obviously, as tested by my wife, it breaks.  Apple charges waaay to much to fix this issue, and I think that's BS.

  • Do I think it's a good phone?  Yes.

  • Do I think it's a good computer? Yes.

  • Do I recommend it to friends?  Yes, if you buy a case with it, or at least have the cognitive ability to not touch that portion of the phone.


Overall?  Good.  Buy it.  It rocks.

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