Wednesday, July 14, 2010

iPhone 4: Extended Review

I recently purchased Apple's newest product, the iPhone 4, which I unboxed and reviewed a few posts back. But that review was more or less a list of first impressions, as I hadn't had much time to actually use the phone. Now I've got a few more things to add, although unlike the negative hype a lot of blogs and consumers are spouting, my revised list isn't nearly so dismal.

There are a lot of differences between the 3GS and the iPhone 4, and I'm not talking just aesthetically. I'll start with the good things, the things I love. Some of them are concerning the software update, iOS 4.0, and some are about the updated look of the phone itself.

iPhone—Newly Redesigned

First, I love the new design. As I said in my previous mini-review, iPhone 4 feels sturdier to me than my old 3GS, and I like the new glass back as opposed to the plastic backed 3G and 3GS. I don't know about any of you, but I bought the white 3GS, and it didn't take long before it started to develop small stress cracks around the headphone jack, side buttons, and USB connector. They didn't effect the usefulness of the phone, but it was frustrating to try so hard to keep my phone looking brand spankin' new only to have little cracks appear despite cases and screen protectors, etc. The new glass back is a very sharp, sleek design. And instead of the rounded off 3G and 3GS, iPhone now boasts a modern, squared off body. Very hot.

Second—two words. Retina Display.  The screen on the iPhone 4 is sharp, crisp; and in a word, beautiful. Viewing web pages is a dream. The text is super smooth, very clear, and even more pleasant to read than the earlier iPhone models (although they, too, had impressive displays if you ask me.) Pictures are also very nice to view. In short, all of the bragging that Apple has done about the retina display is totally legit. Again, if you ask me.

Apple has finally upgraded iPhone's camera from 3 to 5 megapixels. AND they've added an LED flash, which I'm thrilled about. I take pictures with my phone all of the time. No, really. ALL of the time. I think I have somewhere over 2,000 pictures in my photo library on my phone. A lot of them are of my dog. And a lot of them would have been better if not for the low light. So the added flash is particularly handy to me.

And in addition to more megapixels, Apple has also added a front-facing camera and introduced FaceTime. FaceTime is a feature I have  yet to use. The only problem with it is that in order to use it, whoever you're calling must also have an iPhone 4—since none of the other models have the front facing camera. (At least that's my understanding.) But Apple does have a number you can call that'll connect you to an Apple employee who will FaceTime chat with you and explain all of the features. I may just have to give that a try!

A small added detail are the two volume buttons. Instead of one, now there are two. Each labeled with + or -, respectively. Not a big change, but I'm a fan.

iOS 4.0—The New Software

My favorite of the software related updates is Folders. Now you can group apps together in a folder, for example; I have a folder I call "Social." It includes my apps for FacebookTwitterAIMYelpUrbanspoonGowalla, etc. So instead of having three or four extra pages to flip through, I now have two. My home screen, and a second screen with some extra apps and several Folders. VERY handy. 

I also love the unified mailbox. Now I can get all of my emails from each of my accounts in one folder. I love this. I check my email constantly. Maybe to the point of obsession. And now I don't have to move between all of them, I can just check them all at once. If you use the email feature as much as I do, you'll definitely love this!

Another feature that I love is iBooks. But I reviewed this already, back when I updated my 3GS to iOS 4.0. So I won't beat a dead horse again. ;-)

I also really like being able to have a background on my home screen now! And it can even be different than what you have set as your lock-screen background. Pretty cool.

Now, on to the things I don't love. Or, more specifically, the things iPhone 4 lacks that I think it shouldn't.


First of all, where are the customizable text tones? I'm tired of the one I have, but frankly I find it to be the only tolerable one amongst the tones Apple has given us. Sure, I can change my ringtone, but I'm picky. That's not enough for me. Every time someone's iPhone bleeps at them, I think it's mine. It'd be nice if we all had the ability to add or create our own. I can't imagine this being a really hard thing to incorporate, so I'm disappointed that it isn't among the things included with the new software update.

Another thing I'd love to see—some sort of messaging light. When I had my BlackBerry, I really liked that I could put my phone on silent but still be alerted when I got a text by that flashing red light up top. I'd heard rumors a light like this would appear on the new iPhone, but alas, it was merely a rumor.

It would also be nice to see wireless syncing, although I don't really find plugging my phone in as cumbersome as some people seem to. That said, it would be pretty handy.

The last thing that I really have a complaint about is that, as with the 3G and 3GS, Apple didn't include the iPhone dock. I think that's pretty lame, really. The first iPhone came with the dock, and now Apple is selling them separate for thirty bucks. Let's be honest, I'm already paying a pretty penny for the phone. Why not make me feel like I'm getting a little extra for my money and toss in the dock? I mean, c'mon, Apple. Seriously. Thirty bucks?

As for the whole antenna debacle, I can't say I've had any problems with dropped signal. I have been using a case with my phone, which can supposedly prevent the iPhone 4 Death-Grip from causing a loss of signal. I did take my phone out of the case and try to hold it in the way that's supposed to cause the antenna issue, but I didn't see any bars lost. There are a lot of reports of people having this problem, though, so I can't say it isn't there. I can just say I haven't experienced it yet—which is good, I assume.

Overall Impression

All in all, I think iPhone 4 is a great phone! It's fast, it's gorgeous, it seems sturdy to me. Love the new design, the display, the camera. Of course, I still think the 3GS is a great phone. And really, even the original iPhone is still a good phone. But if you're wanting to upgrade, or if you're looking to get an iPhone for the first time, I think you'll enjoy using Apple's latest iPhone; iPhone 4. Hopefully this review was helpful, informative, and/or at least not boring!

EDIT: I was reminded of one other MAJOR dislike. I can't believe I forgot it. iPhone 4 STILL doesn't support Flash. I don't know why. This has been irritating ever since Apple first introduced the iPhone. So many sites require flash, and I'm really annoyed that Apple hasn't addressed this issue by providing Flash support. Get with the program, please, guys! Please??


Matt Bukaty said...

You left out Flash support. *ROLLS EYES*



Sarah Thomas said...

Ack! You're RIGHT! Post updated, dislike added. Flash really should be supported. Just sayin'.

MissWoodhouse said...

*mutters* ...some friend...making me jealous again...silly iPhone post...still want one...darn it all... *big grin*

Again, lovely review. It sounds like the negatives are very slight. And I would just like to mention that the new Android platform 2.2 (Froyo) will support Flash. That's all. ;)

Creative Flair said...

Just got my new iphone yesterday and am absolutely thrilled with it!! Love the video option and better camera.

Sarah Thomas said...

@MissWoodhouse—Hehe So sorry, my dear! Yes, for me, the negatives definitely don’t outweigh the positives. And haha, mmm…I do wish for Flash, that’s for sure!

@Creative Flair—Yes! Congrats on your new phone. :-) I think they’re awesome!

The Reading Bear said...

So, I saw an interview with steve jobs the other day where the interviewers were treating him like an idiot and they actually talked about that exact issue. Why there is no flash support? Apparently there has been a back and forth argument between flash and apple to create the problem. I don't know exactly what that was, but if you look up any recent interviews with Steve you can find it I am sure. =)

Sarah Thomas said...

Ah, I see! That would explain it! Still, it’d sure be nice to have Flash support! Thanks for the info; I may just check into that. :-)

June said...

Thanks for this...I was waiting! I am looking at upgrading in the next week or two. I so appreciate the time you took to give your opinion. I'm excited to explore the new world of iPhone 4! I probably would have waited a bit longer, but alas, my husband's phone broke yesterday and he needs a new one (sigh...big smile), so I am 'graciously' going to sacrifice my iPhone 3GS:) I will wade through figuring out the new one (big cheesy grin here:)

Sarah Thomas said...

You’re very welcome! Happy to help! I appreciate the time YOU took to read it and leave me a comment! :-)
So sorry to hear your going to have to upgrade. ;-) The nice thing about iPhone is once you learn how to use it, it pretty much stays the same. There are new features, but the basic interface is the same! Best of luck with your lovely new iPhone 4, and let me know how you like it!

Loryn said...

I have an "older" macbook (got it in 2006/2007) and it doesn't support most flash programs, I guess it's just an apple thing.

Sarah Thomas said...

That’s weird; can’t say I’ve had a problem with Flash running on my MacBook. It’s just the iPhone that doesn’t support it. Bummer. :-\