After five days as an iPhone 4 owner, here — as promised — are a few of my miscellaneous thoughts about the device:
• It’s awesome. I mean, this has to be bullet point number one, right? Having never owned any smartphone before, it’s like I’ve stumbled directly into nerd nirvana with this thing. It’s mind-blowingly incredible in so many different ways. My biggest concern about the phone has nothing to do with its antenna (which hasn’t been a problem for me as of yet), or crappy AT&T service (ditto, for the most part), or the fear or its glass shattering (although, that too; see final bullet point). It’s that my iPhone is so awesome, it will send me into a permanent A.D.D. state from which I’ll never recover. :P But seriously, it rocks.
• The Retina Display makes everything else look primitive. And that includes the screen on my MacBook Pro, which is itself a pretty advanced piece of electronics. But, previewing this post on said MacBook, when I look at those shrunken-down screenshot graphics at the top of this post, all I can see is… pixels. On the iPhone’s display, everything looks absolutely perfect — and as a user, you’re completely and immediately spoiled by it. The remarkable thing about this is, it’s not like anyone was really complaining about the previous generation of iPhones having poor resolution. But now I pick up my iPod touch, and it looks like something from a bygone era, based solely on its screen, which felt totally adequate a week ago. In short, Apple is going to have to start making Retina Displays for everything now.
• That thing I said about iOS4 folders being “ugly”? Totally not true on the iPhone 4, thanks to Retina Display. The dang things look beautiful. As you can see in my screenshots, I’ve got eight folders all bunched together at the top of my second screen, and it doesn’t bother me at all. I can easily see what every mini-icon is; the screen is that awesome.
• The Wi-Fi range is amazing. This isn’t something I was even considering before I bought it, but as an iPod touch owner for the last several months, who has pretty much memorized which wireless networks I can pick up from the various locations that I regularly frequent in my daily life, it’s extremely noticeable just how much more range this thing has. This was, actually, the very first “OMG!” moment for me with the phone: when I walked out of the AT&T Store immediately after buying it on Thursday, the phone asked me if I wanted to join the Home Depot’s free Wi-Fi network. The Home Depot is clear across two parking lots from the AT&T Store, roughly three football fields away. With the iPod touch, I had to be within maybe a dozen parking spots of the Home Depot’s front door. With the iPhone, I can pick up the signal from, like, an order of magnitude further away. Granted, I don’t know if there would be enough signal strength at that distance to do much — I didn’t actually try — but even the fact that my phone knew there was a Home Depot Wi-Fi network from that distance is impressive to me. And the impressiveness of the Wi-Fi range has been borne out repeatedly since then.
• It’s like a liberated iPod touch. In the few short months since I got my iPod touch through a bank promotion, I had come to really love that little device, but I never realized — I mean really, viscerally realized — how limiting it was until I got an iPhone. Like I said above, the iPod touch forced me to pretty much memorize where I could get a Wi-Fi signal, since, being that I’m not much of a gamer, basically everything I want to do with the touch (aside from playing music) requires Internet. Then suddenly my iPod touch was replaced by an iPhone, and it was like, HOLY S***, WOW, I don’t need Wi-Fi anymore!!! (Except for FaceTime, which feels like being in iPod touch world again.) This seems totally mundane and obvious, but it completely changes the way I relate to my phone. If I’d never owned the touch, I’d be discovering all these new amazing apps and whatnot, and being like, holy cow, this whole iOS thing is incredible! But instead, I already knew that (although, the iPhone is way, WAY faster than my 2G iPod touch, and of course prettier, thanks to Retina Display), and the feeling I get is rather different: it’s like this incredible technology has been liberated, released from its Wi-FI prison and set free to work its magic even when I’m, say, walking from the parking lot to the office, or strolling to the Farmer’s Market on a Sunday morning.
• For now, Phone, Camera, Mail and iPod win the Dock wars. On the iPod touch, it was pretty simple to figure out which apps belonged on my Dock. If anything, there was an abundance of space down there, such that I ended up putting Photos in the Dock, even though I rarely used it, along with the three must-haves: Safari, Music and Mail. But the iPhone changes the equation completely, and it’s suddenly much harder to choose four Dock apps. I put a lot of thought into it. Now, Phone clearly has to be there, plus there’s Camera and Messages to consider, and Maps also has a claim to the Dock, given how useful it is with connectivity everywhere. In the end, as you can see at the top of this post, I went with Phone, Camera, Mail and iPod, with Safari in the top left-hand corner of the home screen, and Messages, Maps and Photos filling out that top row. My thinking is that, although I use Safari a lot, I don’t need instant access to it, from anywhere on the phone, as often as I do the other four. Same for Messages and Maps. But it was a close call. I’m curious, fellow iPhone owners: what four apps do you have on your Dock?
• The camera rocks. It doesn’t actually take better pictures than the A95, due to the lack of an optical zoom and (more importantly, as it turns out) the slowish shutter speed and slight delay in snapping a photo. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fast for a camera phone, but I still end up with a fair number of blurry pictures when I’m trying to snap pictures of the kids. (Babies and toddlers have a way of not sitting still.) Having said that, it’s most definitely a good enough camera to replace the A95 as my point-and-shoot camera of first resort, thus retiring the belt pack from regular use. And, more excitingly, it is way, way better as a video camera than the A95. The video quality is great, which means a lot more cute kiddo videos to share with family, and generally more videos of everything. I can’t tell you excited I am to have a little videocamera like this in my pocket, at all times.
• Last but not least, I’m terrified of breaking it. Today I almost spilled orange juice on my iPhone, and Becky dropped hers on our concrete patio. (It didn’t shatter, thank goodness.) Yesterday, while on a technical support call with Apple, of all things, I nearly dropped my iPhone from six feet onto our hardwood floor, saved only by an improbable combination of my knee and arm somehow half-catching it, and the earphones managing to stay in the jack. I’m still trying to figure out what kind of insurance to buy, so until I buy it, I’m to be on pins and needles with this thing. Argh. Why, Apple, why such fragile beauty?