I’ve had my iPhone 4 for a good while now, and I feel like it’s been enough time for me to write a review of sorts. Now I’m not going to be as in-depth as the dudes over at Engadget, but I’ll still cover most of the features. Firstly, I was pleasantly surprised at how fast my iPhone 4 arrived. After finding out that all the Apple and AT&T stores in my area were sold out of them, I ordered online. I chose to order through the AT&T site, because I had read in various places that it shipped the phones quicker. I placed the order on a Sunday at around 4pm, and it arrived on the following Wednesday at around 1pm, which was insanely fast for a phone so in demand. My only complaint about the shipping was that FedEx simply dropped off the package at my door, without ringing the bell or making me sign for it. It’s an expensive item, so it’s a bit irresponsible to not demand a signature for it. Read on to see my thoughts on the phone and AT&T’s service.
The iPhone 4 box is smaller than ever, to save on shipping and packaging costs. Nevertheless, it’s still a very good-looking box and will go into my stack of “I bought an Apple product but I love the box too much to throw it out” boxes. In addition to the iPhone, there was a USB cable, a wall charger, and Apple earphones with the mic and remote control. Unpacking the phone was easy, no unnecessary bags or tape to hack through.
h4. The iPhone
When I pulled my baby out of its box, I noticed how solid it felt. Makes the iPhone 3GS feel like a cheap Chinese piece of shit. The glass and metal construction is absolutely gorgeous, and feels like it will last. Plus the glass won’t get as scratched or nasty as the plastic/aluminum backs of the previous iPhones. It’s thinner and feels like a luxury product, and the buttons are even more satisfying to press. Not only has Apple succeeded in making a phone that _looks_ good, they’ve also made a phone that _feels_ just as good.
h4. Setting It Up
Upon pressing the home button to turn the phone on, it presented me with the “connect to iTunes” screen. After connecting it to my MacBook Pro, setup was fairly quick. I liked that I had the option of restoring my iPod Touch backup to it, which I did. That way, all my favorite apps and music were on my new iPhone, which made the transition completely painless. After charging the phone and syncing it, I was ready to go. The whole setup process took less than five minutes, which was helped in part by the fact that I had done all the contractual stuff online while ordering.
h4. The Display
The Retina display is absolutely gorgeous (almost as much as my girlfriend), and using any other display feels like downgrading. This phone really does make the iPhone 3GS look like a piece of cheap shit. Text is rendered beautifully, which is especially pleasing for a typography enthusiast such as myself. Applications that haven’t been updated for the iPhone 4 don’t look as sharp, but they’re definitely not bad-looking like iPhone apps on an iPad. The colors practically pop off the screen, and the screen is viewable from nearly any angle, which really shows how far LCD technology has gotten in the past years. This is quite possibly the best display ever made so far, I find it hard to imagine how Apple could outdo this beauty. Surprisingly for such a good screen, the battery life is still fairly good (more on that later).
h4. iOS 4
Multitasking works perfectly, as expected. Transitioning from one app to another is smooth and the effect is nice but not overbearing or annoying. The unified mailbox works nicely, now if only Microsoft made Hotmail work with POP without paying extra fees. For now I’ll just have to use mailPro for my school Hotmail account. Folders are a *very* welcome feature, and it’s allowed me to reduce my apps into just two home screens. They also allow me to easily categorize my apps so I can find them easily. I like how the dock matches the style of the OS X dock, it makes iOS feel a bit closer to its older brother Mac OS X. I particularly enjoy that I can change the background of the home screen, the black got annoying after a while. I like how the iPod app now shows the album cover along with the list of songs in an album. Thanks to Apple’s A4 chip, my iPhone 4 is very quick and responsive, and crashes so infrequently that I forget it does.
h4. The Camera
The new 5-megapixel camera is a welcome improvement, as the iPhone’s camera has always been lacking in comparison to the other smartphones on the market. It’s very good in low light, I’ve been able to actually capture pictures in the dark without using the flash. The flash also helps with low-light, and it’s very useful for the flashlight apps that make it into a very bright flashlight. The pictures on the rear camera are of very good quality, comparable to the lower-end consumer cameras. The pictures taken with the front VGA camera are not of amazing quality, but they get the job done, and the lower quality probably helps with using less bandwidth for FaceTime.
h4. The Battery
With 3G turned off and EDGE turned on, at medium brightness, my battery can easily last two days. With 3G turned on all day and with heavy usage, it lasts about a day on a full charge. I’m a rather heavy user, using my iPhone in class and on the train nearly non-stop, so more moderate users may have even better battery life than me.
h4. The Service
I switched to AT&T so that I could finally have an iPhone. Now, coming from T-Mobile, AT&T’s service and coverage is really good. I have yet to experience a dead zone. I get service in every building, even in the elevators. I also get service in most basement as well, which is something T-Mobile really failed in. As I make about three phone calls a month (I mostly text), the dropped calls issue is of very little relevance to me. I have yet to experience the “death grip” problem as well. However this may be because I live in NYC, which has a lot of antennas and customers.
In short, this is the best iPhone that Apple’s ever made. I have absolutely no complaints. If I lost it or it got stolen, I’d immediately buy a new one. It’s infinitely useful, for reference, for Facebook, for gaming, for organization, for email, etc. The list of things I can do on my iPhone can go on forever, as it’s an amazing device with nearly infinite possibilities. At this point, I can’t even begin to imagine how Apple will top this magnificent offering next year.