A Week Later

DISCLAIMER: Before I embark on attempting my best David Pogue impersonation, I'd just like to say I was wrong. Er, half wrong. LeBron will be teammates with D-Wade this season -- just not in Chicago. Now... I've had the iPhone 4 for just under a week now and I'm glad to say that I'm glad I waited 2+ years to upgrade. While I certainly missed having my life in my pocket the last few months, Apple's latest and greatest was definitely worth the wait. It's beautiful. It's fast. And it's got four times the storage space of my first-generation model (32GB versus 8GB). So, after six-and-a-half days with the thing, allow me to share my thoughts on it. DESIGN: HARDWARE Jony Ive and his team really outdid themselves this time. I've always been a big fan of Apple's industrial design aesthetic. With the iPhone 4, they take things to a whole new level. My last iPhone was an aluminum-and-glass creation with a small band of black plastic on the bottom for the cellular radio. It was great-looking, but I love the new model's look even better. The phone is basically encased in this precision-machined stainless steel band that wraps around the phone. Not only does this provide structure, it also houses the antenna system for the phone: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS on the left; cellular radios on the right. And two glossy panels of glass -- according to Apple, the same kind used on helicopters and high-speed trains -- sandwich the steel band. Steve Jobs called it a remarkable feat of engineering and he's exactly right. The phone just screams luxury. It's thin (.37 inches) and light, yet feels dense and substantial. The downside to all the glass is that, well, glass breaks and scratches. And it's a major fingerprint magnet. I've been paranoid about wiping off smudges and making sure no foreign objects get inadvertently tossed into my pocket where my iPhone lives for the day. Apple's $30 thong Bumper has worked well for me so far in keeping my new baby safe. It fits snugly around the phone and provides me with a really good grip on it. And the lip comes up just enough to ensure the glass doesn't come into contact with surfaces. As for the cameras, it's nice to have two. The LED flash is cool (makes for a handy flashlight) and HD video recording is nice, too. And the display. The Retina display. It's 326 pixels per inch of incredibly sharp text and vivid everything. Video looks amazing. Cover art is bright and clear. Even app icons are brighter and have more definition. Only problem is the higher resolution (960x640) makes things smaller by nature, but oddly enough, the screen is so good that I haven't had to squint too much. The display on my original iPhone was high-res too, but the iPhone 4's just blows it away. Best display I've ever seen on any phone. In sum, the iPhone 4 is the most beautiful piece of hardware I've ever seen from Apple. DESIGN: SOFTWARE iPhone 4 ships with the latest iteration of "the world's most advanced mobile operating system", iOS4. And, frankly, there's not much to say here. I've always been a huge fan of Multi-Touch and how polished and elegant Apple has made the OS. I'm comfortable with it and it works really, really well. It'd be fair to criticize Apple for not including features like multitasking and folders from the get-go, but they're finally here now and implemented well, so that's all that counts. I'm still training myself to use multitasking, but the folders have been a great help in keeping my Home screens nice and neat. No longer do I have to swipe and swipe and swipe to find something. And it's awesome I don't have to suffer through the embarrassment of telling people I can't accept pictures in text messages. In fact, now I can brag about not only being able to send and receive pics, but also locations, voice memos, contact info, and video. I like how I can buy a book on either my iPad or iPhone and I don't have to pay again to download it on the second device, and that it wirelessly syncs my bookmarks and notes. I never thought anyone could or would want to edit a movie on their phone, but apparently Apple did. iMovie seems pretty cool...cool enough that an indie filmmaker shot and edited a short film entirely on the phone. I'm guessing that, sooner than later, there'll be an iPhone film showing at Cannes or Sundance. But yes, iOS is nice and easy to use and...wait, what happened to the Game Center app? THE KILLER APP: MAKING CALLS Much as I would love to classify the iPhone as a mini supercomputer, the fact is it's a phone above all else. A phone that's exclusively tied to AT&T, poor things. But I have to say, as maligned as AT&T is, I've been with them since 2005 and I've never had any problems, even before I got my first iPhone. So while most of the tech world loves them as much as Dan Gilbert loves LeBron, I've got no beef with them. I mean, sure, I've suffered through the attenuation problem, but the aforementioned Bumper alleviates the issue. Also, I love having 3G as my alternate data network. I suffered though the mobile equivalent of dial-up (EDGE) for far too long, so I'm glad I can actually do stuff even when I'm not in range of Wi-Fi. Facebook and Twitter updates are important, man! One big feature that I'm dying to test is FaceTime. Problem is, it only works over Wi-Fi and it's iPhone 4-to-iPhone 4. I don't know anyone else who has one. So, to anyone reading this blog post, go buy an iPhone 4 so we can video call. Pronto. Or else, ya know, I'll have to call 1-888-FACETIME (no, really) and chat with an Apple rep. ODDS AND ENDS iPhone 4 is wicked fast, thanks to Apple's custom A4 chip. It has a gyroscope so, like, it now has a billion sensors in it. When the phone rings or I get a message, the speaker is loud enough so I can actually hear it. And thanks to the dual mic system, I can actually hear the person on the other line in noisy places. I can actually shop the Apple Store from my phone now. And my original iPhone's dock works perfectly with my new one. Sadly, however, my shitty iPhone Bluetooth Headset does not. Way to waste a hundred bucks. IN THE END... The iPhone 4 rocks. I love it. Now all I need to do is not suck at Angry Birds and Paper Toss.