My wife and I are now proud owners of Apple’s latest phenomenon, the iPhone 4.
I’m not going to go into all the technical details of how awesome this thing is, because it’s been covered many many times. Instead, I’m just going to do a quick excerpt on how this device is already changing my life in the 12 hours I’ve owned it.
The biggest feature to us is FaceTime. My wife and I are both hearing impaired, and cannot talk on the phone. I still remember back in the day when text messaging was becoming popular. Then, I remember thinking, “Why in the world do people want to text instead of call?”. I chalked it up to being one of the first times in history that a technology fad actually caught on with the general population. That seems to be a continuing trend, so I can’t tell you how much that makes me happy. I have a good feeling about FaceTime. Once we got our phones activated and on my home’s wireless network, we made our first FaceTime call. Words can’t describe how amazing it was to finally talk to my wife on the phone. We had text messaging before, yes, but sometimes we needed to have an actual conversation… now we can. Connecting was easy, she called my phone and I answered, then waited for FaceTime to get ready which was maybe a few seconds after I answered. Connecting took a few seconds (I thought something was wrong for a second, but that’s just me), but did connect with no problems. I couldn’t believe how good the quality of the call was. My wife was holding my 8 month old son while calling, and he kept grabbing at her phone as if he was thinking “What’s daddy doing in there??”. I’ve done plenty of video chats before via Skype, Google Talk, and SorensonVRS. This device rivals, and sometimes beats, them all. I have no idea how Apple pulled it off, but they pulled it off. I’m definitely interested to learn more about the FaceTime protocol Apple is using. It’s going to be an open standard, so there’s nothing to prevent other devices/software from using it. I’m especially interested to see if there’s an update to iChat in the future that employs FaceTime technology… something like iChat HD. It would also be cool if we saw this make it’s way into the Mac Mini or Apple TV, via a built in camera.
The next thing I wanted to write about is the speed increase. Coming from an iPhone 3G, I didn’t realize how much I had grown accustomed to the touchscreen keyboard delays, apps taking a few seconds to open up, apps pausing/crashing, etc. I upgraded my 3G to iOS 4 the day it came out. It was a bearable experience for me, but I didn’t upgrade my wife’s 3G because I knew she’d not be able to tolerate the additional slowness. She’s not a technology fan, she just wants it to work. She is already a LOT happier with the iPhone 4. The minute I started using my iPhone 4, I would say my usability factor increased by 100%. I’m now able to type on the keyboard as fast as I want, there are now no delays in opening & closing apps, and not a single app has crashed on me yet. Taking pictures is a LOT faster. I can open the Camera app and snap a photo in 1/10th of the time it took me on the iPhone 3G. Everything is more responsive; checking email is faster, web browsing is faster, everything is faster.
The last feature I want to write about is the video recording. This is one of the primary reasons I wanted to upgrade to the iPhone 4. Yes, the 3GS has this capability, but I wasn’t eligible to upgrade to the 3GS. I’m glad I waited. We have a regular Sony video camera we got as a wedding gift. It’s OK, records standard definition onto a mini RW DVD. The only way I can get the video off is to manually take the DVD out and rip it to my Mac Pro, then recode the VOB files using Handbrake. Another problem is the amount of time it takes to get the thing ready to record. If you just wanted to capture a quick moment, you’re not going to get it ready in time. I seriously contemplated buying a Flip HD or something similar to get around this limitation. I canceled my plans when Apple announced the iPhone 4 would be able to record 720p HD video. Now I have a video camera in my pocket wherever I go and I’m probably going to put that Sony DVD Camcorder on eBay.
- Retina Display – every bit as good as everyone says it is. The difference is noticeable to the naked eye.
- Cameras – I love having two, and the ability to switch between them. I used to hold my 3G backwards and try to guess where the button was on the Camera app to take pics of my son and myself. Now it’s easy. :)
- Multitasking – I’m not sure if I’ll use it much, but it works flawlessly.
- Voice Control – a new feature for me coming from the 3G. Haven’t explored it yet, but I’ve heard it’s not that reliable.
- Compass – again, new to me. Pretty cool to have.
A note on actually getting the phones: I will admit I was shocked. If you’ve followed the news lately, pre-order day was a catastrophe… both Apple’s and AT&T’s servers crashed under the load. They sold over 600,000 iPhone 4′s before lunch. Then came launch day. The Apple Store in Kenwood had over 1,000 people in line, and sold out within a day or so. A funny aside from a co-worker: “I read an article of a guy who went to the mall and walked past the 1,000 people in line outside the Apple store, and went and sat outside the Radio Shack store as first in line. Got his iPhone in 10 mins”. Classic! So after all this, I thought “There’s no way I’m getting ours anytime soon”. Launch day came for the AT&T stores. Again, the lines grew early that AM, and the stores quickly sold out. I didn’t even try, because I knew I wouldn’t get there early enough. Out of curiosity, I went by the AT&T store in Rookwood on my lunch break. There was no line and the store seemed to be doing normal business. I thought that was strange but I went in anyway. Was quickly greeted by an employee and I asked if he had any iPhone 4′s in stock. He said they sold out 30 mins after opening that AM, but that I could order mine if I wanted. I asked how long it would take to get them if I ordered. Response was “7-10 days”. A little skeptical, I went ahead and ordered mine and my wife’s. I asked him several times, “7-10 days, right?”, and got a yes each time. I left the store thinking, surely something’s going to go wrong here. I’m probably not going to see these phones until August sometime. The next day I got two emails stating that both phones had shipped via FedEx overnight from somewhere in Fort Worth, TX, and that I would get them the day after. Holy Crap!! How in the world could this be true?? I posted a quick update on this to Twitter, and got several responses saying that people who went through all the trouble of pre-ordering on pre-order day still hadn’t gotten theirs, and no notification of when they would. I couldn’t believe it. I see this as a major logistical problem on AT&T & Apple’s part. No way should I have gotten my iPhones before these people, but I did. Still shocked, and I feel bad for those people. I think my buying experience was way easier than what most other people have had to go through with the pre-order process and waiting in lines. I’d be interested to see how many other people had the same experience as I did, whether it was just a fluke and I won the lottery so-to-speak, or if many others had the same experience as me. Leave a comment if you did.
About the antenna problem: Yes, I see it on both my wife’s and my iPhones. I just make sure my left palm isn’t covering the bottom left corner, and I’m OK. I explained this to my wife as well, and she had no problems with it. She’s going to get a case anyway, and I’m thinking about a combo between a belt folio and Apple’s Bumper case. Maybe our situation is different because FaceTime is such a blessing to us that we’re willing to overlook this technicality.
Thank you, Apple, for making a huge difference in our lives.