Blog Post

iPhone 4: First Impressions

iPhone day 2010 has come and gone — and so has the world’s iPhone 4 inventory. If you haven’t gotten your hands on one yet, give it a few days (or weeks, if things keep up this way) and chances are you too will have a chance to pick one up.

In the meantime, several of us here at TheAppleBlog have gotten our sweaty mitts on the new iPhone 4, and have had a chance to jot down some impressions after a few days with the new hardware. Perhaps you’ll find the following helpful in making the decision to purchase Apple’s new mobile phone.

Nick Santilli

What an amazing update to an already great iPhone heritage! The construction is so precise and the finish is perfect. It just feels solid in the hand, and I love the glass on both the front and back — which doesn’t seem to be scratching thus far. The speed seems a bit snappier than the 3GS, but the horsepower is quite evident when handling something like mobile iMovie (which is awesome). To me, the camera is the standout feature, though I’m hoping to find the battery blows me away too.


The highlights (so far) are:
Extra Photons: Steve told us this new five megapixel camera does better in lower light. He absolutely tells the truth. The camera is spectacular.
The Camera’s Flash: Not only is it super strong, it now gives you a legitimate flashlight in a pinch. Goodbye flashlight apps!
Snappier Buttons: Maybe this is a goofy thing to point out, but the vibrate switch, home button, and even the microSIM slot are extremely rigid and precise.

Geoffrey Goetz

FaceTime First Impressions: FaceTime does not work through Google Voice, only direct iPhone-to-iPhone calls on AT&T’s (s att) network. Both callers must also be connected via Wi-Fi somehow. If that Wi-Fi connection happens to be via a Palm Pre Plus Verizon Mobile Hot Spot Wi-Fi connection, FaceTime works just fine. The quality over Verizon’s (s vz) network on the video is just as sharp as over a broadband connected Wi-Fi connection. No scientific testing to prove this, but impressions were unanimously good. The front facing camera is a fish eye lens and makes you look fat. The primary lens works much better than the front facing lens when using FaceTime, so if there is something you want to show the person on the other end of the call, consider using the primary lens.

Chris Ryan

I love iPhone 4. I haven’t noticed any of the signal loss issues, though the lack of FaceTime support with Google Voice is a bit of a bummer. The design feels very solid and the overall speed improvements of the A4 processor make AT&T’s 3G network not seem so slow anymore.

From an iOS 4 standpoint, multitasking is a nice bonus, but it’s a little annoying to find every single app I’ve used hang out down there. Without constant closing of the apps, it’s not long before I have 8-9 icons to scrub through.

Oh, and I love the Retina Display.

Brian Schuetz

Initial Impression: The build quality, and the feel of the object when you hold it in your hand is as amazing as you’d expect. I also picked up a bumper when I got the phone, but adding it really ruins the overall aesthetic for me so I’m going sans case for now.

Getting to Know it: The display is insanely nice. Apps that have optimized for the additional pixels available on the screen look really, really, great. When Steve said it would be like looking at a printed page he wasn’t kidding. On the other hand, it’s obvious when apps haven’t provided higher resolution graphics, and they look bad. In a lot of cases, apps have built out versions for iOS 4 but have not optimized for the new Retina Display.

Some Concerns: The death grip (significant interference with the cell signal when holding the device in a certain way) is real, and it’s bad. It’s not entirely clear what’s causing the trouble although speculation on the web is rampant. My own suspicion is that there is a problem in iOS 4 with how the phone is interpreting noise on the signal and choosing to correct for it. I don’t think it’s a hardware flaw, and I’m hopeful that iOS 4.0.1 will fix it.

I think Brian sums it up best by quoting Ferris Bueller: “It’s so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”

10 Responses to “iPhone 4: First Impressions”

  1. I can make the bars drop on the phone display, however the call quality doesn’t seem to suffer in my experience. So for me it’s visually jarring, but the performance has been no worse than my 3GS was. FWIW

  2. Lets dispel one myth once and for all. The reception issue occurs whether your in a strong or weak AT&T 3G area! I easily replicate the issue in very strong 3G spots. You would be foolish to run out and get yourself an AT&T microcell because i guarantee it won’t solve the issue! Lets be honest and intelligent here, if 3G coverage were the reason for the reception issue it would really be a non-issue. This however is a very real issue and must be dealt with in a serious manner.

    • HCWHunter

      There are “strong” 3G reception areas and there are “STRONG” 3G reception areas. Just because you may have 5 bars doesn’t necessarily mean you are in one of the strongest reception areas. You may very well have reception problems and it may or may not be a flaw in the iPhone 4 antenna design. It may even be a software issue. But it’s too soon to be dispelling myths just yet.

  3. Straight from “Made from the same materials used in helicopters and high-speed trains, the Retina display glass is chemically strengthened to be harder, more scratch resistant, and more durable than ever.” I dont know about you but dropping it from 3 feet SHOULD NOT break the phone, but it DOES. Im not sure why, but they should fix this ASAP

  4. HCWHunter

    I am still waiting for my own iPhone 4 but played with one this weekend. The “death grip” reception loss did NOT happen with that iPhone in that location. It may be more of a problem in lower reception areas. I have noticed my 3GS losing 2 bars of signal sometimes when I hold it vs. lying on my desk, so it is a problem with all cell phones.

  5. Biggest drawback: the construction is more fragile than any previous iPhone, hands down. I’ve already shattered the front glass, 72 hours after purchase. That’s never happened to me in three years of use, after dropping previous phones all too many times. Kind of surprised, since they made such a point of bragging about the glass.