iPhone 4: A Retrospective Review

Dave Courbanou

August 23, 2010

4 Min Read
iPhone 4: A Retrospective Review

A few weeks ago I wrote a tale of woe and misery regarding the status of my iPhone 4. After 3 weeks with this unit, I’m convinced that I was getting a little crazy with it.  My phone, in fact, is just fine. And it’s the best phone I’ve ever had. Read on for my retrospective review…

In my last article I noted that some people saw the battery behave normally after a full discharge and then re-charge. That’s pretty much what I saw. But I performed a second test to make sure my battery wasn’t acting abnormal. I performed a hard firmware-restore, didn’t install any apps, charged it to 100% and left it on standby for an entire night (roughly 2AM to 10:30 AM). The phone hadn’t dropped a single percentage point when I checked it in the morning, meaning that the hardware/battery was fine, and any performance related issues were likely app or — you guessed it — USER related.

Here’s what I figured out. WiFi is a hog on battery life, and so is the screen. My constant checking up on the phone throughout the day would actually kill the battery faster, because it activated the screen, and woke up the WiFi. Essentially, I kept forcing the phone to wake up / never fully go into standby because I couldn’t stop compulsively checking the percentage meter. Ever since I’ve turned the percentage meter off, I’ve been happy as a clam, using the phone like normal, and only checking the percentage out of curiosity to see how well the phone is doing.

Final verdict? I can easily get 10 hours of regular use from the phone, and about 6 hours of heavy continual use. Standby is 24+ hours without a problem. If anyone is having similar issues, I suggest you do the same thing I did before you take it back to the Apple store.

Meanwhile, I’m incredibly impressed with the camera on this phone. The images with my sunglasses were only tweaked slightly with the app Camera+. Check out some shots below (warning: they’re large).

I’d upload the 720p panorama video I took of the beach, but I think I’d be pushing the file-size limit. Let’s just say it looks equally good. (My girlfriend also enjoyed the fact that the front-facing camera meant quick and easy self-portraits of us, and a preview to boot.)

My free bumper case came in the mail, too. Apple did a nice job with this. Maybe not $30 nice, but a worthwhile investment. It’s far from being a strip of rubber around the phone, it’s actually a combination of hard plastic and soft silicone, with built-in-buttons that are specifically placed over the existing buttons, giving the phone a unique look and not masking the tactile feel the phone should have.

The retina display is gorgeous, and after looking back at my iPod touch’s screen, I instantly appreciated how crisp the iPhone 4 screen is. You’re getting spoiled and you don’t even know it. It looks so ‘real’ that you don’t realize you once relied on pixelated screens.

Location services spring into action way faster than my Droid ever did, and the integration of the camera into other apps (like Twitterific, and MMS messaging) make me want to send picture messages instead of making me reconsider the action. The Droid camera took way to long to activate, take a picture, and then spring back to the app. Hardware and software integration is something Apple — clearly — does best.

FaceTime is a joy to use, and I found myself, my colleague Matt Weinberger and my Uncle, all unable to stop smirking when using it. There is a strange surreal moment of video chatting in your hand, but it feels natural. Expect good-connection Skype-video-quality, but not the crisp images you see in the FaceTime commercials Apple puts out. Still, there’s no delay, and it works as advertised.

Lastly, multi-tasking and folders make moving around the iPhone quicker than it ever has been. They are the real gems from iOS 4, and they shine.

Only feature I miss? Google Navigation was free and built into the Android OS, but not with iOS. Google Maps will give you a real-time display of your journey and a list of directions, but it’s not turn-by-turn. So, it’s really the only thing I’ll miss from my Droid. Quality turn-by-turn GPS apps are on the App Store, however. So it’s not a irreplaceable feature.

And that 2GB data cap? I’m actually 18/31 days into my first billing cycle, and I’ve only used 688MB of 2048MB. I consider myself a heavy user, so perhaps, the 2GB, isn’t so ‘tight’ after all.

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