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iPhone 4 Impressions

So, now that I’ve got my new phone up and running – activated, resynced, apps, photos, videos transferred – a few comments on my impressions thus far, particularly in comparison to my old iPhone 3G.

The screen is pretty. The high resolution makes everything looks extremely crisp. I’m comfortable using smaller font sizes than before. The minimum font size in iBooks looks to be about 5-6 point and I can read it fine, though it looks like I’m reading microfiche. Definitely not something I’d do for long-term reading. Photos and videos are great too. The exception to this nice high-res-ness is all the apps which have not updated their graphics for the iPhone 4. You’ll see apps where the text is rendered very nicely, but then there are sprites scattered here and there which are painfully low-res in comparison. It makes for a somewhat patchy visual experience. After using the iPhone 4 for a bit, going back to my iPhone 3G feels like I’ve gone back to the Stone Age. Seeing a bit of yellow at the bottom of the screen. Hopefully this will go away as some have suggested as the epoxy attaching the screen to the glass cures.

Voice signal quality appears to be much better. I’ve made a few phone calls from my living room, which previously was impossible. I have experienced the issue with the “Death Grip,” as some are calling it on the web. This is where you hold the phone in your left hand such that you bridge the gap in the lower left side of the frame, typically with your palm. Essentially you’re connecting two of the antennas together and signal strength stops off markedly. In my living room, I can make the signal drop out so that it says “No Carrier.” The bumpers are supposed to solve this, but I think a carefully designed and placed skin will solve the problem.

The responsiveness of the phone is great. Snappy, without any significant lag – I’d been getting increasingly annoyed with various delays and long app load times on my old 3G and I’m very happy with the new phone. The bloody New York Times app, which previously was mind-bogglingly slow, is now mostly tolerable.

The camera definitely appears better in low light situations. The LED flash generates a strong hotspot, but I suppose it’s better than nothing. It does a red-eye pre-flash which seems effective. The front facing camera is nothing to write home about, especially in low light. Because it’s so close to your face, the perspective isn’t great. I haven’t tinkered with FaceTime yet.

The speaker is much louder than before. I might actually hear my phone ring now. The sound quality is about on par with what it was on my 3G. Cranked up all the way, music still sounds pretty good.

The feel of the phone is of course, very different. It’s a bit weightier, and the thinner, squarer profile is a bit less comfortable in the palm. And until the “death grip” issue is resolved, I’ll be holding the phone more with my finger tips than resting it in my palm. The buttons are clickier and the mute switch seems a bit harder to activate.

So far, this is turning out to be a great upgrade from my 3G. We’ll see how things pan out long term, but I’m pretty impressed thus far.

UPDATE (July 2, 2010): The yellow patch on my screen disappeared after a few days. Images from the camera are significantly better than my old 3G and are good enough that I don’t carry my point and shoot as often. Calls over Bluetooth seem to be louder than before – I actually dialed down the volume on my car kit. Previously with the 3G my car kit volume was set to max all the time. The experience is getting better as apps update themselves to support the higher resolution screen and other multitasking options like fast app switching.

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