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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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In general, I’m happy with the iPhone 4. It’s a huge upgrade in performance from my iPhone 3G, which was getting to be sluggish and useless, especially under iOS4. I don’t think it’s a huge upgrade from a 3Gs; if I was in contract with a 3Gs, I would probably wait till next year. It is faster than the 3Gs, but it doesn’t really seem faster, except for in situations where you time some computationally intractable task (like how long it takes to load Grocery IQ; I’m going to try a new shopping list application, because this has gotten silly).

There is no other phone on the market that is interesting or compelling to me, though I would be hard-pressed choosing between this and a 3Gs, given the price differential, were I a new customer. If you don’t own either device, you should.

Multitasking

I know this is an OS feature rather than a hardware feature, but it’s an OS feature I didn’t have available to me until I upgraded.

It’s great, for the apps that support it. More apps need to support it. I like the multitasking implementation. It does everything I strictly want/need, but doesn’t hit me with a penaltry otherwise. It’s perfect, except that it requires developer effort to fix.

Sidebar: The difference between developers that ship apps and forget them and those that keep up with the iOS advancements is huge. I’m thinking of separating my applications into pages. The first page is “applications by developers who give a shit” and the second is “everybody else.”

The Screen

The screen is amazing. The difference is palpable, but I don’t miss it when I’m using my old iPhone 3G. It does make text look nice. The apps that take advantage of it look more crisp, but aren’t fundamentally more useful or different. Maybe my vision just isn’t so good that it matters for most use.

It’s very impressive. It’s very obvious. But, I don’t think it makes any real difference to me in what I do. I don’t find myself making the text much smaller, though I appreciate that it’s crisper. I don’t find myself not zooming into photos that I would have zoomed into before. I wish more applications would be updated to support it, but it’s not really going to change anything for me. At playing distance, games don’t seem any more impressive. Maybe time will tell on this one, but the most “amazing” feature of the new phone is amazing in theory, but it doesn’t really increase the utility of the phone for me at all.

Glass & Steel

I’m so happy that the plastic is gone. I brought it back with a bumper. I have a bumper for one reason: I don’t want a phone that can slide on a slick or semi-slick surface. The rubbery case I had on my iPhone 3G prevented it from sliding off things and onto the ground numerous times; the grippy sides of the bumper provide the same functionality in a less obstructive package. I’m a fan. I want a phone that stays put. If they put little rubber feet on the back of the phone, I wouldn’t bother with the bumper.

I am afraid of breaking the back glass, a little bit. We’ll see how this holds up over time.

Battery Life

I’m not impressed with the battery life. 2.5 hours of use and 12 hours of standby is enough to deplete half of the battery. When used as a telephone, the battery seems to decay even faster. Maybe I just have a bum battery, but it appears one day of moderately active use is all I’ll ever get out of a full charge.

There’s an incredible reserve of battery life in the iPad; it seems to hang out at “100%” for longer than should be possible, and a day’s worth of use on and off leaves plenty of power left for the next day’s adventure. I know we’re talking about apples and oranges here, but I’ve become spoiled by the iPad; I want the same from my iPhone now. This is probably an unreasonable desire given the size and weight of the device.

The Phone Is Fundamentally Broken

No, the antenna is fine. Reception has been good.

Every phone call I’ve made, the proximity sensor issue has triggered. I’ve gone to speaker phone, face-dialed, and hung up on people. This never happened for me on the 3G. I’m going to have to switch to a headset, because I cannot use this phone reliably as a phone right now. This is a serious flaw and is unacceptable. This needs to be fixed.

On the upside, I don’t really own an iPhone for its phone capabilities. It’s much more useful as a piece of wearable connectivity and reality augmentation, so I’m still happy to have upgraded, and definitely would not go back.