This is going to be looooong... if you don't want to read through all that stuff you can just as well scroll down and read the long story short, kinda.
Okay, I know this is wrong. I know this is wrong on so many levels but I thought I'd give it a shot to try and "review" one of the most talked about devices of the last year.
First things first:
- I am located in Germany. That means, that, and I will say more on that later, while the Antenna Problem is undoubtley there, it is not at all as game changing as in the US.
- I will try to be as objective as possible and I hope you are too. If, in any sentence here, I imply that the iPhone is the best device out there, it may be due to a misunderstanding and because my english is not sufficient.
- This is in no way intended to start a flame war, although I already know that this is inevitable. I am sorry in advance for everyone who tries to make this into a question of Android vs Apple because that's not what this is about.
I bought the iPhone 4 because my iPhone 3G contract was running out and I needed a new phone.
In January of this year, I had a short intermezzo with a Motorola Milestone, which I really liked design-wise. Also, I wanted to try out Android, because I found it interesting to see what it was capable of. I really loved it but I eventually went back to my iPhone 3G. That was not due to the fact that Android was, inferior or anything, because it's not.
But I really like polished and good looking UI design and in my experience, most 3rd Party Apps from the Market were not that polished while they certainly did do the job.
I was lucky because I had the 3G lying here and I could just return.
However, when my contract ran out, I was thinking about the Galaxy S and the Desire and of course the iPhone 4.
I ended up buying the iPhone, because I got a nice rebate for being a good customer of Germanys exclusive iPhone provider T-Mobile and I just got used to the iPhone way of handling things.
You can now bash me for being biased but I just wanted to get out of the way that I was not only in the market for the iPhone for iPhones sakes.
So I ended up waiting a few days because of very high demand and got the 32GB iPhone 4 black (of course...).
Antenna issues and hardware goodness
As I said before, I am located in Germany. We have T-Mobile here as the exclusive provider for the iPhone 4. T-Mobile is the biggest provider in Germany and that is a good thing.
Because in most of Germany, the coverage is awesome.
I think that is important, because hearing the stories of dropped calls and Antennagate, I was worried that maybe that would be a downer in general.
But here is my experience:
I can get the bars to drop. When I hold it tightly with my left hand and really try to, the bars drop. But only by 1 or 2. That is, at least I assume so, due to the great overall coverage T-Mobile offers here.
Then again, I never experienced ANY dropped call in 3 years of overall iPhone experience in Germany, so I started to think that it must have something to do with AT&T screwing up big time.
That's a shame for every iPhone user out there, because dropped calls really are something that can break the deal.
Luckily, in Germany and, as far as I've heard, throughout Europe, coverage is not an issue.
On to the hardware on that thing.
Many things have been said and many photos have been made and I think by now, almost everyone had one in hand or at least saw extensive closeup shots of the iPhone 4 itself.
But I gotta say while it looks really, really nice and feels solid in hand, I have a few things that bug me.
Only looking at the sheer beauty of this device is great but in everyday usability, the flat and sandwhich-y design can be a downside.
When it's lying on a flat surface such as... a table, you really have to grab it with your fingertips, because it's so thin. With the 3G, you could slightly lift it due to its curved shape. Now, you really have to apply preassure to the sides in order to get it up there. I experienced once or twice that I had a hard time picking it up. Nothing you really notice and no deal breaker but a minor inconvienience.
Other than that, the hardware strangely feels more solid and on the other hand more fragile that before. I figured that is because of the overall heaviness or let's say "not lightness" of the device and the extensive use of glass.
The Display and some Photos
I did't put this under hardware in general, because the Camera and the Display were the two selling points for me. I really missed the Milestones high res screen when going back to my iPhone back then so I was so looking forward to the iPhone 4s display and I was not disappointed. I will not post any pictures because you probably saw so many comparison shots.. But I got to tell you: The display IS amazing. Sometimes, when I am done calling and just put it on my table without hitting the sleep button and the home screen is still there, it looks like one of those really good dummys you often find at electronic stores, where the interface is printed on where the display is supposed to be. It looks almost... real and not like a display. Photos and videos look great on there and it's a pleasure to zoom into web pages just for fun to see the text being rendered to almost screen-filling dimensions while the background image of the page is of lower DPI and suddenly looks like a bad compressed JPEG.
After a few days of usage it still is awesome but became more of a normal thing. But every time I help my brother finding something on Cydia on my old 3G which he now has, you really learn to appreciate the extra pixels.
What bothers me though is, that everything now is super high resolution and all but apart from great picture quality and the pleasure of looking at the seemingly non-exsistend pixels, you don't really benefit from it.
You don't get extra space in Mail-app or don't see more playlists at once in iPod, like on higher resolution Android-Devices. Apple could have easily added one or two more eMail list entries or something, which would have made the higher res even more useful and awesome.
There has been a lot of talk about it when the first real world samples appeared. But I have to say: The camera on this thing is amazing. The pictures are great even in low light and it's perfect for a quick shot of that funny looking dog in front of you... At the end of this post, I will attach some downsized but otherwise not edited samples. Downsized, because that is what you normally do. I, at least.
You take them, put them on your computer and then resize them for Facebook or to send to your Mum, so I figured that that would be the most adequate way of showing how good the pictures look in real world usage. If the demand is there, I will happily provide the full resolution samples aswell.
Day to Day to Night to Day
And now something not at all objective and totally not scientific...
I wake up at 7:30 in the morning. My iPhone wakes me up. The first thing I do is check my mails while still in bed. Coming from a 3G, where Facebook took about 1:30 min to load, it's a pleasure browsing your social whatever on that thing but for someone coming from a 3GS it might be not that stunning.
After being 100% charged when I went to bed, the iPhone now is, after some bedbrowsing on WiFi before falling asweep and some Remote-Action for my bedtime music and waking me up with 3 to 200 times snoozing, which depends on how eager I am to get up, still at a good 98%.
I then put it on my desk, get some coffee and do my RSS-Twitter-Facebook-News morning routine on my computer.
It's about 9-9:15 when I arrive at the office (I work as a social media manager for Vice Magazine Germany). On my way there I listened to some Music and browsed Neowin or my GReader and FB/Twitter. It's still at 95%.
After a day full of work, some subway riding, many phone calls and lot's of music on my way to meetings or other stuff, the phone still is at about 75%.
I would say that's pretty good. 3G on, full brightness but WiFi turned off when I don't need it.
Oh and one dropped call, BTW. In the subway.
But it is not of too much use here to tell you what you can and cannot do with a smartphone. And all of that would've been possible with an Android device aswell. Sure thing.
Okay. So what is all this about? Was all that text really neccessary?
Yes. And no.
It really is a shame to read about the issues some have with their iPhones. This device is so great, it's so beautiful and everything feels so polished... The animations are fast, iOS4 app switching may be no real multitasking but it's more than enough for me, the music experience is unrivaled IMHO, the iPod app is so well designed and all...
But it's not the perfect phone. You cannot customize it to an extend that some people need to. I don't. I like it the way it is. Custom wallpapers and folders are enough for me. Widgets are nice, yeah, but the phone is so fast, I can just aswell open the FB app, instead of checking the widget. I found myself keeping my homescreens very simple when I had my Milestone. I rather have the phone transform into an eMail client or a Twitter machine than having everything at a glance but not quite complete... kinda half baked.
But that's personal reference. Others might need it differently.
Do I reccomend it? Hell yes!
IF you don't live in the US, that is. Because over there, the Antenna issue really seems to be BIG. But other than that - it's just a great phone.
Get an Android or the iPhone?
I don't give a ****. Get what suits you best. I said that at the end of my 3G review back then. Get what's best for you. If you need root access and deep customization, get an Android, of course. You want polished looks, an easy to use interface? Get an iPhone or an Android. You want gaming? Get an iPhone.
It all comes down to what you do with it, how you feel using it, how it suits you best.
The iPhone is far from perfect but so is Android. I use it at work and at home, it's always there.
But so would be a Desire or Galaxy S.
One thing I never understood was... why fight? Why fight over what someone else is using? I like my iPhone. So what? I don't really like the Android experience. So fckng what?
You don't like the iPhone? Alright! Go ahead. Use what's best for you. What feels best.
And I think that's quite important. Feeling good, when it comes to Gadgets like cell phones. Those things are your everyday companion for the next 12/24/whatever months. What is the point, if it doesn't feel right?
And then, what is the point in trying to convince someone that the device he/she owns and that might work for them is the wrong device, because you know it better, because Android/iPhone/whatever served you best? Who cares?
Personal reference is the key.
So.. To put a way too long story short:
This is my feelings about the iPhone. Maybe and hopefully it will help someone make a decision, in all likelyness it won't but hell... I hope some of you enjoyed reading this.
Please try to keep the BS down, really, I hope I did not offend anyone, I did not steal your time and you leave this topic not thinking "where is the last 15 minutes of my life".
I uploaded the pictures to Flickr. Figured it would be too much here.