I have had an iPhone 4 since launch day. I upgraded from a 3GS. Overall, it’s nice upgrade over the previous version of the phone. The single best feature is the new 300 DPI Retina display. You interact with that display all the time and you never stop noticing how beautiful and sharp it is.
Overall fit and finish are a step above the previous phone. The lack of plastic means that it is more durable. It feels thinner in my pocket. It’s the size that I feel a phone should be.
The new antenna is both better and worse. If you touch the phone in its sensitive weak spot, where the GSM and Wifi antennas meet, you may drop a call and you will certainly see greatly reduced data rates.
But, if you take care to not put your finger over that weak spot, the reception is actually a bit better than the previous phone in my my opinion. The new phone is capable of significantly faster upload rates due to its implementation of HSUPA, good for Phanfare because our iPhone app uploads full size images from the phone.
This points out the maddening compromise that Apple made with the new design. The phone is capable of better reception and suffers from worse reception when held in certain ways. But there is no way I would consider returning the phone over this issue. I like it too much over the old phone.
I took the iPhone 4 and an iPad 3G on a recent European cruise and often found the iPhone could get a cell signal where the iPad got none.
On land when I was using the iPhone, I sometimes dropped from 3G to Edge and then realized my finger was over the weak spot. This was an interesting environment to test the devices both because GSM coverage is thought to be better in Europe and the devices were roaming across multiple cell carriers, looking for the best one.
Overall, the iPhone 4 is a pleasure to use. It’s fast and feels even faster because of the fast app switching in iOS 4. The only feature I miss from the 3GS/iOS 3 is that double clicking the home button used to bring up phone favorites for me. Now, under iOS 4, it brings up the task manager (I know Steve hates that term but let’s call a spade a spade).
I still miss the reliability of my old Verizon Blackberry as a phone. I had the Blackberry World Phone (CDMA + GSM). I could make a call on that phone and hold the call while driving from Princeton to NYC (at least an hour). With the iPhone on ATT, I would be lucky to get five minutes. I don’t know whether that’s ATT or Apple’s fault. I suspect a little of both.
But the iPhone is really a pocket computer at its heart. I use it more on WiFi than any other way. As a pocket computer it shines above all other devices on the market. The whole package: hardware, software, UI, and apps are unbeatable from my standpoint.
I think Apple is enjoying success with the iPhone platform, despite it being a so-so phone, because they properly predicted the transition from voice to data. I use far fewer minutes than I did 10 years ago. I nearly never leave anybody voice mail and often don’t listen to my voice mail. I just call the person back.
I used the camera quite a bit on my recent trip. It’s not a digital SLR, but in easy lighting situations, it takes a gorgeous photo.
You might notice I did not mention facetime. The only facetime calls I made are test calls to marvel over the technology. This is partially because I just don’t use the device as a phone all that often and when I do its a business call via bluetooth.
I would recommend the iPhone 4. It’s small, light, has superior battery life, a beautiful display and an improved camera. It is still unreliable in the US as a phone. If you need a phone that will always ring when you call it, and that can hold calls for more than 10 minutes, you should probably stick with a Verizon device. Not sure whether Android phones hold calls. The blackberry devices certainly do the last time I checked.