Thursday, June 24, 2010

iPhone 4

I've got my iPhone 4, and on release day too!

It was a snap decision. I was going to wait a couple of weeks until the hoo hah died down, but when the cat woke me just before 6, I decided to give it a go. I arrived at the O2 store in Queen St Cardiff at 7.10am to find about 150 people already waiting - the first ones had allegedly arrived about 1am! Within minutes there were another 20 or so behind me, all waiting for the 8.02am opening.

Our initial worry was would there be enough stock, but the staff made several head-counts and assured us they were "sitting pretty" and we'd all get one, something they repeated about three times, although by the time the queue had extended too much further they were suggesting that was that.

The next worry was how long was it going to take? Again the staff said they were working on 5 or 6 stations and they reckoned about 10 minutes per person. Even so, I was in for a long wait. In the end, I got into the shop at about 12.20pm - over 5 hours after arriving, and believe me, but then I was knacked. My feet ached, my back ached, and only free water and free Dansih pastries from the O2 team had made it bearable. Bearing in mind my general impatient disposition, I did well to hang on, but it gets to the point where you can't turn away. A teacher 4 back from me cut it so fine, he was literally at his latest cut-off point when he was 3 away from the door, but we let him go in before us. By then we were all best friends anyway!

So, the deed was done and I came away with a shiny 16GB iPhone 4.

Was it worth the wait? The cost? The contract tie in?

Yes, yes and yes again.

It's blisteringly fast - the fastest phone I've used by a country mile. Actions and apps snap open and closed. The fabled "retina" screen is gorgeous.

However, it's not in such a way as you immediately feel the obvious differences between this and previous incarnations (in my case a 3G) until you compare side by side.

It doesn't feel markedly thinner on it's own. But put it by the 3G and the latter dwarfs it. The screen on it's own undoubtedly looks superb. But put the same image on the 3G next to it and you see just how gorgeous and crisp the retina display is.

Phone sounds are louder and "clunkier" than on my 3G. The unit is about the same weight, but ounce for ounce it feels more solid.

It's so fast - compared to the 3G which was never blistering, and since iOS4 update has been positively laggy, this unit is very, very fast. You can almost hear the apps snapping open and closed.

Inevitably, there have been some reports on the web about problems. Two in particular stand out. One, is yellow splotches on the screen. This has been put down to the fast paced manufacture process and something called "Organofunctional Silane Z-6011" not evaporating properly, but is something that will apparently disappear in a few days use once whatever it is does completely evaporate. The other, slightly more worrying problem being reporting is a slowly fading signal when picking up a call with the phone in your hand. This is allegedly something to do with the contact of the skin across the antennae joins (3 small black bands around the unit that perform 3 different radio functions).

I haven't got yellow splotches (hooray) but in a crude test did see a slight signal fade when I put a finger across both lower seams of the antennae. Or at least I though I did once. I couldn't replicate it though, and you'd have to be holding you phone tightly and in a rather odd way (to me at least) to persistently "short" across these seam. This will be one to watch with interest.

So, there are my first impressions. I'm of an age where it's fun to do something radical once in a while. Getting an iPhone 4 isn't radical. Queuing for 5 and a half hours for a phone is.

Glad I did though.

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