I was able to pick up my new iPhone 4 on day one! When it comes to gadgets like this, that is how I am. When I got my iPhone 3G, I waited in like at 5:00am at the local AT&T store to get it. Something in me just has to have it when it’s released. That is the geek in me. With the iPhone 4, it was easier. I just pre-ordered it at Best Buy and they made an 8:00am appointment, the day before it was released, for me to come in and pick it up. I got there, stepped in side, sat down, and had my new 32GB iPhone 4 handed to me.

I’ve had it a few days now and have spent a lot of time with it. Just today I put emoji icons in front of my folder names… so I have a football in front of the name for my ‘Sports’ games folder, headphones for my ‘Music’ folder, and a camera on my ‘Photo’ apps folder. With all the good, and bad, news flying around about the new iPhone 4, I thought I would put in my two cents worth. There has been enough in-depth reviews, so I will keep this simple. Just do an iPhone 4 review search in Google to get all the juicy details.

I Love This Thing! Yes, this is coming from an Apple fan, so you will have to keep that in mind while reading this. The phone has an industrial heftiness to it. It feels very solid, even though tests have shown that the screen will crack if dropped. I did put the Zagg Invisible Shield on the front and back of it already. I originally bought a Griffin case with rubber outside and clear plastic back. I returned this because the plastic was about an 1/8th inch thick. The new iPhone is supposed to be sleek, so this case just wasn’t going to do it for me. I now have the official Apple bumper ordered and am just waiting for it to arrive in the mail. I’m just being extra careful not to drop it. Over the two years I had my iPhone 3G, I dropped it twice. Once before I had a case… which left scratches up the side, and a second time with a protective case on it. I’m protecting the iPhone 4 now!

So, what is all the hoopla over the new iPhone 4? If you had the original iPhone or the iPhone 3G, the iPhone 4 is a big step up for you. It’s not so much of an advance forward from the 3GS. From my iPhone 3G, the iPhone 4 has gained great speed that I didn’t have before. I looked at my friends iPhone 3G today and it seemed to run in slow motion. It hasn’t even been a week yet and I’m already use to the peppiness of my new iPhone 4. At 1Ghz speed, it is 400Mhz faster than the iPhone 3GS… which was already twice as fast as my iPhone 3G. It is using a new processor, and considering that the screen has four times the resolution of the previous iPhone and it is still faster than the iPhone 3GS, that is quite some chip in there. Data performance is outstanding too. I get data upload speeds, on AT&T’s 3G network, five times faster than what I got before.  Even download speeds are faster. From my office, I got about 4MB/s down and over 2MB/s up. On my iPhone 3G my highest download speed was just over 2MB/s and I only got about .25MB/s up. Wireless network speeds in my home are even faster too. Everything about the new iPhone 4 is faster!

The screen is just gorgeous! Just look at these screen shots of the game Real Racing on my son’s iPod Touch and my iPhone 4. The detail, the depth, the smoothness of the curves. You can really see the graphical advancement of the iPhone 4. Pictures are more vibrant, text looks like it is actual print, and you can see details that you’ve never noticed before. Think of the previous iPhones as DVD and the iPhone 4 as Blu-Ray… that is how different the screens look. If I play games that haven’t been updated, it reminds me of playing old Xbox games on my Xbox 360. They are still fun but just don’t have the pop of the new updated graphics. One thing I did notice, when I had my iPhone 4 sitting next to my iPhone 3G, is that the screen is much darker when turned off. TV sales people say that darker screens offer better blacks and contrast in movies. This is probably what helps make the new iPhone screen look so much better.

Real Racing running on an iPod Touch.

Real Racing running on the new iPhone 4.

I liked using the built-in camera of my iPhone 3G but didn’t like that it took such poor pictures in low light. It was also slow when taking any action photos. I would have to snap the photo button a split second before the action, wait a couple of seconds for the screen animation to close and then open again, and then check to see if I caught the action just right. Most of the time I didn’t. With the new iPhone 4, taking pictures is no longer a chore. I can take five pictures in the time it took to take one on the iPhone 3G. Video is something I didn’t even have. The new iPhone 4 can shoot video at 720p resolution and it looks just fantastic. In normal Apple fashion, it is just the basics. No image stabilization, no zoom, just wide-screen 720p video shooting. Someone else will come up with an app that has these features. It took four versions of the OS for Apple to finally throw in a zoom for still photos. I’ve had an app that has done this since iPhone OS 2. What is new to all previous iPhone users is the built-in flash. It’s an LED flash, so I didn’t think it would be that bright. I was wrong. It is blinding bright. In small camera fashion though, it causes bad red-eye. It still does what it should and can even be used as a fill flash while recording video. Without it, the camera still works great in low light. Now I’ve got both a great still photo and video camera that I can have on me at all times. With iMovie, I can also put my pictures and videos together, create titles, and then send them up to Facebook for my family and friends to view right away.

Photos and videos actually look good on the new iPhone 4

Another nice new feature, that I’ve used a couple of times now, is Facetime. Apple built a smaller camera into the front of the new iPhone 4. Make a call to another iPhone 4 user, over WiFi, and you can enable Facetime. If you have used iChat or Skype video chat, you know what Facetime is. It allows you to Video chat with other iPhone 4 users. Notice I keep mentioning other iPhone 4 users. iChat and Skye on home computers will need to be updated to work with Facetime. It is using a new technology that is not compatible with the current video chat standards. It is actually more efficient at what it does, so it will only be a matter of time before we will be chatting with other iPhone 4 users, as well as Mac and Window users, and even Droid users. Apple has made it an open standard. Someone just needs to create or update applications to use it. From my short time using it, it works great. You can switch between the front and back camera with a touch of an on-screen button so that the other person can see what you are looking at. We should be able to use it over AT&T’s 3G network too… someday

I’m really amazed at the design of the new iPhone. Scratch and break resistant glass on the front and back, stainless steel around the edges, speakers that are loud and clear, and dual microphones for noise cancellation. The battery lasts longer and my sync/backup times are faster than ever. Like I said before, everything is better about this phone compared to my old iPhone 3G… but everything has not been rosy since launch day.

Three problems have been found since release day. Two I have witnessed myself and the third I want to protect my phone from getting. The first is the antenna issue. The signal goes through the stainless steel that runs around the phone. Touch the phone wrong and the signal goes away. Some say that this is a physical problem, while rumors state that an iPhone OS 4.01 update will fix the problem… The OS is supposed to switch the phone to a different frequency but is actually switching to ‘no service’. We’ll see if this gets fixed with a simple software update. The easier fix is to put a protective cover on the phone… like Apple’s bumper. How many people do you know with an iPhone that has no cover? I don’t know of anyone. People want to protect their phone, and they want it to have their own personal look, so they put a cover on it. That fixes the antenna issue.

Keep up with family and friends using Facetime.

Problem number two is with the front proximity sensor. I was using my iPhone 4 to place a to-go dinner order from Chili’s Restaurant. While talking, I muted the phone so they could not hear me. On a call with my wife, I accidentally hung up the phone. The proximity sensor is supposed to turn off the front screen and touch sensor so that the side of your face does not hit any of the on-screen buttons. This doesn’t seem to be working right. I’m not sure if it is a software or hardware fix.

The third problem is with the glass that is used for the front and back of the phone. The front is stronger than the back and is called “Gorilla” glass. It is said to be used in the windshield of helicopters and high-speed trains. I like the sound of that. What I don’t like is the sound of shattering glass. As strong as this Gorilla glass is, it still cracks when dropped on its edge. The way the phone is designed, the glass covers the complete front and back of the phone… right out to the edge. This is the reason I am getting the Apple bumper. If I do happen to drop the phone, I don’t want this glass to crack.

Apple has always fixed their problems. I had signal reception issues with my iPhone 3G… people just don’t remember the past problems. Apple made it right by updating the OS so that the iPhone handled the cell signals correctly. Battery issues were fixed with another update. The iPhone 3GS probably had its fair share of problems too. I was willing to put up with these little issues to get my iPhone on day one. Soon Apple will have these problems fixed and we will be enjoying the new iPhone 4 without any thoughts of these release time woes.

Apple has always created simple to use devices while the competitors are pushing the boundaries of features on a phone… making them even more complicated and without the design elegance of the iPhone. The new iPhone 4 is a beautiful device. Over one and a half million people bought it in the first three days. If there were no production issues… like the lack of the white version… these sales numbers would be much higher. Apple must be doing something right. Rumors have even started again about a CDMA version of the iPhone coming to Verizon at the beginning of 2011. Only time will tell.

I know I didn’t get into any details here. I said I wouldn’t. No need to repeat what can already be found on the Internet. I wanted this to be my personal use review. Yes I left out things about the new folders and multi-tasking, but that is iOS 4, not iPhone 4. You can get those features on the iPhone 3GS too. I’ll do a separate article giving my thoughts on iOS 4 soon. Check out Apple’s official video of the new iPhone 4 if you really want to see how it works.

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