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iPhone 4 ownership one month on.

My original “review” of the iPhone 4 was pretty glowing so i thought i’d post some thoughts now I’ve been using it for (over) a month and there’s been time for some of the shine to wear off.

iPhone low battery screen

Initially, my only real gripe with the phone was battery life, after only getting around 7 hours of “usage” (as measured by the phone itself) per charge. A month down the line and the battery is still my biggest complaint. I think i get more like 6 hours usage than 7 hours if i’m completely honest, but i reckon that using it on the net whilst on the move (and thereby constantly switching between “cells”) really taxes the battery – usage times seem much better at evenings and weekends when not travelling as much. I have also noticed that using the thing as an iPod gives a false impression of usage time – It’s in your pocket, with the screen off, not taking input and not using data from the web, just playing audio (which Apple claims it can do for 40 hours) but it is adding to the usage counter. In the six weeks i’ve had the iPhone, my worst usage time has been around 5.5 hours and my best 8.5 hours. The odd thing is when you talk to folk who’ve upgraded from older iPhones they are pleased with the battery life. If that’s true, then iPhone/3G/3GS battery life must’ve been sickeningly horrendous.

Anyway, enough about the battery. What else do i have to tell you? Um…

  • I don’t like how there’s no way to view more “details” about a particular SMS. On just about every other mobile in the world you can see when a particular text was sent and when it was received. On the iPhone you don’t even necessarily know when you received a certain text, thanks to the (otherwise great) conversation view. It’s not a detail that i checked often but it is occasionally useful to know if the message has been delayed in getting to you, as they sometimes are.
  • Likewise, i can find no way of checking the “details” of photos. Again, it’s not something i need but I’d like to be able to check the timestamp of the image. Sadly it seems impossible until you’ve got the pictures into iPhoto.
  • While mentioning photos, i also have to admit that i’ve had a few problems getting them onto my Mac. Sometimes iPhoto just doesn’t seem to be able to read the files and throws an error. Successful import is then only possible after logging-out-of-and-back-in-to my account on the Mac and rebooting the iPhone. (It’s possible this problem is due to connecting the iPhone to a PC inbetween Mac syncs though – it hasn’t happened since i stopped charging the phone on my work PC.)
  • The phone is very, very slippy in my (almost always very dry) hands. I find it almost impossible to use when standing on a moving bus – or rather, I just daren’t risk using it while standing on a moving bus, for fear of dropping it. Also, it easily slides down barely perceptible inclines on low-friction surfaces – The arm of our settee being a prime example. I’ve had to fetch it from under the cushions innumerable times.
  • I’ve found that occasionally screen taps near edge of screen are not registered. I’m not sure if this is the sensors not working properly near the edge or because my fat fingers are just pressing on the thin frame rather than the screen.
  • With regards the Retina display: There are still LOADS of apps that haven’t optimised their graphics for the high-res display, which makes things look crummy. Also, my familiarity with the screen seems to mean i’m spotting pixels now – particularly on the letter S. Of course, it’s still the most crisp screen i’ve ever seen. Someone on twitter remarked that the iPhone 3GS beside an iPhone 4 now looks like a GameBoy Color. A fairly accurate comparison i thought.
  • Performance wise, i’m still happy but i have had Safari stall a few times when loading a webpage on a slow mobile connection and i have the audacity to try to open a new tab whilst waiting. Which is sort of the whole point of tabs, no?
  • Taking photos whilst holding the phone “landscape” is a little awkward. The placement of the on-screen button, while perfect in portrait, feels unnatural when in landscape.  (Again, i think the fear of dropping the phone and so clutching it more rigidly than i need to plays a part in this)
  • I originally said i didn’t love the look of the iPhone 4 but it’s growing on me. I’m now of the opinion that it’s the best looking iPhone yet.
  • My favourite games so far are Angry Birds and Flight Control. Both very addictive but, for me, Flight Control is just the perfect example of touchscreen gaming. It’d be possible to play it with a mouse but MUCH more difficult and not nearly as satisfying. It also looks stunning on the iPhone 4 display.
  • Using the RedLaser app to scan barcodes and instantly get a price from the web, or watching live TV (on via a 3G signal, makes you feel like you’re living in Sci-Fi. Or maybe i’m just to easily amused.

So to summarise: i’m not particularly happy with the battery life and there are some little niggles but this is far, far outweighed by everything i love about the device. A month into iPhone ownership i’m still very happy with the purchase.