It wasn’t long before the mainstream journos started to mimic their tech counterparts.
On 2nd July, Apple issued a letter regarding iPhone 4. A letter that seemed rather hurriedly put together and in which they blamed the signal issues on the iPhone’s OS showing signal bars incorrectly. It stated that a patch for the OS would be released soon but if customers were unhappy with their iPhone they still had time to return them for a full refund.
This only served to produce yet more media speculation.
Of course the world now speculates what will be announced. A total recall? A recall of a certain batch of iPhone 4s? Free “bumpers” to limit the attenuation effects? Free iTunes gift cards to placate the masses? A lesson in how to hold the iPhone 4 properly? Or perhaps it’ll be something completely different?
In my opinion, there’s no chance of a recall of any sort. Obviously it would cost Apple a fortune but, more importantly, i don’t expect that Apple have enough devices stock-piled to deal with replacements on such a scale. Especially not devices that are now somehow “fixed”.
My guess is that the press conference will, for the most part, be a re-statement of Apple’s letter of 2nd July. Something like:
The iPhone has been a huge success – we’ve shipped 3 million devices and demand still outstrips supply. As with all mobiles there is an attenuation problem – but our testing shows that iPhone 4 gives the best call quality of any iPhone yet. Today we’re releasing iOS 4.0.1 which updates the signal bar algorithm to give a truer indication of signal level. Furthermore, we’re extending the returns period to 60 days so that any customers that are dissatisfied with the iPhone 4 can return it for a full refund.
Feel free to come back and laugh at this prediction after 6pm British time tomorrow.
Update: This opinion piece at T3KD is worth a read. Seems like a sensible take on the antenna situation to me.
Update #2: I’ve just come across this piece at ElectricPig about what to expect at tomorrow’s press conference. It’s about the most reasonable speculation i’ve seen thus far.
Update #3: Wow. WOW. I praise ElectricPig for publishing the most reasonable speculation i’d seen and then they go and post the most horrendous tripe i’ve read on the matter. Apparently Steve Jobs is personally to blame, “Millions of devices now rest in the hands of unhappy, or at the least slightly confused customers” and iPhone 4 owners deserve a public apology and “a freebie or two as well“. Fucking hell. What utter, utter toss. If you find the phone is so unbearably bad, take it back and spend your money elsewhere. It’s really not that difficult, is it?
Meanwhile, the smart folk at Anandtech have been busy analysing the iOS 4.0.1 update which Apple actually pushed out last night. (Yes, my prediction is already falling apart and we’re still 6 hours or so from the press conference starting)
Update #5: So, the Apple have had their say. I thought they said the right things and tried to deal with the media sensationalism as best they could. Was my above prediction correct though? In short, not really. iOS 4.0.1 was released before the event, the return window stays at 30 days and customers ARE going to get free cases. I was right with my estimate that sales would’ve surpassed 3 million though, so you know, i may still be related to Nostradamus. If you want to know exactly what was said at the press conference, Apple have put a video of the event online (the lazy amongst you could alternatively try Engadget’s summary. They’ve also published a new webpage about antenna performance here.
The one detail from the press call that left me puzzled though – the “deadline” for free cases being the end of September. Why not just say anyone who bought a case already can have the cost refunded and anyone who already bought an iPhone 4 can have a case for free? Why open it up for a couple of months? Is it just generosity/pr or will a hardware fix come by then? That’s what Graham at MacPredictions speculates might happen. Interesting idea.
No, not a Fisher-Price toy. I’m going to tell you about my iPhone 4 – the first iPhone i’ve owned – after having used it for one (1) whole English week. And, what is more, I’ll make this easy for us both and break it down into nice bite-size chunks…
The iPhone 4, as with all Apple products, is undeniably beautiful but (and you may be surprised to read this) I’m actually not too taken by it. I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed when Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone 4 and the leaked images were proven to be correct. I had been hoping it might look a little more like the MacPredictions mock-up, truth be told. Don’t get me wrong though, I like the design; I just don’t love it.
I might not be a huge fan of the look of the iPhone 4 but i adore the feel of it. The glass screen feels great to the touch – smoooooooth – and the device’s uniform shape means that any way it can be held feels like the correct way.
Let’s not beat around the bush: Apple’s “Retina Display” is simply amazing and, cliché or not, it really has to be seen to be believed. It makes the tiniest of text legible and pictures just look stunning on it. The only downside is that the apps that’ve yet to update their graphics really stand out as letting the side down.
One of my biggest concerns about getting an iPhone was that my big fat fingers would prevent me from typing quickly on the on-screen keyboard. Initially i thought my fears had been realised as composing text took far too long – long enough to make the alternative phone call a much quicker option – but within a couple of days i was more than comfortable with the interface and now a week later i’m picking up some speed. The iPhone’s Auto-Correction felt intrusive to begin with but now i see it for the godsend that it is – Put your trust in it and you can let your thumb(s) fly over the screen without worry. I’m not sure that i’ve yet reached the typing speeds i was capable of on a physical numpad with T9 predictive text input but then i had been using that system for nearly a decade.
As far as the battery is concerned, i’ll say the iPhone 4 is OK. I’m getting about 7 hours of “usage” out of a full charge (according to the phone’s own Settings app). This is 7 hours of “general” use – doing a bit of everything the phone can do (though mainly web via wifi, i’d guess). The longest i’ve managed on a full charge so far is a total just shy of 8 hours and the shortest is somewhere just over 6 hours. I can’t say i’m especially pleased with this (and i’m a little concerned at the thought of how long the battery will last 2 years down the line when my contract expires) but then i had to charge my old phone (a Sony Ericsson W760, if you’re interested) daily anyway and that wasn’t half as powerful.
On the plus side, i was pleasantly surprised to discover that a full re-charge of the iPhone takes less than 2 hours. It’s fantastic that just sticking the phone on charge for as little as 20 minutes can give you a couple more hours usage time.
The iPhone 4’s antenna “problem” is probably as famous as the device itself now so i feel i should give you my take on it too. Here goes: Yes, the signal drops when you grip the phone over the black “joins” in the steel rim – but i only actually witnessed and reproduced this myself this after watching the video demonstrations online. Since the way i naturally hold the phone when taking a call avoids the problem area, the only time i’ve noticed the signal drop-off (when i wasn’t actively trying to demonstrate it to somebody) is occasionally when holding the phone to type. In short: The problem has yet to actually inconvenience me.
The iPhone 4 might not have the most megapixels in the world of camera-phones (indeed 5 megapixels might seem almost antique now many devices come equipped with 8mp or more cameras) but this truly is a case of “it’s what you do with it that counts”. I am continually awed by the quality of the images the iPhone 4 can capture – a lot of which i’d be pleased with if i’d snapped them on my “proper” point-and-press digital camera. I realise some of you may doubt such claims, so let me simply furnish you with an example…
A photo taken with my iPhone 4. Click here for the full, untouched JPG file straight from the iPhone’s memory.
And as an added bonus the camera also films video in 720p HD. Sure the footage it takes is not as good as a you would see from a dedicated device but the few videos i’ve done so far look great, save a few white balance oddities in extreme brightness.
Apple’s video-calling has a daft name, only works over wifi (for now) and may or may not be of any practical, real-world use but that doesn’t take any of the shine off it the first time you try it. The calls connect quickly, audio quality is good, video quality is good and best of all there are no stutters, lags or break-ups. Audio-video sync is also perfect. (And, in my case, this is the same wifi and broadband connections that allow for (at best) a small, sometimes jerky, video conference to take place over gmail video chat or Skype.)
Aside from the camera app start-up which occasionally suffers a noticeable delay (note there is ZERO lag in actually taking pictures) and processes that rely on data being fetched over the mobile networks, i haven’t had to wait for a single thing – the phone responds to every touch instantly. It is actually so good, the interactions so seamless, that the experience is largely unremarkable. Perhaps that sounds stupid? Perhaps it is. But what else can you say about something that “just works”?
(I suppose i could point out that friends with the iPhone 3G or 3GS who’ve used my iPhone 4 have all remarked at how fast it is. Not having used a 3G or 3GS for any length of time myself, i’m afraid any improvements are lost on me.)
I’m a week in to iPhone ownership and, unsurprisingly, i’m completely smitten with the device. So far it has been (almost) completely flawless in operation, the camera is fantastic, the screen is incredible and typing is far easier than i had worried it might be. Sure, i’m not completely happy with the battery life1 and the antenna issues bugs me (in that the problem exists) but they’re quite insignificant grumbles when i consider the tools i now have, always, at my finger-tips.
PS. Some further reading, for those who found this little review too lightweight:
Would i ever be completely happy with the battery life of a mobile device? If it lasted 24 hours, would i not wish it to last 48? If a week, would i not desire a fortnight? Battery technology undoubtedly takes leaps and bounds over time but unfortunately so do the devices utilising the power. ↩