The Latest Buzz – Apple iPhone 4 – My Review

Some might have seen me as an Apple or iPhone detractor in the past and well perhaps I was especially the 1st gen iPhone – which whilst being a neat media device was a terrible phone and didn’t have 3G at a time when even the most basic phones already had the capability to go beyond EDGE connectivity.

By the time the iPhone 3G came around things were looking better, but there were still very basic functions missing. The appeal of course was the growing Appstore – an app for anything you could dream of, and apps to solve problems you didn’t even know you had – all for only $0.99! Much like shopping at the RM5 shop Daiso – you’ll find things you never even thought could exist.

And well when the iPhone 3GS came out, I started to think it was a reasonably capable phone – but there was still a big issue for me. The camera did indeed take nice pictures (in reasonable light) but there was no flash, and to me a camera-phone with no flash is near useless.

Then finally, along comes the iPhone 4…WITH FLASH! I’m not going to list out the specs here or a bunch of product pictures as you can find those anywhere online. Nor will I share an ‘unboxing’ video or a bunch of pictures of what is inside the box. This is more about my experience with the phone, and what it has been like using it every day for the past few weeks or so since I got it at the Maxis iPhone 4 launch.

iPhone 4 - Malaysia

The one thing that worried me immediately when I got the phone was the fact it was glass…glass edge to edge – both front and back. Having experienced dropping my phone before I thought it wise to immediately buy a rubber case and a screen protector for both the front and back, which you can see in the picture above. Although the front screen is tough and scratch resistant gorilla glass, the back is not so it’d be wise to protect it.

Looks wise though, it is a fine looking phone with the gorilla glass and stainless steel band – the screen is the first thing that strikes you. Yes the so called ‘Retina Display’ has an impressive 960×640 pixel IPS backlit LCD screen and truly is sharp and bright, one thing I discovered shortly after using the phone is that it automatically adjusts the brightness – I really LOVE this feature especially when surfing or reading on the phone in a dark place as it really dims down the screen so the harsh glare doesn’t hurt your eyes.

iPhone 4 - Auto Brightness

As for using the phone, I did find it a little difficult at first as this is the first Apple product I’ve ever owned. Plus the fact there is no instruction manual, you have to work out what the buttons do on your own. It took me a while how to bring up the multi-tasking bar (double tap the home button) then hold down on the icons to kill background apps.

Organising the screens is really very easy, just press on an icon till it starts wobbling – if you want to uninstall the app just press the red cross, if you want to move it just drag it, if you want to create a folder just drag an icon on top of another.

iPhone 4 - Edit Home Screen

Calling and SMS is now much improved and pretty straight forward, I’ve had no issues with the whole ‘antennagate’ thing. So far the phone has generally been stable, some apps crash (Pingchat! for example is BETA software and seems quite unstable) but it doesn’t hang the whole phone. Syncing my phone book and calendar with Gmail was painless, pushmail works fine as do push notifications for Facebook. The official Twitter app is missing push notifications but it’s fine as it’s less of a battery hog.

When Godfinger was spamming me with push notifications my battery only lasted half a day, but now with that turned off I can easily go from morning till fairly late at night (2-3am) without charging so the battery life is much improved over previous generation iPhones.

Overall the simplicity is great, everything is easy and just works. Tethering for example is as simple as enabling the option on the phone and then plugging it into your PC – you don’t need any suite, any special software or do anything really..it just works. Plus it works over USB and Bluetooth.

iPhone 4 - Tethering

I also enjoy the fact you can browse the Appstore and iTunes on your desktop and download apps using your home broadband line – then just plug your phone in and it’ll sync everything up. No complicated options, no backup configuration – it just takes care of it.

iPhone 4 - iTunes Sync

When I first got the phone I also updated the firmware from 4.02 to 4.1 and it was a painless experience. As a fringe benefit, I also discovered the massive selection of online streaming stations built into iTunes – currently enjoying all the EPIC 80s stations.

iTunes - Appstore

Even in saying that, browsing and installing apps from the Appstore on the phone is also extremely easy and extremely dangerous for your credit card if you have poor impulse control. Everything looks so cool and shiny and it’s only 59p or $0.99 a pop! Thankfully there are a plethora of free apps and more commonly a ‘lite’ version of most paid apps so you can try them out first. Or if you’re a miser you can just play through all the games using the lite versions as there are thousands to choose from.

iPhone 4 - Appstore

Media wise it’s good, honestly I’m not a big consumer of music and videos on my phone so I can’t comment much on that. I’m sure it’d function just the same as an iPod touch though – which is a great media device. The thing that surprised me was iBooks, I thought it’d be all controlled by DRM and using some weird proprietary format – but no! It supports both .epub and .pdf files and it’s actually a really good e-book reader. I’ve read about 6 books since I’ve got the phone and I haven’t been reading regularly for quite some time now. It’s useful to have a library in your pocket, rather than having a dedicated ebook reader you can just delve in and out when you have 5 minutes to spare.

iPhone 4 - iBooks

There’s a ton of other stuff you just discover whilst using the phone too – like for most things a swipe to the right will give you an option to delete an item, for many apps physically shaking the phone reloads/refreshes.

As for the stuff you download and setup straight away, it was all simple to do and went without any issues (Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, E-mail, WordPress app etc).

Image quality from the camera is decent, my recent post about Oktoberfest – all the pictures were taken with the iPhone 4. I do find at times it tends to over-saturate the pictures a little, but then that’s what makes the images pop. I’ll do a more comprehensive post about the picture quality later (and other stuff like how the HDR feature works and the flash) and compare it with some other camera phones, being a photographer this is an area of interest for me. You can browse through my Twitpics too, they are all taken with the iPhone since the end of September. I’ll also record some video samples and post those up too.

I’ve had is some weird Wifi quirks where it won’t get a DHCP lease and defaults to the private 169.xx IP range. After rebooting the router it worked again, but obviously I can’t do that for public Wifi. It has been widely discussed on the Apple forums and I hope they address it with a future firmware update as Wifi is rather important especially when you want to use data in foreign lands. The other downside is one which everyone is already aware of, the requirement for proprietary accessories – now all mobile phone manufacturers are using Micro USB chargers as a standard…iPhone of course isn’t – you still need the Apple dock connector to charge and connect your phone to the PC. Of course there are a whole bunch of 3rd party accessories out there now, so it’s not as costly as it once was – example being I picked up the rubber casing and a good quality car charger for RM65.

Overall sometimes I find things a little TOO simple, but then I am a power user and on the flip side I appreciate the stability and easy of use the simplicity brings. Generally it’s a pleasure to the use the phone, it does what it’s supposed to do and it does it well.

I give it a thumbs up, if you want to get yourself an iPhone 4 you can check out the deals/rates from Maxis here:

iPhone 4 – Maxis

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17 Responses to The Latest Buzz – Apple iPhone 4 – My Review

  1. Chai October 18, 2010 at 10:05 am #

    ST (it stands for Shaolin tiger and not estee….lol),

    anyway…so r u planning to sell ur N900?

  2. Myhorng October 18, 2010 at 11:10 am #

    no user manual is good. at least u wont have ppl shouting at u “RTFM”

    as for the screen, scary. so vulnerable. need to really handle with tender n care. with protection cover, it defeated the purpose of its aesthetic design but yet, it really needs protection. very nice phone…

  3. Niki Cheong October 18, 2010 at 3:46 pm #

    Yeah, careful with dropping it.

    My colleague dropped his 3GS the other day and the screen shattered. I heard the back of the iPhone 4 is fragile too?

    Enjoys your toys. Methinks me will wait for iPhone 5 😛 *broke from buying my iMac and iPad this year already*

  4. AnthonyKong October 18, 2010 at 5:01 pm #

    Nice Review mate… “antaennagate” is over. Now all im waiting for is the White Version…

  5. Serge Norguard October 20, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

    i would say the only thing that is stopping me from getting this is the lack of proper jailbreak for it.

    However what entices me is the retina display and the flash (finally).

    Oh Sonic 4 Eps 1 looks really good on retina display.

  6. Zach October 20, 2010 at 2:47 pm #

    I’m so gonna get the white one now! Wonder when will it be out..

  7. ahsiang October 20, 2010 at 2:48 pm #

    since both side is glass, the probability to get glass shattered compare to 3GS or older is double! 😛

  8. eiling October 20, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

    good review! I am actually waiting for the white version…

  9. Mike Campton October 20, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

    Looks like someone is enjoying his iPhone. Haha. Good review dude. And I really agree with you on the auto-brightness. Super feature. I can literally see my screen get brighter as I walk out into the sunlight from a dark place.

  10. ShaolinTiger October 20, 2010 at 5:23 pm #

    Chai: Probably not, it’s still an awesome geek device and I wanna have the first run at MeeGo on the N900 before any official MeeGo devices are released!

    Myhorng: Yah still looks good with the cover tho, and 100% safer LOL

    Niki Cheong: Yah an being uber careful. Pretty prone to cracking because the glass is edge to edge front and back.

    AnthonyKong: Heh, seems like a lot of people waiting for white version.

    Serge Norguard: Dude there’s been 2 fully working jailbreaks available since 101010 (greenpoison and limerain).

    Zach: Haven’t heard any news on the white one yet.

    ahsiang: Hahah yah, much higher actually cos it’s edge to edge.

    eiling: Ohh, the proper Apple colour 😀

    Mike Campton: Yes indeed, yah love it it makes so much difference moving from dark to light areas.

  11. CLF October 20, 2010 at 5:28 pm #

    hey mate how do u get to the Internet tethering option? it isn’t listed under my Settings -> Network .

  12. ShaolinTiger October 20, 2010 at 5:31 pm #

    CLF: Assuming you are running the latest Firmware (4.1) it’s under Settings – General – Network – Internet Tethering. It should be just underneath Data Roaming and above VPN.

  13. Acat October 20, 2010 at 5:41 pm #

    iPhones have always been pretty much stupid proof phones. Ur n900 and to a certain extent android phones allow more room for power users to play around with. How does the experience wight the iPhone 4 compare with that?

  14. Serge Norguard October 20, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

    ho ho ho ho, have not heard of those two. Interesting but i’ll wait for the next batch to come out or my 3GS to meet Cerberus.

  15. kk October 21, 2010 at 12:22 am #

    so would you ditch Iphone4 for a HTC Android phone?

    UI of Iphone4 still does not integrate with Facebook and other social networking right?

  16. Zagary October 23, 2010 at 8:49 pm #

    Hmmm….you must live near my place….Just saw you with Kim going to the new Tesco about 20mins ago. Saw the man in front of you while you are going up the travelator? Saw his ‘horn’?

    (^^)

    P/S: This is the 2nd time I saw you and Kim. First time is at some home furnishing expo at PWTC and now here at the new Tesco. (^^). If there’s a third time, either you or me have to buy a round of beer (^^)

  17. ShaolinTiger October 25, 2010 at 5:59 pm #

    Acat: Apples and Oranges really like I mentioned.

    Serge Norguard: Heh, good luck.

    kk: Not right now no, Android still lacking quality apps, not so stable, got a lot of annoying bugs and facing product fragmentation. Facebook, Twitter & Foursquare work fine on my iPhone 4.

    Zagary: Haha yah I did notice the ‘horn’. You must have been right behind me.