iPhone 4 (2): A Few Days' Experience Using the Device

By Graham K. Rogers


phone sim

I have had the new iPhone 4 in my hands for just over a week and have been getting used to its new features and superior performance. The iPhone 3G that I have been using for some 18 months now has served me well. While the white back has a somewhat matte finish these days, the glass is as clear and unmarked as the day it came out of the box. Instead of an expensive case, I just use an iPod sock, which the staff at iStudio thought was amusing when I bought the new one. It works for me.

Not long after the iPhone 4 was released there was a major outcry about attenuation: the phone signal was reported to drop in some situations. As this was noticed more by left-handed people, I was concerned (being a lefty myself) and I followed the news closely, especially Apple's news conference.

When friends and people at work knew I had the iPhone 4, this was the first thing they asked me about; or in some cases, having followed the rumours, told me about. I had a close look at this early on. Try as I might, with all manner of test situations (and in general use), I could not make the signal drop by gripping the phone: left hand, right hand; all gaps in the antenna covered (there are three round the outside of the case); one, two covered; holding the glass only, to insulate the phone; holding the glass then touching the gaps; seated on a plastic chair with my feet off the ground. No change.

That is not to say that the signal did not vary, but it always does. Any changes, however, could not be attributed to how I was holding the phone and occurred even when it was on a table not being touched.

phone ca,era

One feature I was excited about was the camera. I had downloaded several photography apps that I have enjoyed using on the 3G iPhone, but the improvements and additional features of this latest version as well as the iPhone's improved speed (which affects all aspects of use) make it far more interesting as an alternative camera.

phone sim

With the iPhone 3G, when exported at original size to TIFF format from Aperture, a normal image would have a maximum size of 16" x 22". With the iPhone 4 this had been increased to an impressive 27" x 36" giving me photographs that could be made into posters with little effort. Output quality, of course, depends on the skill of the photographer.

The camera has several new tricks, including a flash, which was long-requested and can be set to On, Off or Automatic. Three other additions are HDR (High Dynamic Range) imaging, software zoom and a forward facing camera. Touch controls activate all of these. HDR, brackets an image and combines the output to give an optimum result, saving the original and HDR versions. Early days, yet, but I am not totally convinced. While bringing out foreground and some backgrounds, faces and other objects are paler than I am happy with. For the time being I will stick to image editing of the original in Aperture.


While video was available on the 3Gs (and the 3G with certain apps), I do not often work in this medium. The interface, including clip-editing is similar to QuickTime X on my Macs. It is clear from videos that my students produce for one of my classes that smaller devices are much improved these days. Shortly after the iPhone 4 was released an excellent video was made using the device that gives an idea of the potential. I hope to improve my skills with this.

iStat Although Apple claims considerably better use times, it is a waste of time looking at battery life in the first few weeks for a couple of reasons: the battery itself is new and needs some use; and the iPhone is new. We tend to use our new toys much more. I connect it to the charger each morning at breakfast time and use it during the next 24 hours, recharging again the next morning. The iPhone 4 has not yet been into the red zone (below 20%) thus far: the 3G usually was. This may be because of the better battery capacity, which an app I have (iStat) displays as two cells.

The larger battery may also be why the first reaction of everyone who held the device said, "heavy" (naak). Compared with the 3G and 3Gs it is without doubt; and the slimmer feel does make this noticeable at first: but not for long. It soon becomes a forgotten feature.

I had email from DTAC a few days after buying my iPhone 4 giving me a serial number which, according to the included schedule meant that an iPhone would be in my hands (delivery problems willing) within four weeks. That is five weeks too late.

3G, 3Gs and iPhone 4

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