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Statues Made of Matchsticks

I received my iPhone 4 last Wednesday, one of the group to get them a day early from Apple.

Initial thoughts:

  • Overall, it is speedy but no hugely speedy over the iPhone 3Gs. I’d rate it at about 25% faster and that seems to be confirmed by a recent Ars Technica review.
  • The immediate tactile impression is that it feels like a block of glass. Very well made, very solid, quite refined, but I found myself not wanting to put it down knowing that it would be resting on the glass back. In fact, I felt a bit nervous until I found a case for it – a simple Incipio NGP case, already in stock at a local AT&T store. This is a great soft case if you are looking for something discreet which doesn’t add bulk and still offers some protection.
  • Once you turn the iPhone 4 on it’s all about the screen. The screen is drop dead gorgeous. For images and text I never felt the previous iPhone screens were bad (maybe off color a bit, etc.) but once you see the new screen there is no going back. The color is very accurate but more so photos on the iPhone 4 have a depth and level of detail that makes your draw drop. It’s rivaling what you get with a calibrated high-end desktop monitor. The experience with text is similar and it is, as Apple says, more print-like because it is so sharp and clear.
  • Call quality has jumped up a notch or two with crystal clear clarity on the phone end. In terms of signal robustness, I have had one dropped call in the six days I’ve had the phone. I was also able to listen to streaming internet radio via an app for much of a 3.5 hour drive from Washington, DC north this past weekend. I would rate this similar to my experience with the 3Gs.

The camera has been updated on the new phone. Still images are more detailed and sharper. Video takes a big leap forward, moving up to HD. My main video camera is a seven year old Panasonic which uses mini-DV tapes. It is not HD and I love the camera but it has sat on a shelf since getting video in the 3Gs. I don’t want to deal with tapes and, yes, I know that this is comparing apples and oranges (cel phone vs. dedicated video camera) but for me convenience has been winning out.

I was looking forward to seeing if the HD capability on the iPhone 4 will negate the need for a Flip camera or similar for simple video. It will. If it does for you will depend upon what your standards and needs are – but again if convenience is the determinant then the video on the iPhone 4 can fit the bill. The biggest drawbacks to it are that the camera is so light it can make getting steady video a challenge, the iPhone 4 video does exhibit some rubberyness in the image if the camera or the subject moves too quickly, and some greater control over color, exposure, and focus would be nice.