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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.

This was shot and edited on the iPhone. The edit was made using Apple’s new iMovie app.

Video was shot on Chesapeake Bay in St. Leonard, MD, and in Washington, DC, at the Hillwood Estate Museum and Gardens.

March 12, 2011 – video moved to Vimeo.