10 Apple iPhone First Impressions: Innovation, Glaring Flaws

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-06-27

10 Apple iPhone First Impressions: Innovation, Glaring Flaws

The iPhone 4 is officially available. And although not everyone got their hands on the smartphone before it was sold out, the company's device is easily the most coveted release of the year. For good reason. The iPhone 4 is a well-designed, highly reliable smartphone that easily bests any of the previous devices that came before it. The iPhone 4 boasts several new features, comes with Apple's latest iOS 4 operating system, and performs almost all of the tasks that most consumers expect.

But there are also some issues with the iPhone 4. It's hobbled by a poorly devised antenna that's causing users to drop calls. It also doesn't help that the device's camera is a bit too underpowered when compared with the competition. Simply put, for all the good in the iPhone 4, there is some bad. After 24 hours with the device, those issues show themselves just as quickly as all the great things about it.

1. The antenna is a problem

All the reports of the iPhone 4 having antenna issues are absolutely true. Because Apple decided to put the antenna around the outside of the device, folks who hold the smartphone in a way that covers up the lines around the sides will experience dropped calls and connection issues with AT&T's network. For its part, Apple has said that users need to learn to hold the smartphone in a different way, indicating that it doesn't plan on addressing the issue. That's unfortunate. After making more than a dozen calls, a few were dropped while using the iPhone 4. And unfortunately, data transmissions were brutally slow while holding the iPhone as I normally do.

2. Retina display really is that good

Upon booting up the iPhone 4, consumers will be shocked by how beautiful its display is. Not only is the text far more crisp than on previous versions of the smartphone, but even the apps are more capable of displaying detailed content than in the past. That alone makes the iPhone 4's display the best on the market. The improved display has even done wonders for the iPhone 4's virtual keyboard. Pressing the correct keys is now much easier, and there is a significant reduction in the number of spelling errors. Apple's Retina display is the real deal. 

3. The speakerphone is fantastic

One of the main issues with the iPhone 3G was that its speakerphone just didn't work nearly as well as most would have liked. The iPhone 4 addresses that issue with what could be the best speakerphone ever offered in a smartphone. Not only is the reception quality second to none, the iPhone 4 doesn't require users to be close to the device to be heard on the other end. Even better, by using the smartphone's speakerphone, it cuts down on all the antenna issues that would otherwise hamper calls that are placed without the speaker.

4. FaceTime is incredible

Since the iPhone 4 has only been available for a day, as of this writing, it's tough to find other folks who have the ability to chat over video from one iPhone to another. But in those few cases where it is possible, FaceTime simply delivers an experience unlike anything I've had with a smartphone. The video quality is outstanding and the ability to switch between cameras is a welcome feature. Plus, it adds an entirely new dynamic to communicating with people with a smartphone. Connectivity over 3G would be nice, but that's a small price to pay for what FaceTime offers.

The Overall Package Impresses


5. Its design is nice, but flawed

When comparing the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 3GS, one thing immediately came to mind: The iPhone 4 is a far heftier device. In fact, it's noticeably heavier than previous versions of the iPhone. It's also a far more beautiful device than anything Apple has offered in the smartphone market to this point. But there is one major issue with the iPhone 4's design: Because it's so heavy and its design is so compact, I constantly feel like I'll drop it and it will shatter across the floor. It's not the best of feelings.

6. iOS 4 is a major step forward

As iPhone 3G and 3GS users know, iOS 4 is arguably the best mobile operating system ever released. The device's use of multitasking works quite well, but it should be noted that turning off different apps by holding a finger down on individual programs is a pain. Apple's use of folders is simply outstanding and makes for a more productive use of the operating system. Even the little things like an improved mail and spell-checking functionality come in extremely handy in the software. Simply put, iPhone 3G and 3GS owners should be downloading iOS 4 as soon as possible. It really is that good.

7. The screen looks small

It might be a small gripe considering how beautiful it is, but the iPhone 4's display looks awfully small. The device, which boasts a 3.5-inch display, certainly accommodates different apps and it doesn't lessen the user's ability to type out messages, but considering the Droid X and Evo 4G feature a 4.3-inch display, the iPhone 4 looks like a hobbled alternative. Of course, there's more to a display than its size, but after using the Evo 4G, some folks might start wondering why Apple didn't deliver a bigger display with its latest iPhone.

8. Camera quality is good, not ideal

The iPhone 4's camera is a significant step up over the iPhone 3GS. It creates much higher-quality pictures than previous iterations of the device. And for most consumers, it will work just fine. That said, professional photographers will have some trouble with the camera, since it does wash out people in the image with its overzealous flash from time to time. The iPhone 4's camera is nice and most should be happy to see its quality improved, but more advanced photographers will quickly realize that it leaves much to be desired.

9. It's a perfect device for on-the-go travelers

The iPhone 4 is perfectly designed for those who need a device that will slip into their pockets and be available for when they need to check e-mail, surf the Web or make calls. Unlike the latest BlackBerry models, which are extremely large and heavy, and feature physical keys that can be inadvertently pressed, the iPhone 4 is ideally suited for travel. Not only will users not need to worry about keys being pressed, but the device is small yet substantial enough to be safe in a person's pocket or purse. It's perfect for mobile users.

10. It's the best iPhone yet

With all of its faults, the iPhone 4 is simply the best smartphone Apple has ever released. Although its antenna problems are major and should be addressed, the device's Retina display is second to none. And the sheer care that was put into both its hardware and software design makes it an obvious choice for both consumers and enterprise customers who want something new. The iPhone 4 runs on AT&T's network, which isn't ideal, but it makes up for it with the best call sound quality Apple has ever put out. Apple's iPhone 4 is a must-have for anyone looking for a next-generation smartphone. It's as simple as that.

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