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The iPod was my gateway drug to the iPhone. Two years ago, being tired of carrying around a phone and an iPod, I decided to take the plunge and invest in a 16GB iPhone 3G. It was the best purchase I’ve ever made. I fully anticipate snarky comments, illuminating me to the wonders of the other smart phones on the market or dismissing Apple as a cult of hipster-Jobs-worshipping-zombies. But you know what? I don’t give a shit about any of that. I have no brand loyalty or nerd rage either way. I just know what works for me. And for two years, the iPhone 3G was my best friend and my most-used tool. I took it everywhere, used it constantly, and rarely did it let me down.
However, over the past several months, as my storage began to run out and my needs increased, I noticed that the 3G was becoming sluggish and quirky. Syncing was hit or miss, sometimes taking ages, and performance was spotty. Even more aggravating was that I was having to “clean the fridge”, constantly making room for new apps or albums. As much as I loved my 3G, I had outgrown it.
Luckily, Apple releases a new product about once every two days (or so it seems), and my two-year contract was just about up. So, when the iPhone 4 was announced, I made my preorder and on launch day I had a shiny new phone sitting on my front steps. So now that I’ve had a week with my new best friend, I figured I’d post some thoughts on the new Apple hotness, just in case some of you are making the upgrade.
The first thing you’ll notice about the iPhone 4 is the form factor. No longer contoured on the backside, the new phone feels more “brickish” than the past three models. The result is a more sturdy and solid feel. Not necessarily “better” or “worse”; just “different”. I can’t say that I prefer the separate buttons for volume, or the new “sound off” switch, but neither do I dislike them. The 1/4″ headphone jack now actually clicks when a cable is plugged in. These changes feel a bit more “industrial” in design, but as I mentioned, where the phone looses some of its sleek sexiness, it makes up for in a feel of durability. Little things like that make me less wary that my phone is going to shatter if I drop it.
Much has been made about the iPhone 4’s “retina” display. If you watched the press conference unveiling, you probably remember Steve Jobs boasting how the display would make you blow a load in your pants due to its unbelievable clarity. Or something like that. I forget the exact wording. Nevertheless, the fact remains that visual sexiness was promised and visual sexiness has indeed been delivered. Games, videos, and pictures always looked nice on my 3G, but on the iPhone 4 they have all reached a new level of quality. Street Fighter IV looks absolutely stunning, as do Espgaluda II and Plants vs. Zombies. And having such a high-quality movie-viewing screen in such a small portable size is nothing short of amazing. So yes, it turns out that all the gross marketing hyperbole was actually based in fact. Who woulda thunk?
Software-wise, many of the updates can be enjoyed via an update to iOS4 if you’re a 3Gs user or own a recent iPod touch. Hell, even my old 3G can be updated to use a few of the new features. But the iPhone 4 has a few additional touches not available on the older models. For example, all you narcissists out there will be able to gaze at your own beauty and take pictures and video of yourself via the new front-facing camera. Flashes were added for the dark times, and a new feature called “Face Time” allows you to video chat with other iPhone 4 users through a WiFi connection. I haven’t used that yet, because I don’t know anybody else with an iPhone 4. Seems like it would be handy, though, especially for deaf users.
In addition, a scaled-down version of iMovie is available to use so you can edit your videos, add effects, and more. I’ve played around with it a bit, but found that while it’s a nice little program, it can be a bit cumbersome to use on such a small screen.
Aside from the sorely-needed additional storage space, the most noticeable upgrade to the iPhone 4 for me has been the system’s speed. My 3G would crawl when loading certain apps. For example, Plants vs. Zombies would take over thirty seconds to boot up, and now the game is instantly loaded to where I last left off. Twitter loads more quickly, my news feeds are almost instantaneous, and my other games zip along quickly. Any frustration I ever had with my 3G has all been wiped out with the iPhone 4.
So yes, I spent $300 on the 32GB model. But, frankly, I would have gladly spend an extra $100 for a 64GB model. Again, this device works perfectly for my needs. I am never without my iPhone and I use it all day long. When something fits my life as well as this does, I have no problem shelling out the cash. And, in two years, I’ll probably do it all over again.