iPhone 4: Return or keep?
So I got an iPhone 4 on the day it became available at AT&T stores. I was on vacation in Cape Cod at the time and figured, what the heck, I'll call the closest AT&T store to see if they had enough in stock that I might be able to score one. By the time I got there, the 32GB version was sold out, but I decided to go for it and by the 16GB model.
My first couple of calls got dropped, so I was worried that the rumored issues might be real. Over my last four weeks with it, I've had a few more dropped calls than normal and one person commented on me being garbled, but I don't know that I can really say that it's due to some iPhone 4-specific issue.
Anyways, I'm posting this because I am contemplating returning it. Tomorrow is the big day.
Why return it? Well, I am a little worried that there might be real issues that Jobs has downplayed and which they'll quietly correct in an upcoming hardware revision. But here's a brain dump of what I'm considering...
1) The higher resolution, which I was most excited about, isn't all that exciting. Going from 480x320 to 960x640 ought to be insane, right? The move from 160x160 to 320x320 in the Palm OS world was a huge improvement. But with the iPhone I think this huge jump in resolution was hindered by their desire to keep the phone just as small (actually smaller). The screen size hasn't increased, and so the end result is sharper fonts. Yes, you can pull up a full-size web page and *technically* make out the fonts when zoomed out, but you don't want to. The fonts are too darned small! So you zoom in. Well, if you're going to zoom in anyway, the old resolution was just as good. I think the bottom line here is that they really should have released a version of the iPhone with a physically larger screen so that you could really take advantage of that higher resolution.
2) The phone feels like a watch. Lots of glass and metal. It feels rich like a piece of jewelry. But is that how I want my phone to feel? I personally think it doesn't feel as comfortable to hold as the 3GS and it feels more slippery/delicate to hold (and I thought the 3GS felt too slippery!). I fumbled mine early on a couple of times (but fortunately didn't drop it more than a couple of inches) and my brother dropped his within the first week resulting in a small chip of the glass in one corner. The iPhone 4 is technically thinner than the 3GS, but the 3GS' curved back makes it feel no thicker, and more comfortable to hold, IMO.
3a) The front-facing camera is neat but gimmicky. I have no need/desire to have a call where someone is looking at my face or I'm looking at their face.
3b) Having a call where I can show someone what I'm seeing (by having them see what the back camera sees) can be *very* useful, IMO. Prior to the iPhone 4's release I often thought about how I'd like to have a call with my wife where I'm showing her what I'm seeing in real time. I'll be honest...it wasn't because I was witnessing some awe-inspiring sight. Rather, I'm talking about situations where she sent me to the grocery store to buy something and I couldn't quite figure out which brand/size/etc. she wanted. "Turning on the camera" while talking to her on the phone and showing her my options would be incredibly useful. But the iPhone 4 won't let me do that because I can only make use of FaceTime in a WiFi zone, not using AT&T's 3G network.
4) Arguably the most useful thing about the iPhone 4 is the support for multitasking and easy task switching, but I could have had that for free if I stuck with the 3GS. As a long-time Palm OS user I was never a big critic of the iPhone's lack of multitasking. I lived with that reality on the Palm OS and I honestly didn't have too big a beef with it. The Palm OS switched apps very quickly unlike Windows Mobile and the usability advantages over Windows Mobile made me more willing to live without multitasking. 3rd party "hacks" let me at least have quick task switching which, I would argue, was more important most of the time anyway. On the iPhone I really wanted to multitask Pandora, but I also wanted a decent way to quickly switch between recently used apps without having to go back to the Launcher and potentially scroll around. Well iOS4 gave us both which is wonderful. But I was able to install iOS4 onto my 3GS and get both of those features, so I really don't need the iPhone 4 for that.
So what's left? For me, there's one real advantage that the iPhone 4 has that I would miss if I returned it: the camera. The iPhone 3GS' camera was a bit of a let-down for me. Low-light sensitivity was poor and even great lighting situations seemed to produce photos that weren't quite as nice as the best photos I was seeing posted online from Palm Pre users. But with the iPhone 4, Apple seems to have made some modest but significant improvements to the camera. Video recording quality has improved as well. Combined with the mass of 3rd party photo enhancement apps and Apple's own iMovie app, there's less reason to have to carry around a standalone camera/videocamera now. I will say that it's still not perfect. It's a fairly wide angle lens, there's no optical zoom, and while Apple has boosted the megapixels so as to make the digital zoom a little more useful, it's still not nearly enough zoom capability for many situations.
I've probably missed some pros and cons.
I should add that a coworker showed me his new Android phone last week. I don't remember which one it was. It was on Verizon and had a really large screen. Although the resolution was technically inferior to my iPhone 4's, the increased size of the screen made it more useful, IMO. I do like how Google is a more open platform, so there are ways to tether it and I'm guessing there are hack-style apps available for it like "Today-style" screens, etc. (though I honestly haven't looked into that, so maybe I'm assuming too much). OTOH, you can't argue with the fact that the iPhone has the most impressive app library out there. If you're looking for some specialized type of app, chances are there's already a couple of flavors available for the iPhone. And at least one of them is probably free. That's not great news, perhaps, for developers looking to enter the market and sell their wares, but it's obviously great for the end users.
So just to be clear...at this point in time, it's not really about whether I should switch to something else, but simply whether I should just save $200 and go back to using my iPhone 3GS for a while longer. Anyone else contemplating this?
Last edited by Scott R; 07-28-2010 at 09:04 PM.
- 07-28-2010, 09:17 PM #2
- 07-28-2010, 09:19 PM #3
FWIW, I'm not certain which way you think I was leaning, but I'm guessing that you're thinking that I've decided to return it since I listed more cons than pros. Truth is, I'm leaning towards keeping it since it only cost me $200 to upgrade and the improved camera is nice. And while I'm not seeing a lot of real-life advantage to the faster processor now, I'm sure there are (or will be) apps which definitely benefit from that.
- 07-28-2010, 09:49 PM #5
- 07-28-2010, 09:55 PM #6
- 07-28-2010, 10:39 PM #7
- 07-28-2010, 11:35 PM #8
- 07-28-2010, 11:36 PM #9
I'm loving the retina display. I'm finding myself not zooming in on pages that I used to have to in order to read because I don't need to! Also I think many people really downplay the faster processor. I am loving how fast this sucker loads pages, apps, emails, etc. I know the crappy AT&T network didn't suddenly get faster so it's gotta be this processor! Personally, I think this is an amazing piece of electronics and I would never go back to my 3GS even if I could. Plus I'm betting that at some point FaceTime will be available over 3G. I actually used it for the first time tonight and it's pretty sweet! I'm out of town in a hotel and my hubby is at home, so we were both on WiFi at the sane time for the first time since we got these phones. Even he admitted that it was pretty amazing, and it totally freaked the cats out. LOL! You would pretty much have to pry this phone out of my cold dead hand to get me to give it up at this point!
- 07-29-2010, 01:05 AM #10
Are you an iPhone user or are you new to iPhone?
If you are a current iPhone user, the iPhone 4 is the finest experience you can have. Far superior to the 3GS. It also depends on how often you use your iPhone. I use mine for everything so I want the best available model to make all my tasks easier. If your phone is basically just a phone that does some "extra" stuff, the 3GS will suit you fine.
There are dead zones in my area but it's not something that any carrier can completely stop. I have had fewer dropped call with my iPhone 4 than my 3GS with the same type of use. AT&T is the only carrier that has reception at my house, so it just depends on what carrier works for you.
I am very doubtful that there will be a hardware revision. The iPhone 4 is packed so tight, they have put everything they can into it and I don't believe there is anything they can change with the current version that would stop the attenuation. Besides, you are buying it from Apple and if for some reason they do come out with an "improved" version, they will replace it for you at the Apple Store. They have the best customer service available.
The higher resolution is great in web pages, but it also adds to viewing photos and added "crispness" across the board. You can actually see that iPhone 3GS photos appear more clear on the iPhone 4 then they do on the 3GS because of the display limitations. You will not find a substitute for the resolution.
I agree, it does feel very fragile but 3GS is just as fragile. Drop one and you'll see either cracks or pebble gouging on the casing. Once I put the Bumper on my iPhone 4, I could comfortably put it on a hard surface without worrying about damage.
The front facing camera comes in handy if you use social media sites to take profile pictures or pictures with friends. You can clearly see what you are taking vs the take a picture and look, take it again, look, take it again, etc.
Depending on how much you rely on (or push) multitasking, the 3GS will run out of resources more quickly resulting in more apps needing to be "re-opened" and not save to state. You will also notice more sluggishness with the 3GS. The other thing is that developers always push the limits they are given, so soon the iPhone 3GS will be "to slow" to run some of the new more useful apps. This happened when the 3GS came out. The 3G was a capable phone but a couple of months after the 3GS came out, you could see that the 3G was being left behind.
The new camera is one of my favorite features of the iPhone. The 3GS camera was comparable to most of its counterparts but cannot compete with the iPhone 4. If you enjoy taking pictures, you will really regret giving up the camera. Especially since it has been shown to take better pictures then competitors' 8 MP cameras.
What is the value of apps opening a couple seconds faster, hundreds of times a day, faster uploads & sent emails, a more crisp display, a real usable battery so you don't have to keep a wall plug within an hour of you all the time, etc. I think that if you are more than a casual user, the extra $200 is an excellent value.
By the way, did I mention the battery? I went from 4-5 hours of use to 7-8 hours of similar use. Not having to buy an extended battery is almost half the difference of the iPhone 4 alone.
Let me know if you need any more reasons why you should keep your iPhone 4.
- 07-29-2010, 04:13 AM #11
- 07-29-2010, 06:18 AM #12
- 07-29-2010, 06:23 AM #13
Then Jobs actually addresses my biggest want by addressing the screen issue. There's no way i'd return the iphone 4 and go back to looking at the fuzzy 3GS.
As for wanting a bigger screen? Perhaps that's something Apple will add in a marketing driven move. But I'm already border line thinking 3.5" is too big. I think the size is fine. These are phones with "mobile" being the major point. It's one phone from apple who has to be careful to be appealing to all.
And besides, maybe its just me but bigger means lesser ppi. Then we're back to being fuzzy. The ipad, for example, boasts an even higher resolution. But due to its size, text is jagged looking unless zoomed in. Much like a 3GS.
Last edited by cardfan; 07-29-2010 at 06:39 AM.
- 07-29-2010, 05:44 PM #14
I went with the Samsung Captivate instead of the iPhone 4. I had a hard time with it the first week because I was so use to the iPhone iOS. Anyway, I wanted that iPhone 4 like mad, but the antenna issue scared me off. Now I am so use to the 4 inch super AMOLED screen on my Captivate I would probably find the iPhone screen too small! I say if you are not 100% satisfied with your purchase, take it back! Either get your money back or try something different.
Well, the day is done and I still have my iPhone 4. No huge revelations, just a bunch of little factors...
1) The comments from others pointing out that the faster processor and larger battery, even if they don't provide dramatic improvements, still provide a noticeable improvement over the 3GS (which I already confessed to being happy with).
2) It's only $200 (well, and a one year commitment). But I can always sell my 3GS. And if I decide I want something else later, I can always sell my iPhone 4. So I'd probably come out even (maybe even better).
3) I really do like the improved camera.
4) I was simply too busy with work today to make returning the phone a possibility.
In the battle between the iPhone and the competition (primarily Android for me right now) I have to say that there's another "little" feature I really love about the iPhone. Now maybe Android phones have something similar, but I don't think so (please correct me if I'm wrong, though). I've really gotten to listening a few different podcasts since owning my iPhone 3GS. While the process of jumping between the iTunes store and the iPod app can feel a bit clumsier than it should, and I'm annoyed that they provide far less info about a particular podcast episode than they show from the desktop, I absolutely love being able to search for new podcasts, download them wirelessly, or even stream them right from iTunes without bothering to download them first (over 3G). I think that with the competition, I'd have to download the podcast from my computer and transfer it over or download it from the Android phone directly from the website affiliated with the podcast. IOW, I don't think thery have any "directory" / "podcast store" a la iTunes. Again, though, maybe I'm wrong on this.
Anyways, thanks for all of you who bothered replying and did your best to give me some sincere advice and things to think about.