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Thursday, May 19, 2011

iPhone 4 review.......How is it 9 months later with iOS4.3?


It’s been a while since the iPhone 4 was launched. I wanted to make a review while it was fresh, but there were tons of reviews already when it was new. What seems to be lacking are the reviews after people actually used the darn thing for a prolonged period under normal (or heavy) conditions.
Of course our shiny new gadget makes a good first impression, but how does it hold out?
So now I think I will give my impressions of the iPhone 4 after it was released 9 months ago.


Based on the press releases, it seems that the 4th generation has been the best selling iPhone for Apple. But I think there many people still on the fence about getting one or waiting for the next release from Apple.
With the recent news that the iPhone 4 was re-released in white (but basically the same thing), and the iPhone 5 will be delayed (and most likely it will be just a 4S), then hopefully this information will be useful for those who are still hesitant.

Let’s get Physical
Moving straight to the body of the matter, the iPhone body that is, let’s look at the sturdiness of the unit.
The latest release brought with it a total redesign in terms of form and material. Moving away from the metallic-plastic shell, the iPhone 4 now came with a glass body and aluminium border. I don’t think I need to convince anyone about the looks factor here, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And in my eyes, the iPhone 4 is the best looking phone now or ever. So much so, that I did not even cover it up when I first bought it.
Yup, that’s right I used my Glass-encased iPhone 4 without any protection other than a transparent front screen protector.
I’m sure the newly designed body gave many users reason to worry. “What? All encased in Glass?? That’s an accident waiting to happen!”.  I had the same apprehensions too. But the thing was just too good to look at (And I had connections with the local Apple for easy replacement), so I decided what the heck. My iPhone 4 was naked for 6 months, brought with me during my daily travels in the city, trekking to different provinces and several countries. It’s been hit, bumped, dropped, scratched more than a few times. Again no case whatsoever, only the front screen protector. And the bottom line, it is still in Great condition.


My iPhone pictured above only has a few minor hairline scratches that you probably need to stare at before you can notice them.
Sure, the iPhone 4 is encased in glass, but that is some Gorilla glass it has on!


But then again, I may have just been lucky. It's always recommended to use a case, lest you end up like this poor fellow






"Antenna gate"
The most infamous news on the iPhone 4 launch, which grabbed all tech headlines during its introduction, was the Antenna signal problem. Many users have reported that when they hold the iPhone with their left hand, it degraded the network signal. I myself never experienced this, neither did ANY of the many friends, relatives, and colleagues I know who also got the phone. But it I still fell sympathetic for those who did. Luckily for them, Apple provided good support response on the issue. Locally in Manila, if you get from the official carrier of the iPhone (Globe), then you have no worries either. If the antenna is not picking up the signal properly just return it and you will get a replacement without hassle. It’s the same story for Singapore and Hong Kong, and I guess everywhere in the world as long as you get it from Apple or their official carriers.
I think the biggest proof for me that “Antenna Gate” was addressed properly was the sales report. The iPhone 4 was the fastest selling iPhone from Apple. More people now are using an iPhone than ever before. Also Apple has recently become the number 1 revenue earner from mobile phones, surpassing even Nokia!
I guess the Antenna gate issue did not hurt them too badly.


Battery power
Battery life solid, definitely more than the previous iPhone and a LOT more than my previous android phones. however 6 months later with the latest firmware update here, battery life took a hit. because of the addition of personal WiFi hotspot broadcasting, the battery seems to drain much faster, even when that feature is deactivated. But the performance is still highly satisfactory, definitely more so than the Android phones I have also used, although not as long lasting as some of the Nokias. There are also several easy tips to optimize the iPhones battery life.



The Apple App store
Ok, so definitely one MAJOR factor why people choose iPhones over the competition is the sheer size of the App store. It's common knowledge that the Apple App store is the biggest and most popular virtual marketplace to get more use out of your smartphone.
How has the App store been doing since the iPhone 4 launch? Let's see below:

Date
Available apps
Downloads to date
Pre-Launch of IP4


June 2010
225,000+
5,000,000,000+
September 2010
250,000+
6,500,000,000+
October  2010
300,000+
7,000,000,000+
Jan 2011
300,000+
9,000,000,000+
Feb 2011
350,000+
10,000,000,000+


Apple has not rested on it's laurels. Despite being number #1, they still pumped up the the content in the App store. How about quality over quantity? Well, the fact is Apple has actually been cutting out apps from their store! There was a little commotion a few months back about how Apple increased the strictness of their selection criteria, as well as lengthened the approval time and review period. This resulted to a lot of Apps being blocked, delayed, or just simply removed. A testament to the quality of the App store might be the fact that the number of downloads have doubled since the time of the iPhone 4 launch.

Meanwhile Android market has also grown, hitting the 200k apps boundary last month, A report in July 2010, a company named Distimo showed that the Android Market features the highest percentage of free apps, with over 57% being free to download, double the amount of Apple Inc.'s App Store, in which only 28% of apps are free. Other competitors, such as Nokia's OVI store and Blackberry's App World had 26% with Windows Marketplace only having 22% *

However paid apps are still a big issue with android market, as they have limited which countries can buy apps. Those not on the very selective list, are stuck with free apps only. This is what finally caused me to finally offload my androids (for now only) and stick to iOS hopefully this is addressed in the future. Sure it can be bypassed by certain "means", but I shouldn't have to hack my phone to buy some good paid apps on it. Apples app store, in contrast, has only very few apps that are restricted by country. Majority of apps, especially the popular ones, can be purchased worldwide. To my recollection I can't even remember when I wanted an app that was not in my app store list (I'm in Asia, so I’m not using the US app store)


Good support
Apple still leads the pack when it comes to customer support, just google "Apple support number 1" and see the accolades it is receiving. The same goes with the iPhone. I guess it is easier to manage the support of a device when you don't have too many product lines. While Nokia/Sony/Samsung have thousands of different phones, Apple only has the one iPhone. Speaking Locally in Asia, Apple also partners with TelCos such as Globe telecom and SingTel to ensure their service standard is met. For example in Manila, Apple sent foreign representatives to train Globe how to setup a troubleshooting center just for the iPhone, and if it cannot be solved, then Apple shoulders the return freight and provides a replacement stock immediately. My brothers iPhone 4 had sound issues, and it was replaced with a brand new one in less than 3 days without hassle. My colleague in Singapore also reports a similar setup with Apple in Singtel, and I can only assume this level of support is equal if not present in other areas of the world. The only catch is that one must resist the $100-200 saved by buying from the gray market and just get from official stores or carriers. Stellar service is what you expect when you pay $1000 for a phone, and Apple seems to realize this.
On the other hand when my Android Nexus had issues, there was nobody to approach or bring it to. The only official support was to browse through an online do-it-yourself troubleshooting page....


Apple also keeps it fresh by releasing new firmware updates, most of the time these are just "meh" upgrades, but sometimes they release the odd "mega" update that can totally revitalize the iPhone's appeal.  Android has had much meatier updates to their mobile software, for example the recent WiFi broadcasting in the iPhone was present in Android months ahead. But in my humble opinion, while Android has been "Flashier" with their features, the implementation of Apple has always been known to come with greater stability and function. Again in the case of the Mobile WiFi broadcasting, it used to burn the battery of my Android when active, while it is less painful on the iPhone.



The Verdict
I am fortunate enough to have access to many mobiles, and I have been able to use alot of the popular phones. From Android Nexus', Experias, to Motorola's to Nokia's to Samsungs, etc. But in the end, I just have to say the iPhone is the king of all.
Sounds fan-boyish? Yes, but it also sounds familiar. Apple has won over many critics with their product offerings.
As of this moment I have used the new Nexus, and am toying with the new Sony Experia....Both are good in their own rights, but cannot replace my iPhone's pocket space.








If you want to get the most experience with stability from your mobile choose the iPhone.
If you want to get an equally rich experience from your phone, and don't mind the risk that comes with experimentation and feeling like a "New Concept Tester", then choose Android. By now Android already covers ALL major phone manufacturers except Nokia. So it's very easy to also get immersed into the Android experience.
If you want a phone for calls and text message, then choose Nokia.






*From Wiki

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