Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Quattro, Vier, Quatre, Cuatro, Fyre, Four.

Four, the number of hours sleep I have been getting each night because of a desire to watch as much World Cup and World Cup highlights as possible?
No, well, yes, but not the four in question. This would of course be the iPhone 4. I've had mine for seven days now, and here's my review.

Yeah, it's pretty awesome.


Oh okay okay, you want another blog post about how great it is, here it is. Everyone saw the look of the phone months ago thanks to Gizmodogate but it really stands out in person. it feels solid and well made, with a weight behind it that backs up its price. As mentioned previously in my post comparing the leaked black and white iPhones the new one has a definite 2001 monolith feel about it. The glass back and slender steel sides give the iPhone4 the feel of being carved from a slab of the future itself. It's impressive, and the buttons all click (or in the case of the mute switch, slide.) very responsively.

The screen though, is where the iPhone4 really shines (pun intended). This thing is bananas. You really cannot appreciate just how nice this display is until you see it in person. I always thought the display on my old iPhone 3G was pretty good, but it really does look like arse compared to this. To get an idea of just how big a display apple have managed to squeeze into the 3.5" physical area, check out this wallpaper created by Arron over at The 640 x 960 pixel dimensions take up a helluva lot of space on my desktop machine, yet its crammed into 3.5 inches. Like I said, that is Bananas. Its a bit of a cliché now but the screen really is like print media. Fonts are crisp and clear, images pop out of the screen at you. It's very impressive.

It's definitely a whole heap faster than my iPhone 3G. The new model has the much faster A4 processor used in the iPad, and double the ram of the 3GS, so everything feels really quick to load. Its not significantly faster than my girlfriends 3GS, maybe a second or two at most. Carcassone was a bit of a bother on my 3G, it now opens almost immediately.

The camera is also, excellent. Apple have been pretty clever with this camera. 5MP is not going to blow anyone out of the water here. Sony Ericsson, Samsung, are among just a few of the compaines offering cellphones with 8 and 12MP cameras now, but this 5MP sensor is very very good. Ars technica have put up a very interesting article which goes into depth just what makes the iPhone4's CMOS sensor so good and it goes into more technical depth with regards to sensor size and pixel pitch than I am comfortable with summing up here. fortunately they summed it up for me, and conclude its almost good enough to completely replace a point and shoot for a lot of people, and I would agree. The video recording is certainly enough to replace any Flip video camera  or the ilk. It's smooth and great quality.

It's not all been good times though. There has been a lot of discussion online about antenna problems, and yellowing screens. The yellowing screens apparently resolve themselves over a few days of use, and maybe down to the adhesive used to bond the two layers of the screen together not being cured properly before Foxconn have shipped them, but the antenna problem has become quite noisy on the web, and the butt of many jokes.

It seems the iPhone4 has a 'death spot' that when touched by a finger (or the palm of your hand when on a call) Causes the signal to drop and eventually ends with no service. Try as I might I cannot replicate this effect with my unit. Apparently having a case prevents this from happening, and mine is being kept snug in a Gear4 case bought from O2 on the day of purchase. But even outside of that case, I cannot get my signal to drop.
I can only conclude that: 
  1. I have bizarre cyborg hands which are not bridging the gap between antennas electrically. 
  2. This is a problem that only manifests when in areas of poor signal anyway. 
  3. Perhaps the yellowed displays from a lack of curing time are a sign that Foxconn's QA teams were not up to scratch with a batch or three of iPhone4 and have shipped defective units.
Apple have apparently sold 1.5 million units since launch. Sure there's a lot of people getting the antenna issue, but 1.5 million worth? I don't see the complaints being that high yet. I'm certainly not included in it, my signal has improved. In places like my local where before on the sofas 3G signal was an unlikely fantasy and the dreaded single dot of GPRS data reigned supreme I now pull in solid Edge data, with the occasional pop back up to 3G.

So there we go. Another glowing blog post about the iPhone 4. As I said up top... It's pretty awesome!

UPDATE: Anandtech have an interesting post up regarding the iPhone4 antenna problems after analysing the antennas gain and loss.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

iPhone 4 racks up 600,000 pre-orders. Not from O2 though. UPDATED

So, the iPhone 4 was available for pre-ordering from the Apple website yesterday. And they've sold a ridiculous number already. Seems like all existing stock has been sold and if you order now, you wont get one until at least July 2nd. Prices not totally unreasonable for a sim free unlocked smartphone with a built in iPod Touch. £499 for the 16gb version, or £599 for the 32gb version. (How times have changed, I remember when my Sony Ericsson P900 broke and Dixons wanted to send me a cheque for £649 to replace it.)

What I find most frustrating about the new iPhone though, is the complete lack of any useful information from O2. I've registered my interest as an existing customer, and they've been sending me emails, which is good. And they've all been optimistically titled like a countdown, whipping their readers into a frothy mess. The latest '8 Days to go' Is telling me what to do with the new micro-sim that the iPhone 4 uses.

Great. But you know what would be really useful O2? Something like, I dunno, A price? The ability to pre-order my upgrade for delivery on the 24th? My local O2 store not to be closed for three weeks refurbishment including the launch day? Yes, all of those things!

At this point I'm just guessing how much O2 are likely to charge, just based on what Vodafone leaked accidentally the other day. Which is no way to go. Come on O2 tell us something useful!

UPDATE: Orange have released their iPhone price plans, and include how much it will cost to take it on their network, adding another frustration that I'm still in the dark with regards to O2's prices.

UPDATE: O2 are obviously avid readers of my blog and have finally updated with handset prices. Pretty much same as the other networks though seems a little more expensive on the lower tariffs. Back when I worked in phone retail £30 per month on a contract was the sweet spot for good prices. Now it definitely seems that £40 per month is that sweet spot. Weirdly on the lowest O2100 tariff it's actually more expensive to buy the phone on a 24 month contract than 18. Obviously O2 have done their maths with regards to ARPU and come to the conclusion that they wont make as much money out of the 24 month there. Strange to see though.

Probably the Best Blog Entry in the World.

It is a well known fact that I like beer, and I Like Carlsberg. I like the fact it can be found in many many pubs on draught. I like it's 3.8% alcohol content which means I can drink throughout the evening without getting leathered on the first two pints. I even like the shade of green on it's cans. Maybe watching Ice Cold In Alex as a child influenced my fragile mind but I like to think that It's just because it's a tasty beer. 

Savvy marketing from Carlsberg as well, over the years they've had one of the most notable taglines ever (see blog title) and they've got their name out there across the world especially in football. And as its the world cup, I've more excuse than normal to be drinking and watching the games and exposing myself to savvy Carlsberg advertising.

One thing I've never been able to figure out though, is why the hell do a Danish brewer sponsor the England national team? Shouldn't Shepherd Neame have jumped in on that what with them being "Britain's Oldest Brewer" and all?  Although, given the evidence from the Faversham Hop Festival maybe its best that England sticks with Carlsberg, they do put their name in all the right places.