The iPhone 4 is indeed a great phone, and Shawn Blanc summarizes how he uses the phone quite nicely over at his blog. In contrast, here’s our take.
Unlike Shawn, we were a gadget-junky for phones for much longer. We started on the original Sprint cell phone back when they only had a single model, then moved to a much smaller model before switching from Sprint to T-Mobile. On our new provider, we picked up a Sony Ericsson T610, which we kept for quite awhile before getting a Sidekick 3. Our last phone on T-Mobile was the original iPhone, which we used until the 3GS was released, prompting our move to AT&T. After the release of the iPhone 4, we upgraded again. Since at least 2004, we’ve also carried a Nextel and a several models of Blackberry phones for work, so we’re certainly well acquainted with what’s out there.1
We’ll echo Shawn’s comment about the iPhone 4 being our best phone to date. To be fair, it’s not the phone we used the most2, or even the smartphone we used the most.3 But it’s the most feature-rich phone, and not just on paper. That is to say, it has the most features that we use:
We also carry the iPhone 4 case-free for the most part. Typically, we slide it into a microcloth baggy, but we stopped using Apple’s bumper awhile ago. We dropped the phone a couple times, and there’s a small dent in one order, but otherwise the phone has proven its durability. Cases and bumpers really take away from the phone’s aesthetics, and the size is too perfect to alter with a clunky enclosure. By far, this is the most beautiful mobile device has ever shipped, and if the renderings of the iPhone 5 out there are accurate, we think the iPhone 4 will hold onto this title for another year.
We disagree that the battery life is great. Maybe for stand-by use, but not if you’re actively using the phone. That’s not to say that the iPhone 4′s battery is worse than the competition, because we don’t believe that’s true but merely that the state of batteries in the modern mobile space simply isn’t that great. When we’re using the internet, or the GPS, for a couple hours, the battery life really takes a hit, so on days we’re traveling that the phone gets real use, it’s dead before the day ends. Thank god for car chargers. But Shawn is correct in saying that on a typical day, the iPhone doesn’t need a charge until we hit the sack,
The camera is indeed great. It’s the only one we typically use, and we’re more likely to ignore our more expensive Lumix when we travel just because of how easy it is to snap pictures with the iPhone. Plus, we love our novelty photo apps like Hipstamatic. The iPhone camera is the perfect compromise of portability and quality, and if the iPhone 5′s camera is another major improvement, then that alone practically justifies an upgrade. Thanks in part to the flash, the iPhone 4 is the first phone that we religiously use as a camera. Before this, we didn’t bother much with phone cameras on account of the resulting picture quality.
The retina display is indeed awesome. We notice it more often when we have a few minutes to spare somewhere and load up iBooks. Compared to reading on the iPad, the iPhone 4 reading experience is simply beautiful. We were so-so on the idea of upgrading our iPad 2 if the only major improvement was a retina display, but now we’re not so sure.
Will we upgrade to the iPhone 5? If money were no object, then certainly yes. But better camera aside, we’re not so sure just yet, because as great as the iPhone 4 is, a chunk of our iOS use has been taken up by the iPad, so whereas pre-iPad the iPhone received an enormous amount of use, a lot of the stuff we used our iPhone for in the past is no longer a function of our phone.
Sadly, we have little experience with Android phones, so we can’t comment much there. ↩
That honour probably goes to the Sony Ericsson T610, which is the best non-smartphone we owned. Before we ditched it, we even had it interfaced with our computer to control iTunes. It was also our first Bluetooth-enabled phone. ↩
Of our smartphones, we probably used our 2G iPhone the most, if only because we used it for a longer period of time since we skipped the 3G. After getting the iPad, we also found our iPhone use to have diminished somewhat, particularly in the realm of gaming. ↩