Last week there was no post. It was a bit of a bummer for some people I know, but I really couldn’t do a post. On Friday of that previous week, I got the iPhone 4. It was a really good deal. I only had to give the dealer my old iPhone 3GS, my Blackberry 8800, my Nokia N70, promise to work for him for 7 years, and my children work for his for another 7 years (half-day though) and I have to pick him and drop him from anywhere to anywhere for 3 years after which I give him my car twice a week for 9 years. Good deal huh? Anyway, I’m kidding, my kids would work full day.
So I rushed the phone home and in about an hour, I had managed to have everything I had on the 3GS running perfectly on my new iPhone 4. The next 48 hours we spent, learning a lot about the iPhone 4 and myself. Here are the five things I learnt.
1. The retina display, wow!
Imagine having Lasik surgery and suddenly your vision is now completely perfect. Walalala! The display on the iPhone 4 is so crisp, clear and so distinct that if this is the only change from the 3GS, it would still be worth it. No eye-strain at all. The text on a web page or sms is just unbelievably clear. A pleasure to read. For the 24 hours I had both the 3GS and the iPhone 4, I was glad that after all the data transfer was over I was the one ending up with the iPhone 4.
The iPhone 4 960 x 640 resolution with 326 ppi trumps the 3GS 480 x 320 one with 163 ppi (pixels per inch) makes the display almost better than real life! Did I mention how clear this resolution is? It is “resolutionary”. Made from the same materials used in helicopters and high-speed trains, the Retina display glass is chemically strengthened to be harder, more scratch resistant and more durable than ever. The glass also features an oil-resistant coating that helps keep the screen clean. The screen is amazingly smooth to touch and scrolling is fun.
2. The camera and video recording
Though I must admit I do not do too much photography or video recording, I was thoroughly impressed with the changes made on the iPhone 4. This now has a feature that ironically, even the poor Nokia N70 I gave up as part of the deal had. A flash with the camera. The camera is now 5 megapixels as opposed to the 3GS which had a 3 MP one without flash. The LED flash is also quite handy with some applications able to turn the phone into a very expensive flashlight. The 5x digital zoom is also a pleasant addition. With tap-to-focus you can change the perspective and focus of various parts of a picture. The phone actually has two cameras as it also has a front facing VGA camera that can enable you to take effortless self-portraits and is handy for a new feature called facetime where you can call someone else with an iPhone 4 and you can actually see each other over WiFi.
The camera is also capable of making and editing HD movies on the phone.
3. Power, performance and battery
Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery
Charging via USB to computer system or power adapter
up to 7 hours on 3G
up to 14 hours on 2G
Standby time: up to 300 hours
up to 6 hours on 3G
up to 10 hours on Wi-Fi
Video playback: up to 10 hours
Audio playback: up to 40 hours
All these are an improvement on the 3GS.
4. Need for speed
It is hard to separate the features that the iPhone spots from a hardware perspective from those that it has from a software perspective. One of the things I love about the iPhones in general is that what you can do with the gadget is not purely dependent on the hardware. A lot of functions are actually achieved from a magical connection and synergy between the software and the hardware. “There is an app for that…” is a common sentence among iPhone users. I mentioned for example that a simple app transforms the LED flash at the back of the phone into a flashlight. The faster processor and other physical hardware features like the accelerometer, the proximity sensor, the ambient light sensor and the 3-axis gyroscope all contribute to amazing apps that just add to the overall user experience in gaming and other really practical software.
5. Enter the jailbreak community
One of the things that fascinates me about iPhone users is the whole concept of a jailbreak community. I am unashamedly part of that community. Apple tries to control what you can install on your iPhone. A lot of times, the explanation they use is that they would like to maintain the quality of the applications you put on your phone. They do this by ensuring that you can only install and run applications that come from its app store. This is not a small app store as it has close to 430,000 apps and this year they hit 15 billion downloads.
However, about 3,000 or so apps are turned down every week, for “failing to meet quality standards”. The developers of these applications have proceeded to have their own store from where you can install these “apple rejected” apps, themes and features. A lot of them are very good and many are free. The main problem is that for you to be able to run these apps, you would have to “jailbreak” your iPhone. This involves a lot of software acrobatics and if you don’t know what you are doing you can end up with a dead phone (a brick). Most iPhones are also locked to a specific network and so many times the jailbreak will also require a carrier-unlock.
I have been part of this community (so sue me!) and of course I decided to jailbreak my iPhone 4. Walalala! I started this about 10pm on Sunday night and got so caught up in it that I did not even notice time moving. We prayed with the boys, sent them off to sleep and I continued with this effort. In what looked like a few minutes later, the boys were awake and came to say bye before going to school. I was still at it. I blacked out at 7am when the phone finally agreed to do what I was trying to get it to do the whole night. Now that is an interesting mix of passion, mang’aa, and persistence that, given the right challenge can change the world. Ama?
What do you think?