A friend in my office has the iPhone 4, and she was kind enough to let me fondle…ahem…I mean check it out. Though some of my friends goad me about either sitting on the fence about Apple, or being a flat-out Apple hater, nothing could be farther from the truth. I am actually quite fond of Apple design and the stability of its products. I am not a fan of the holier-than-thou attitude that Steve Jobs and some Apple devotees demonstrate.
So, with that out of the way, my first impression of the phone is that it’s very attractive—in a very industrial way. However, I think that it will appeal to a lot of people because it still recognizably an iPhone. The combination of full-panel, reinforced glass on both sides along with the brushed metal band gives the iPhone 4 the look and feel of quality. It is one thing to see the phone in pictures, it’s another to see it in person. The iPhone 4 is narrow and thin, but feels quite substantial in your hand. Gone are most of the curves of the previous iPhones. When I saw the first leaked photos, I was a little concerned that the square edges of the phone wouldn’t feel comfortable in your hand, but that is not an issue. The edges are rounded just enough, or maybe I should say smooth, that they don’t create creases in your hand that could pinch.
Since this was a friends phone, I didn’t delve much into the phone’s apps or try making calls, so this truly is a hands-on piece, not a thorough review. If I am able to get a little more time with another iPhone 4, I will write a follow-up piece. There are plenty of reviews with galleries of the iPhone 4, but I indulge me to show a images.
Given all the controversy about the antenna “death grip” problems, I had to check that out. My friend said that she hasn’t had any problems with reception. I immediately noticed that she has a case on her phone. Secondly, she’s right-handed. I am a lefty. I held the phone in place where I could get full reception and held the phone in a way so as to not block the black strips/gaps on the metal frame. As you will notice in the picture, I have five bars of signal.
I changed my grip on the phone as if I were holding the phone when I’m on a call. (Remember, I’m a lefty.) Within about 15–20 seconds the signal dropped from five bars to one or no bars. At one point the signal dropped completely, but that only a few seconds. Most of the time I held the phone this way, the signal hovered around one bar.
You will now see that I changed my grip and held the iPhone 4 with two fingers higher on the body and the signal returns to five full bars.
I’m showing this not to run the iPhone 4 into the ditch. I simply wanted to see for myself whether the antenna issue was real or media-driven hysteria, as Steve Jobs would have us believe. I can say, with certainty, that this antenna issue is real. I repeated the “death grip” in front of my friend in a different location and, sure enough, the signal dropped and then stayed around one bar. I hope that Apple does more than deflect, and offers up a real fix for this problem–not just a free case. The iPhone 4 is a beautiful phone, but potentially could get reduced to a good camera/camcorder or an upgraded iPod Touch if the phone component doesn’t work. It’s kind of hard to call something a smartphone if the phone part doesn’t work properly.