Is the Apple iPhone 4 worth the trouble?

I’ve never been much of an Apple person, but recently acquired an iPhone 3GS – mostly because of the hype and reviews and because I needed a new device right away and couldn’t wait for several weeks in order to get my hands on an iPhone 4. I’ve only had the 3GS for about 10 days and am getting more and more used to it. So far, so good!

While I found the e-mail a frustrating challenge to set up, once I figured out the kinks it now works fine. Depending on what you’re used to, however, having to manually get your e-mail or set it up to check every 15 minutes can take some getting used to. While the iPhone does offer push technology (i.e. “instantaneous” or “as-it-happens”) e-mail for certain e-mail providers, the one I was using was not on that list. I was so addicted to the “instant” Blackberry e-mail that this will take some getting used to. And yes, 15-minute intervals are an eternity when you’re used to instant e-mails.

Another thing to get used to is the pitiful battery power. I could literally go days without having to recharge my Blackberry. The iPhone’s battery has its power sucked dry very quickly if you’re online, checking e-mail or on a call. More adapting.

Those were a couple of small annoying things. The nice things that I like – and I’m still discovering new tricks as I go – are the great photos and videos that the iPhone takes and the cool interface. I’ve been playing around with those famous iPhone “apps” (applications) you hear about so often, too. These are special applications that you can download to your iPHone such as games, ringtones, radio stations, etc. Some are free and some cost anywhere from $0.99 and up.

While I haven’t actually found an app I’d like to purchase just yet, I’ve downloaded a couple of ringtone apps and a game or two. Cool games can pass the time if you’re waiting for a flight or sitting around waiting for an appointment. I’m not a big video games enthusiast, but I can see how the iPhone can not only be practical for telephone, e-mail, photos, etc. – but also a lot of fun if you find a game you enjoy. Just a word of caution, though, more battery drainage will occur!

I’ve managed to post some photos and status updates to Facebook and Twitter using iPhone apps and things worked out fine.

The iPhone 4 arrives in Canada later this month but demand will be high and it will likely be next to impossible to get one. Reviews of the iPhone are sketchy, too. While the iPhone 4 has higher resolution for photos and videos – and has video-conferencing capabilities, Consumer Reports recently announced that they would not be recommending it over the 3GS due to reception issues. As well, Whoopi Goldberg, co-host of ABC’s The View, recently ranted on the iPhone 4’s problems. In fact, she announced that she smashed her iPhone 4 on the ground and reverted back to the iPhone 3GS.

According to Consumer Resports’ review posted to its website: “It’s official. Consumer Reports’ engineers have just completed testing the iPhone 4, and have confirmed that there is a problem with its reception. When your finger or hand touches a spot on the phone’s lower left side – an easy thing, especially for lefties – the signal can significantly degrade enough to cause you to lose your connection altogether if you’re in an area with a weak signal. Due to this problem, we can’t recommend the iPhone 4.”

Optics-wise, this certainly looks like a major setback for the next generation of Apple iPhones. While many Apple loyalists will buy the device anyway, many newbies (like me) may not be so quick to convert, especially if they’ve been using the usually reliable (at least in my own experience) Blackberry. And while Consumer Reports says that reception problem can be easily fixed with a piece of masking tape, who wants to ruin the look of their very expensive iPhone with tape?

In fact, Consumer Reports recommends that consumers stick with the iPhone 3GS for now: “If you want an iPhone that works well without a masking-tape fix, we continue to recommend an older model, the 3GS,” the magazine says.

After you get used to the iPhone 3GS, I think it’s a pretty cool device and I’m liking it more and more each day. There are lots of tricks that it can do that I haven’t yet uncovered, but its social media capabilities are great and some of the apps are downright amazing. It’s still a big seller (I bought the last one at the mall kiosk I visited and three people came asking for them while I was there), but it may be even harder to get if people end up avoiding the iPhone 4 instead of clamouring for units.

Something tells me, though, that Apple won’t let the iPhone 4 problems linger too long. The company is too savvy to let the issue harm their brand. My bet is that a new version of the iPhone 4 is on its way soon that will address the problems noted by Consumer Reports. If I were a betting man, I would guess that the next version of iPhone 4 after this one will be one in which to invest.

I say: While you can be confident in knowing that the iPhone 3GS is a great device, I’d skip this generation of the iPhone 4 and wait until Apple redesigns it to fix the current issues.

2 Responses to Is the Apple iPhone 4 worth the trouble?

  1. Brian… I agree. The good ole Blackberry had a long battery life. I even bought a more long-lasting battery than what came with the phone which let me go almost a week without charging. The iPhone 4 is supposed to have a much longer battery life.

    But remember… adding those cute little “apps” will chew up your battery life. Some remain open in the background even though you think they are closed. My iPhone dropped from 100% to 18? in 6 hours. Solution? I deleted a bunch of apps I never used and voila.. my phone can easily last over 24 hours. I miss the BB push instant emails too, but since we have an iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini, 2 Macbook Pros, 2 iPhone and an iPad in the house (and home business), we’re done with PC’s and “blue death screens and frustration”.

    I’m going to buy an iPhone 4, but I’m ordering it through the Apple website so the phone will be unlocked and I can take it to any provider. It also means, when I travel to the USA, I can buy a SIM card from a US provider and avoid all those expensive roaming charges Canadian providers hit me with when I travel south.

  2. Going with the 3Gs is not a bad piece of advice. It’s probably the 2nd best phone on the market.

    The supposed “troubles” facing the iPhone 4, however, have to be put into perspective.

    First, it’s clear that the antenna issue has been blown out of proportion. The tech media is overpopulated and hungry for any story that will boost their clickview stats.

    Reacting to Steve Jobs’ press conference on Friday, other phone maker are trying to distance themselves from the fact that most smartphones have the very same issue.

    Samsung has the same “problem” (http://bit.ly/9oKYoQ) and HTC even points to the issue in their user manuals (http://bit.ly/coz6v9).

    Second, the issue is almost certainly limited to the US, as signal strength is generally better in Canada (AT&T is notoriously horrible and they have exclusivity rights with the iPhone in the US).

    Finally, the Whoopi Goldberg freakout is the most ridiculous thing ever. She had a defective phone. Period. She could have simply returned it for a new one.