If you care about design, this is a nice looking piece of technology. The problem however is that it's too thin. If you have big hands then you'll like the old 3Gs better probably. It had a bulge on the back that fitted nicely into your palm and altogether it felt better to hold and use. What is good about the 4 is that it doesn't have the "slippery" character of the 3Gs - the tendency to slide off things and to be slippery in your hand. It's about a draw in my view: the iPhone 4 is designed to sit on a flat surface more than anything else!
If you're using a 3Gs with the latest iOS then you won't actually notice a lot different with the iPhone 4. Yes granted the phone is slightly, and I mean only slightly, quicker. It's not an "oh wow" thing though. It is just a tiny bit more responsive.
The screen on the 4 is however gorgeous. Indeed the screen is the one stand out on this phone. Without the new screen I'd say it was simply a nice revision of an existing product. But this new screen is very luscious. The retina display makes the task of using a small screen just that much easier and it looks delightful. I can't speak for all iPhone 4s but mine certainly has a greenish yellow cast to the screen. It reminds me of the 1980s Nikkor ED lenses. They had a very similar cast and it added a brightness and spark to photos taken with them. I can't tell whether the screen is supposed to have this cast, as mine does, but if it is supposed to be there then I bet it's about making the screen appear as good as it possibly can. The cast is strong enough that it is just barely acceptable. Whites certainly ain't white!
Speaking of colour casts the camera on the 4 is shocking under tungsten or fluorescent light. It simply doesn't know what white balance is. In daylight the camera produces nice photos, but under artificial light it's simply a shocker.
Now for the real cruncher: It doesn't keep the proper time! How hard is that? If you set the time to automatic it is always slow. Please don't give me rubbish about cell towers and carrier software. When sat alongside a 3Gs, using the same tower, it is always, always slow, as it is compared to a MacBook using a time server or any other item of timekeeping equipment. This and the camera and the screen colour cast, taken together, represent my biggest beef with this phone. It isn't ready for real life. Apple need to fix this NOW.
Other issues and problems with the iPhone 4 for me are:
- In iTunes it repeatedly throws errors saying that it requires backups to be encrypted. I don't want my backups encrypted but iTunes with iPhone 4 won't backup at all for me without encryption turned on. When I turn encryption on that's it - I can find no way to turn it off again! What's that about? Also the whole issue of encryption passwords is buggy. I really don't know what my encryption password is because of some aberrant behaviour around setting and changing passwords. That is very bad in my view and requires an early fix from Apple. (iTunes 10.0 (67))
- iPhone 4/iTunes 10 reject perfectly good provisioning profiles for beta software. I have one that's good for another month and it simply won't install the software.
- The home button occasionally does nothing...that feels really buggy;
- Battery life is NOT better than my old 3Gs. I used to barely get a working day from the 3Gs and I barely get a working day from the 4. That means say 6:00am to 6:00pm - it will often shut down on the way home. I religiously charge it to 100% every night but it simply doesn't last the distance. I use it all day every day at work with both private email accounts and several Exchange accounts as well as shared calendars. That's the way my life is and I suspect that's why the battery life is so poor. It isn't good enough though. I find myself obsessing about making sure I have a charger and USB cable everywhere I go. Not terribly useful;
- Now this issue isn't an Apple issue but it really, really bugs me: On the 3Gs I had a great silicone case. It had, in addition to a cover for the back, a piece that covered the home button and a similar piece at the top and was thick enough to provide some grip and protection to the iPhone. The silicone cases I've seen for the iPhone 4 and the one I have are, in a word, useless. They are these little soft skinny things that seem more like a little black dress than a working item. They give the phone no protection, they come off when you pick up the phone or pull it out of your pocket. They seem designed only to show off the iPhone 4 in all its anorexic, super model skinniness. These are working tools not fashion accessories. Can't some manufacturer give us a decent silicone case that stays on and protects the phone? It's not that hard...you did it for the iPhone 3 so you know how.
So overall a pleasant upgrade to the iPhone but nothing startling and with some unresolved problems. I haven't had the death grip problem but its country reception is worse than the iPhone 3Gs.