Monday, February 20, 2012

Tech: iPhone 4 review

It's been about a month since the firm gave me an iPhone 4, and I think I've pretty much put the thing through its paces. Here are some of the highs and lows of the device:

The Good

Gaming - I haven't tried the iPhone's premiere title ("Infinity Blade"), but casual games like "Fruit Ninja" or "Angry Birds" are plenty fun on their own. The touch screen controls work better than I thought they would for fast action, and the fact that most games are cheap or free helps, too. I picked up "Bejeweled" as a freebie from Starbucks during the Valentine's Day Buycott, for instance, and brother, it definitely helps pass the time while you're waiting for a flight.

Media - It's almost stupefying how useful an iPhone is as a mini media hub. You can read your Kindle titles, watch your Netflix movies, look at comic books, listen to radio stations - the list is endless. Granted, it's not the optimal way to access this stuff given the iPhone's tiny screen and crappy speakers, but at least you can do it.

The Bad

Form Factor - The iPhone, despite using nightmarish Chinese labor practices, is not a robust device. The first day I had it, I dented the junky plastic that makes up part of the frame (two feet drop onto a tile floor). You basically can't use the blasted thing without a case or skin of some sort. On the positive side, I haven't noticed any scratching of the screen - thanks, Foxconn.

Bluetooth - It works fine, though I have no idea why they don't include Bluetooth file transfers to a computer out of the box. To put this omission into perspective, the free non-smartphone I got from AT&T when I signed up for another 2-year plan (a Samsung SGH-A687) has this functionality. Why doesn't the iPhone?

Power Usage - There's a price to be paid for the iPhone's functionality. Even with really mild usage -playing podcasts, games, checking e-mail, light web-browsing - the battery's half gone in about a day (this is with the brightness and audio turned down, too). Bottom line: if you expect to rely on the iPhone as an actual phone, you'd best keep your extracurricular activities to a minimum.

The Ugly

Newsstand - The selection of periodicals isn't very good, the interface to download and access them is cumbersome, and you can't hide or delete this application unless you engage in some jury-rigging. I suppose it's fitting that the one thing the iPhone sucks at is the display of a nearly-extinct medium.


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