I have good news and some bad news. GOOD NEWS: despite all the media frenzy about the antenna, the Iphone 4 is a great phone. BAD NEWS: as consumers we have officially become entitled bitches. To be honest, every phone I have ever owned has been far from perfect, The Iphone 4 has by far come the closest (despite any antenna issues or small glitches it might have). It is zippy and intuitive, the retina screen is amazing and vivid, the photos and video look great if the lighting is well done. Yeah sure, it can call people too, but this is a computer for your pocket.
The design of this phone does not stop with the glass and steel exterior (which does feel nice in your hand) but extends internally with a really well designed user interface and base of functional software. I’ve tried androids and they just don’t get the feeling right, not in your hand or in your brain. After using this phone I’ve stupidly tried to swipe things off on my laptop screen. Admittedly i’ve never had an Iphone before this last year. I spent a month with a 3GS and then ATT upgraded me to the 4 (for free to boot). It is kinda cliche, but the Iphone has changed the way i use my computer, my phone, and the way i communicate with clients and friends way more than the beeper i got in high school.
Smart phones have done to computers what cell phones did to landline phones, I don’t even need to turn on my computer anymore unless I’m using professional web or design software. All these little activities like getting direction off an email and printing them, bringing a handful of direction with me to the car, have now become extinct. AND maybe it is not the best phone (because nothing will ever beat the Nokia candy bar), or the best GPS, or camera, or the best digital music player but it is by far the best one man band you have ever heard. Oh and even with the antenna issue it is easily the best cell phone I’ve ever had.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE ANTENNA ISSUE?
Ok. here’s the deal, as best i can figure out. It is both hype and reality mashed together. Consumers have on some level been made aware of something that they always dealt with because it was made obvious. Iphone 4 are not the first phones to drop calls and in low service areas antenna attenuation is a factor in dropped calls no matter what phone or service you have. What has happened to consumers is what i call the “I bought a honda” phenomenon. When you buy a Honda you start noticing that everyone has a Honda , in reality the amount of honda’s on the road is the same as it has always been.
How that relates is that the Iphone DOES have a specific spot where if the reception is already low enough it will just drop the call if you touch it in a particular way. This clear example of antenna attenuation has made us, as consumers, hyper aware of it. It won’t happen all the time because there are a lot of factors at work and the bars are the result of an algorithm to visually display a constantly variable signal as all these factors change. Once someone found that spot (the death grip), and given how many people bought the phone and how many people live in low service areas (damn you AT&T) many people started noticing the same issue on their Iphone 4. But now people are becoming aware of attenuation at large as evident by many Youtube videos, with a variety of phones (from Blackberrys to Samsungs), reproducing similar effects as the iphone 4. NO THIS IS NOT A CONSPIRACY ORGANIZED BY STEVE JOBS.
ALL phones are effected by attenuation. All phones have antennas and all antennas can be blocked (attenuated) or amplified. This is obvious. Most of us should remember walking around the room till the TV antenna would magically create an image on the screen and then sitting down only to have the image quickly degrade. We are talking about physics, after all, and these phone signals are just light waves outside of the visible spectrum. Just like the light from a lamp, or the noise from a speaker, these waves can be deflected, diffused, and blocked by your hand, a building, a tree, anything that gets in its way, even weather.
The Iphone has traded having an more exposed antenna for greater potential reception, a bigger battery, and butt load of processing power while keeping it really small. The noise cancellation works well and calls sound great. The trade-off is some obvious antenna attenuation when you touch a specific spot on the phone is particular environments. In my experience the phone can make good calls with even one bar showing and if the call is dropped, move to a more open area and try again. I do think apple can fix this design flaw in future models but till then consumers will just have to accept that apple made a product that is not perfect. All this to me this seems like a small price to pay to own a device that might as well be out of some science fiction book i read as a child. If you absolutely do not want a protective case (bad idea considering the investment) and you absolutely cannot NOT handle touching that specific spot, that is marked with a black line in case you forget where it is, then by all means don’t buy the Iphone, or return it.