Wherefore art thou, iPhone? (Part II)

Read part one over here!

The first real public outing of my shiny new iPhone 4 where I actually showed it to people didn’t happen until Friday night. Youth was on, and I decided to carry my iPhone 4 with me – not because I wanted to show everyone how cool I was, but mostly because it was going to be my main phone eventually anyway. Earlier in the day I had bought some Belkin Grip Vue case for it, as well as a set of front and back Invisible Shields. Those too came along to youth.

Someone jumped on me as soon as I walked in the door, asking excitedly if I had “the new iPhone”. I replied yes, and she then asked if she could have a look. I produced the phone from my pocket, complete with Belkin case and screen protector – and the first question she asks? “Does it have that antenna issue?”, to which I reply no* – “Is that because of the case you have?”, which elicited another terse no from me. She then asked about the shape of the thing, where I mentioned it had a flat back instead of the curved back of previous iPhones (iPhone 2G not withstanding). She asked me how much I paid for it – I answered a lot.

No mention of what new features it had. No mention of that gorgeous retina display (granted, she didn’t unlock it, but she did turn the display on), no mention of how much better the camera was, no mention of how it did 720p video (720p what now?), nothing.

And that right there, dear reader, is why the iPhone 4 is just another phone. In consumer terms, the iPhone is faster. It’s “differently shaped”. The antenna is on the outside, the display is clearer, and its got a flash for the camera, but all those other things – 326 pixels per inch, IPS, 720p – are for the more technically minded among us. Why does pixel density matter? Why is an IPS display so much better than a traditional LCD? Why is 720p video recording such a big deal on a phone?

It’s funny – when you think about it, all the iPhone is is just another phone. The next iteration of the same, the next step in the evolutionary tree. It’s adds features (ooh, video calling), to be sure, but whether those features revolutionize the platform is questionable, to say the least – regardless of what the Apple PR machine tells you.

When your computer can’t run the latest games anymore, it’s time to think of an upgrade. When it slows down to a crawl even doing the most basic of tasks (like typing on a keyboard, for example), it’s time to start looking for a new computer.
The new iPhone, for all of it’s upgraded display, upgraded camera, upgraded battery, processor and RAM, is just the next step. For all other intents and purposes, it’s just another brick in the wall.

Still, that doesn’t stop it from being the best brick so far.

On that antenna issue – I said no when asked about it because, for all intents and purposes, it doesn’t affect me. Yes, I can get it to drop one or two bars by simply bridging the gap between the two antennas, but even so, it doesn’t affect data speeds or call quality (I only make a call every couple of months, if that – most of my usage is data and messages) – so clearly it’s a non-issue for me. Besides, I figure the phone will probably live in a case for most of it’s life – but we’ll wait and see how annoying that becomes.

I tried FaceTime during the week as well. While I’ve never video-called anyone on a mobile phone before, FaceTime was pretty good fun – even if it is limited by the fact that it can only work over Wi-Fi. It’s one of those features I’m glad is there, even if I know I personally won’t be using it that often.

Revolutionary? Questionable. Evolutionary? Undoubtedly so. Game changing? Not really, and especially not if you’ve had an iPhone for any amount of time before this.

It’s still the best phone I’ve ever owned – and at the end of the day, that’s all it really comes down to.

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