Tuesday, June 8, 2010

iPhone 4: Pre-thoughts

My last tweet was "I got an e-mail from Apple with the title "Introducing iPhone 4." Sorry, Apple, but introductions have already been made; I read Gizmodo. ;)" But of course, the title of the e-mail was a picture with the words "This phone changes everything. Again." Is it rude to scoff outloud?

I know I probably am going to sound anti-Apple or anti-iPhone, but I'm really not. Like I've said many times before, I own an iPod Touch 3G and a 5th Gen Video before that, and they are the main thing that I always have with me (the iTouch even more so since it's got apps, and even more the last few weeks since I jailbroke it). I do not hate the iPhone or Apple products.

That being said, that e-mail really kind of set me off. A while ago, I talked about the iPad and Apple's assertion that it is "Magical and Revolutionary", and that's basically the same premise of this post. Why the crap does Apple feel like every single product they release has to be revolutionary? Is that a nice idea? Yeah, I mean, if they really could create a music player that changed the way we listen to music or a phone that changed the way smartphones are used, that would be great. Actually, they already did that. iPods took the MP3 player world by storm, and iPhones did the same to smartphones. So yes, I do indeed grant that the iPhone did "change everything" to a certain extent, but a new version is not going to change everything more. At least that's my assertion.


So with that lengthy introduction, here's the breakdown: I have not seen, touched, used, or read up on the iPhone 4. I have read a few Gizmodo articles before its release and an article on QuickPWN and the Apple website, but I'm trying to approach this from my interpretation of the issue, which is not overthinking it. (That makes me sound dumb, huh?)

Anyway, here are the features (most or all coming straight from Apple itself):
  • Front Facing Camera
    While this feature does sound nice, I just don't see it as being worthy of "changing everything". Basically they added a webcam to a smartphone. I know I'm sounding like being nitpicky, but like I said in my iPad article, mixing two products (in this case, smartphone and netbook) or even a specific feature of two products like a webcam is not "revolutionary" in the case of the iPad, and I assert that it is not "changing everything" in the case of 4G. Plus, there are already phones that are designed in such a way that let you see the screen and record/take pictures of yourself at the same time. I doubt any of them can be used like a webcam chat, but then I already covered the whole "webcam" aspect.

    So again: nice feature? Yes. Everything changer? No.

    (Side note: Since the iPhone 4 is going to be the first phone with a front-facing camera that allows video calls [I believe], that means you're really only going to be able to talk with other iPhone 4 owners. Hmm.....very shrewd, Apple....)
  • Flat Back
    The design is more or less the same with almost the exact same buttons and device size, but the difference is that now the back of the iPhone is completely flat.
    Two quick notes to express my opinion:
    (1) I believe the previous iPhone versions were sold specifically with the "curved back" being nice and elegant, but I could be wrong.
    (2) It looks more like a Zune HD now. There, I said it. Not a bad thing, but true.
  • 960x640 display with "Retina display" / IPS
    To be honest, this does sound nice. Considering the fact that 3G was 320x240, it is kind of amazing to have that much higher of a resolution with the same screen size. I mean, that's getting to the point of a decent computer monitor resolution....except in a smartphone. So props to that. Super props, even.

    However (didn't you see this coming?), I must criticize Apple on their presentation. Yes, I'm on the Apple website right now reading about the stats and even watching the video. Instead of dancing around it, I'm going to come straight out and say it: Apple fluffs it up. They draw outlines and try to make it sound miraculous when all they're saying is "It's got a higher resolution". And it just seems to me like showing the factory and talking about a "complicated process" and "eliminating light refraction" is just trying to dress it up. And don't even get me started from the section starting with "Made from the same materials used in helicopters and high-speed trains...".

    Overall, this is the most impressive feature I've seen so far. Is it enough to make it "change everything"? I don't know, frankly. I would opt to say no, but on the other hand, this is a very nice feature and could very well bring a whole new deal to the table for smartphones. On the other hand, the resolution could be more than enough, literally, and perhaps most people won't even care. Only time will tell.

    (One last note: anyone else slightly amused that they use the last iPhone model, the 3GS to compare how much better it is? It's like "See this phone you bought from us? Yeah, it's really crap, and we didn't tell you until now. But look at how good our new phone looks compared to it!")
  • HD Video Recording
    The whole fact that Apple took so long to release video recording for the iPhone is frankly quite pathetic. Since I'm not an extreme avid Apple follower, I'm not certain, but I'm fairly sure that the 3GS can record video. I'm not going to go into what I think is dumb about the 3GS, but I will just say: meh. Nice feature, but I'm just frankly not impressed.
  • 5 Megapixel Camera
    This is honestly the most boring "new" feature to me. I mean, phones are always getting more megapixels to their camera, so seeing the iPhone jump from 3 to 5 is worthy of a golf clap, but really nothing more, at least in my book. (Now if Apple overcame some previous hardware limit, like creating a SDHC for camera,s that would be another story, but even with my lacking knowledge of cameras, I don't believe that to be the case).

    Also, this is probably why I was not as impressed with the HD Video Recording. Of course it's going to be higher definition if you give it a better camera. But the flash is kind of a nice touch, I'll give them that.
  • Multitasking
    Honestly, I'm torn on this one. On one hand, it is rather nice and could very well "change everything" in that sense. On the other hand, the thought is not new and has already really been done on Cydia via Backgrounder (to an extent).

    (Funny how they could have and should have included this functionality on the iPad, which was released only a short while ago...)
  • "Folders"
    Can you say "already been done on Cydia"?
  • eBooks
    No, Apple. You just pushed the iPad as an eReader. Yes, the better display probably makes reading on the iPhone not a pain in the butt, but you're now taking away reasons from buying the iPad.
  • "Homescreen" / "Phone" / "Mail" / "Safari" / "iPod" / "Photos" / "Voice Control" / "Messages" / "Maps+Compass" / "Keyboard" / "Search" / "App Store" / "iTunes Store" / "More Features" AKA Standard Apps
    Why are you selling me on features that have been around for years on older models? Or sorry, I guess the better question is: Why are you treating these features like they are brand new? All of these were available in 3G, maybe with 1 or 2 less features each, but even then, Cydia has some of those features as well (such as bluetooth keyboard support).

    You may be thinking I'm being picky here, but come on. Everyone has an iPhone. If you don't have an iPhone, you've at least used it. And if you haven't used it, you've at least heard of it. I guess I am kind of speaking as someone with exposure to the iPhone and its features, but it's just sad that out of the 20 Features listed for the iPhone 4G, only 5 are really new, and some of them are debatable.

So let me squeeze all that down to a small, simple list of what is truly new to the iPhone, capable of it "changing everything".
  1. Hi resolution front + back camera (with flash on back); Records & edits videos.
  2. Very hi res, durable, nice looking screen.
 Uber condensed, maybe, but that's what I see as the new features for the iPhone 4. I was going to include Multi tasking, but that comes from an update to the OS (newly named iOS) which is even available for iPhone 3GS, 3G, and possibly even my iPod Touch. But in terms of other hardware stuff, I don't know about the speed of the processor or anything like that so that could possibly fall under a new improvement, but I'm still unimpressed.

Now let me take some time to turn the tables and say something nice, since I sound like the Simon Cowell of technology. I actually love iPhones. Well, iLove my iPod touch and to me, an iPhone is an iTouch with 3G (or Wifi anywhere), SMS, and phone functionality (including a mic). But I do love the idea of Apps, how they work and run, all of it. Furthermore, I'm not even dare saying that the iPhone 4 is a bad product, nor the iPhone 3 for that matter. I respect the iPhone's position as a smartphone,and a leading one at that.


So why write this? Why whine (thought it is not my intention)? Because of Apple. I'm not an Apple fan. I do not hate Apple products, but I cannot truthfully say that I do not hate Apple. Why? That's another blog post entirely, but in this case, it's because they are trying to push a new version of their already successful and -I'll admit- revolutionary product as "Changing everything". Shenanigans.

I do believe I'm babbling now, so I'll sign off. I'm not rigid in my stance so if someone were to tell me reasons that the iPhone 4 truly is going to "Change everything" and I understood and agreed, then I would most certainly change my opinion. But until then, I'm going to say this:
I'm glad Gizmodo leaked the iPhone 4 info early so I could know ahead of time just how much it's not anything amazingly new.

Constantly pissing off Mac fanboys,
-Bry

PS - If you think I've gone off on Apple a few times for how they push their products, wait till I finally decide to jot down my thoughts for Microsoft and their precious "Windows 7 was my idea" campaign. Hoo boy, it'll be enough for a book, Mac fans.

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