iPhone 4

Good news everyone, I just upgraded my exo-cortex! And by that I mean that I got a bran new phone. Yes, the venerable blackberry was retired and replaced by the spiffy new Verizon iPhone, which I’m told is better than the AT&T iPhone because it can actually be used as a phone.

Oh, and in case you don’t live in US, let me explain this joke by oversimplifying it. AT&T is known for having poor coverage in certain areas while Verizon is known for having better coverage but shittier non-GSM compatible network. So, you know – it’s a trade-off.

As you may or may not remember, I kinda liked my Blackberry Storm when I first got it. I don’t think I ever retracted the statements in that post, but my opinion about the phone changed quite drastically since then. The first generation Storm was very buggy. The phone would freeze up all the time (especially when USB cable or charger was connected), the text messaging system would glitch and refuse to scroll and show you the newest message or reply to it, the Blackberry App World (primary way of installing new apps on the phone) was so bloated that it would make the phone unresponsive for like a minute after every action, and the device usually took about 10 minutes to reboot itself. Oh, and the only way to recover from a freeze was to pull a battery – which I had to do 2-3 times whenever I wanted to charge the phone, which in turn made the battery loose and prone to falling out. It was essentially a train wreck of a phone, and the only reason why I kept it for so long, was that I did not want to pay a full price for a decent Android device.

And then, right when my contract came up for a renewal the Verizon iPhone hit the store shelves. Considering that everyone on the market is trying to imitate this device, buying it made a lot of sense to me. Droid phones are great, but in many ways they are still playing catch-up to Apple which is sort of the undisputed market leader.

My iPhone Home Page

Not that the iPhone is perfect. It is a closed platform that only runs code blessed by Apple and it currently can’t do flash due to the ongoing pissing match between Steve Jobs and Adobe. Not only that, but the device also does not have user-swappable battery which still kinda worries me. But I remind myself that I have actually never bought a replacement battery for any phone I have owned. I just never needed to do this. Not even for the shitty blackberry.

Obviously there are pros and cons of going with Apple. But I do not regret it so far. Switching from a Blackberry to an iPhone is like going from… Shit… I wanted to make a car analogy here but I don’t really know that much about cars. Hmmm… How are we going to do this. How about this:

Switching from a Blackberry to an iPhone is like going from $shitty_car to a $cool_car.

Now imagine that $shitty_car is a cheap, rickety and not very fast, and $cool_car is an awesome, sleek convertible model that gets you all the ladies. I guess my point is that the difference is like night and day. It actually makes me wonder if we should even classify Blackberries as smart phones. I rather call them smart-ish, because they are clearly not even in the same league as the iPhone, HTC Incredible or Droid X. Do you know what makes the difference? Performance. Blackberries just do not have the raw CPU power and memory to compete here.

Let me give you an example, when I tried to check my Twitter or Facebook feed on the Storm I could actually feel the device straining to download and render all that data. It would usually take the respective app about a minute to fully load an updated feed, along with it’s images. I always assumed that part of the problem was a slow network connection. Only after I got the iPhone I realized that it was not. I’m on the same 3G network, trying to fetch the same type of data and my phone is like “Pssshh, that’s it? Here you go – *PLOP*”.

In addition to being really fast (compared to my last phone at least) the iPhone is also very sleek and intuitive. When I first started the device a popup message decided to teach me how to rearrange the icons on my home screen, but I promptly closed it mumbling “fuck you phone, I don’t care….” 5 minutes later I realized that I did care, but I couldn’t figure out a way to bring that help box back. So I decided experimenting with the icons. I knew that tapping launched the apps, and that dragging was used for scrolling so I did the only other thing that I could think of: I held my finger on an icon for a few seconds. Suddenly all the icons un-hinged themselves from the home screen with a plopping sound, and became wobbly indicating they could now be dragged around the screen. Then I accidentally dragged one icon onto another only to realize that this created a “folder”. I don’t know about you but this seemed incredibly more intuitive and user friendly than the Blackberry way of choosing a move option from a menu, and then navigating a folder choosing dialog.

This is pretty much my impression of the iPhone right now. Very sleek, very intuitive and very fast. Granted, if you just want a decent smart phone, the droid devices are just as good. I was comparing phones with a friend who has the Incredible and they were actually very close feature and performance wise. The only difference is that droid phones sometimes has issues with resident apps running in the background, dragging the system down while the Apple specifically forbids this sort of behavior. But as long as you know about it, and you flush your memory every once in a while, it is not a problem. And you are using an open platform which is a plus.

I guess what I’m saying is: get off the Blackberry platform. No seriously, their time has passed. Modern smart phones such as the iPhone or most of the high end Android devices just leave them in the dust.

PROTIP: if you are a new Verizon iPhone user like me and you are trying to use the VZ Contact Transfer app to migrate your address book from an old phone make sure you disable Wifi before you do this. For some reason the app won’t send you a text message with the security code unless you are connected via 3G and only 3G.

Now, do we have any other iPhone users on here? Care to share your pro-tips? How about must-have apps? I already have Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr add Reddit covered. I also downloaded a port of Nethack. What are your must have apps? :P

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15 Responses to iPhone 4

  1. naum UNITED STATES Google Chrome Mac OS says:

    a bunch of keyboard tips, that are not readily apparent:

    * you can drag the shift key and “temporarily” slide your finger on alt (symbols/numbers) keyboard

    * hold finger press down on certain keys (like “.com” or “.” for instance, and you will get a context menu, similar to right click on Win machines)

    some cool must-have apps or just really nifty:

    * kindle – amazon ebook on your phone
    * stanza – ebook reader for the *.epub tidings
    * google books – another ereader, this one google’s app for google books
    * instagram – pic taking, with filter and social network sharing
    * simplenote – better note taking app, syncs to the cloud, and lets you email yourself
    * angrybirds – best game for touch platform thus far
    * amazon
    * instapaper – cool app that lets you “batch” long read articles from your web browser, then read them in mobile friendlier format
    * imdb – for looking up movie info and times
    * netflix – if you are into watching TV/movies on your phone
    * lastfm and/or pandora – net radio streaming
    * ted – ted videos
    * tumblr –
    * vuvuzela – to annoy and amuse
    * fcc test – tests your connection (3G or WiFi) speeds
    * dictionary
    * skype

    some other games, not essential

    * civ rev – civ lite
    * ra – excellent strategy board game implementation
    * catan – settlers of catan iOS implementation
    * legends – yeah, a MMORPG on your phone

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  2. Rob UNITED STATES Google Chrome Linux Terminalist says:

    Booo. Should have gotten a Droid X.

    But you are right, Blackberry is really falling behind. I thought my Tour was pretty good and then I got a Droid X. Totally night and day.

    I think the Blackberry OS is just going to need a complete overhaul. At this point it just seems slow and clunky compared to Android or IOS.

    I thought RIM should have been a bigger player in the Palm sweepstakes. They could have taken webOS and put it on their devices. Oh well.

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  3. Amen to pretty much everything @naum mentions. I’ve listed my favorite iPad apps [1], most of which make sense on the iPhone, too. Stand-outs are: Dropbox, PlainText, GoodReader, Twitter’s Twitter app (has an awesome user interface, especially on the iPad, but also on the iPhone).

    I cloud-synced my calendars, foregoing iTunes [2].

    The high resolution of the iPhone is a killer feature, because it makes content so much more readable. Android indeed does some cool things, but the iPhone usually gives you less things to worry about. The race will remain close for some time to come. And it will be difficult for Android phones to match Apple’s build quality while also matching the price.

    [1] http://www.2ality.com/2010/10/recommended-ipad-apps-basics.html
    [2] http://www.2ality.com/2010/07/cloud-sync-your-ios-calendars-bonus.html

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  4. Owen AUSTRALIA Google Chrome Mac OS says:

    Little hint:

    Battery Percentage – On

    :) Makes it a little easier to see where you’re up (or down) to with your battery.

    Also in terms of apps:

    Speed Test (for checking 3G and WiFi speeds, naturally)
    Shazam (Oh this song is awesome, I wonder what it is? *tap*)
    iDaft (for messing around with Harder Better Faster Stronger and Technologic)
    Inception (interesting app for dream states)
    Photoshare (both iPhones need this, but allows you to send images via bluetooth)

    Hmm, a lot of my other useful apps are Australia-centric, so not so helpful there!

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  5. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ naum:

    Ooh! Nice list. That’s exactly the kind of thing I was hoping for. :)

    @ Rob:

    Well, RIM still seems to be sort of bewildered and in denial about relegated to third or fourth place in the smart phone market. They are trying to court the iPhone/Android users but they are still trying to sell them their standard hardware and software package because it’s stable, and because people like it.

    @ Axel Rauschmayer:

    That’s exactly what I did too. I already use Google Calendar quite extensively so it only made sense to cloud sync it.

    Also setting up my Gmail account using the Gmail button was the wrong choice. I sort of use my gmail labels like mail folders. I have filters that automatically label certain emails and use the “skip inbox” feature to file them appropriately. I would not get any notifications for those emails.

    Setting up your gmail as Exchange server on the other hand, works perfectly. I get push notifications for all my labels just fine.

    @ Owen:

    Oh, thank you for the battery tip. This is very useful. Why the hell wasn’t this on by default?

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  6. road UNITED STATES Google Chrome Mac OS says:

    angry birds is, indeed, the best game so far. other good ones:

    * Osmos — this is one of the most interesting games I’ve ever played for any platform, but it really really demonstrates how great multi-touch can be for games. physics-y.
    * flight control – addicting and cerebral.
    * doodle jump – simple and fun.

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  7. MrJones GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    The only reason one needs a user swappable battery is when the os is so shitty that its the only way to keep you phone working after it freezes. Man, i hate that new nokia phone^^

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  8. k00pa FINLAND Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    I see that you use iReddit and I have to recommend application called “alien blue” I had the pro version if it when my iPod was still alive and it was the best way to browser Reddit without a computer.

    Its free and there is Pro version for cheap price. The free version works just fine, so you dont even need to buy the pro. (I bought the pro to support the developer :P)

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  9. Zack UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    The single most useful app is JAILBREAKING! :) Turns that closed system into a nice wide open system! You do have to be more careful and aware of things though. I love the MiWi app. It allows me to turn my AT&T iPhone into a wireless hotspot or connect via USB to use as a tethered modem. This also means, I don’t have to pay my carrier for a premium to use this feature! :) Anyway, onto App lists….’

    BUMP – great for sharing info with other iPhone users.
    WiFiFoFum – if you are jailbroken, it’s a wardriving like app
    WiFiPass – if you are jailbroken, it shows all entered WiFi passwords. Makes it easy when a friend goes, what’s the WiFi pass here? If you’ve previously entered it, it’s easy.
    Plants vs Zombies – great and addicting game, although I wish they added new levels.
    BloonsTD4 – ridiculously addictive game, based on the flash version.
    Words with Friends – Scrabble like game….play with friends or randoms
    Fruit Ninja and Cut the Rope are also up there in honorable mention.
    Netflix is a must if you have an iPhone/iPad.
    FML and TWI are fun ways to kill time when waiting somewhere. F*ck my Life and Texting while Intoxicated.
    Google app does so many cool things.
    Google Translate is amazing too
    IMDB app comes in handy
    Navigon and TomTom work great on the iP4, I have both.
    Hungry Shark 3 is great fun.
    WeatherBug Elite is my weather app of choice. Love that it shows the radar maps.
    Pulse News is an amazing news app that you customize with specific feeds of your choice.
    Pandora is a must. My favorite app.
    eBay app.
    Find my iPhone – by Apple, works a great and it is free now.
    Infinity Blade if you want to see what gaming lies in store for the iPhone. It’s a beautiful app, lacks gameplay a bit, but fun for awhile regardless.
    LogMeIn Ignition is another must have for me. Being able to remotely control all the LogMeIn PCs I have at my disposal is a must for an IT guy.
    Skype works a treat too if you use it.
    iMovie is pretty amazing considering the hardware that it’s running on.
    Flixster is the best movie theater finding app out there. You can always watch trailers, etc.
    OpenTable is great for finding restaurants and making reservations through your phone.
    TipStar is helpful for the mathematically challenged. Or just making it easier to figure the totals when you go out with a group of friends.

    That’s all for now! Enjoy the phone!

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  10. Mcai8sh4 UNITED KINGDOM Netscape Navigator Mac OS says:

    Sadly I don’t have an iPhone (although I do actually want one). I’m on the Samsung galaxy S – I have to say, it is very good. Fast, stable, and open. Whilst some may complain about apple devices being so locked down, it does mean that everything conforms to the same high standard. I’ve found with android that some apps can make the whole user experience mixed (but I still love it).
    I have, however, got an iPad, and after using it seriously wouldn’t mind having an iPhone.

    Some apps that I find essential… (maybe more suited for iPad, but I have used them on an iPhone)

    Gusto – connect to your websites, edit the code, preview… Really good if you play around with simple websites.

    iSSH – ssh program that does it all! A bit pricey, but I’ve found it essential!

    Alien blue – as koopa mentioned, great app for reddit. I also paid for this to support the devs.

    Check them out and enjoy your new toy (a part of me is jealous!)

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  11. Mcai8sh4 UNITED KINGDOM Netscape Navigator Mac OS says:

    @ Mcai8sh4:Aaah, can I just say I’m NOT using Netscape! I’m on the iPad using Atomic browser. :p

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  12. burn UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Welcome to the iOS community. We’re way better than those “we hate Apple so we’ll get whatever’s available” Android crowd. :) Most of my family and a few people at work have Android devices (one has an old-school Droid and the rest have the Evo). I’m constantly being shown what their phone can do. Some things the Android does better, some things you’re left just shaking your head. I will say that the Android tablets look very cool though I’m still getting the iPad 2 just because I already have a million apps that will run on it.

    You’ll eventually grow to have a very love/hate relationship with iTunes. The Apple App Store is far superior than Android’s Marketplace and iTunes is great for presenting all that Apple has to offer. However, the whole procedure for getting apps on your phone just sucks…badly. Especially after you’ve been using it for a few years and get a few hundred apps on it.

    BTW, your iTunes account will support up to 5 devices. That means when you buy an app (or song) you can install it on yours, your wife’s, your son’s, your iPod Touch, and your iPad for no extra cost.

    First, a list of Twitter feeds. These guys run contests and/or post promo codes daily!
    @gameloft – They basically “port” successful games to the iOS. They are having a big $.99 cent sale right now on 30 of their games. N.O.V.A. 1 and 2 == HALO, Modern Combat 1 and 2 == Modern Warfare, etc.
    @slidetoplay – Really good game review site.
    @toucharcade – Awesome website with some GREAT forums.
    @theappera, @bomb1c – These guys release promo codes all the time.
    @cm_games – Makes some sweet RPGs.
    @gamevil – Also makes some sweet RPGs.
    @eamobile – They run sales on their games all the time!

    Other Twitter accounts:
    @ceostevejobs – parody account … maybe 2 tweets a week so very low traffic.

    Good web software that has great iOS apps:
    * Instapaper / ReadItLater (RIL Pro is on sale for $.99) right now.
    * LastPass – Internet-based password storage.
    * XMarks – Bookmark syncing service. LastPass just bought them.
    * Dropbox
    * Rhapsody / Rdio – I like Rhapsody a LOT better than Rdio even though Rdio won Gizmodo’s comparison battle.
    * Geocaching
    * Starbucks gift card – You can even pay for your coffee from the app.
    * AppShopper – Look up cost history on apps. Create a wish list to know when the apps you want go on sale.
    * MyAT&T – View and pay your AT&T bill (Yes, I know you’re on Verizon :))
    * Chase / Discover have apps, too

    * Google Voice – I love GV! There are a ton of Lifehacker articles about what you can do with it.
    * 1337pwn – See if your XBOX live friends are on. Requires no login so you don’t have to give a random person your XBOX live credentials.
    * Light – One of the free apps to turn your LED light on. Makes a great flashlight.
    * FieldAgent – They post small jobs that pay 4 or 5 bucks a piece. Stuff like take a picture of $_display at Walmart.
    * MapQuest – Free turn-by-turn directions. It speaks to you which makes it way more convenient and useful than Google Maps.
    * IMDB – I use this more than I thought I would.
    * Speed Test
    * Trapster – Social-based police locator.
    * Mobile Mouse – Turns your phone into a trackpad for your computer.
    * Discover – Turns your phone into a wifi-based USB key.
    * Scany – nmap-type app. There aren’t many good port scanners on iOS.
    * AroundMe / LocalScope – See what stores are nearby. Good for when you’re traveling.
    * StarWalk – AMAZING astronomy app! Point it at the sky and it shows you the constellations you’re looking at. Click on one and it will show way more information that you’ve ever wanted to know about it.
    * Night Stand – Alarm clock. It has a binary clock mode! What more do you need!
    * Emoji Free – Use icons in your text messages. It gives you the ability to see the ones that are sent to you, also.
    * MochaSoft’s telnet and RDP apps
    * RedLaser – Scan a barcode to see if you can get it cheaper at another store or online.
    * DI Radio / Pandora / Last.fm / Slacker – radio streaming apps.
    * Shazam – Tells you what song is being played on the radio.

    * Godville – Silly RPGish game that you don’t really play as much as you just watch your guy do his thing.
    * Words With Friends – Turn-based Scrabble game.
    * War of Words – WWF on crack!
    * Disc Drivin’ – Turn-based, uh, disc driving game.
    * Angry Birds / Cut the Rope / Burn the Rope / ZenBound / Plants vs. Zombies – Everyone has these so you’re not really cool unless you do, too.
    * Pocket Legends – MMORPG.
    * Infinity Blade – BEAUTIFUL game. Really shows off that nice Retina display.
    * Zenonia 2 – RPG
    * Space Miner Space Ore Bust – TouchArcade gave it GOTY for 2010. It is a pretty good game. GOTY though?
    * Sword and Poker 2 – Good game. Just look at the reviews!
    * Real Racing 2 – Firemint’s awesome racing game. It has the best graphics of any racing game out right now.
    * Reckless Racing – Fun top-down racer.
    * Asphalt 5 – Asphalt 6 is out but I like ver. 5 much better.
    * Need for Speed Undercover – As good as the console version.
    * Need for Speed Shift – Just like the console version.
    * Need for Speed Hot Pursuit – Great graphics.
    * Uber Racer – Off-road racing. Good physics.
    * Dead Space 2 – Complete rewrite of the console game. Not a port!
    * N.O.V.A. 2 – Gameloft’s Halo port. One of the best looking FPSs out.
    * Eliminate Pro / Archetype – Multiplayer only FPS games.
    * Minigore – Rated as the best dual-stick shooters. It’s a top-down game, also.
    * Duke Nukem 3D
    * Revolt – Good looking top-down shooter.
    * Battlefield Bad Company 2 – Not my favorite FPS but if you’re a fan of the console version.
    * Modern Combat 2 – Gameloft’s Modern Warfare port. I just got it. Haven’t played it yet.
    * Illusia 2 – Gamevil’s side-scrolling RPG. Haven’t played much of it yet but it looks like it would be fun. :)
    * Game Dev Story – An almost exact port of the PC version. Highly coveted by those PC gamers.
    * Red Conquest – A very unique RTS.
    * Draw Slasher – For when you just want to cut people in half. Tons of blood in this game.
    * Samurai: Dojo 2 – Another bloody game!
    * SeaBattle – Multiplayer battleship.
    * Madden NFL – EA’s Madden. On the iPhone!
    * Veggie Samurai – Clone of Fruit Ninja for those that don’t want to spend $.99. :)
    * World Series of Poker / Texas Poker by Pokerist
    * Orbital – Great time killer.
    * geoFighter – Very similar to Geometry Wars
    * Touch To Live – Another Geometry Wars-style game
    * Puckerz – ditto here but you launch the puck instead of using the gyroscope to navigate your guy around.
    * Splode / Last Fish – Very mellow games. Great music.
    * iSlash

    In case you haven’t noticed, the iPhone (especially the i4) makes a GREAT gaming device! Who cares about productivity when all these games are just begging to be played! :D

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  13. burn UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @Zack – Great list!
    The whole jailbreaking thing with these phones is amazing. It basically gives you 100% control over your phone. It’s a bit of a cat and mouse game though trying to get around Apple’s latest anti-jailbreaking controls. My one and only concern with jailbreaking is that you’re giving a lot of people “potential” access to your phone. Apple is pretty restrictive on what they’ll allow (though some things do get past them), however with Cydia you’re letting whomever run whatever they want on your phone. Not such a big deal except that I keep a lot of personal (and corporate!) data on my phone. Being able to do the 5 or 6 things that jailbreaking lets you do just isn’t worth it to me. BTW, yes, I am a bit paranoid when it comes to protecting my data. :)

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  14. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ MrJones:

    Yes, Blackberries are notorious for this as well. If they made a blackberry without a user swappable blackberry it would freeze forever in the first week or so. :P

    @ k00pa:

    Suggestion taken. I downloaded Alien Blue and I like it. Thanks!

    @ Zack:

    Well, I just got this phone so I’m not that keen on jailbraiking it yet. Maybe I will do that at some point in the future. :)

    Thanks for the list of cool apps though.

    @ Mcai8sh4:

    Yeah, the browser detection plugin sometimes make wild guesses when it can’t identify User Agent string. And by wild guesses I mean, it usually displays netscape for obscure browsers.

    @ burn:

    Holly crap! Nice list! I’m definitely going to check some of these out.

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  15. Morghan UNITED STATES Safari Linux says:

    It displays Safari for my tablet which is webkit, as is my phone I’m posting with now.

    Someone made a good point about the apps. My Android apps, and his iOS apps, work on both phone and tablet. Definitely nice after having a BlackBerry when they didn’t have a tablet, and after messing with a PlayBook I’m inclined to say they still don’t have one.

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