Saturday, 7 January 2012

New Tech: iPhone 4s 16GB Black

I got a iPhone 4s for Christmas.  Unlocked, off contract, directly from the apple website.  I'm going to write this post mostly as a "first impression" because I don't think I have experienced everything that the iPhone or iOS 5 can do.  This is the first time Ive used an iOS device for an extended period of time.  I use iTunes with an older 4th Generation Ipod Nano, but overall I don't have a lot of experience with any of apple's operating systems.

So, first impressions:
Ive always thought that the 3.5" screen would be too small for my smartphone needs, and that the size of the phone overall was too narrow.  But after using it for only a short time I found I was mistaken.  The screen size is fine for basic browsing, and the ability to easily zoom into text makes it easy to read.  The feel of the device is just amazing.  The metal feel of the external antenna really makes the phone feel solid, heavy (which is a good thing), and expensive.  The glass back gives basically the same feeling and I love that feeling so much that Ive decided, at least for now, to not use a case.  I am using a screen protector though.  It gives the front of the device a matte finish, and feel.  Which I'm ok with because I hate seeing fingerprints on glossy surfaces.  Another thing I like about the 3.5" screen is that my thumb is able to reach anywhere on the screen, so I can use the device comfortably with one hand.

I won't spend too much time on the basic UI because I think most people know how it works, so I will just say that its good.  There are a few things on my old blackberry that I definitely miss while using the iPhone.  Blackberry is know for its excellent E-mail client, and now I know what they mean.  I definitely like how there was a separate "App" for each separate e-mail account on RIM's OS.  I could see right on the home screen without having to open anything which account I had mail from.  Another good thing RIM does with email is that there is a little indicator on the app icon that tells you when you have new e-mails, that indicator goes away as soon as you open the mail client, whether you read the e-mail or not.  So you can read who its from, and the subject, without opening the e-mail and the "new message" indicator still goes away.  On iOS you know when you get e-mails but if you don't open them they still show on the mail app Icon.  Its not a big difference but I still think its worth mentioning.  Another important difference from RIM's OS is that you can easily have different ring tones, or vibrations for different email accounts.  I have 2 main e-mail accounts one for newsletters, and fairly unimportant stuff, and a gmail account for important mail like travel information, or student loan messages.  On my blackberry my hotmail account did not notify me at all, but the gmail account acted like an SMS message, with 3 vibrations, and an LED indicator light.  That kind of high level customisation is something that apple overall seems to ignore, while RIM really lets you personalise how your device works.

A similar problem on iOS is that you can't "mark all as read" on the mail client.  On RIM's OS you could scroll to any point and mark all prior as read, or just scroll to the top to mark all as read.  This feature will definatly be missed.

One way the iPhone is well above the Blackberry is apps.  So far I don't use apps all too often, and I don't expect to do very much gaming on this device but there are a lot of useful apps that Ive already found that I would have loved to use on my old phone.  I will go into more detail of apps in a later post.

There are a lot of things on the iPhone that are much better simply because its a newer phone.  The blackberry is almost 3 years old at this point and is not nearly as powerful as the dual-core A5.  So things like the browser, games, UI, and apps all work much faster and with less problems than the old phone.

Siri is alright.  I played around for a little while asking it the meaning of life and whatnot.  But this is not a feature I will use very often.  Its even less useful in Canada because Siri cannot find locations outside the US.  That may change in the future but for now its not too useful to me.

I had a pretty good experience switching phones mid contract.  I did try the whole "Cutting a SIM card to fit a Micro-SIM slot" and It did not seem to work.  I didn't destroy the SIM card, I was still able to use it in the blackberry after cutting it but the iPhone did not recognise it for whatever reason.  One slight annoyance is that I had to wait until I travelled back home to get my phone activated.  There were no Rogers' stores anywhere withing a 5 hour drive of where I was staying.  Once I got back home it was not a problem.  I had to change my plan because my old plan was specifically for blackberry but that turned out really good.  The bill is a little more expensive now, but I get 10x more data (from .5GB to 5GB) and "My10" which allows me to call home over long distance for free.  I opted out of the 12$/month for call display, and forwarding because it would not be useful for me.  One major annoyance of this experience, while not iPhone related, was that I'm not able to use my old phone.  I was planning on giving the old blackberry to my mom so she could use it.  I thought that she would still be able to use the device over Wi-fi for e-mails and browsing.  But that is not the case.  Without a valid SIM card the device was basically useless.  No e-mail, browsing, or apps at all.  The only thing that seemed to still work was the music, and video apps.

In conclusion I love this new phone, and can't wait to see what I can do with it.

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