A Byte of Apple : iPhone 4 is here

A new week brings with it our dose of Apple flavored news, but this is no ordinary week. It’s not every week that a celebrity device chances its way across to our hands, and this week saw both Varun and me having a go at the iPhone 4, fresh off the boat courtesy returning friends from the UK.

Initial impressions? Once you get past the oohs-and-aahs of holding such a finely crafted device and switch it on, the first thing that hits you (and I kid you not, it does hit you!) is the gorgeous screen. Forget all the Steve Jobs claimed about 326 pixels-per-inch pixel density and the 960×640 pixel 3.5 inch retina display, this baby has to be seen to be believed.  Put an iPhone 3GS next to it, and suddenly the 3GS looks almost hazy to the eye in comparison. The added horsepower under the hood – with the iPad’s A4 processor and twice (512MB) the memory – means that most graphics intensive games work quite well on the iPhone 4, and even everyday tasks seem snappier when compared to an iOS4 bearing 3GS.

The one thing I’m not over the moon about is the new phone design. Sure, it’s thinner than the previous gen by all of 0.11 inch – and the difference is felt because the new flat back design doesn’t have the same “fat” feeling of the 3GS and 3G. It’s just that the all-glass front and back feels a tad bulkier, and plus here’s something strange you figure out once you start using it a bit – you can’t intuitively ‘feel’ the front from the back of the phone without looking, say when it’s in your pocket, so you tend it pull it out all wrong and quite often, facing the wrong direction!

But to be honest, since I had all of one day to play with the device, these are exactly what I said they will be – initial impressions. Later this week, expect a full review from Varun with the absolute lowdown on the iPhone 4. One thing that I can say though – like every iPhone that came before it, this is very much an Apple device right down to the walled gardens for developers – you either play by the rules, or risk getting shut out of the iPhone platform. So, in that sense, if you hated the Apple way before this iPhone came out, you’re not going to change your mind much with this albeit revolutionary release. Unlike 2007 however, your choice in terms of Android handsets is growing by the day, so the options are solid.

Along the sidelines of what is being called Apple’s most successful launch in history, the iPhone 4 signal issues seemed to plague users enough to force Apple into a formal response this past week. Apple’s explanation is that the iPhone – including past models like the 3G/3GS – has always displayed too many bars for a certain given level of signal strength, a problem they put down to a formula error. Net net, if you’ve used a 3G/3GS or an iPhone 4, you’ve probably seen more signal bars than are supposed to be there in the first place. Truth be told, I didn’t see any particularly noticeable issues in the unit I played around with, and Apple claims that this issue is addressable via a firmware update that is on its way, but we’re just going to have to hold the jury out on this one. If the reception issues do end up being just a software fix, all will be sunny and hay shall be made. If not, the competition is going to have a field day with this – maybe changing their “Think Different” philosophy to “Hold Different”?