Monday, 28 June 2010

i4, Only £499, Phone Is £25 Extra

So, I got an iPhone 4 last week. Got up at 4:30 in the morning  to go to a Vodafone store for a friend.

We queued up for a few hours, met a few nice people (more on one of them later), and got excited every time a van drove past, hoping it was the iPhones. But they were already inside. One guy actually ran down the Phones4U branch and snagged the last phone there, and left his place in the queue, despite the fact he had been there since 3.

When the store opened, the first four people in the queue started to buy their phones within seconds. It took what seemed like at least half an hour for the first one to finish. I was 6th in the queue, my friend was 7th, so it was our turn quite quickly.

But there was a problem. We were both 17. Neither of us could sign the contract, and they couldn't reserve a phone for either of us (Apple's policy, apparently). We were pissed, as was another customer - I let him take my place while me and my friend discussed what to do. We decided to call in the cavalry. The cavalry, in this case, being some conveniently nearby parents.

I called my mum, thankfully she wasn't busy, so she said she'd stop by as soon as she could. However, there was still the issue of them not being able to save a phone for me - even for half an hour - and there being very little stock left. The guy I gave my place tried to reason with the manager - he even offered to pay for our phones until our parents could get there - but the manager didn't budge. He then sat there talking to a member of staff for at least half an hour, purposefully wasting time to slow down the queue so there was a higher chance of us getting our phones. It was actually quite funny to watch. The manager then came forward and announced that they were out of stock.... of the 32GB model.

Anyway, some time passed, the guy (whose name I never got, regretfully), eventually had to leave, and the queue continued to move forward. I spied on one of the screens that they only had a single phone left. The waiting at this point was intense. Someone was just about to get up and leave, allowing the queue to move forward and the last phone to be sold, when my mum appeared at the door to save the day. We quickly sat down, much to the dismay of the next person in the queue. The manager stepped forward to announce they had no phones left at all, but they could order one for next week.

About a minute later, my friend's dad arrived, but it was too late. However they phoned up Vodafone and complained, and managed to get two phones dispatched for delivery the next morning. Not too bad.

At this point, I was an hour late for college, but I didn't really care. I had my phone, thanks to my mum and the nameless man from the queue.



"Wait 20 minutes for it to activate" said the guy at the Vodafone store. My day at college finished two hours later. No activation. I was saddened by this.

By the time I got home it still hadn't activated. I tried rebooting it and that somehow worked, so that was problem #1 gone. Now I was activated, I decided to sync with iTunes. I hate iTunes. I needed to update to 9.2. Ok, I thought, this should be easy.

I was wrong. Apple Software Update decided it only wanted to install half of iTunes before failing, leaving me with a non working iTunes install, that also refused to uninstall itself. I hate iTunes.

So I tried a bunch of things, read a bunch of articles, and got it working an hour later, and finally was able to sync my phone. It took a while. I then started to organize my large collection of apps into folders within iTunes. I'm obsessive about things like this so I spent about half an hour organizing and reorganizing everything, then I was happy with the result, and I clicked Sync.

Crash.

It was all gone. All my obsessive organization and neatly organized and appropriately named folders, gone. Did I mention that I hate iTunes?

So I did it all again, syncing every 60 seconds or so in case of another catastrophic failure on iTunes' part. Thankfully there was none, and I managed to get it all done in about 15 minutes.

Now it was time for me to use my phone. All that time, money, effort and frustration was about to pay off.

The Retina display is just incredible, literally like nothing I've ever seen. You just cannot see the pixels. I kept moving it closer and closer to my eye, and couldn't still couldn't see any, I then got to the point that it was so close that it just defocused. You can't beat it, no matter how hard you try. Everything else pales in comparison. This is the future of display technology, you really do have to see it to believe it. I can't wait for this technology to make its way to bigger screens.

The time spent putting my apps into folders was worth it; I could see each of their tiny little icons in perfect detail. I played around with a few. Those updated for the Retina Display, such as Flight Control and Twitter, just look incredible.

Those that haven't been updated for the Retina Display have ugly looking pixelated app icons and the apps themselves look marginal at best, depending on how much they rely on Apple's baked in stuff, which, as expected, has all been updated for the display. The apps I use regularly are all slowly being updated though, so this should be a non-issue soon enough.

The A4 chip makes everything noticeably faster, and the doubled RAM makes multitasking a joy to use. The battery also seems to last a noticeably longer amount of time.

Facetime, which I tried the next day when my friend had gotten his phone, works a treat. It does everything it is advertised to do, the camera flipping is especially fun, but it just seems a bit situational, and extremely awkward when it's time to hang up. But at least it uses Wifi, so the call won't drop. Perhaps when more devices use it I'll get some more use out of it.

Now, back to the first day I had it,  I thought I'd make a call to my dad, who currently carries a 3G and a 3GS (work and home, one Irish one English), and gloat. But there was a problem.

I was holding it wrong.

I had no signal. I put it down on my desk and suddenly had signal. I had read about this, but I didn't think it was this bad. I held it in some awkward position that felt like I was going to drop it, managed to get signal, and phoned my dad. We spoke for a few minutes, and the call actually didn't drop. So obviously this was a problem. It was also being reported all over the place, I just didn't know it was this bad until I experienced it.

---

A few days passed, I tried to adjust my holding position for a few days but by Monday I just got sick of it. I had read in various places that not only does the Bumper case that Apple sells solve the signal problem, but if you called them up and complained you could get one sent to you for free. I tried, twice, and didn't get anything. I went back and read some of these posts again, but they were all from people in the US, which kinda sucks for me.

The worst part was that when I explained the issue, I was actually told I needed to buy the case in order to fix the problem. So I called again, and this time the guy on the other end suggested that I get a replacement iPhone, so I thought why not, it may work. I have a Genius Bar appointment booked for Wednesday for that.

Oh and, even better, the same friend also tried calling Apple today. He was laughed at and told to use another phone. Great. Nice one, Apple.

Anyway, this afternoon I relented and went out to buy a Bumper case, simply because I needed to actually use my phone, and it has remedied the signal problem, but has brought with it another issue all of its own. The headphone socket no longer accepts the audio jack from my Astro A30 headphones. Boo. Not sure what to do about this. I've considered making the hole in the case bigger, but that means I can't take it back for a refund when Otterbox get around to releasing their case.

But hey, at least I can make calls. It only cost £25 extra for that privilege. And I got some cookies on the way back from the Apple store, so it's all cool.

Follow up on Wednesday.

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