As the iPhone 4 heads out the door, the complaints start rolling in. Let's see which ones are real and which ones aren't. We have an iPhone 4 right here, so we'll test each specific gripe, using our first-hand experience to determine which ones should concern you the most, and which ones you can immediately discount.
1. Left-handed reception is bad
When you hold an iPhone 4 in your left hand with your palm resting against the bottom left corner, you lose at least three bars of cellphone and 3G reception.
True or false? True. We're seeing the same thing on our iPhone 4. While some demos have shown serious problems such as dropped calls, our AT&T reception here in the Midwest is usually a pretty solid five bars. But when we hold the iPhone 4 in the left hand, it slowly creeps down to two bars. Set it down on a table or hold it in the right hand, and those bars creep back up. This could be trouble.
You'll have to buy a new dock if you want the convenience of a handy desktop stand/charging station for your iPhone 4.
True or false? True. Unfortunately, as you've been required to do with the past two iPhones, Apple will gouge you for $29 if you want one of those handy docks. We thought we'd luck out and slide it into the iPad dock, but no dice there, either. It's a slightly different size, although some enterprising craftsman might be able to file down certain areas to make the iPhone 4 fit. Not a huge transgression, because after all, how is Apple going to be able to predict the future when it creates its lovely docks? We haven't forgotten, though, that the first version of the iPhone included a dock in the package. Would that be too much to ask?
Some sources claim that Apple wasn't choosy enough with the high-resolution displays on the iPhone 4, resulting in some unlucky buyers experiencing yellowish blotches or streaks across the screen.
True or false? False. Or at least, not true for us. We're feeling lucky, because our screen is so perfect, we called it the best we'd ever seen.
Apple told us the iPhone 4 would be available in black or white, then surprised us: no white iPhones available for preorder.
So what? [Insert whiny voice here] We really like the design of the white one, the first iPhone to have the same white color on the front as it has on the back. It also reminds us of iPods we've known and loved. No sooner had we finally decided to go for a white one, than we find out it's not available yet. Now Apple tells us we'll have to wait until the second half of July if we want a white one. Forget it. Maybe white iPhones are for girls, anyway? Readers, comments?
If apps aren't specially written for the new screen, they look ragged.
True or false? True. Because its 960 x 640-pixel screen is now a whole lot sharper than its predecessor, it's immediately noticeable when you're not using one of the freshly minted apps. However, most text within unrevised apps still looks clean. We're not at the point where we refuse to use apps unless they're especially created for the new high-rez, but we'd like to see that transition happen quickly.
Because of the iPhone's glass front and back, you can't use it by feel as much as you could with previous models.
True or false? True. If you want to reach into your pocket and discreetly turn off the ringer, you won't be able to tell which way the iPhone is facing. No big deal, but you'll have to get used to it.
What a mess. After a few minutes of use, the iPhone 4 screen looks like it's been smeared with peanut butter.
True or false? True. Here's another reason why we wanted a white iPhone. We figured it wouldn't show fingerprints quite so much. But this is nothing new with iPhones, which are so shiny. And really, you must touch them to use them, so they end up looking pretty funky just after a few minutes of use. Our solution? Carry a microfiber cloth wherever we go.
Could it be that multitasking is taking its toll?
True or false? True. The difference is so subtle, it won't matter to most users, but we just don't think you can scroll down a long list of emails or a lengthy webpage as smoothly as you used to be able to with version 3 of the iPhone operating system. We're seeing slight stutters from time to time that we never saw before. But hey, maybe it's just us.
"Gorilla glass" sounds pretty tough, and maybe downright scary, but it's still glass.
True or false? True. Having dropped an iPhone in the past, we're always worried about ruining this new one. And, we don't entertain any fantasies about it being indestructible. And no, we're not going to test to see if it will break or not — there are other fools who have done that for us. See them here.
The careless telephone company bungles the pre-order, is responsible for billions of dropped calls. Many potential customers won't buy an iPhone because of AT&T.
True or false? True. After the fiasco of the iPhone 4 pre-order, we're calling for AT&T's head just as much as the next guy. Even though we have fairly consistent service here in the Midwest, AT&T still drops a lot more calls than any other wireless service provider we've used. Come on Verizon, make a deal with Steve Jobs. Some of us aren't too happy about the way the unlimited data plan disappeared, either.
You'll spend at least $2000 over the term of a two-year contract on the iPhone and its associated service.
True or false? It's not necessarily a poor value, it's just expensive. You'll also pay a lot more for a Mercedes-Benz or a BMW than you will for a Ford Focus. Just look at this gorgeous design, which reminds us of a finely crafted pocket watch. Yes, Mr. Jobs, it does remind us of a classic Leica camera.
You have to pay more for cool stuff like this. But if this cellphone drops more than a tiny percentage of its calls because of a hardware problem, it doesn't matter how cool it is.