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Two Days With iPhone 4: My First Impressions

I bought a French iPhone 4 on eBay, 16GB model. I paid a lot for it, but I’m not complaining - I needed one. Waiting for Italian providers to comfortably announce their plans wasn’t a viable option. I’ve received the device on Wednesday and had some problems cutting my SIM to fit the new Mini-SIM tray; my first day with the iPhone 4 felt pretty much like using a Retina iPod Touch. Yesterday I managed to buy another SIM, make it mini and finally start using the iPhone 4 - well - as an iPhone.

The display is amazing. It is true what they say, it’s living breathing print and you’ve never seen anything like this. Seriously, I’ve never seen text and graphical UI elements so polished and beautiful on any kind of screen. It’s so beautiful it doesn’t look real, but it is. You can’t see pixels on it, everything’s fluid. Trying to use a 3GS (or, sadly, an iPad) after a few hours with the iPhone 4 feels like going back to a badly designed newspaper that has fuzzy text and pictures all over it.

The display isn’t beautiful just for the sake of it. It’s technology that meets usability: Instapaper on the iPhone 4 is a whole new thing. So is reading feeds, not to mention MobileSafari  - you can read text all zoomed out. Of all the friends I’ve shown the device to, every one of them stared at the screen and said “Wow, look at that text”.

The device itself is an outstanding piece of modern industrial design. Everything from the metal frame to the clicky volume and home buttons looks and feels like something that’s been put a lot of work into, gently crafted to ensure an extraordinary build quality. The 3GS is nothing more than a toy now, but the iPad still holds up pretty well.

Thew new camera is good. I’ve shot many photos with it until now, here are a few examples. Video is great, too, but I guess that was already clear. I’ll post more results in my review next week.

Let me say it again, the home button is so clicky. I love it.

As for FaceTime, I’ve only had one call and I can’t really say that much about it. I’ll report back in the review. That one call was awesome, by the way - even if we were on two not-so-good connections, audio quality was great (better than a standard voice call, even with 3 Italia) and video was smooth.

Folders make much more sense on the iPhone 4. Thanks to the Retina Display you can now spot all the icons inside a folder, which is a major improvement in usability.

On the reception problem: yes, I can replicate it. But like Gruber said many times on DF, I can replicate the issue by “holding it wrong” or touching “the spot” in low-signal areas. I can’t make it drop a single bar when I have 5 full bars in strong-signal areas (and trust me, I’ve been trying for two days now). Even if I can replicate the issue though, I still haven’t managed to achieve dropped calls or stop Safari from loading a page because of it. From what I’ve seen, it looks like there’s a bug (and Apple knows that) but it doesn’t really affect the device “when it’s working”. Again, I’ll keep on testing during the weekend and let you know.

The iPhone 4 proves that new hardware can bring a completely new experience with it, even on a device might not look much different from its previous iterations.

The iPhone 4 is refreshingly great.

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