Friday, February 10, 2012

A Fortnight with the iPhone 4S

It has been over 15 days since I got my first ever iPhone (the 4S, 16GB) and my experience has been very much pleasant except for a few gripes which I believe will be cleared up in some time. To make it easier to read, I’m going to split up this post into many divisions like Apps, Camera and various aspects of the phone and explain how I felt about the same. Do keep in mind that this blog has primarily been about PCs, web apps and other stuff that’s limited to your desktop and with this post I’m slowly branching out to other devices since it’s inevitable that they’re becoming a part of our daily lives. So, my writing style might not be to your liking.

Why I bought an iPhone instead of <Insert your favourite smartphone platform here>? :

I’ve been a user of the HTC Desire for over 9 months and while the phone was initially very good, problems started cropping up after a few months – like the SD card getting unmounted at regular intervals, phone calls getting picked up/hung up automatically, automatic restarts and many other not-so-huge issues and frankly, I was getting annoyed at the phone and how even a Nokia might stack up to it because of all these issues. While rooting and flashing a custom ROM might have fixed most of these issues (if not all), my phone wouldn’t budge and I always failed when it comes to rooting the phone while I’ve helped others root their android phones.

With all the problems the platform had (apart from the really great operating system), I decided that iOS will be perfect for someone like me – regular updates for a really long time, good looking apps (I tend to give a lot of importance to design) and other factors and went on with the latest iPhone so that I can stick with it till its support runs out.

Apps:

While this might be more of a comment about the platform rather than the phone, iOS apps are generally more polished and well-designed and I strongly believe that these factors will make us want to use the device since we’re all humans after all. While I did face the occasional app crash and other errors, they weren’t frequent enough to make me want to complain.

Compared to Android, the number of paid apps are a bit on the higher side in iOS, but if you look properly in the App Store, you can definitely survive without buying a single app till the end by just making little compromises.

Since the iPhone 4S is the fastest iOS device out there, the apps were pretty fast and I did not notice any lag while using them. If you use a debit card which can’t be used for online credit card based transactions, you might have a tough time creating virtual credit cards for every app that you buy on the App Store, but that’s just me – you can always go get yourself a credit card and start treating yourself with apps.

Speaking of Apps, here’s my home screen.

2012-02-10 00.24.00

Communication:

While I expected the iPhone to be average when it comes to handling actual phone calls and texting (with the on-screen keyboard), it did pretty well on both these departments. Phone calls sounded much better than they did on my HTC Desire and texting also turned out to be great. With iMessage, I’m now saving quite a few free texts on my plan which provides a paltry 75 per day.

Camera:

The camera, too is one of the best I’ve ever owned. My previous phone had a pretty average camera with messed-up controls that made it all the more difficult to capture pictures. The 8MP shooter on this phone manages to produce some impressive photos pretty fast. Here’s a couple of photos that I liked. Click on the photos to view them full size.

2012-01-31 15.00.15

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2012-01-31 15.31.28

I still haven’t had the opportunity to make a video call/Facetime since most of my friends are on 3GS. But, the front camera is very decent nevertheless.

Battery Life:

This is one area that fell a little behind my expectations. The phone can easily last for 2 days with mild usage, while using a lot of 3G, Bluetooth and other features can quickly bring it down to half-a-day. My usage habits keep the phone alive for a day and that’s a whole lot better than my previous phone.

Siri:

2012-02-04 15.23.28

While the concept looks futuristic, I do not see it being used practically (or at least in my case). Siri doesn’t have trouble with my accent/phrasing and it understands me quite well compared to any voice recognition system that I’ve used before. Again, the problem in this case is the design. While the app is ingenious, I just don’t feel like making use of it in my everyday life, except for using it as a conversation starter when talking to someone in a party. If you have a tight data plan, you might want to restrict Siri usage since it can hog your 3G pretty quickly.

3G Connectivity:

While Tim Cook promised faster 3G speeds compared to other iPhones/Smartphones, the bandwidth I received remained more or less the same compared to my old phone, here’s a speed test during peak time.

2012-01-27 10.40.23

Music:

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The music player is a dream to use (as always!) and the stock headphones are very good. While I expected the battery life to take a big hit while listening to music for prolonged periods of time, it was surprisingly going strong.

Apart from all of this, I find my iPhone to be a really good reading device and I enjoy spending time on apps like Zite, Flipboard, Twitter and Kindle. If you’re considering getting an iPhone, it’s definitely worth investing in a 4S and if you already have a 3GS+ device, I’d recommend that you wait till the next iPhone arrives.