04 July 2010

The iPhone 4

And you thought that I would let Apple's latest and "greatest" pass on without so much of a peep from me? , boy were you wrong!
So, unless you've been living under a rock for the last few weeks, Apple finally released their newest version of the iPhone, dubbed the iPhone 4, despite the huge leak of the device by one of its developers. However, unlike its predecessors, it appears that Apple is finally starting to realize that its phones were severely lacking in the "Next Generation" factor. And to tell you honestly, it finally is catching up to the rest of the industry - but still lags.
There are a few things that I'll say right now about it that is different from its predecessors: it has a second, front-facing camera for video conferencing. Now, Jobs said during its unveiling, that it was going to "change everything," but if you want to the facts, front-facing cameras on smartphones is nothing new. In fact, when the iPhone first came out (the first generation one, mind you), I had my first smartphone with a front-facing camera. Yes, you heard that right: back in late 2007 I owned a smartphone with 2 cameras. Granted, the software wasn't available at the time (and neither was a sufficient network), but had there been, things would've been a lot different. Also, the camera of the phone has been improved and now allows for the ability to record video in 720p - not that it is such a great thing. Yeah, you can do it, but without image stabilization, all you'll get is high-definition jittery, wobbly, blurry video. Oh, and by the way, with a hack on my Google Nexus One, I can do the same thing, so there is no winner here.
Secondly, the new iPhone finally got with the times and increased the processor speed of the the phone to 1GHz. This speed boost allows developers to make processor-hungry applications, but also potentially allows the phone to allow multitasking. Of course, both of these perks I've had for some time now with my Nexus One.
Thirdly, the new iPhone has an increased screen resolution. Although the graphics of most applications built for the phone won't be able to take too much advantage of the increased resolution (unless the graphics are not bitmaps and rather vector images), this does allow developers to create more crisp looking applications in the future. However, I do have to ask why do this? I mean, its not like the phone is going to be used in a serious context where the resolution is going to be that much of an issue. That being said, I should mention that I have yet to play with one at the local Apple store, so I can not say for certain whether it is much of an improvement or not in comparison to my Nexus One.
Finally, the new iPhone has finally gotten rid of that annoying look and seems a bit more modern. This new modern look allowed them to accommodate a new antenna design, hopefully allowing them to stop dropping calls so often. Though this idea was actually quite interesting and ingenious, it was met with a catastrophic engineering flaw.
Many early owner have noticed that when the phone is carried in the left hand (as many right-handed people will often do), the palm of the owner's hand bridges the two distinct antennas used for the phone and the WiFi/Bluetooth/GPS. This causes a "short" of sorts between the two antennas, causing increased interference on the phone's antenna, thereby causing signal quality to degrade substantially. Obviously, this isn't a good thing. Now, many engineers know that this is a flaw in the design and should have been caught early on in the device's real-world testing. It is a flaw in the hardware, not the software of the phone. However, Apple, in their arrogance, claimed that users were not holding the device in the right way (wait, what?! You mean I can't hold the device the way I want to and the way it feels comfortable to me?), and even went so far as to say that the phone is actually calculating signal strength incorrectly and that software could fix it (trying to avoid a massive recall of the phone, generating a lack of faith in their products and thereby incur huge on-going losses for the company as many begin to steer away from the company for not adequately testing their products and rushing the devices to the market). They even began hiring antenna engineers right after this problem was revealed! Now, to alleviate this problem, at launch the device had a rubberized silicone "bumper" for the device that owners could buy for almost 30 bucks a pop, but in light of this engineering problem, Apple won't even reimburse those who bought one or even give them for free!
And this leads me to the very reason I hate Apple: they're arrogant. They don't want you to think, they just want you to buy - and buy people do. They take the stance that the ignorance of the consumer will lead them to bliss, and unfortunately, this is a reality as people blindly buy the device because other people have it, despite its long-term costs. They aren't making people's lives any easier - just less intelligent. Steve Jobs can say that his company's new device is "game changing," and its true: it requires you to not only use its applications the way they prescribe, but also now they're claiming to impose that you need to hold the device in the way they prescribe. No other phone that I've ever known required me to hold it in a way that didn't feel natural.
Until recently, I have not had much luck completely swaying Ashley to this ideology, but in light of recent events with Apple's PR, she is for once understanding my long-standing argument - and many others are as well. Let's just hope that the next few years end Apple's reign in the market and more people begin to realize that supporting this company is only serving to make things worse overall.

I've compiled a collection of links to articles and funny pictures about this debacle:
Update 7/7/2010:
Well, late in the day when I originally wrote this, news had broken out that iTunes was hacked by rouge applications causing mass purchases of programs written by one individual, racking up as much as $600+ in charges. Here is an update on that and other things related to the iPhone 4 that recently broke out too:
Update 7/20/2010:
So Apple decided it was finally time to clean up the nasty mess that it left and publicly speak out on the iPhone 4. Of course, the company didn't want to admit that it was being overzealous in its desire to dominate all things consumer, but it is evident that they tried to shift focus away from the underlying fact that they made huge glaring mistakes:
and, of course, the reaction by other manufacturers based on the indirect criticisms projected by Jobs (he definitely isn't making any friends in the industry, that's for sure):

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