iOS4 | iPhone 4 | Release Day Apple Store

I didn’t really need an excuse to convince myself to buy a new iPhone. Yet putting it through the complete wash cycle in the automatic washer clinched the deal. Returning from a recent motorcycle and camping journey through the Sierra Nevada mountains (if you’re not following my WorldRider blog, you might want to now) I tossed in the smokey clothes and road worn motorcycle gear complete with my iPhone 3G in one of the pockets into the washer. I set it outside for two days to dry to no avail. Actually, the phone connects to my computer and allows me to sync, but the screen is the white screen of death. Nothing.

I was in Bishop, California with a working iPhone 3G when Steve announced the new phone to the world. A little more than a week later I washed the iPhone I bought shortly after arriving back in the USA, almost two years ago. But what to do? With some two weeks before the new phone would hit the streets, I needed a working phone.

So I tore through some boxes of memorabilia I’d stashed from my three-year around the world motorcycle trip (remember, you should subscribe) and pulled out the trusty SonyEricsson P1i smartphone that I carried around the world. Unlocked and 4-band GSM, I simply bought SIM cards for most of the 35 countries I visited. This is a pre first-generation iPhone smartphone. It runs Symbian, has a stylus, is 3G and quite good. But it’s not an iPhone. But using the phone for the last 10 days or so brought back many memories. Even more, this nearly 4 year old phone has innovations that the iPhone 4 just debuted. My Sony Ericsson P1i has a front facing camera which I used to video-chat while in South Africa, Namibia and even Tanzania. Plus, it has an incredibly powerful LED flash for the 3 megapixel camera, that also takes damn good video.

But it’s not an iPhone.

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L to R: my old iPhone 3G, only a white screen of death after washing it; my P1i: notice the front facing camera; my new iPhone 4 and the bumper ‘guard’

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Note the rear camera on my Sony Ericsson P1i and its LED lights! Very bright too! This is vintage 2007 and I was video chatting in Africa in 2008!

With confirmation of my iPhone 4 pre-order, I headed to the Apple Store in Carlsbad at about 5am this morning where I became about the 50th person waiting in the “reserved” line. There were nearly 200 hundred or more people waiting in the “no reservation” line. By the time the store opened for business at 7am there were more than 400 people waiting to get their hands on an iPhone. At the front of the line there were a couple dozen people in sleeping bags, with air mattresses and even someone with a full-size traditional mattress. They’d been there all night.

This Apple store and its employees did more than anyone might expect to make those passionate iPhone 4 fans comfortable. When I arrived, there was a video projector and sound system playing big screen movies on the wall of an adjacent store when I arrived. The night before Apple bought a bunch of pizzas for the hard core staying the night. As the sun started to rise, Apple wheeled out a convenience cart with a large thermos filled with Starbucks coffee. Other employees wheeled around another cart offering water, juice, croissants, breakfast bars and muffins to those in line. And this continued even after the doors opened at 7am.

Though not everyone was happy. One woman complained how slow the line moved for those without pre-order reservations. Turns out that only one ‘walk up’ customer for every 10 reserved customers could buy a phone. As time passed the ration was dropped to 5 to one. I simply pulled out my laptop and worked on a project while I waited. By 8AM I had my new iPhone and synced it with my MobileMe, Apps and photos.

How do I like my new iPhone 4? I’m duly impressed — especially with the screen, the new Retina display. It’s crisp, contrasty, sharp and bright. Plus, the ability to shoot video, while available on the 3GS, was new to me. I walked around the store and shot a rough video of the madness. I also bought the Apple $29 bumper — a protective frame that fits around the perimeter of the phone. This not only provides additional shock absorption in the event of a drop, it also will prevent the inevitable scratching of the front and back glass when setting the phone down on any surface.

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Walk-in unreserved line.

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Early AM waiting for iPhone 4


Lovely Carlsbad Apple Store employee wheels a cart of muffins, croissants and more to those waiting in line to get their hands on the new iPhone 4.


After the doors opened in Carlsbad an iPhone 4 hard core abandoned his mattress and headed to the cash register.

The quality in manufacturing precision is evident simply when holding the phone in your hand. And the phone is snappy. Applications open quick and scrolling through App pages is fast. Some apps use new transitional animations and these blend seamlessly without hiccup.

There have been a few behavioral idiosyncrasies I will share. First, when syncing my photos iTunes goes through a process of optimizing the photos; I’m assuming to take advantage of the high-resolution Retina display. Depending on the number of photos synced, this can take a long time. I have some 2,000 photos currently. I have iTunes sync some highlight photos from my WorldRider journey, and all photos and projected taken or created in the last month. Problem is, iTunes seems to go through the lengthy process each time I connect my iPhone and sync. It should truly ‘sync’ and optimize only those new photos added since last sync. It doesn’t appear to do this.

Second, I purchased the new iMovie for iPhone App. I did this from iTunes and not through the App Store “App” on my iPhone. After agreeing to the $4.99 price, downloading the App and updating some 15 Apps I synced the phone again. Later, eager to share the iMovie App with a friend, I realized it wasn’t installed. I had confirmation that I’d purchased it, but when I searched the App store using the iPhone, only a couple iMovie related Apps showed up. Not the new iMovie. The only way I found the iMovie was through the App Store “Top 25” list.

Hey, but iMovie IS cool. Here’s a short two-minute video I made of footage shot just moments after getting my hands on the highly sought after iPhone 4 on its release day.

The third problem may be App related or a bug in the iOS4. One of my favorite photography Apps is the free Joby Gorillacam. This handy utility gives added functionality to the iPhone camera including turning the entire screen into a shutter trigger (Press Anywhere), a self-timer, time lapse tool, bubble level and image stabilization. Perhaps my favorite is 3 Shot Burst. This simply takes three photos each time you press the shutter—giving you three chances for a solid and sharp photo. This App must be running after shooting photos so it can save the photos buffered to memory. I shot a dozen or so photos and let the App save the photos, but about 20 minutes later I realized non of the photos were in my Camera Roll. It appeared that the photos never saved. However, a couple hours later the photos magically appeared in my Camera Roll. Where were they hanging out for a few hours?

Another strange message happened when syncing my ring tones through iTunes: one ring tone wouldn’t sync because “the ring tone is too long.” Funny, I’d sync’d that ring tone many times using iOS 3.x — seems there’s a limit with iOS 4; this particular ringtone was 1:04—perhaps one minute is the threshold, I don’t know.

Finally, as beautiful as the new Retina Display is, its high-gloss design is a magnet for fingerprints and smudge marks. Sure these aren’t very noticeable when viewing full screen dynamic images or Apps, but it’s glaringly obvious when the iPhone just sits on the desk or conference table. Let’s face it, we can’t always be glued to our beautiful Retina displays.

Overall I am very pleased with the phone and use I’ve given it for the last 10 hours. I’ve yet to create folders, play with background screens/wallpaper or engage fully Apps taking advantage of new features such as multitasking or the gyro. Yet I look forward to packing my Sony Ericsson back into the box of memorabilia and spending time with my new iPhone 4.

What are your experience with the phone and iOS 4?

UPDATE: 6/25/10 11:10PM

Used iMovie to edit a video of very rough footage shot after getting my iPhone earlier this morning. No problem uploading to YouTube except that it only uploaded a low resolutoin verson of 320P. Been trying to upload a higher resolution 720P version to MobileMe but after 5 failed attempts I’m giving up. Why won’t this upload to MobileMe. Same network, same video, same deal and over local WIFI – but no go. Seems silly. Check out the YouTube video here.

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