iPhone 4 and bumpers

Back on July 17th, I ordered an iPhone 4.

I knew about the so-called antenna-gate problem, and I waited until Uncle Steve gave the word for free iPhone bumpers/cases to mitigate the problem. I’d also been down to the Apple Store and checked out the issue myself. Even inside the Apple Store it was apparent that signal strength was distinctly altered by the way you held the phone, but, the potential for problem that this might cause versus the benefits was not sufficient to stop me from ordering one. Especially since I had always intended to have some form of bumper case on the iPhone 4. It was clear that Apple would be supplying free bumpers, but details of how that would happen were not yet announced.

Now I can tell you why their plan blows.

I was given an estimated delivery date of August 12th because of the backorders! I would have ordered a bumper at the same time, but they weren’t available to be ordered (for free of for cost) because of the pending free bumper program.

So, would I just get a bumper along with the phone? No, when the details of the program were released, it turns out you have to download an app for the iPhone 4 and order from there. I heard a lot of people say how clever that was. Bullshit, it was.

Until I received my phone, I wouldn’t be able to order the (necessary) bumper. Inconvenient, but I supposed I would be able to live with it for 3 or 4 days until my bumper could arrive after I ordered it.

Last Monday I received shipment notification that my phone had left China, arriving on August 9th, although the Fedex website said August 10th. It arrived in Alaska by Wednesday and there it stayed, and was, according to their site, still in Alaska when I left work Friday afternoon. Imagine my surprise when it was sitting in my house when I got home 30 minutes later!

For grins, I checked the Fedex website and my phone was still in Alaska. 2 hours later and the website was updated to show that it had been traveling down the coast since Wednesday.

My first order of business was to get the phone activated. When you upgrade an existing phone via mail order, when the new phone is plugged in, it automatically transfers the service from the old phone, and this process was fairly painless. My old phone shut down within 5 minutes and my new phone activated within 5 minutes after that. I restored the backup from my old phone and that, ultimately, took many hours. Once it started to sync music, I got bored with watching my new phone do nothing and cancelled the sync and saved it for bedtime.

Once the phone was in my hands, I started checking all my applications. All my passwords were gone, but that’s a minor inconvenience and probably a “good idea anyway”. Once I got that sorted out, we went out to dinner for some field testing.

Without a bumper, in places, I’m having significant problems with signal strength. On some occasions, when I pull the phone out of the holster, I have no 3G and No Service, which is well frustrating. Setting the phone on the table resolves the problem.

It was imperative that I order my bumper right away. Here’s why the program blows. I’ve already waited 3 weeks for the phone, which I have to have before I can order the bumper. Now, I have to wait another four weeks for the bumper! They need to get phones and bumpers into the customers’ hands at exactly the same time.

I’ve tried using a piece of plastic film over the sensitive antenna areas, and that helps, but it won’t stick, so I’m left holding my phone gingerly and awkwardly, or learning to type left handed while I wait for a glacially shipped bumper.

Enough griping about the bumper issue, lets talk about the phone.

I’m not a fan of the new form factor, which surprises me. I think I preferred the rounded edges. That said, the unit feels firm and solid in your hand, even a bit heavier than the old 3GS, but that may just an illusion. I do like the new buttons.

The new Retina display is awesome. Everything looks crisp and sharp. Even under a loupe it looks great.

The “new” camera produces nice pictures, but the flash and video light has a bluish cast to it. Still, it’s better than nothing. The distance of the flash seems pretty short, but adequate for shots in dark restaurants. There’s a certain quality of being lighted by a flashlight to it. The HD video is very nice, but I’ve yet to determine how much video I’ll actually be able to record, since my phone is perpetually 95% full of music.

Phone calls… I don’t know. I’m not due to make a phone call for a another few days. I’ll let you know when I’m forced to talk to somebody on the phone.

The processor is zippy and it feels as quick as the iPad.

Finally, the big thing is supposed to be battery life. It’s better. Difficult to quantify, though. Last night at about 11, my phone was down to 39% and I hadn’t done a lot of driving (My car stereo charges my phone) so that’s probably a bit better than the 3GS, but I’ve not suffered from the battery problems that other people report, perhaps because I don’t waste my time talking on the phone. I have noticed that when the 3GS has bad signal, batery life is seriously degraded. Since I don’t have a bumper and my signal is all over the place, my battery life may not be up to the capacity it would be if I had a bumper.

I want my bumper.

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