iPhone 4 - Yep, I scored one!

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Unless you've been living under a rock or in a cave (or just don't care about technology), you've probably heard all about Apple's new iPhone.

And that means you've probably also heard about how ridiculously difficult it is to get one - when the phone was made available for pre-order on June 15, it literally crashed both Apple's and AT&T's web servers - their systems couldn't keep up with the demand for pre-orders. AT&T's web servers took several days to recover from the hit.

I tried to pre-order a phone on June 15, but didn't have any luck; by the time I was able to login to see if I could even attempt to place an order, Apple had sold out of phones and was predicting that the next batch would be available by July 14. AT&T announced that it wouldn't be offering any phones for sale in its stores to "walk in" customers, and worse yet, pre-ordered phones wouldn't be available until late June at best.

I wasn't too concerned; my current iPhone (the 3G) has served me very well - it's been ultra-reliable, handy, and I've really enjoyed it. So, if I had to wait for the 4, no biggie.

Well, then I started visiting forums and reading the preliminary reviews. People were getting their phones earlier than the official launch date (today - 6/24). People were reporting that Apple stores would have anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred phones available for "walk in" sales (people who didn't successfully pre-order).

So last night, at about 8:55pm, I decided to race over to the Apple store in Madison to see if there would be a line of people. With new Apple product releases, the faithful (or nutty, depending upon your point of view), often camp out the day before the product launch. Apple was going to open its stores at 7:00am on 6/24/10 to offer the new iPhone for sale.

When I arrived at the store, there was a line of about 10 people - these folks were committed to standing in line, overnight, for at least 10 more hours... just for a phone. I figured there was no way I was going to spend all night in line; if anything, I would come back early in the morning and re-check the line - but I wasn't keen on that, since I wasn't sure if the store would even have any phones available.

I didn't sleep much last night and found myself wide-awake at 4:00am, so I hopped into the truck and took a spin down to the Apple store where I found about 200 people waiting in line. YIKES!!! "No thanks," I said as I turned around and drove back home.

I had another opportunity to drive past the Apple store at noon and again, the line was massive - at least 200 people were still waiting. I was doomed - no shot of getting a phone today, but oh well.

And then at around 4:00pm, I checked the Macrumors.com website to see if anyone had information about the Madison Apple store's stock of iPhones. And wouldn't you know it, someone posted at 3:15 and stated that they had just left the store. There were apparently "at least 400 phones" on the counter. I figured, "What the heck, I'll go check the line once more." So, a 4th trip to the Apple store led to me standing in a relatively short line of about 100 people.


The line was divided into two groups: "Reservations" (meaning you had a pre-order) and "Walk-in" (meaning you might get lucky enough to get a phone). I stood in the "Walk-in" line and was immediately annoyed by the guy in front of me - he wouldn't stop fidgeting, shifting around, craning his neck to see "how much longer" the wait would be, calling his buddies and saying, "Dude, this line is so long - it's not moving - the other line is flying, but this line is slow," and so on...

He even started pestering the Apple store employees, whining about how slow our line was moving, wondering why it was taking so long, and all sorts of other annoying stuff. The staff was getting perturbed, as were the other folks in line. He tried to talk to me a few times and I dismissed him with a, "Complaining about the line isn't going to make it move any faster - it is what it is."

Well, after about an hour and a half of waiting, I was 4th in line - only 4 "walk-ins" to go and I'd be in the store. An employee came out and looked perplexed. She studied our line and then went back inside. Now we were getting nervous, and the annoying dude was really starting to redline - I thought he was going to explode like a piece of popcorn... he was bouncing up and down, rocking back and forth, and repeating, "No, no, no, no - don't run out, no, no no, no - don't run out."

She came back out and asked the first person in our line how many phones they were buying. "One." She asked the next person. "Two." She asked the nervous guy. "One - just one - all I need is one." She asked me. "One." Then she went back inside.

She came back out a third time and said, "We might have enough for you. It's going to be close." Well, now I started to get nervous... I was so close - but yet so far.

Thankfully, after another 15 minutes or so, I was inside of the Apple store with this sitting next to me:


According to the associate who was assisting me, I scored the 3rd-to-last "walk-in" phone they had. There were seven phones left when they asked how many phones we needed - oh man, that was close! I feel bad for the other folks that were standing in line behind me.

The purchasing process was painless, quick, and very enjoyable. Apple had their system down to a "T." I was in and out within 10 minutes - they managed the entire transaction from a modified iPhone of their own (it had a barcode scanner and a credit card reader built-in to it), e-mailed me the receipt, established the AT&T service, and sent me on my way.

I got the phone home and here are some comparison shots to the iPhone 3G. The old phone is on the left, the new one on the right:


And here they are stacked on-top of one another (new phone on top):


And the desktops compared, side by side (old phone on left, new on right):


And finally, a sample web-page (old phone on left, new on right):


So, what are my initial impressions (not that you care)?

The phone feels heftier and more solid than the old 3G - it just has a more "precise" feel to it, even though it's lighter and slightly smaller than the old 3G.

The screen is definitely much improved - the text is sharper, the colors are more accurate, and the feel is better.

The speed is greatly improved - applications launch instantaneously. The extra storage capacity (32GB vs 16GB) is appreciated - I was nearly out of room on the old phone, so now I've got some space to grow into.

And that's about all that I've tested so far. The camera is supposed to be much better (it includes a flash and will also shoot HD video), but I haven't snapped any photos with it yet. Maybe I'll break it in on a fish fry tomorrow night... :-)

Would I go through the trouble to buy it again? Hmm. I don't know. It is just a phone, afterall - it's not going to change my life, make me run faster, or help me win any popularity contests... it is a nice piece of hardware, but I don't know if it's as revolutionary as the hype has made it out to be.

So long as it serves me as well as my old iPhone did, I'll be happy. I guess that's all that really matters.

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This page contains a single entry by Steve published on June 24, 2010 7:16 PM.

Fish Fry Review: Feiler's was the previous entry in this blog.

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