iPhone 4 Review: An Excellent Smart Phone Choice for Technologists, Athletes and Musicians

The following is an iPhone 4 review from my perspective. I am technologist, recreational athlete, and musician who spends a fair amount of time in a group setting in restaurants and bars. I’d like to share some aspects of my iPhone experience that have enhanced my life.

Smart phones can’t swim!
A metallic thunk from the bottom of my washing machine signaled the true beginning of my smart phone era. My trusty Verizon LG was cleaner then it ever had been, but unfortunately not in working condition. I tried to dry it out using uncooked rice, but to no avail. I took it as a signal from the technology gods that it was time for an upgrade. Although my LG had the ability to access the internet, and send and receive texts, the numeric keyboard was difficult enough to use to blunt my desire to even attempt these things.

Which mobile phone to get?
I needed a new phone, but which one? A number of my friends had iPhones and liked them, but bemoaned dropped calls, and inability to get signals in certain places. They blamed these shortcomings on the AT&T network. Also, as a Verizon customer, I was unsure of my ability to get out of my contract without penalty. However, within a couple of days, Verizon announced they would be supporting iPhones. AT&T would no longer be the exclusive carrier. So, I knew I could get a new cell phone from Verizon. My contract allows phone upgrades at specified intervals, and luckily I was due, and the advertised cost to upgrade to iPhone was $250, substantially under the $649 or so it would cost me at the Apple store. However the technologist in me wouldn’t leave well enough alone. I had to do a little research into iPhone’s technology.

IOS – The iPhone’s operating system

A little poking around on Apple Developer website revealed that IOS, the iPhone’s operating system was derived from the MAC OS 10, which itself is derived from a number of UNIX based predecessors. UNIX based systems enjoy a strong reputation for security amongst software professionals. Security is something that’s important to me, the last thing I wanted was a smart phone continually compromised by malware. A number of web searches later and my hunch was confirmed. The iPhone was unscathed by malware attacks. In contrast, other phones with similar capabilities, including Google’s Android based smart phone had been victimized by several well publicized attacks, according to The Register. iPhone’s security, coupled with a mature market for apps, and what looked to be a pretty good developer forum, sealed the deal in iPhone’s favor for me.

My iPhone’s configuration
I bought my iPhone configured with 16 GB of memory for apps. Of course, I had to get one of the ubiquitous plastic cases for iPhone to forestall the reception problems reported by some according to CNN.com. I got the most basic calling plan, and unlimited data access.

First impressions using the iPhone
I found the user interface intuitive and easy to navigate. Setting up iPhone to access my embarqmail.com email account was a breeze. Although the smallish keyboard was difficult to use at first, flipping the orientation of the phone from “portrait” to “landscape” mode made the keyboard bigger and easier to use. Also, the more I practiced, the faster I got. Although I never will be as fast on the iPhone as on a full size keyboard, some initial clumsiness should not be a reason not to use the iPhone.

iPhones don’t kill conversations, people do.
I get out to lunch or dinner with friends 3 or 4 times a week. When I first showed off my new iPhone I got a lot of eye rolling and comments to the effect of, “Oh well, another one lost to a smart phone.” The expectation was that I would be buried in the phone, and not really pay attention to the conversation. However, I surprised them. My friends are an eclectic and contentious bunch, and we never have a meal without some outrageous claims or arguments being made. The iPhone’s internet capacity is very useful to settle arguments or debunk some wild claim. Rather then killing conversations, having an iPhone is actually facilitate them.

Fitness iPhone Apps
The iPhone App Store had a couple of great apps which have helped with my workouts. I am an avid cyclist. I ride around 120 miles a week March through November. When my Cateye wireless bike computer went on the fritz, my first question was “Could I use my new cell phone as a replacement?”. I found Cyclemeter from Abvio. This app does everything my Cateye did, and a lot more. It tracks all my rides including elevation, and charts them on Google Maps, and it does all of this for only $4.99! I did choose to buy the Biologic iPhone Bike Mount for $59 in order to be able to view Cyclemeter safely as I rode. But for $64 I have a bike computer with the functionality of units costing hundreds more. The combination has been durable, I’ve ridden over many bumps, and through a couple of rainstorms without a hitch.

Another workout activity of mine is kickboxing. Upon setting up an area in my basement to train, I found myself in need of a round timer, as I’ve found this is the most productive way to workout. Rather then buy a dedicated timer for $25 or so, I downloaded a free app Round Workout Timer Free. Free is good!

Music Iphone Apps
I’ve found a couple of ways to use Iphone to help with my musical activities.The voice memo utility that ships with Iphone has come in handy to record guitar riffs which come from just noodling around. Maybe they’ll make their way into a song, or maybe not, but without voice memo, or something like it, I probably wouldn’t remember the riff!

Chordbot is an $4.99 Iphone app that lets the user construct chord progressions, and allows selection of a number of different time signatures and arrangements. It’s been fun soloing against the backing tracks I’ve been able to create with this tool.

Iphone Advantages

Easy to configure Easy to use Solid from a security standpoint Mature market for apps Low cost, effective fitness apps Low cost, effective music apps Reasonable price for the functionality

Iphone Drawbacks
You need a plastic case for the phone to ensure good reception The keyboard is a little hard to use at first. The phone uses battery life quickly.

My Iphone 4 has been easy to use, durable and dependable. I feel that it has enhanced my social life. I’ve found apps that have helped out in my recreational activities, supplying functionality at a cost savings compared to dedicated devices I would have otherwise had to buy. The phone’s drawbacks have not been much of an impediment to enjoying it. So far, the $250 cost of the phone, and the $40 or so per month for my data plan has been well worth it.

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