Ok, so as super-excited as I was (am) to get my new iPhone 4 a full day early, there are some big let downs across the board. First, I will say this: It is physically gorgeous, feels great in hand and software runs very, very quickly. And I am such an Apple fangirl that I still want and prefer this phone over any of the others out there. The good stuff about the phone is all great, and I’ll talk about it next time if it hasn’t already been done to death, but here’s the bad stuff:
As an exciting nightlife figure (LOL), my main iPhone 4 fantasy involved taking gorgeous, colorful and smooth HD video at all my many live shows, underground parties and colorful experiences — then uploading them right to YouTube and maybe even blogging them using the WordPress App. What were the results of my tests right out of the box?
Update 6/24: I took some new video from both cameras to show how much better it is when not compressed in-camera and uploaded via 3G, but the phone won’t allow me to import images or video in iPhoto again, so I guess we’ll have to wait for that.
Shiteous Front-Facing Camera Video
The first video I took with the initially exciting front-facing VGA camera looks absolutely shiteous after being uploaded to YouTube over 3G from the camera. It looks little better than the video I used to take with my very first clamshell camera phone from years ago, and it has horrible stop-and-start audio problems. Admittedly, the conditions were not ideal, but they were “typical” for my life and not terrible. It was 1pm in Hollywood, bright sunlight, inside my car mounted on my dash charger (which was not made for iPhone 4, but why build in obsolescence for something as basic as charging?). It is my hope that the poor video and audio quality was very atypical, and was caused by jostling in the charger cradle or something. Take a look, if only to see the video quality, but don’t bother watching it all the way through:
Back Camera HD Video is “Meh” When Sent to YouTube via 3G
Maybe it’s all pixelly because I uploaded it from the iPhone to YouTube using 3G, and it had to compress the video on board the phone before sending? Pretty disappointing, unless YouTube just isn’t done rendering it and it will look better shortly. How long can it take YouTube to render 22 seconds of video, though?
Won’t connect with iPhoto
Maybe the above video would have looked better taken from the phone via iPhoto and uploaded to YouTube without being compressed by the phone, but iPhoto won’t let me get anything off the phone (yes, all my software is updated and I’m running a Mac pro tower). I took several snapshots and video clips, and excitedly plugged into iPhoto so that I could get them for this review, only to receive the message below. I had to email them to myself from the phone.
(Update 6/23: After trashing iPhoto preference files, reinstalling iPhoto and restarting both my Mac and the phone a few times, it now syncs pix and videos. But what a pain! It was syncing fine with my old iPhone 3G)
(Update 6/24: The problem is back. It connects to iTunes fine, and shows up in iPhoto under Devices, but there are no images or videos available for importing. The import window is just empty.)
(Update 6/24 – Here’s an imperfect fix)
Uploading Video to YouTube: The Text Part
God help you if you type a long title, description and set of tags during the process of uploading a video to YouTube and someone texts or calls you before you hit “save” and send it on its way. It bops out of the Photos/YouTube app and you have to go back, re-choose “Upload to YouTube”, let it re-compress the video, re-enter all that text and then hope you can send it before someone else texts you.
They look much better than my iPhone 3G, but honestly there seems to be a kind of “white mist” of particles in some images (I’m not a photographer so I don’t know terminology). Maybe I’m expecting too much from a cellphone camera, but the hype has been astronomical. Better than my old phone cam for still pix, in any case.
A Text message came in 20 minutes after it was sent
A friend standing right next to me sent me a text so I could get his number. It didn’t show up until 20 minutes later. Maybe the network is overwhelmed?
Touching the metal sides dampens reception
Update 6/24: This is major, major, major and I could imagine this being devastating for the iPhone’s reputation if they don’t spin it really well. Touching the metal rim around the sides of the phone, which serves as antenna for cell reception and other stuff, causes reception bars to disappear one by one. I read about it this morning, and tried it myself. Sure enough, holding the phone by the glass (which can only be done by pinching it in an unusable position) gives whatever reception seems to be available at the moment. Holding it normally (which involves touching the metal sides/edges) causes two or more reception bars to disappear from that in a few seconds. The $30 rubber bumper supposedly fixes this, but the bumpers are (1) hideous and (2) thirty dollars. Bad bad bad.
Wrap Up Thoughts
As a multimedia blogger on the go, I have high hopes for my new, expensive iPhone 4. I need it to work well, and go above and beyond the average phone/camera/computing device. After a sometimes tricky and unstable jailbreaking, my old iPhone 3G did pretty well for me, but the video quality was poor and lack of a flash was a serious drawback when documenting my nighttime lifestyle.
With all the BS we put up with from Apple, in terms of a closed system for apps, longtime iTunes madness that does stupid things like deleting all phone content if you do some basic things like switching from auto syncing to manual media management, DRM and everything else, I’m still willing to put up with it (until I jailbreak the phone) for the gorgeous engineering, user interface, processor and Apple cool factor. But I need stuff to work well and easily!
It’s maybe possible I “did everything wrong” in terms of shooting video and connecting to iPhoto, but unlikely. I’m a remarkably savvy computer and gadget user. This phone should be made for average folks and work easily and well under average conditions, not require babying and hoop-jumping to get a clear video, and then get it off of my computer and onto the web.
It’s still a gorgeous, awesome phone and I know I’m going to eventually love it, but it has underwhelmed out of the box. I need to get some clear, colorful video with clean audio in the next day or so, or else I am going to feel totally sad face.
Update 6/24: I am losing my enthusiasm. If I’d had one of these to play with for a few days before making the purchase, I would have seriously considered an Android phone. I’m not giving up yet, though. If the iPhone4->iPhoto issue can be fixed, I’ll be on the road to being Ok with everything. We shall see.