2015-01-16

iPhone 4s

Apple iPhone 4s
The Android smartphone that I used every day for work eventually failed. It was fine as a tiny tablet but no longer worked for phone calls. When word of this reached our service director he called me into his office and opened a desk drawer full of "gently used" Apple iPhones and dug out an iPhone 4s. One or two people in my department use iPhones so it seemed likely that I'd be able to find the apps to do my job and I thought it would be an opportunity to try out an iPhone and iOS.

The phone itself seemed nice enough, though the glass back seemed ridiculous because the phone slid around like Bambi on a frozen pond until I found a nice orange case for it. The single button at the bottom of the screen confused me a bit: I'd poke at it like a caveman, wondering why it didn't behave like the back button on Android. A colleague took pity on me and explained that this was the "home button" that would (logically enough) take me back to the home screen. A double-press takes me to a task list that lets me kill things off.

The phone's battery life is abysmal. I have to plug it in every few hours or it craps out, leaving me without a connection to the office. I've heard that iPhones have weak batteries but batteries do age with use, so perhaps it's not fair to judge them all by this one example. I have been pleasantly surprised by how fast the user interface feels and the stability of the apps that I've tried so far. I wonder whether iOS applications are built against cleaner, faster (and fewer?) libraries.

Unlike the Android phone I'd been using, the iPhone 4s doesn't support "4G" LTE speeds. For most of what I do that's not an issue: I just have to wait a bit longer for downloads when I'm not on WiFi. I was able to find iOS equivalents to most of the apps I use and I was pleasantly surprised that Google apps like gmail and Google Hangouts were available for the iPhone. The calendar app won't sync against the MS Exchange account that tells me where to go every day and nobody seems able to figure out why. Because of this I have to bother a friend in the office to have him read Outlook to me. We're high-tech like that.