Impressions of iPhone 4 from a long time Palm user

Being a longtime Palm user (see picture below), I’ve come to rely on core functionality in my devices — solid messaging/email clients, robust calendar and task managers, internet connectivity, and the ability to install applications. Now that every new phone released has these functions, there certainly are more choices to be had.

My smartphone progression over the years.

With that in mind I’ve decided to leave Palm and webOS in favor of Apple’s iOS and iPhone 4 mobile device. The following are some of my experiences and observations transitioning from Palm after nearly 10 years of use.

iPhone 4 hardware impressions

  • iPhone 4 is solid, feels great in your hand, and the screen is extra crispy and responsive. The Pre was awfully good at lagging with incoming phone calls or not responding to taps.
  • Reception was crap in my house until I realized I was “holding it wrong.”
  • Camera is amazing and takes great stills & HD videos. Any photographer will tell you, having more megapixels doesn’t make for better images. Glad to see Apple gets this and focused on getting more light to the sensor.
  • GPS in this thing seems super accurate and fast. Not sure if it’s the hardware or the software but I get accurate locks almost instantly’ something my Palm Pre had troubles with.
  • Battery life is excellent. Makes it through a full day with juice to spare.
  • Doesn’t become a hot potato when making calls in areas with poor reception, something I can’t say about the Pre.
  • I don’t miss having a physical keyboard. Really enjoying using it in one hand.

iPhone 4 software likes

  • Having 4 years to polish iOS really shows. No lagging — applications open fast, and scrolling is smooth like butter. Sup webOS and Android?
  • There really is an app for everything. Sure if you look hard enough at webOS homebrew you’re likely to find what you want, but the polish and attention to detail just aren’t there. Most apps feel like a proof of concept rather than a finished consumer ready product.
  • More device API’s available to iOS developers. Palm is playing catchup and it clearly shows.
  • Love me some games, especially unique indie titles.
  • iOS Calendar has a list view! One year later and Palm still couldn’t be bothered to add that or an agenda view from the old days.
  • Mail does threaded messages — thank you.
  • Virtual keyboard is awesome. Thought I’d hate typing on a screen, but it works so much better than having to slide out a keyboard to fire off quick replies.

iPhone 4 software dislikes

  • Syncing contacts, email, and social media from the cloud is pretty weak. Sure you can link Facebook data to contact entries or use Google Sync via Microsoft Exchange to push Gmail/calendars/contacts, but they each have some issues. webOS does it much better and with less effort.
  • Notifications are weak and obtrusive. Palm nailed it in webOS and easily has the best implementation out there. webOS notifications have nice visual cues and are stackable allowing you to act on them in whatever order you want.
  • Faux multi-tasking. Well to be fair I don’t dislike the feature, I just think it has room to grow. Right now not all applications support it. Which can be jarring when apps don’t resume where you left off.

Overall I’m extremely happy with my purchase. Sure I’m paying the Apple tax on a more expensive monthly bill with data capped at 2GB. But I think it’s worth it to have a phone that is responsive, reliable, and a joy to use.