earbuds

Goodbye, old friend

We’ve been together since the summer of 2010 but this weekend I’m backing up my data and blanking my iPhone 4. Next week I’m recycling it as part of a trade-in for a 5S.

I’m not going to get all maudlin about it. It’s a phone, a combination of metal, glass and silicon, but it’s one of the best devices I’ve ever used.

It’s a bit knackered. It got a bit damp on a run during the Summer (water oozing out from around the home button) but still it worked. Kind of.

It’s got chips and scratches, the audio jack doesn’t always work, the speakers sometimes give out and iOS 7 brought the processor and RAM to their knees.

But I still love it.

Two things strike me about the iPhone 4.

Firstly, the design still doesn’t look old. I think the phone was one of the triumphs of the Jobs-Ive collaboration. I’ve never hankered after anything thinner, or with a bigger screen1 and has a reassuring weight. It also feels great in the hand – the glass feels more tactile than the metal of the 5/5S or the plastic of the 3G it replaced.

I can’t remember ever suffering from the so-called Antenna-gate issues. I could replicate them by holding my finger across the gap between the two pieces of antenna, but only with determination. That the phone went on to sell tens of millions of units suggests it wasn’t quite the problem some quarters of the press made it out to be.

It looks great, I don’t think it’s dated at all. Some achievement in a market where industrial design is such a major influence on sales. That the 4S, which inherited its design, still sells is a testament to that collaboration.

It’s also proved to have great longevity.

It’s only since the upgrade to iOS 7 that I’ve felt the lag in performance that plagued my previous iPhone so badly.

With the 3G, after 18 months it was crawling. The time it took the camera to open its shutter was taking longer and longer. By the end, it was a good 30 seconds between tapping the camera icon and the phone being ready to take a shot.

That the iPhone 4 lasted so long is a minor miracle.  It’s only been since the start of November that performance has been a dog.

One of the reasons I’m excited about the 5S is also its probable longevity. I can’t be bothered to upgrade every new iteration so knowing  the 5S packs a meaty A7 processor that has plenty of life ahead of it is a key attraction. Apple and its vast developer community is going to have a lot of fun with the 64-bit capability of the A7 for some years to come.

The motion-capture chip is also exciting. I use Runkeeper and Strava to record runs and bike rides respectively. The possibilities for developers are incredibly exciting and the rise of health and fitness tech like FitBit and Nike+ are great news for someone who’s active.

Touch ID is another key selling point. I’m too lazy to enter my passcode each time I swipe my phone but I’m painfully aware how much personal and financial data is on my device.

So it’s one last weekend with the iPhone 4 before an upgrade.

Goodbye, old friend, you’ve served me well.


  1. If the 5S came in 3.5-inch and 4-inch configurations I’m not sure which I would go for, I’m not what an extra few centimeters would feel like in my pocket. Fnar! 

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