Last week's much anticipated launch of Apple's iPhone 4 had fanboys queueing in the street for the latest handset. But problems quickly surfaced with the handset, ranging from antenna issues when the iPhone was held a certain way, to the "Gorilla glass" being quite prone to scratching.
These are the pains of being an early adopter.
Being an early adopter is fun. I know, I've been an early adopter for countless bits of kit. But there are downsides. When you make that pilgrimage on day 1 to a store to pick up your shiny new toy, you are, in fact, signing up to being a beta tester. What's more, you're paying full whack for that privilege, and live in the knowledge that in a few weeks someone else will be able to buy a better, improved version of what you've got for less money. If you don't know this, then you're a fool to go out on day one.
A few weeks ago I bought an iPhone 3GS. At the time it was the best iPhone available. It represented the culmination of several years of work on Apple's part, building on the initial iPhone platform. I bought it with the full knowledge that a few weeks later Apple would announce, and then later release, a new handset. Gizmodo's stolen handset story was all that I needed to see to know that the iPhone 4 was going to be a radical departure from earlier models, and that meant it would bring with it a whole new set of problems.
Problems I didn't want to have anything to do with.
See, while I'm happy to live on the cutting edge when it comes to some tech, mobile tech is different. When I'm at the office I have redundancies and backups so that if something goes wrong, I can still carry on working. But a handset (like a notebook or netbook) is something I take on the road with me, and here I don't have the same level of backup and fallbacks in place. When mobile tech fails it's a major pain in the rear (I know, I'm away on the road this weekend and my internet dongle decided to hose itself so I had to download new firmware for it ... but since the dongle was at that point toast I had to download it remote and bring it over using a number of tricks ... a huge time waste, and not fun!).
If you rely on your mobile tech for work in any, being an early adopter is a crazy move. Things are almost certain to go wrong.That's the nature of tech. It takes time for the bugs to be shaken out. It's all part of the experience you paid for with your time and money to be an early adopter. They're the scars you collect along the way and show to others as proof that you were there at the beginning.
The iPhone 4 has its fair share of bugs and issues, but nothing that seems like a major show-stopper to me. The antenna issue seems to only affect some handsets (or possibly some people) and can be "fixed" by using the rubber bumpers that Apple sells for $30 or some clear nail polish. There are also claims that the handset scratches easily (hard to tell at this stage if this is as serious and as widespread as the initial iPod nano issue or not) and that video taken with the handset is far too compressed and of poor quality.
Note: I'm getting the feeling that Apple knew about this antenna issue. Announcing those rubber bumpers with the iPhone 4 seemed odd (it's an odd accessory for Apple to push), and the fact that they magically seem to solve the antenna problem adds weight to that. My guess is that Apple will soon be handing these out free (as a "$30 value" to iPhone 4 owners who ask for them).
The iPhone 4 is an interesting bit of technology, but I won't be ready to trust it for a while.
I'm interested in hearing from iPhone 4 early adopters - what do YOU think?