Not to beat this dead horse any further, but there's one thing I don't get about the whole iPhone 4 antenna hubbub: don't 99 percent of users carry their phones in a case anyway? I can't remember the last time I spotted a "naked" one. (iPhone, that is, not user. Come to think of it, haven't seen many naked users, either. Which is good.)
Ever since June, when we learned of FaceTime, Apple's two-way video-calling feature for the iPhone 4, we've been waiting for Fring to make its competitive move--especially since Fring announced its intention to release the very same features last March.
Since Fring, the joint VoIP-and-multinetwork IM client, was still offering only one-way video calls when we pitted it against FaceTime on the iPhone 4, it wasn't hard to predict the victor of that battle. So for honor's sake, we retested the updated Fring for iPhone, fresh in the App Store with two-way calling, when it was released on Thursday.
It would be cruel to kill you with suspense. While certainly better than it was earlier this month, Fring's two-way calling on iPhone 4 doesn't even approach FaceTime in the arenas of design, video quality, and audio quality. There are some reasons for all of these, however, some areas where Fring can improve, and plenty of cases where despite the drawbacks, using Fring will make sense. Are you ready?
Fring versus FaceTime, part deux
Like FaceTime, Fring uses the iPhone 4's front-facing camera to share video of your visage to your calling companion. Fring lets you make video calls through Skype and SIP, and other chat networks that support such calls. The video shows up in the same location as FaceTime, though the incoming Web cam image we saw was much grainier than FaceTime's. Bandwidth may have something to do with that, and we tested Fring over both Wi-Fi and 3G.
We're disappointed that Fring's video is smaller than FaceTime's and shows more of its bland background. FaceTime undoubtedly lends a richer visual experience. Fring is also less flexible than FaceTime since it's blocked access from swapping between the front-facing and standard cameras, unlike Apple's pet app, which can jump between cameras to broadcast both your face and the view in front of you.… Read more
Given Apple's carefully worded statement from July 2, we weren't expecting that the coming software update would fix the ongoing reception issues with the iPhone 4's antenna. So it wasn't surprising that an Apple Care representative confirmed that belief this afternoon.
During our call, the Apple Care rep said the update would address only how bars are displayed in the signal meter on the handset's screen. As he put it, it would fix a problem where more bars are mistakenly shown when users are in areas with poor AT&T reception. As for the … Read more
Web video streaming has always been a selective experience on Apple devices, limited to specialized apps and HTML5-enabled Web sites. Even the recent announcement of Hulu Plus doesn't fully solve the problem, with its selective library and high monthly cost.
The makers of PlayOn, a useful media-streaming program for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, have a new solution, in the form of an iPhone version of the PlayOn app. It will be available in the iTunes App Store as a free download starting July 15, but it requires you to own the PC-based PlayOn software, which unfortunately recently moved from a one-time purchase to an annual subscription model, with rates running from $5 to $40 per year, depending on whether you're an existing customer (discounted deals are occasionally offered as well).
Previously, I described how PlayOn helped me decide to mothball the media center PC connected to my home theater setup, as it provides for on-the-fly streaming and transcoding of Hulu (and content from a handful of other online sources), plus video files from the local PC the PlayOn server software resides on. It's an imperfect, sometimes clunky solution, but the ability to get Hulu running on a big-screen TV via your game console makes it a killer app.
The new iPhone app works much the same way, streaming the content from Hulu and other sources from a base PC on your network to your iPhone. Simply download and install the PlayOn software on a laptop or desktop (there's a two-week free trial), and have it run in the background. Once you install the PlayOn app on your iPhone, it will see the PC and connect, then let you choose from a variety of media sources. … Read more
Though we've kept you informed about the ongoing debate with the iPhone 4's antenna, we haven't said what that really means for users. You may see your bars drop when you hold the handset a certain way, but how does that affect the phone's performance?
In data speed and call quality tests (see attached video), we've seen significant changes when we cover the antenna gap on the handset's lower left side. Indeed, in one call quality test, the audio cut out completely when we covered the trouble spot. But to give those findings some … Read more
"Attenuation" has become a buzzword ever since issues with touching the iPhone 4's antenna were first reported after its release. Indeed, on June 24, 2010, Apple defended itself by saying that attenuation is "a fact of life for every wireless phone" and it advised users to hold the handset differently or buy a bumper. As Apple put it, gripping any phone can affect antenna performance depending on the placement of the antenna.
That's a fair point, and Apple is not the first manufacturer to caution against resting your hand on an antenna. As handset designers began to use internal antennas, such phones started to include warnings in the user manual or an a sticker that is removed before use. Users aren't told that poor reception will result from touching the antenna, they're just told to avoid the area.
HANOI, Vietnam--"Whoa! That just looks so pretty on you!" That's part of a conversation I overheard between two trendy twentysomething women in an air-conditioned cafe on a hot summer day here.
Their chat caught my attention, among other reasons, because the accessory in question wasn't a sparkling engagement ring or the super short shorts they were both wearing but Apple's latest smartphone, the iPhone 4.
I've heard a lot of people in Hanoi, by the way, call the newly released Apple smartphone the "iPhone 4G" (or 4G for short). This misperception about the product's name, however, is much easier to understand than the incredibly high price the phone is selling for here.
Since the first generation of the device, the iPhone has been a much sought-after gadget in Vietnam. In the beginning, the phone wasn't officially available in the country (local providers, including Viettel and VinaPhone, started carrying the iPhone 3GS just about three months ago) and most were smuggled in from the States and had to be unlocked before they could be used, courtesy of Apple's tight controls and exclusive deal with AT&T.
The iPhone used to be not just hard to find but also hard to use in Vietnam, compared with other smartphones. That's because if a user accidentally upgrades the phone's operating system (some people upgrade the phone's firmware without knowing what they are doing), it will be locked again and become useless until a new unlock method is available.
Despite that nuisance, when the iPhone 3G first came out, the locked U.S. version cost about twice its original price in Vietnam. The phone was so popular that unlocking it became a lucrative business in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city.
The iPhone 4, though, will likely be available soon via proper channels, and there are apparently many who are willing to pay up to $2,500 to be the first in the country to have one.
I checked out the iShop in Hanoi, one of a few electronic stores in Vietnam that sell Apple products and have the new iPhone on sale. Here, the 32GB version is currently priced at $1,850, the 16GB is cheaper at $1,600. These phones are international versions smuggled in from France and are "factory unlocked," meaning no unlocking is necessary before they can work with Vietnamese GSM service providers.
There are also locked U.S. versions of the phones--which currently can't be used with Vietnamese carriers until a method to get them unlocked is available--that cost around $1,000. During the 15 minutes I was in the iShop, a few other people came in to check out the phone, marveling at its gorgeous Retina display and then leaving after learning about the outrageous prices. … Read more
Plenty of knock-off iPhones have surfaced over the years, but here's a fresh look at a model that's being sold today in the Philippines under the name i9 iPhone. According to CNET reader Samuel Sandoval, who shot a short video of the phone (Facebook sign-in required), it costs around $75 and has dual-SIM slots, which means you can be on two different carriers at the same time. There's even a nice Apple logo on the back of the phone.
It's hard to tell exactly what OS the i9 runs. Though it looks like the iPhone OS … Read more
BMW announced on Wednesday its intent to support what is probably the most obscure and overlooked new feature in Apple's iOS 4: iPod Out. This feature allows a connected iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, or iPod Touch (second or third generation) to output and display an iPod interface on a connected device's external screen. That device, in this case, would be a future BMW or Mini vehicle.
Rather than displaying BMW or Mini's iPod interface, the connected vehicle would display Apple's own interface, which will be controllable with the vehicle's controls. Users will be … Read more
I've already shown you that the iPhone 4 takes great still photos, but we wanted demonstrate its video capabilities as well.
The handset's upgraded camera can record 720p high-definition video at a constant 30 frames per second. As I said in the iPhone 4 review, it isn't the first handset to offer this capability, but it delivers improved quality over the iPhone 3GS. I shot this video on the main street in Provincetown, Mass. There's a lot going on here, including cars, pedestrians, and cyclists, but the camera captures them all without the jerky motion or … Read more