iPhone 4 Road Trip Report

My wife and I travelled to Canada over the weekend to visit family and I had the chance to test the iPhone 4 on the road.

My wife drove up so I was able to test the iPhone 4 during the 5 hour drive from Portland to Vancouver, BC.

I used the phone until the border, when I ran out of AT&T service.


Along the route, I had signal for 98% of the distance. Most of that was 3G, with sections of EDGE in between.

The signal strength ran the gamut, from 1 through 5 bars. When I ran out of 3G, the phone quickly switched over to EDGE and more often than not, continued data transfer with whatever I was doing.

A couple of times, some process, such as loading a web page or checking mail would stall. Starting the process over fixed the issue.

At one point, I received an email from my brother with a 7MB video attached. I looked at the minute mark on the clock and began the download. The download completed before the minute mark ticked over! That was the most impressive experience of the trip.


The GPS experience on the iPhone 4 is much, much better than on the 3GS. I used both Navigon and Google Maps to test out the accuracy and was consistently surprised.

Navigon would pick up the GPS in a matter of seconds. The directions were spot on, the signage in Navigon was always correct and it even showed a tunnel graphic when we were in the coveted express lanes in Seattle.

The coolest demo if the accuracy came in the mountains before Bellingham. Navigon puts up a little speed limit sign to let you know how fast you can drive, legally that is. The current limit was 70mph and I saw a sign coming up dropping the rate to 60.

As we passed the sign, and I mean exactly as we passed the sign, Navigon’s icon changed to 60 mph. I was astonished and convinced that the GPS is much, much better in the iPhone 4.


Our hosts have no need for WiFi and as such, don’t have a base station. In order to allow us to tool around on the internet, I used Internet Sharing on my MacBook Pro to share their internet connection over WiFi.

Their house is sturdily built. I would float between 1 and 3 bars of signal. Sometimes the iPhone would stop working entirely, other times it worked fine.

I did place a FaceTime call to my brother which worked fairly well. We had two incidences where the call froze, but it resumed in about 10 seconds. My niece asked if the power had gone out. 🙂

At home, the WiFi signal is strong throughout, so if you have a strong base station, you should be ok on the iPhone 4. If you’re using a weaker base station, such as a MacBook Pro, try to not place it in the basement.

The other test of WiFi was while we were at lunch. The restaurant had free WiFi so we used it to load up google maps of the local area (We didn’t want to pay the $15/mb data roaming fees!) and find all of our local destinations. Once we had those, we were able to find our way around quite easily. Unlike at the house, the wifi at the restaurant was rock solid.


I burned about 50% of my phone’s battery in 3 hours. While using Navigon, I used a belkin car charger on the quick charge side. That worked well for charging the phone up quickly.

The iPhone 4 does use battery quickly, but it seems to have more longevity than the 3GS.


The iPhone 4 made a very long drive much more pleasant. I was able to check email, surf the web, check facebook, check twitter and read news with Reeder. I look forward to the day that I can FaceTime while traveling at 70 mph, as a passenger at least.