Answers to your iPhone 4 questions: Odds and ends

In this round of reader questions about the iPhone 4, we take on a grab bag issues, from hardware to software to just getting your hands on the darn phone.

How’s that speaker sound?
Matt Peterman is wondering how the iPhone 4 sounds. Specifically:

How is the external speaker quality compared to the iPhone 3GS?

In our brief initial testing, the iPhone 4’s speaker is quite similar in quality and volume to the one on the iPhone 3GS. However, we give the slight edge in sound quality to the 3GS—it’s not quite as tinny as the one in the iPhone 4. Of course, unless you’ve got the two sitting side-by-side, it’s unlikely you’d even notice this difference.

Angel Cardona wants to know if Apple’s latest mobile device can be used in tandem with the company’s last big mobile release:

Will I be able to use tethering to give my Wi-Fi iPad Internet?

Apple hasn’t yet provided an official answer, but an AT&T representative told TechFlash that the iPad’s lack of a USB port prevents a wired connection between an iPad and an iPhone.

What about Bluetooth? Macworld contributor Glenn Fleishman noted in the comments to that same article that, according to his testing, the iPad includes the Bluetooth profile required for tethering, but that profile is not enabled. In a purported e-mail reply to a user asking the same question, Steve Jobs seems to have confirmed this restriction with a single word: No.

Judging by this question from Tal and Susanne, there still seems to be some confusion as to which existing iPhone users can upgrade to the 16GB and 32GB iPhone 4 for the $199 and $299 prices.

I thought that we could upgrade if we were early adopters. The Apple Store tells me that I have to wait.

AT&T determines your upgrade eligibility based on a number of factors that apparently include when you purchased your phone, the amount you pay AT&T every month, and other factors.

As just one example, a Macworld editor who has a pricey family voice plan, and data plans for two phones, purchased the iPhone 3GS on its day of release just a year ago; yet, he was eligible to purchase an iPhone 4 on June 24 at the fully subsidized price. However, a friend of that same editor who also bought the iPhone 3GS on the first day has a less expensive voice plan and isn’t eligible until later this year.

Unfortunately, AT&T hasn’t made public the exact details of these eligibility rules.

Jose would just like to know when he can purchase an iPhone 4.

For those that did not pre-order and that waited in line but still were unlucky to get one Thursday. When is the next available day to go pick one up?

There really hasn’t been any official word from Apple. In iPhone frenzies of the past, Apple provided an online iPhone availability checker that told you whether its retail stores had any phones in stock. That tool appears to have gone the way of the dodo—its link now redirects you to Apple’s online store, which, as of this writing, is saying that any iPhone 4 order won’t ship for three weeks.

The crowds may have dissipated at the Apple Stores since Thursday, but that doesn’t mean the iPhone 4 is in heavy supply there.
Your best bet may be to call a retailer near you. For what it’s worth, we called three Apple Stores in the San Francisco Bay Area on Saturday morning—two stores were completely out of stock with no indication of when they would be getting more phones. The third store, in Pleasanton, Calif., told us they had a limited number of phones but that people were already lining up for them. Our advice? Call early.

Of course, the Apple Store isn’t the only game in town: Wal-Mart, RadioShack, and Best Buy also are selling the iPhone 4, though we’d advise you to call up the store in your area before showing up expecting to find iPhone 4 paydirt.

AT&T has been the most clear about when walk-up customers can get their hands on an iPhone 4. The company says it will start walk-up iPhone 4 purchases on June 29. We hate to sound like a broken record here, but before you head out on Tuesday, you’d best call the AT&T Store in your area to make sure iPhone 4s are in stock.

Should you be able to get your hands on a phone, Dennis Hagen’s question—sent to us when the iPhone 4 launched on Thursday—might be something to keep in mind when it’s time to activate your phone.

Are others waiting hours for activation? I received my iPhone 4 via FedEx Thursday. I followed the AT&T and Apple activation instructions about three hours ago. My iP4 still shows “no service.” If you call my phone number, it instantly goes to my voicemail. All of my apps, photos, music, moved to my new phone without problem.

Sometimes activation takes a long time. Sometimes it takes no time at all. We’re not quite sure why. But here’s one tip: When in doubt, shut your iPhone all the way down (by holding the lock button until you see the “Slide to power off” option, then sliding it) and then turn it back on. Sometimes that works.

But what to do with that old phone once everything’s activated? That’s the question that reader Patrick wants answered:

I want to use my old iPhone 3G as an iPod touch with camera for the kids, but without signing up for phone service.

Good news, then—if you’ve purchased a new iPhone and moved your phone number over to it, the old one is essentially an iPod touch already. Pop out the SIM card or put it in Airplane Mode (and turn on Wi-Fi) and you’re good to go.

In case you missed it amid all our other iPhone coverage this past week, Christopher Breen tackled the issue of what to do with an old iPhone in his Mac 911 blog.

We fielded some FaceTime questions on Friday, but Torben Egholm reminded us that there was an issue we hadn’t covered there or in our hands on with Face Time.

What happens if someone is calling you while you are in the middle of a faceTime session?

When you’re on a regular phone call and another call comes in, you hear a sound notification, and then you have the option to hold the current call and answer the incoming one, end the current call to answer the new one, or ignore the incoming call. If you’re on FaceTime, though, you’ll get a notification alerting you to the call and giving you the option to either accept or decline it. Note that when you accept the new call, however, that will end your FaceTime session. In our tests, the FaceTime participant accepting an incoming call appeared paused to the other video chatter before disappearing. Our advice? Decline the incoming call if you’re not ready to end your FaceTime chat.

We’ve also dealt with iOS questions previously, but something about the Folders feature in iOS 4 is still bothering Adam:

Is there a quick way to undo folders or to move apps from one folder to another?

As we noted in our look at iOS 4’s folders, once you enter the home-screen-editing mode (by tapping-and-holding on any app icon until all the icons begin to shake), you can drag an app out of a folder to remove it from the folder. You can also drag an app out of one folder and onto another folder to move the app. As for “undoing” a folder, assuming you mean get rid of the folder, you just remove all apps from it—once a folder is empty it disappears.

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