iPhone 4 Review

What We Think

A phone that can cause people to camp over night, create queues that stop traffic and cause shipping problems must be the iPhone 4. It’s here and it isn’t taking any prisoners. iPhone 4 has the new iOS4 with a slimmed down, re-designed chassis including powered-up hardware as ever the iPhone 4 is here to retain the title of one of the greatest innovations in mobile technology.

We have already witnessed Apple drowned under the demand and having to push back the shipping date for the next set of iPhones due to high demand. The months of speculation is seemingly worthwhile with the new iPhone featuring a super-fast A4 CPU, a new front-facing camera and a five megapixel shooter on the back, even though the likes of the Motorola Milestone XT720 and the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 back a 8 megapixel camera.

The Retina Display is simply a display that packs a pixel density so high, it is impossible to distinguish between the individual pixels. We’re talking 326 pixels per square inch, a 960×640 display crammed into 3.5 inch display, dimensions which generate amazingly beautiful and flawless images. (This is, of course, not to be mistaken for the Virtual Retina Display, which instead causes and illusion which makes the user see a conventional display floating in space above the screen.) The end product is “the sharpest, most vibrant, highest-resolution phone screen ever.”

The most obvious change is the complete and drastic overhaul of the iPhone’s design, instead of trimming down the fat as was the trend from the iPhone 2G up until the iPhone 3GS, Apple have completely rethought their strategy this time. The iPhone 4 is made up of simply three parts, two smooth and strengthened pieces of glass screen is held together by a stainless steel band which wraps around the sides, top and bottom of the phone. The effect is a cleaner, smoother and, quite simply, better looking.

This isn’t all in terms of design. Apple have added little details, like altered volume buttons; the previous rocker style volume button is now separated into individual circular click buttons, labelled a + and a -.

Even though the iPhone 4 weighs just as much as its predecessor the iPhone 3GS it is noticeably thinner by an entire 0.11inches, measuring just 0.37inches, making the whole package seem tighter and denser. It feels great in your hand but may take a little while to get use to if you’re used to a 3G or 3GS.

The face of the device has been said to be as “comparable in strength to sapphire crystal, but about 30 times harder than plastic.” There is a small slit for the earpiece and the front facing camera embedded in the glass above the display, with the familiar and iconic home button (which is a lot ‘clickier’ than its predecessors), towards the bottom. On the left side of the phone, besides the volume switch, there is the volume silencer rocker switch which has undergone the metallic treatment.

The top of the phone as usual has the power/lock key which feels a lot better to the touch than previous versions and the headphone jack port is now flush to the chassis. Next to this there is a separate microphone for noise cancelling – we well imagine numerous 3G and 3GS holders will be pushing paperclips in there before they realize that it’s not there to unlock the SIM card slot. It would have been nice to see a camera button on the right hand side, considering the overhaul of the iPhone’s camera system. As it is, this side of the phone is home to the micro-SIM slot, having been relocated from the top edge, as it is on previous phones. It has the same pokey key system as before, so poke your paperclips on the right hand side rather than on the top. The SIM is also much smaller on this model.

It’s not just the design that has gone under the knife but the iPhone 4 is all new inside too. Apple have removed the Samsung-built Arm Cortex-A8-based CPU used in the 3GS to its own custom A4 chip used in the iPad which is an ARM Cortex-A8-based CPU. The clock speed still hasn’t been revealed but we’re guessing it’s something slightly below the 1GHz used in the tablet counterpart.

The phone is certainly faster than the 3GS but it’s not as big of a jump as we noticed between the 3G and the 3GS. Apple, as usual, haven’t really bothered to change the RAM situation but it’s highly likely the iPhone 4 has 512MB on board, double the 256MB in the previous model and the iPad. Ideally, we’d love to something more like 1GB.

As far as internal storage goes, it’s the same as the 3G and 3GS, either a 16GB or a 32GB version. It was mostly adequate for the previous models but seeing as Apple have just introduced 30FPS 720p video recording I’m sure many users will find themselves outgrowing their storage space pretty quickly. Taking that into account it’s surprising not to see Apple bump up the storage capacity to 64GB as they have done with the iPod Touch.

In terms of wireless, the iPhone 4 is packed with an 802.11n WiFi radio, as well as a quad-band HSUPA chip and Bluetooth 2.1. The redesigned housing allows for a much larger lithium-ion battery on the inside thus potentially solving the power problems of iPhone 3G and 3GS users. In total the iPhone 4 can supposedly last between 38 – 42 hours.

Apple has remained consistent when it comes to the internals of the box apart from a new graphic on the front to make the iPhone 4 look that bit more mysterious. In the box is the usual Apple USB cable, a three-pin plug adaptor and some headphones. No, before you ask they haven’t upgraded the headphones, they’re still the poor quality headphones from the year before, with the function button on the cord. Let’s not forget the little tool for removing the micro-SIM card which Apple has so conveniently provided us. Yet as usual, and as previous iPhone owners can relate, Apple should have simply saved money and provided us with a bounty of paper clips as 9 out of 10 people will lose that little tool, panic and improvise. The only hassle with the iPhone 4 is the micro SIM. At launch, you had to show your proof of purchase to get a micro SIM – which is a drag. What’s more, you can’t exactly pop your SIM card into someone else’s phone either when rocking a micro SIM – so be aware that you may need a micro SIM holder if you’re going to use someone else’s phone with your SIM card once you’ve bought yourself an iPhone 4.

Our Verdict

Unfortunately the phone does not tick all the boxes and Apple seem to have forgotten a number of basics that would have just given the iPhone 4 that extra edge. The benefits over past models is minimal, but doubtless people will clamour to get the latest Apple iPhone.

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