The first thing you will notice about the iPhone 4 when you take it out of the box is how it feels in your hand. It has a much ‘flatter’ sleeker design. It’s not hard to hold or anything just very different. You will immediately notice Apple used premium materials with this iPhone compared to 3Gs. The glass front and back looks and feels much more expensive and of a higher quality, especially when you hold it beside its sibling. Apple made a big deal during it’s presentation about the manufacturing process – holding the iPhone4 in your hand – you would tend to agree.
The front of the iPhone 4 could easily be mistaken for a 3Gs, physically the only real noticeable difference is the front facing camera for Facetime. But once you power on the device you will notice the definition and detail of the new screen, it’s the difference between and SD and HD screen in my opinion. Text and pictures have a richness and color that was missing from the iPhone 3Gs. This is all down to something Apple calls retina display.
“By developing pixels a mere 78 micrometers wide, Apple engineers were able to pack four times the number of pixels into the same 3.5-inch (diagonal) screen found on earlier iPhone models.” You will notice some app icons look less polished as they have not been updated for the new display.
The back of the iPhone is a huge deviation from previous models and like the front of the iPhone 4 is made of aluminosilicate glass instead of plastic. This aluminosilicate glass according to Apple is chemically strengthened to be 20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic. The iPhone 4 has a flatter look and feel to it over the 3Gs, the glass makes the device shiny and reflective. This unfortunately also means the iPhone 4 it is a finger print magnet, this is a problem if you don’t buy a cover, as you will find it hard to hide the smudges.
The side of the iPhone looks great, very different to other iPhone models. A steel band runs all the way around the iPhone, and is separated by small gaps at three points, the sides, and the top. This is because these steel bands are also antennas for various data connections. This was designed to allow for better connections, but actually led to Apple having to launch a press conference due to reported issues with the signal. In the end Apple offered covers for the band which may help the signal loss. For the record, I did not notice any signal issues so far on my iPhone 4. The volume up and down are now buttons in there own right, as opposed to being attached together in the 3Gs. You have the usual iPod connector port, and headphone dock. The speaker and microphone are at the bottom.
The Battery. I have not been impressed by the iPhone 3Gs battery, I have never had a day where I got home and the battery is at 1-10%. Despite Apple saying the iPhone 4 battery is bigger and therefor better, I would have to disagree. While it is better, it is not better by much. Now, granted I use my iPhone 4 a lot, so I am not expecting huge battery life. I have turned off 3G -as I have no use for it normally, and that has made a difference, but I refuse to turn off wifi- because I just use it too much and it would mean turning it on and off at least once every hour. There does come a point when you think I bought an iPhone because I want all these capabilities and now I have to turn them off so I can use the phone for the whole day? Update: After a few charges I have noticed some improvement in the battery performance. This aside here is what Apple has promised on the battery.
Talk time: Up to 7 hours on 3G, Up to 14 hours on 2G. Standby time: Up to 300 hours. Internet use: Up to 6 hours on 3G, Up to 10 hours on Wi-Fi. Video playback: Up to 10 hours, Audio playback: Up to 40 hours.
The cameras (yes cameras). You would be hard pressed to have a complaint with the iPhone 4’s camera. It’s good…for a phone, in fact for a phone its just pretty dam great! The iPhone 4 comes with a 5-megapixel still camera with a LED flash, yes we finally have a flash camera! The quality of photos taken from the iPhone 4 to me seems amazing for a phone. The camera is also capable of video recording, HD (720p) up to 30 frames per second with audio! You can also zoom in and out. And of course the iPhone 4 has a front facing camera, which you can use for Facetime (video calls – currently only iPhone 4 to iPhone 4 – but that will change soon!) or even use the front facing camera to check if you have something on your face, ladies can check their makeup!.
The iPhone 4 comes preloaded with Apple’s iOS 4. There is not much point in discussing the iOS 4 in detail in this hands on review, as we have looked at it many times in previous posts. Here are some features of iOS 4:
• Multitasking support for third-party apps
• Folders to better organize and access apps
• Home screen Wallpaper
Unified inbox to view emails from all accounts in one
– Fast inbox switching to quickly switch between
• Support for iBooks and iBookstore
• Photo and Camera improvements
• Ability to create and edit playlists on device
• Calendar invitations
• Support for MobileMe calendar sharing
• Suggestions and recent searches appear during a web
• Searchable SMS/MMS messages**
• Spotlight search can be continued on web and Wikipedia
– New Location Services icon in the status bar
– Indication of which apps have requested your location
in the last 24 hours
• Automatic spellcheck
• Support for Bluetooth keyboards*
Facetime is a seed for a possible future video call success story, but it is not by an means a new technology. Facetime uses the iPhone 4’s front facing camera to place a video call over wifi. You can use the front facing camera or switch the the main camera, to show the other person what you are looking at. Currently FaceTime calls only work over wifi and require the other iPhone 4 to have the service activated on their iPhone 4.Video calls have been around for a long time, but very few people have used the technology on their phones. Why? There are so many reasons why not. A few that come into mind include, implementation by phone manufactures? Not socially acceptable to be seen with your phone held in front of your face. But if any company can change this it is Apple. Indeed I suspect Apple will implement this technology on their iPods and other devices to increase users take up and highlight its possibilities. Facetime is also open to developers! So we are assuming Skype will use it? You might not use the technology right away, but think about seeing your friends and family abroad, a facial expression can tell a bigger story that a voice call!
The gyroscope will add a 3D dimension to iPhone apps and games, think of the Nintendo Wii movement – but for the iPhone, I have not yet noticed an app that shows how well this works. But Apple tells us “When paired with the accelerometer, it makes iPhone 4 capable of advanced motion sensing such as user acceleration, full 3D attitude, and rotation rate. Translation: More motion gestures and greater precision for an even better gaming experience.”
The iPhone 4 is a huge step forward for Apple and demonstrates the direction and future of the device, despite a few blips in the process we expect the iPhone to be popular for a very long time!
Where to buy?
Three Mobile, O2 Mobile and Vodafone Ireland. Apple store, AT&T in the US.