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iPhone 4 Review

Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Build and Design
  3. Display
  4. Performance
  5. Speakers and Sound
  6. microSIM
  7. Battery Life
  8. Camera
  9. Conclusion

In Box:

  • Phone;
  • Stereo headset with remote control;
  • USB cable;
  • Power adapter.

My today's task is simple and difficult at the same time. You have already had an opportunity to take a look at the material about the recent iPhone 4 presentation on our website. Here is the link:

iPhone 4

Last week, we published an article about iOS 4 where I discussed the capabilities of the updated operating system.

iOS 4: review

Therefore, what I need to cover in this material is the device itself, apart from the operating system. I will have to mention it a few times, though. For better understanding of where the iPhone 4 concept came from, you can also read my detailed iPhone 3Gs review of last fall.

Review of Apple iPhone 3Gs

Back to the table of contents >>>

Build and Design

The iPhone 3Gs, which carries on the plastic traditions of the iPhone 3G, is no match for the new breed. Everything said at the presentation by the head of Apple is actually true. And here is what I have to say about it.

We are used to the fact that metal, glass, special finishing Ц all that is the lot of expensive, luxury devices. Some manufacturers don't care about functionality when introducing a new material. Even if Vertu was the most beautiful phone out there, it would still be just for the calls, nothing more. Personally I like Vertu, and I'm not going to hide that. They know their job well and produce excellent "receivers."

However, the iPhone 4 is something special. No other marketed "functional" device possesses such a blend of image and functionality. You know, you just take it out of the box and, once again, realize that the Apple designers are worth their salt. A metal edge with antenna holes, a weak spot but beauty knows no pain; glass on the front and back; very neat volume buttons; a nicely clicking mute lever; a tight but accurate sleep mode key; speakers grille Ц you feel absolute satisfaction looking at that. In England or France, the price of the device is fairly comparable to that of the Nokia N900. It is your personal decision what to choose.

It appears that there is nothing left from the older iPhone, yet the succession is there, from the Home button to the typical case contours. The new family member is heavier, feels excellent in one's hand Ц it's quite something. Naturally, the current hot weather conditions make the front panel easily cover with sweat but the present oleophobic coating allows one to make the device look presentable in no time.

The dimensions are 115.2x58.6x9.3 mm, the weight is 137 grams. The dimensions get slightly bigger with the bumper. By the way, let's discuss the accessory, too. I got a black bumper; as you can see, the buttons are done in the same way as on the device. The edges are made of plastic, there is silicone padding inside. The holes coincide with the ones in the device; the volume is not affected. Mute is easily accessible, although the new location and size take some getting used to. In the pictures, the bumpers appear better than in reality, which, however taking into account their unexpected primary objective (i.e. to keep the device from losing the signal), is quite acceptable. They don't affect one's impression of the device much. It appears to me that the accessory doesn't fit like a glove but plays slightly on the edges.

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Display

It is the so-called Retina display with the resolution of 960x640 pixels and 3.5 inches in the diagonal. If the main feature of the Super AMOLED is its brightness, then the Retina wins over due to its accurateness. The picture appears as if drawn. The view angles are incredible. The same is true for the color saturation. Certainly, the new display not only looks better but also improves functionality to some extent. Browsing the Web, working with e-mail is now more convenient; the screen is also excellent for watching video. As in the earlier iPhone models, the touch sensitive display is very intuitive; multi-touch is fast and precise; I did not notice the yellow spots on my unit, which appears to be another well-known bug of the iPhone 4. Probably, some sort of glue didn't dry out.

Indeed, the display works fine in direct sunlight, fades away a bit, but the information is readable.

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Performance

I compared the performance of the iPhone 4 with that of the iPhone 3Gs in a very simple way Ц i.e. by running various applications. Here are the results:

  • YouTube; it takes the same amount of time for the application to launch on both devices, but the clips get downloaded faster on the iPhone 4 (by a second or even more);
  • AppStore; the same is true here: the transfer data is handled faster on the iPhone 4 by a second or two;
  • GoogleMaps; that's a different story now; the loading times are much longer on the iPhone 4;
  • The Guerilla Bob game; the iPhone 4 launches it twice as fast;
  • Mail; I downloaded a message with a PDF attachment for the test; the download time is the same.

Indeed, the iPhone 4 appears slightly faster than the iPhone 3Gs but the difference is not as large as between the latter and the iPhone 3G. In any case, the novelty is powerful enough both for games and simple tasks. For example, the keyboard and contacts appear instantaneously; looking up someone's details is a breeze, too.

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Speakers and Sound

All-in-all, the first impression can be very misleading. One wouldn't say that the new device is significantly louder than the iPhone 3Gs. Some ringer tones, especially from the pre-set list (like my favorite "cricket") can be heard from hell. Yet on the whole, it's not about the volume, it's about the stereo effect. Just as the display, the sound has become more saturated.

I tried to test the sound quality in the headphones by using some other Apple headset. The stock one is a blast from the past; in-ear, it is not very comfy, but has a remote control and volume buttons. That will do for a while.

Now, attention everybody Ц the iPhone 4 is significantly louder than the 3Gs! approximately by 15-20 percentage points. One's ears can hardly stand the maximum volume. The sound quality appears better, more detailed to me too, although I didn't play with the equalizer. No, it's not an audiophile player, nor is it the long-lasting iPod. It is better, mightier, and louder.

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microSIM

I can't help but mention that micro SIM cards are already available from select operators; however I handled the problem in a radical way and spent some few enjoyable hours at the end. The problem showed up unexpectedly. It was my first experience with SIM card tailoring and I would like to recommend you to stock up with extra cards or to ask a retailer to cut one for you (or look for the readymade solutions) from the very beginning.

What you need is a regular SIM card, pair of scissors, ruler, and some sandpaper for the trimming. Bear in mind that the card should go into the slot with the sensors facing downward, and the corner piece should be cut off on the same side as on the regular card. Your task is simple Ц i.e. to cut out the sensors in such a way that only them be visible through the slot gap and the amount of plastic be uniform around the edges.

It took me three cards to achieve the correct result. All that is needed to activate the device. Be sure to check if the card has a PIN-lock or whether it is activated or not. In general, if you buy a microSIM adapter, you will then be able to use the card with other devices that have regular slots; the accessory is dirt cheap and has been quite popular for a while. However, the latter may change in the future when as I hope the microSIM cards become available on every corner.

After the activation, one can connect the iPhone 4 to a computer with iTunes, pick an Apple identifier, and set is a new device or restore one's data from the backup. I went for the first option and thanks to the MobileMe service, all my contacts, e-mail accounts, bookmarks, etc. got synchronized automatically, a very handy feature.

Here I would like to say that my unit comes from England and accepts any SIM card. The same, SIM-free devices can be purchased in France. At the moment that is quite difficult due to the deficit, though.

Back to the table of contents >>>

Battery Life

Since user experience varies, one can safely ignore the official numbers. I know of an owner who has been playing with the phone for about 24 hours after the initial charge.

I believe that it will make sense to have had the iPhone 4 for a while, at least a week, and to update this paragraph after that. Still, I suppose that the battery life will be a pleasant surprise; there are reasons to believe that it can last for two days in the reasonably balanced mode. That is in contrast to the 3Gs, where you can virtually see the green charge bar depleting. The latter doesn't require much attention in the iPhone 4.

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Camera

It is a 5-megapixel camera with digital zoom (unnecessary unless you want to spoil your pictures) and ability to focus on wherever you tap with your finger. You can see the pictures with your own eyes. Those are live shots; image stabilization would be much appreciated and, quite expectedly, the results are not that good. They appear fairly well if viewed on the device, though. It gets better with video, but again, nothing extraordinary there; you can download the corresponding clip to watch.

In a nutshell, the camera is not the best.

Samples of camera shots:

Video sample (mov, 115 mb) >>>

Back to the table of contents >>>

Conclusion

Why so little, you may ask? The answer is provided at the beginning of the article; that is much has already been said. Moreover, I want to prolong the pleasure and to treat you and myself to a detailed iPhone 4 in-use report in some time. What I liked, what I disliked, how it is on the whole, and so on.

What I liked in the iPhone 4:

  • Design, materials, build quality, the way it feels in one's hand Ц it all is beyond praise;
  • Good display;
  • The device is fast; you just tap on the screen Ц and it's done;
  • Good sound quality;
  • Plenty of software for various usage scenarios;
  • iOS 4 with multitasking and other features;
  • FaceTime must be quite handy, although I haven't had the chance to use it yet;
  • Long range Wi-Fi with support for 802.11n;
  • Absolutely different, better gaming experience thanks to the built-in gyroscope. I didn't want to draw your attention to that in the review on purpose; there is hardly any difference in existing titles.

That must be it. Now, let's talk about the disadvantages:

  • There hasn't been any breakthrough in terms of the camera; pictures look great on the device screen, though. The same is true for video. Yet it is definitely better than before;
  • Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR that you still can't use to transfer files;
  • There is no built-in software for working with documents; they could have thrown in iWork for free.
  • The light sensor won't work correctly sometimes;
  • For many, another disadvantage is the proprietary nature of the device, lack of support for the poplar audio and video formats. To heck with audio, but the device has an excellent display and processor. Why not allow the users to watch their AVI clips without prior conversion? But again, we have to resort to torrents, search for iPhone 4 video, etc. Fed up with that;
  • A meager headset in the bundle. It is obvious that the metal and glass are worth something and the company wants to earn extra cash on the accessories. Yet the stock ear buds are terribly uncomfortable!

On the whole, the iPhone 4 doesn't have a tinge of "seen that", "here we go again", "boring!" There is no plastic there. There is no lagging there. The price is quite reasonable. No need to even mention the impressions Ц i.e. those who perceive the reality through touch will fall in love with the case; neurasthenics and coke addicts will be astonished by the speed (yeah, the phone is on speed, how cool is that!); the sharp-eyed will get high with the displayЕ Even the smell, the gorgeous smell of new Apple hardware has been deliberately selected.

The phone is highly recommended for purchase.

P.S. Please be patient; I will provide you with further details about a number of peculiar features. I just need to spend some time with the device.

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Do you want to talk about this? Please, go to our Forum and let your opinion be known to the author and everybody else.

Sergei Kuzmin (skuzmin@mobile-review.com)
Twitter    Livejournal
Translated by Olexandr Nikolaychuk (meiam@inbox.com)

Published Ч 30 June 2010

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com

 

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