Apple iPhone 4 review: Love it or hate it

GSMArena team, 01 July 2010.
Pages: 12345678910»

Introduction

You can't make a phone that everyone loves and Apple is not even trying. Much like any other iPhone so far, the iPhone 4 is a phone that everybody loves AND hates.

Apple’s latest is always the greatest – you have to give them that. Sometimes it seems they put less effort into making it than in letting people know they did. But with the Apple iPhone 4, they were obviously hard at work. The 4th generation iPhone has an all new look, new feel and plenty of new skill. We already caught a glimpse of the iOS4. But there’s much more: a 1GHz chip, two cameras, HD video and of course the Retina display – the highest-res screen we’ve seen so far on a GSM phone.

iPhone 4 iPhone 4 iPhone 4
Apple iPhone 4 official photos

Surely there are still enough blank spots on the feature list but that’s Apple and its iPhone. Compromises are being made in every phone out there anyway. But the simple fact is Number 4 is the best iPhone to-date. Let’s see how good that is.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM and quad-band 3G support with 7.2 Mbps HSDPA and 5.76 Mbps HSUPA
  • 3.5" 16M-color LED-backlit TFT capacitive touchscreen of 640 x 960 px resolution
  • Scratch-resistant glass front and rear, with fingerprint-resistant coating
  • 1GHz Apple A4 SoC; 512MB of RAM
  • 5 MP autofocus camera with LED flash and touch focus
  • 720p video recording at 30fps
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
  • GPS with A-GPS connectivity; digital compass
  • 16/32GB storage options
  • Accelerometer, proximity sensor and three-axis gyro sensor
  • Active noise cancellation with a dedicated secondary microphone
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack, stereo Bluetooth v2.1
  • Excellent audio output quality
  • Slim waistline at only 9.3mm
  • Secondary front-facing camera
  • Some degree of multitasking
  • Rich AppStore

Main disadvantages

  • Hardware design is prone to reception issues
  • MicroSIM card support only
  • No Flash support in the web browser
  • No true multitasking for all applications
  • FaceTime video calls work only over Wi-Fi
  • No file transfer over Bluetooth or USB Mass Storage mode
  • No hardware shutter key for the camera
  • No FM radio
  • No stereo speakers
  • No microSD card slot
  • No smart dialing
  • Too dependent on iTunes for loading multimedia content
  • Poor loudspeaker performance

As you can see, most of the main disadvantages are simply passed from one generation to the next but - whatever iPhone you’re coming from - the Number 4 will tick most of your boxes. Upgraders will be used to the shortcomings, and unbiased observers will have less points to complain against.

It just seems some features will be forever missing. The iPhone’s memory isn’t expandable and you can’t use the thing as an external drive (this also means that files are only transferred via iTunes, again). Bluetooth has been upgraded to cover not only for music and calls but a compatible wireless keyboard too. File transfers however are a no-go.

The lack of Flash support in the Safari browser is no surprise given the Apple-Adobe feud. Luckily there’s the good old YouTube app to partly make up for that but Flash games are still out of the question.

There is now a secondary video-call cam but the “reinvented” FaceTime video calls feature only works over Wi-Fi (for now) and between two iPhone 4’s.

As for the multitasking, this is the closest the iPhone has ever gotten but there is no true multitasking, and certainly not for all apps.

You've probably also heard of the user reports of reception issues and you're wondering how much of that is true. Well, we've checked that in detail, too.

Apple Iphone 4 Apple Iphone 4 Apple Iphone 4 Apple Iphone 4
The Apple iPhone 4 is a thing of beauty

All that (and a bit more) aside, the new goodies seem to merit at least some of the iPhone 4 hype. The Retina display is gorgeous. The 3.5” capacitive TFT touchscreen has four times the resolution of the older iPhones. At 640 x 960 pixels, it’s the best we’ve seen – statistically. But perhaps the most impressive too, for its actual performance.

There’s a generational leap in imaging too. The first two iPhones had a single 2MP fixed focus camera on board. Last year’s 3GS tried to make some sense with a 3-megapixel autofocus snapper. With the iPhone 4, Apple are finally beginning to look good. The primary 5-megapixel autofocus camera not only takes impressive images but shoots 720p videos too. Oh, and it has a LED flash.

Now, let’s see what else is in that tiny white retail box and check out those shiny glass panels. Let the iPhone 4 unboxing begin.

Next Page »

Pages: 12345678910»

 
Reviews > Apple iPhone 4 review: Love it or hate it