Sun, 04 Jul 2010 Apple iPhone 4 review
New iPhone is much thinner than its predecessors
- Manufacturer: Apple
- Pros: Gorgeous high-resolution screen, fast A4 processor with lots of RAM, easy-to-use, FaceTime videoconferencing, 5-megapixel camera takes great stills and good HD video, longer battery life than previous iPhones , support for iOS 4 features, including multitasking.
- Cons: Hand placement can disrupt mobile signals, glass front and back could prove overly fragil, not able to play back HD video to external display.
- Min specs: Touchscreen smartphone; UMTS, HSDPA, HSUPA, GSM, EDGE; quad-band 850/900/1800/1900MHz; 3.5in (960 x 640) 3:2 capacitive IPS touchscreen, aluminosilicate glass, with oleophobic coating; 326 dpi, 800:1 contrast ratio, 500cd/m2 brightness; 16GB and 32GB flash storage; Apple A4 (ARM Cortex A8 CPU/PowerVR SGX 535 GPU) processor; 512MB RAM; 802.11b/g/n; Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR; rear-facing 5Mp still/1280 x 720 video camera; front-facing 640 x 480 video camera; white LED flash; assisted GPS; three-axis gyroscope; proximity sensor; ambient light sensor; digital compass; dual mics; speaker; 3.5mm stereo headphone/mic jack; earphones with remote and mic; USB power adaptor; 5.25Wh lithium-ion battery; 115 x 59 x 9mm; 137g
- From free on contract
- Star rating:
Apple’s response to the improvements in display technology has not been to create a larger phone—a direction some of its rivals have taken—but to increase the number of dots in the existing space to the point where the average human eye (hence the “retina display” moniker) can’t even tell they’re there.
The result is marvelous. The retina display is an enormous improvement on the already-good iPhone 3GS screen, brighter and with better contrast as well as a slightly warmer color temperature. The screen, which uses the same IPS (in-plane switching) display technology found on the iPad and iMac, has a massive viewing angle, so even at an odd angle you can see everything on the screen clearly. And since the screen is bonded to the layer of glass immediately above it, it’s a bit closer to your eyes—there’s less of the sense that you’re looking at a display through a layer of glass than there was on previous iPhones or the iPad.
As for the increased resolution, it’s staggering. High-definition videos play back with such smoothness and clarity that you feel like you’re looking through a tiny window into the real world. Tiny details on photos are clear as day. When I watch a video on my iPhone 3GS, I don’t notice that the individual stalks of wheat in the Van Gogh episode of Doctor Who aren’t clear. But when I watch that same in HD quality on the iPhone 4’s screen, I can see the individual kernels on the stalks. It’s the same scene, but with exquisite detail that was lacking before.
Text is similarly gorgeous. Yes, black text on a white background in Safari or iBooks looks like it was printed on paper. But what really exposes the power of the display is colored or gray text, which tended to look a bit jaggier on previous iPhones. On the iPhone 4, even light gray text is immaculate.
If you’ve not yet seen an iPhone 4, you may stare at your current phone (or even PC screen) and wonder how this new display could be that much better than what you’ve already got. After I handled the iPhone 4 a few weeks before its release, I couldn’t quite believe what I had seen. When I stared at my iPhone 3GS display, I saw a really good screen. How could the iPhone 4’s screen have put it to shame? And yet, when you view the two models side by side, you can see that the difference in quality isn’t even subtle. The iPhone 4’s screen is so good, it’s shocking.
Smile for the camera(s)
We are rapidly approaching the day where every device we own will be able to shoot HD video. Is the oatmeal in the microwave boiling over the side of the bowl? Check the HD video. Did the washing machine get that stain out of your favorite shirt? HD video. A mountain lion ran right across the trail in front of your bike? HD video or it didn’t happen.
The iPhone 4 is the latest device to bring HD video to the party, and is capable of shooting 720p video at 30 frames per second. That’s not the only upgrade over previous models, though: the device’s rear-facing camera is powered by a 5-megapixel sensor. With the iPhone 3GS, Apple managed to build a cellphone camera that outperformed other phone cameras with higher megapixel counts, and that story continues with the iPhone 4. Though some comparable phones offer 8 megapixels of resolution, in our tests, the iPhone 4 (with its strong low-light performance and backside-illuminated chip design) outperformed all but dedicated point-and-shoot cameras.