The Good The iPhone 4 offers enhanced performance, great new display and advanced design. It also adds a ton of much-needed features, both by itself and through iOS 4 updates.
The Bad Multitasking entails some trade-offs, and home screen folders are limited to 12 apps. AT&T reception continues to be spotty, and you’ll need a case for the best calling reception. Also, we’d prefer a 64GB model.
The Bottom Line With the iPhone 4, Apple again shows that it is a powerful player in the smartphone wars. It won’t be for everyone, the call quality and reception vary if you don’t use a case, and AT&T’s network remains a sticking point, but the handset’s striking design, loaded feature set, and generally agreeable performance make it the best iPhone yet.
Apple iPhone 4
Editors’ note: In light of Apple’s decision to offer free cases for the iPhone 4’s antenna, we are not changing our original iPhone’s 4 rating. We are, however, withholding the Editors’ Choice rating because of the attenuation issues that we experienced.
We updated this review on November 22, 2010 to reflect the new features of iOS 4.1 and 4.2. We made additional updates on March 10, 2011 to reflect the addition of the hotspot from iOS 4.3. On October 4, 2010, Apple added an 8GB version of the iPhone 4.
On October 25, 2011, we downgraded the iPhone 4 after the release of the iPhone 4S.
With its updated design, shiny new display, fast processor and additional features, the iPhone 4 is the largest upgrade of the Apple 3G iPhone. It’s also a showcase of the phone for Apple’s latest iOS 4 operating system, which adds a mix of long overdue features as well as some minor changes we didn’t expect.
If they existed independently, the iPhone 4 and iOS 4 would not be much larger than the shards on the smartphone’s radar screen. However, combined in one unit, the result is a sleek, satisfying and compelling device that keeps Apple highly competitive in an increasingly crowded market. Indeed, the iPhone 4 isfast, new hardware is a browser, and some new features have blown us away. However, there are some concerns about other issues. Receiving calls is still problematic and you will need to use a housing or bumper to avoid touching the new antenna. In terms of capabilities, we welcome multitasking with open arms, but it has its drawbacks. Also, while FaceTime video calling is more than worthy of attention, we are wondering if our interest will last for a week.
So, should you buy it? If you’re an iPhone fan, you’ve probably already ordered your new baby. But if you’re on the fence, think carefully. We won’t say that the iPhone 4 is the best smartphone on the market today. To do so would ignore so many great competing handsets, not to mention the fierce rate of change in the technology world. If you prefer Apple’s vision of a polished, highly organized, and slightly closed user experience, then by all means you’ll be pleased. Just remember to get that free case. But if you prefer a smartphone that offers more personalization, that isn’t shackled to AT&T, or that is equal parts phone and mobile computer, then there are plenty of smartphones in the sea.
The iPhone 4 is available exclusively with AT&T in the U.S., and with other carriers around the world. With a new two-year contract, AT&T customers will pay $299 for the 32GB model or $199 for the 16GB version. Without a contract, you’ll pay $699 or $599, respectively, but the phone will still come locked to AT&T. And hey, Apple, how about a 64GB version?
Despite the fact that the iPhone 3G and 3GS models simply forged the original design of the phone, the iPhone 4 marks a sharp departure from these previous models. True, we’ve never had a problem with the look of previous phones, but we approve the iPhone 4. Changes to the front and back are glass, both surfaces are flat, and the stainless steel bezel surrounds the entire phone. While it is a tad box, it also has a clean, fresh and unmistakable Apple look. Moreover, we like that the flat back means that the phone no longer fluctuates while relaxing on the table. You can get the iPhone 4 in both black and white, but here again we prefer the former.
The back of the iPhone 4 is made of glass.
So many glass shiny and beautiful, but we have some problems. Despite the oleophobic coating on both the front and back, the glass attracts spots on tone. In addition, even though Apple CEO Steve Jobs promises that glass resists scratches and cracks rather than plastic, we will observe long-lasting durability. The iPhone 4 has a strong, solid feel, although we didn’t like its sharp corners. He survived a few drops to the carpet floor, but we are amazed how it will survive the trip in his pocket with keys and coins. Fortunately, the Apple Bumper provides the necessary protection, even if it takes away from the sleek profile of the phone. Time will tell how difficult it is to use.
IPhone 4 (left) compared to iPhone 3G.
At 4.5 inches tall, 2.3 inches wide by 0.37 inches, the iPhone 4 is about as tall as the iPhone 3GS, but a bit thinner by 25 percent to be more accurate – and narrow when measured in front surface. It feels smaller than its predecessors, but we don’t think it’s bad. Jobs called it the thinnest smartphone around, but since this race changes daily, it may not hold the title for long. If we put on weight, it comes in at 4.8 ounces, which goes back to what we had with the first iPhone (both the 3G and 3GS models were a little lighter). We’re adding more grip to a larger battery, so we’re not going to complain. And by the way, the difference is barely noticeable.
Other design features include a new front VGA camera, a new LED flash with the main camera lens, and a new microphone for noise absorption at the top of the phone. It should also be said that we welcome the add-ons as they introduce new functionality (see the Features section for more details). We also don’t mind the new split volume buttons, as they are a little easier to understand than the previous rocker.
The handset has a strong feel in the hand.
Above the volume controls is a regular mute switch, which Apple also gave a small makeover. As for the big changes, Apple moved the SIM card slot to the right spine and switched to the Micro-SIM format, just like the iPad. According to Jobs, the Micro-SIM format allows more space for a larger battery. Just keep in mind that your phone will not be able to use a standard SIM.
The rest of the external elements are largely unchanged. The Home button is in the usual place below the display; 3.5mm headset jack and power key sit at the top of the above microphone to reduce noise; and the 30-pin connector, microphone and speaker are all located on the bottom end of the iPhone 4. Unfortunately, and no one is surprised, you still can’t remove the battery.
The box comes with the usual accessories such as a small wall plug, USB / 30 pin connector and standard Apple headphones. Oddly enough, you won’t get the SIM card removal tool that came with the previous models. True, you can use a small paper clip, but we have the threat that we did not receive it. Apple had no explanation for the omission.
IPhone 4 antennas rotate around a thin profile.
The stainless steel border is more than decorative; it doubles as two new antennas that surround the entire phone, minus three small notches. Seriously, leave it to the Apple design team to make the antenna look good. The first antenna that runs from the notch at the top of the phone to the notch on the left is for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. This leaves the second antenna extending from the top recess down the right side and around to the bottom of the phone, for EDGE and 3G.
Though Apple did not specifically promise that the new antennas would improve call quality or Wi-Fi reception, their very existence is an indirect admission (and the first that we’ve seen by the company) that data and voice reception have been troublesome and need to be addressed. Though current iPhone users largely blame AT&T for connectivity problems, remember that both a carrier’s network and a phone’s antenna play a part in reception. Yet, as we mention below in the Performance section, the antenna didn’t magically cure all reception issues. In fact, it even caused new problems.
Display and interface
Sometimes the best gift is what you didn’t know you wanted, and it is definitely the case with the iPhone 4. It has 940×640-pixels (326 pixels per square inch) “Retina Display”, which is four times higher than the previous resolution iPhone models. What’s more, it uses the same IPS screen that is on the iPad, with a contrast ratio of 800: 1. Although we’ve always thought a lot about modern iPhone displays, companies need to compete with the beautiful AMOLED screens and TFT displays we’ve seen in many Android phones, such as the HTC Evo 4G. And that is exactly what is being done.
The iPhone display is beautiful. Just above is the VGA camera lens.
While “stunning”, “gorgeous” and “dazzling” are the words we usually use to describe high-quality smartphone displays, we are not sure if they will make the iPhone 4. Believe useverythingthis display is fantastic, from bold colors and graphics to crisp text. You can see it pretty well in direct light, and the details on web pages, photos, videos and apps are as clear as they appear. But best of all, you don’t see any pixels on the display. This is quite noticeable and especially obvious when you hold it near 3GS. No, we are not inclined Fully believe Apple’s assertion that the display exceeds what the human eye feels, but it cannot be denied that it looks good. We didn’t see it yellow areas which users have complained about. See the display for more information complete test results from CNET Labs.
Of course, the iPhone 4 has the same ambient light sensor, proximity sensor and accelerometer as previous iPhone phones. We didn’t see any changes in their functionality. We would like to see Flash videos checked on the display, but you know how it works.
With a heavy load of new flavors, the iPhone 4 circles around its 3GS predecessor, offering new features. Some of them are device-specific, while others come with an update to iOS 4. We’ll first highlight the last group.
Multitasking:Although you have always been able to accomplish multitasking with built-in iPhone features such as a music player, third-party applications are now available. Your primary access point is a multitasking menu that you can access by double-tapping the Home button. Once there, you’ll see a list of currently running apps at the bottom of the screen that you can use to scroll with your side finger with your finger. The popup menu only shows four programs at a time, but you can store many more in the tray.
A new multitasking feature is available by double-clicking the Home button.
Managing a multitasking menu couldn’t be easier. To open a running application, scroll through the menu and tap its icon once. When you’re ready to finish the application, first long-tap the appropriate icon, then click the tiny delete icon in the upper left corner. Switching between applications is also a simple process: as you move back and forth, you return to the exact point you left behind. There is also a clear sense of organization, with the recently used app on the left. All things considered, this is a very Apple experience.
But is it real?:As you might expect, Apple’s multitasking works a little differently than on other smartphones. Instead of making all device resources available for each running application, iOS 4 allows only seven application services to run in the background. According to Apple, this arrangement will consume less resources such as battery life and memory than if it gave developers a free divorce. In addition, since background programs are significantly paused, this will free the system from having to juggle resources and kill out-of-date applications.
So what can you do in the background? Apple’s seven approved processes include audio (for example, you can play Pandora radio), VoIP services such as Skype, GPS / location for applications such as TomTom , push notifications, and local notifications (those that don’t need to go through the server), task completion, and quick application switching (applications are essentially asleep to avoid using the processor). The last two are the most noticeable. After completing the task, the application will finish something that has already started, even if you send it to the background; it will send you a notification when it expires. On the other hand, quick application switching is an application hibernation process that allows you to quickly switch back and forth and return to where you left off.
While some have complained that the built-in restrictions mean that iOS 4 does not have “true” multitasking, we believe that “incomplete” is a better description. Of course, you can’t runeverythingin the background – for example, your Twitter feed is not updated during the pause, but iOS 4 allows you to launch certain features from multiple applications at the same time. Unless it’s multitasking, we don’t know what it is. Moreover, it would not be Apple’s first time constrained or take longer to develop to create the desired customer experience. You may disagree with this philosophy, but Apple has always been honest about it. Like so many things in engineering, it just comes down to what works best for you.
You can close the programs in the multitasking menu.
Nice, but not miles ahead:Even after a long wait, we are very pleased with the multitasking experience. Because the company has the talent to work, Apple has introduced this feature in a smooth, easy-to-use way. It was great without any crashing or freezing the phone; it turned out that this does not adversely affect battery life; and she does what she sets out to do. But even with strong moments, we will not agree that this is the “best” way of multitasking (a common Apple statement). It may be smooth and save you a few clicks, but other approaches, such as the card deck WebOS – keep impressing. Similarly, although limited multitasking can lead to better power management, we will have to benchmark with other smartphones before we can agree.
We also do not share Jobs’s opinion that Apple’s solution is not a task manager. When he unveiled iOS 4 in April last year, Jobs dug into Android and other operating systems that require shutting down background apps that can slow down the phone. “In multitasking, if you see a task manager … they undermined it,” he said. “Users should never think about it.” Fair enough, but we think it’s a matter of semantics. As with most Task Managers, the iOS 4 multitasking menu lets you scan running applications and close any that you no longer use.
Of course, you may not need to kill frozen applications as often as you would on a Windows Mobile phone, but you still have the option. We also found a use case that is common to task management programs. Pressing the Home button once, for example, simply sends the app to the background; it doesnotfinish it completely. To do this, you will need to open the multitasking menu, find the appropriate icon and finish it. And we couldn’t help but notice another point: now that double-tapping the Home button opens a multi-tasking menu, you can no longer use the control as a shortcut for a specific function. Therefore, the parameter is missing from the Settings menu. We assume a small price to pay for the new feature.
Apps will come:We know that some CNET users are concerned that many existing applications are not running in the background. Keep in mind that developers will need time to upgrade their multitasking applications. Apple does not follow any rules for implementing these updates, so contact individual developers for a short time.
Home screen folders:Although we love apps as much as the next person, we are tired of scrolling through several pages of iPhone home screens. Fortunately, this has changed with the addition of home screen folders. This is another common feature that competing devices have been offering for a long time, so it’s nice to see Apple activate.
The folders clear the place on the home screen.
To get started, use the long press on the home screen to slide the icons. When your icons are dancing (there will also be a tiny delete icon in the corner), you can take the app and flip it over to create another folder. Then the folder will appear as a square with tiny icons of the app attached inside. Tap on the folder to access the added programs and get a detailed view of the contents of the folder. If you want to uninstall the app, just drag it to the home screen. It would be nice to be able to mark one app icon as a “cover” of a folder, but we understand that we’re launching.
Fortunately, you have the flexibility to organize folders. You can add as many folders as you want, change the default folder name, and add related and unrelated programs. Surprisingly, we could even merge outdated features like weather apps and inventory into one folder. The process is simple, but we’re not saying that it offers a huge change over the experience on Android. And really, Apple, are we only limited to 12 apps in one folder?
Email and business:The iPhone has always been a functional e-mail machine, but we have never liked switching between multiple accounts to read new messages. Fortunately, iOS 4 has a new unified mailbox that is available under the Mail option on your home screen. The list above your individual inboxes is a new option for “All Inbox” that contains messages from multiple accounts. You cannot access individual folders from the universal mailbox, but you can delete and move messages. Again, this works fine, but it does not go far beyond how competing OSs control the same process. In addition, the omnibox does not always sync immediately with the inboxes for individual accounts.
Other email changes include the ability to add multiple Exchange accounts, stream email by stream, go directly to individual mailboxes, resize photos before sending, and open attachments using the application you want. All nice, but we will delve into a couple of our favorites for more details. Emails in the stream will now be marked with a small amount on the left of the message header. Clicking on the number will bring you to a separate screen that lists all the relevant messages. This is a nice touch, and we like that you can move or delete messages in the stream. We also like the new option to delete emails directly from search results.
The iPhone 4 virtual keyboard does not change.
Worker bees will get options such as enhanced data protection, mobile device management, wireless application distribution, support for Exchange 2010 and SSL VPNs from Juniper and Cisco.
Home screen settings:Unlike the previous three features, this add-on was low on our wishlist, but Apple has done a decent job doing it. Of course, you can always change the default black background with a third-party app, but iOS 4 adds a built-in feature for the iPhone and iPod Touch. First, find the wallpaper option in the Settings menu and select the provided wallpaper or photo in the camera roll. If you choose, you will be able to set it as wallpaper for your home screen, lock screen, or both.
It’s all simple, but there are some troublesome compromises. First, keep in mind that once you tear out a standard black background, there is no way to rotate it. You can photograph a black wall, night sky or dark room, but it’s hardly the same. And don’t be surprised when some of your native wallpapers have been replaced with new settings. Apple gives, and Apple is taken away.
Spell check:The iPhone has long had an autocorrect feature that changes words as you type, but we’ve never found it to be entirely useful. That’s why we’re more fans of the new spell checker, which reports unrecognized or misspelled words with red underline. It works when you write emails and text messages, and you get a list of suggested fixes. We would like more offers, but this is a small moment.
Search:iOS 4 offers several new search options for different features. First, typing in the URL in Safari will not only see the URL of the websites you recently visited, but also the full URL. This is a nice touch because you can find the exact webpage you want. In Universal Search, you’ll see webpage and Wikipedia results with content stored on your phone. It takes a few clicks to run them, but it’s convenient. Finally, you will now find a search box for your text messages. It works just like the email search option.
Game Center:Coming later this year, the Game Center will include features such as a social gaming network, the ability to invite friends to games, leaders and achievements, as well as the ability to “match” (setting two people to play).
Connectivity:iOS 4 adds stable Wi-Fi, which means the iPhone 4 will remain connected to the hot spot even in standby mode. This can have a negative impact on battery life, so we will be watching. With wireless wireless, the phone promises to exit standby mode when it is in range of a cellular network. We did not ask for it, but we will take it. Finally, support for using the Bluetooth keyboard is now available. We successfully paired and seamlessly used the Apple Bluetooth keyboard.
Additional changes:As with previous updates, iOS 4 also offers a number of smaller features and customizations. These include a redesigned calculator icon (feature identical), gift-sending applications, alphanumeric pass codes, larger font sizes for accessibility, improved iPod output, and a redesigned Google Maps location icon (an arrow instead of a bull’s-eye). You also get a new birthday calendar, which is available in the main calendar app. However, we are still looking for specific birthday events.
iPod player:With iPhone 4, Apple continues to demonstrate that it is positively glowing with mobile music and video. This is one area where a company is beating its competitors with their hands down. For the most part, the iPhone 4 iPod is unchanged, but we were pleased to see some new offers. There is now a convenient option for creating playlists on the go. We did this in just a few steps and added a mix of tunes. Moreover, we are always happy when we can do something without going through iTunes. Returning to the multitasking menu, you will find new controls for the music player and a shortcut to block the rotation of the display. To get there, simply swipe left to left.
Camera:The iPhone camera has always been decent, but it lacks the features found on many base phones. That’s why we’re applauding the 5MP resolution, the new LED flash and the 5x digital zoom. The phone also has a new one back lit sensor which requires a more detailed explanation. Meet my colleague Stephen Shankland blog to get acquainted with the technology. The biggest draw, however, is its ability to record 720p HD video at a constant 30 frames per second. The iPhone is not the first device to offer this capability, but it provides quality. Of course, we would like more options such as brightness control and color tones, but we doubt we will ever get them.
The camera now has a digital zoom.
The primary camera interface is about the same as the 3GS ‘, with normal shutter control, a camera / camcorder switch, and a photo gallery shortcut on one side. New flash control activates the LED on the back. Fortunately, you can choose either auto or always on. In the opposite corner is a control for switching between the front and rear cameras. If you do not make FaceTime calls, you can use the front VGA camera for self-portraits. Image quality is not surprising, but it’s not surprising considering that a VGA shooter is hardly the pinnacle of technological development. Although it is great to be able to take snapshots.
We welcome the new camera flash.
The shooter also includes changes that came from iOS 4. Our favorite 5x still camera zoom. Take a picture, just tap the screen to see the zoom bar. Use your finger to pan and zoom out, but keep in mind that since this is a digital zoom, image quality will decrease with magnification. In addition, you can now use the touch focus function in still and video cameras.
In our tests, the quality of the camera is significantly improved. Let’s start with still photos. In most conditions, especially in daylight, the iPhone 4 takes great photos. The colors are bright and natural, there was no visible image noise, and our images were in focus. A bright flash also makes a positive difference. As with most LEDs, some images may appear dim, but we’re just glad we can take pictures in a dark room. We also like that there are no shutter delays, as was the case with previous iPhones. The camera snaps the shot instantly when you press the shutter. Then down, the camera does not perform as well when indoors under fluorescent lighting. The shots in those conditions had a green circle in the center of the image with yellow shades at the edges. The problem was even worse when we took a picture of the white surface. We offer to correct the problem by adjusting the white balance, but like the previous Apple phones, the iPhone 4 does not have this setting. See ours IPhone 4 Photo Gallery for a complete series of snapshots with analysis.
The iPhone delivers superb photo quality.
Video quality also impressed. You will need to keep your phone steady, but our clips were smooth and had no pixels or hiccups. It also handles motion quite well, and the audio is synchronized with the video. And of course, you can cut your videos with the great video editing feature that originated on the iPhone 3GS.
Photo gallery:You can organize all the images from the event or those containing a specific friend. However, for both, you will need to already use face recognition options in iPhoto or Aperture and sync with iTunes. However, one change seems to have disappeared: when we played with the initial beta of iOS 4, we saw an option in the gallery to rotate the photos, but we can’t find it again in the final version.
FaceTime:Apple stands for FaceTime as one of the most exciting features of the iPhone 4. It certainly looked good onWWDC demoso we were eager to try it. Even after a short test, we were satisfied with the quality of this feature, and we like that it’s an integrated version that doesn’t require any plugins. The video input can be a bit pixelated and shaky, especially when your friend is using the front camera, but it didn’t bother. Indeed, this can be expected when using a VGA shooter. You’ll see a slightly better feed if your friend uses a rear camera, but not much. Videos from your phone will appear in the upper left corner; it looked great from any camera. You can also use it in portrait or landscape modes.
FaceTime in action.
Obviously, FaceTime only works with another iPhone 4. You activate this feature after making a call on Wi-Fi (more on that in a minute). Once the call is connected, you will see an option for FaceTime instead of the usual Hold element (we have no idea where this option went). Both you and your friend must press the control button to start a video chat; You can either mute or end the call directly from the FaceTime screen. And the first time you make a FaceTime call, you’ll see the phone number listed twice in the recent calls list. One entry activates FaceTime directly and the other makes a regular cellular call.
This does not mean that FaceTime did its best. We were repeatedly unable to connect even though we used two iPhone 4s on Wi-Fi. From what we can tell, you will need a very strong Wi-Fi connection to use this feature. Switching between normal and FaceTime calls can take a few seconds, which does not work. Also during the switch, we declined a couple of calls.
For 2010, FaceTime will work only on Wi-Fi. We’ve heard a lot of grumbling about this restriction, but we don’t think that’s a bad thing. Video chat uses a ton of data so we’re sure the experience would be better on Wi-Fi than on AT&T’s strained network, anyway. What’s also great is that because you’re on Wi-Fi, FaceTime calls will not deduct from your cell minutes . Jobs said Apple has been working with iPhone operators to move the feature (hints on possible new carriers), but did not provide other details. We look forward to seeing Apple remove Wi-Fi restrictions next year.
As fun as it is, though, it’s not a feature that we were burning for, and we wonder if it will last past the novelty stage. This is not a reflection on the quality of Apple technology–so back off, fanboys–but rather on if users will really use it over the long term. After all, video chat technology has been around since 2004 when AT&T Wireless (remember that?) first debuted a very limited service on the brick-size Motorola A845 . The phone didn’t last long, but video chat is common around the world and in the United States. AT&T runs its Video Share for example, on a limited number of phones, and the HTC Evo 4G Sprint offers a Qik video chat application. Each has several drawbacks, but there are.
However, Apple has a talent for repackaging existing features and attracting a great deal of consumer interest. With the exception of other VoIP services, such as the Skype application, operators have not been able to make video call services popular and useful. FaceTime will be face competition from other devices, but Apple may well make it work.
Gyroscope:The iPhone 3G gave us a compass, but the iPhone 4 raises the bar by offering a three-axis gyroscope. Just like on an airplane, you’ll get pitching, tipping and yawning, and it’s coupled with an accelerometer to provide six-axis motion sensing. Although, of course, it will be useful for the program and game developers, it was a lot of fun when we used it to play a few games.
Linking and hotspot: The iPhone has always been capable of tethering, but AT&T has lagged behind other carriers in offering an option for it. In its new pricing plans , however, AT&T now offers the ability to use your iPhone as a modem for your PC. You’ll need to pay an extra $20 to get it, but at least it’s there.
With the iOS 4.3 update , the AT&T iPhone also got the wireless hot-spot feature that debuted on the Verizon iPhone in February 2011. AT&T’s hot spot also supports up to five devices, but only three can connect via Wi-Fi at one time (you’ll have to use Bluetooth or a USB cable for the other two). Though the hot spot was easy to use during our tests, it didn’t offer great browsing speeds. Check out this blog for the full story.
iOS 4.1 and 4.2:Apple has released iOS 4.1, the first major software update since the launch of the iPhone 4, on September 8. It has added several new features, including high-dynamic-range photos, support for iTunes TV show rentals, FaceTime, calling directly from the phone book favorites menu, and the ability to download HD videos to YouTube and MobileMe via Wi-Fi on the iPhone 4. Finally , he also turned on Game Center. See ours iOS 4.1 practical analysis for more detailed analysis with screenshots.
The next major update, iOS 4.2, was released on November 22, 2010. It also didn’t add anything better, but we still welcome the additions. You can now search for text on the Safari page, add personalized message tones, set up new parental controls, activate FaceTime using voice control or messaging, print live photos, integrate with Apple AirPlay feature and select new fonts for Notes. Read more about iOS 4.2 in ours hands-on look with Gold Master.
iMovie and iBooks:iMovie offers movie editing capabilities on the iPhone. You’ll pay $ 4.99 for the app, but it’s a nice touch. Download.com’s Jason Parker has placed iMovie through its paces in a separate review. Apple’s e-book reader joins Amazon Kindle as a bookworm option. You’ll be able to access Apple’s iBookstore to buy new content, and if you have an iPhone and iPad, you’ll be able to read the book on both devices (just one purchase) and sync your current page.
Processor:Under the hood is the same 1 GHz ARM Cortex A8 the chip found on the iPad. In addition, although Apple did not provide RAM, we know it it is 512MB . In the early tests, the phone was a bit faster than the 3GS and, of course, the iPhone 3G. Menus, applications, and other features open instantly. And as we mentioned earlier, switching the program to the multitasking menu and the camera shutter did not leave us waiting.
Much has been said about problems with AT&T and the iPhone, and even on the iPhone 4 call quality remains the biggest sticking point. Indeed, when we tested the quad-band (GSM 850, 900/1,800/1,900) world phone in San Francisco and Boston, we encountered mixed results, with improvements in some areas, trouble in some areas, and no change in others. On the upside, audio clarity was sharper, our friends’ voices sounded natural, and the volume was a tad louder than on previous iPhones. Also, the noise-cancellation mic does a good job of screening out background audio. Even when in a loud place we could continue with our conversations without any problem. What’s more, we heard no “side noise” (the sound of our own voice coming back through the phone), static, or interference.
Sample call quality of iPhone 4Listen now:
We also noticed a decrease in dead zones that we’ve typically encountered in San Francisco. In a couple of notoriously troublesome spots, we were able to receive calls when we had no luck with the 3G or the 3GS. Dropped calls were fewer, as well, though we had more failed connections than we’d like. We had decent results when we tested the phone on Cape Cod and rural areas of Massachusetts. In fact, AT&T was more reliable in those places than T-Mobile. Perhaps the antenna made a difference.
But again, it may not have happened. Shortly after we published this review, we heard from many CNET users who complained that when they hold the phone in their hands – a common occurrence, no doubt – the number of bars has decreased in a matter of seconds (see our related video for more information). Most of the reports came from people covering the recess on the left side of the phone with their palms in their left hands. Initially, we had mixed results about the duplication of the strip, and our experience was significantly different from the location, the initial signal strength, the phone we used and the person using it. At times we didn’t see a difference, but other times we noticed a signal drop from a full five bars to two or three. When we reached out, the counter bounced back to normal. Although the number of bars not the most accurate admission test , that is what most users rely on. Unfortunately, Apple has removed the more reliable ones iPhone Field Test a feature from iOS 4. However, in iOS 4.1, Apple has added the feature once again with the mind.
In other areas, our experience has been more troubling. During the call tests, we found that when touched the antenna burst , the sound quality has deteriorated significantly. We tested three different iPhone 4s in different locations in San Francisco and were faced with the problem of using different arm positions, including one finger in the gap, gently hugging the handset and holding it more tightly with the left hand on both sides. In all cases, we made sure that we did not close the microphone with our hands. At times, our voice erupted completely, while in other cases the sound became frantic. However, we did not receive any declined calls. We also carried out tests on the speed of data transmission using Speedtest from Xtreme Lab, which showed slower downloads and downloads. Other reviewers and the media reported similar results.
Unfortunately, Apple’s initial answer to this question was not satisfactory. June 24, 2010, the first day of Apple iPhone 4 sales sent the following statement for PC magazine: “Capturing any phone will weaken its antenna performance when certain locations are worse than others, depending on antenna placement. It’s a fact of life for every cordless phone. If you ever feel it on your Phone 4 , avoid pinching it in the lower left corner so that it covers both sides of the black strip in the metal strip, or just use one of the many available cases. “
Of course, keeping your fingers away from the cell phone antenna is appropriate for the best reception, and Apple is hardly the first manufacturer to offer such advice. We usually see these warnings on headsets that have a bottom-mounted antenna, but users usually do not hold the device when the palm or fingers touch the area. The iPhone 4, however, is the first phone to place the antenna at its natural gripping point. The iPhone 4 also differs from other phones in that its antenna is electrically exposed. Instead of touching the rubber cover, you touch the antenna directly. And when you clear the gap, your finger interferes with the antenna’s performance.
Honestly, we do not buy the theory of “capture of death” and we don’t like how it unfairly accuses the user. There is a difference between holding your phone and squeezing it until you are about to crush it. And more importantly, when we touch the antenna area on other phones, like Motorola i1 , HTC Nexus One and Palm Pre , call quality decreased by only a minimal amount, if at all. But keep in mind that these devices do not have antennas that are fully open.
Finally, on July 16, 2010, Apple went unprecedented press conference where CEO Steve Jobs described the problems as “out of proportion” and argued that the iPhone 4’s worsening issues were worse than any other smartphone (we said earlier that we disagreed). Although Jobs claimed that only a small number of users are facing the problem, Apple is offering all iPhone 4 customers a free case by September 30, 2010. In our testing, the bumper case supplied by Apple, resolves any call quality issues , preventing users from tapping the gap in the iPhone antenna on the left. You can get a refund if you have already purchased a bumper, but if you are still not satisfied, you can return the phone for a full refund within 30 days.
Of course, we appreciate the free business. We have never spoken in favor of the iPhone 4 recall, but we believe that the detected antenna causes unique problems. In other words, don’t be surprised if next year’s iPhone 5 is a little tweaked. Indeed, most customers should welcome this step, given that the bumper solves the damping problem, and they no longer have to open the yellow $ 29 to get it. But that doesn’t mean that Apple is completely shut down. We should not use rubber and plastic bumpers just for good reception. And we don’t have to change the aesthetics of the phone to make a reliable call.
In the end, the subscribers said we sounded pretty good. During calls where we used the bumper, they could hear us seamlessly, and they mentioned that the background noise was less than when we were using 3GS. The first iPhone had a sensitive sweet spot, but we didn’t notice it. Several people heard some interference, but said it was manageable. Automated call systems could understand us most of the time, even if we were on a busy street. On the other hand, the iPhone 4 still has problems transferring between EDGE and 3G. The phone is still trying to wait for a weak 3G signal when it has to switch to EDGE. As we said with the iPhone 3GS, the reception jumped when we turned off the phone’s 3G radio in the Settings menu.
The loudspeaker calls were mostly satisfactory. We could hear our friends clearly, although the volume was distorted at the highest levels. You do not need to be near the phone to hear, but we had to be near the phone for our friends to hear. This is unusual though. The performance of the Bluetooth headset was mixed. The calls from the Bluetooth headset were great, but we had a mixed release with the Bluetooth stereo headsets. See Nicole Lee analysis for more information.
|Performance tests from CNET Labs|
|Test||iPhone 4||HTC Evo 4G|
|Phone boot time test||29.4 seconds||47.1 seconds|
|Talk time battery life 3G||7.76 hours||5.5 hours|
|Audio playback time||59 hours||18.2 hours|
|Video playback time||6.9 hours||5.9 hours|
|Browser load speed on Wi-Fi (Giantbomb.com)||15 seconds||20 seconds|
|Camera app load time||2 seconds||2 seconds|
|Camera reshoot time||1 second||3 seconds|
The quality of the data connection varied. Given AT&T’s throttled network in San Francisco, grahpics-heavy sites like Airliners.net and Wow.com loaded in about 50 seconds, which is longer than on on the other three major carriers. T-Mobile took about 40 seconds to load the same sites, whereas Sprint and Verizon Wireless performed slightly better. What’s more, AT&T’s 3G doesn’t reach as far into buildings or underground in transit stations.
As you might expect, simpler sites or pages created for mobile phones load much faster, often in 15 seconds or less. EDGE viewing is a bit painful, so we recommend that you rarely use it. In any case, use Wi-Fi whenever you can.
Signal strength meter
July 15, 2010 Apple issued a promised software update which resolved the problem of incorrect signal bands on the display. According to the company, the iPhone 4 incorrectly showed more bands in areas with weaker signal. See ours full analysis of iOS 4.0.1 for detailed information. Keep in mind that 4.0.1 update not related to receiving the antenna.
A larger iPhone 4 battery should mean more juice to get you through the day. Apple officially promises 14 hours of EDGE talk time, 7 hours of 3G talk time, 40 hours of audio playback, 10 hours of video playback, 6 hours of 3G viewing, 10 hours of Wi-Fi viewing and 300 hours of standby time. In the early tests, the battery lasted a respectable period. We used it actively for about 5 hours and we were still going relatively strong after a full charge. In the following days, we were constantly satisfied. If the previous iPhones died after a full day, the iPhone 4 lasted until the next.
In tests with CNET Labs, we recorded 14.55 hours of EDGE talk time and 7.76 hours of 3G talk time, thus beating Apple’s promises. For 3G audio playback, our longest test was 59.02 hours, which also beat Apple’s nominal time. However, the iPhone 4 did not live up to Apple’s promise to play the video. In our tests, we only took 6.9 hours with 3G video included.
According to FCC radiation tests, the iPhone 4 has a digital SAR of 1.17 watts per kilogram.