“The iPhone 4 looks great, performs well and has plenty of entertaining features. Only the iPhone 4’s notorious reception issues stopped it gaining five-star approval”
The iPhone 4's square sides look great
My palms started sweating as I unboxed Apple’s latest release – the iPhone 4.
My head went dizzy from the anticipation of experiencing the smartphone’s latest and greatest features, notably the sharper touchscreen display, improved camera and video-calling application (app).
More pixels have been squeezed into the iPhone 4’s screen and the benefits – clearer, crisper and more vibrant images and videos – were immediately visible.
Taking of images, the iPhone 4 has the best quality camera (5Mp) of previous Apple iPhone models. My pictures were much clearer than any I took on the 3GS and the new integrated flash let me take pictures in dark conditions.
Apple has also added a zoom to the iPhone 4, meaning I could photograph friends sitting several feet away. Unfortunately, the zoom’s quality is poor and the more I zoomed-in the more pixelated or blurred everything became.
Having the iPhone 4 automatically “tag” an image’s physical location (a feature called geo-tagging) and then plot it on Google Maps proved useful, reminding me which places in the world I’d visited and photographed.
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A 5Mp features on the iPhone 4
I was disappointed by FaceTime (the iPhone 4’s video-calling app). The feature let me hold video conversations with friends as described, but the quality was very poor.
FaceTime only works when the iPhone 4 is connected to a wi-fi network, so I expected sharp videos and good quality sound. Instead I saw pixelated videos of callers and heard broken or distorted sound.
Since FaceTime also only works with other iPhone 4 users, I don’t think it’s a killer feature or the true arrival of widespread mobile-to-mobile voice-calling.
Critics have long slammed the iPhone’s inability to simultaneously run multiple apps - a process called multi-tasking) – particularly as many rival smartphones already do. The iPhone 4 finally adds multi-tasking, but the feature isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Checking my email while listening to music and keeping a videogame running as I dived into Facebook was admittedly useful.
But I seemed to spend more time physically shutting down apps (they automatically stay open on the iPhone 4) to preserve the phone’s battery life. This quickly became tiresome.
On the plus side, Apple has boosted the iPhone 4's battery life by roughly two hours and I definitely noticed the difference. For example, the smartphone still had at least 30% power left at the end of the day.
Pre-launch rumours suggested that the iPhone 4 would load webpages, stream video and download apps faster than the 3GS. But this isn’t the case because both models still use the 3G connection standard.
Web browsing on the new iPhone is still the same it was on the 3GS: fast, fluid, easy and enjoyable.
Apple has only released two noteworthy apps for the iPhone 4, in my opinion. But more will probably arrive soon.
In the meantime, iBooks – a free app for literary downloads, also available on the Apple iPad – let me enjoy chart-topping reads and literary classics directly from the smartphone’s screen.
Find My iPhone is another free and useful app because - god forbid you misplace it – it lets you plot the smartphone’s physical location on a PC.
Other iPhone 4 features that impressed include:
Much has been said about the iPhone 4’s poor telephone signal reception (aka reception issue iPhone) which Apple has admitted too, offering an explanation.
Owners the world over claiming that gripping the phone too tightly or holding it in the wrong way causes it to “drop” calls or lose reception. Sadly I experienced the same problem.
However, at the time I published this review, a fix from Apple wasn’t yet available.