If you’ve peeped the main section of our iPhone 4 review already, you’ll know we’re in love with the blower. It’s beautiful, powerful, and hands down the best smartphone on sale right now. But if you’ve had a look at the prices online, you’ll know that it doesn’t come cheap. With iOS 4 available on other devices right now, is it even worth it at all? Read on and find out.
Read the rest of our iPhone 4 review
iPhone 4 review
iPhone 4 review: New design
iPhone 4 review: Retina Display
iPhone 4 review: HD video and iMovie
iPhone 4 review: Electricpig staff opinions
iPhone 4 review: Sample photos
iPhone 4 review: Live Q&A
We’ll cut straight to the chase. While the iPhone 3GS was an incremental upgrade on the iPhone 3G that offered little beyond a slight speed improvement and a video camera, the iPhone 4 is a quantum leap forward by comparison with the 3GS. While we wouldn’t necessarily recommend breaking out of a contract early to get it, you’d do well indeed not to hang around once your 18 or 24 month lock in is over.
Apple’s never been known for its bleeding edge, rather than beautiful, mobile hardware (The first iPhone was 2G only, and even the 3GS had a lowly 3MP camera), but the iPhone 4 changes that.
We can honestly say that the screen on the iPhone 4 is epochal: it’s so sharp that you won’t want to go back to using anything where you can see the pixels. And you can certainly see them on the iPhone 3GS’ display, which is essentially 2007 technology.
The camera on the iPhone 4 too, is a vast improvement, and takes some of the best shots we’ve seen on a mobile – the same is true of the 720p HD video footage it grabs.
If you’re on an iPhone 3G, upgrading to an iPhone 4 is a no brainer. You’ve coped with it for two years, so you’ll rest easy for 24 months with an iPhone 4 in your pocket. The iOs 4 update for the 3G adds little (No multitasking) and we’ve found that being able to shoot video when you need is genuinely a useful convenience to have on your phone, whether it’s VGA (iPhone 3GS) or HD (iPhone 4). On a £35 per month contract over two years, the £119 upfront cost for the 16GB iPhone 4 seems fairly reasonable, though £229 over 18 months is only just on the cusp of acceptability.
If you’ve got an iPhone 3GS meanwhile, things get a bit trickier. While the iPhone 4 is technologically a great leap forward, the chances are, you’re still tied into a contract for another six months to a year. Unless you’ve got an opt out option from your network (O2 is offering one until 24 July) and a few months left to run, we’d suggest soldiering on. The cost of breaking out of a contract a year early, and then the iPhone 4 handset price combined is just too much unless you’re paying for one of the premium tariffs (£60 per month). Better to soldier on with a 3MP camera, multitasking and that lower-res screen for a little while longer.
One thing’s for sure, Apple has created a whole new way (or need) of buying mobiles with the iPhone family. While Apple will never willingly say anything, it’s clearly in an annual refresh routine for the near future, and it certainly clashes with the traditional 18 or 24 month deals networks traditionally provide.
If you know you’re just going to have this dilemma all over again next June, our solution would be to buy the iPhone 4 unlocked, get a respectable SIM deal (use a pair of scissors if you have to) and keep it in good nick. When next year rolls around, you can sell it on to get some of your money back, and spend it on upgrading once again.
Oh, by the way, if you’re still toting the original 2007 iPhone? Upgrade. Now.