The iPhone 4 is here. After more leaks than a St David’s day in Cardiff, the dust has settled and the iPhone 4 faces closer scrutiny than any mobile before it. Is Apple’s Retina Display really sharper than a whittled lemon? Does FaceTime revolutionise mobile communication? And can that all-glass design stand up to usage tests as well as it does oggling? Read our full iPhone 4 review to find out.
Read the rest of our iPhone 4 review
iPhone 4 review: New design
iPhone 4 review: Retina Display
iPhone 4 review: HD video and iMovie
iPhone 4 review: Worth the upgrade?
iPhone 4 review: Electricpig staff opinions
iPhone 4 review: Sample photos
iPhone 4 review: Live Q&A
We’ve looked forward to the iPhone 4 more than any other gadget this year, and for good reason: Where the iPhone goes, rival manufacturers soon follow.
The original iPhone ushered in unibody metal cases soon echoed by the likes of HTC. Without Apple, multitouch may never have made it to mobile handsets beyond LG’s original, and pre-iPhone, Prada handset. When it comes to apps, Steve Jobs’ baby continues to lead the charge, and make tsunami-sized waves across the tech industry.
With the iPhone 4, however, Apple has made some serious leaps forward. Gone are the days of iPhone 3GS speed increases and minor capacity boosts. This is an all-new iPhone 4, with a re-jigged OS to boot.
Almost everything inside the iPhone 4 has been upgraded. From the newly high-res 5 megapixel camera, to the accelerometers, augmented with a new six-axis gyroscope. And despite that, the iPhone 4 is slimmer than its predecessors. Sure, it’s boxy and feels a little heavier than the 3GS, but it’s all an illusion. Gone are the gentle curves, and in their place is a newly crisp aluminium and glass monolith. Unlike any other, this iPhone means business.
Previous iPhones have been criticised for packing a weedy camera, no flash, or lacking video calling. The iPhone 4 knocks those doubts out of the park in a flash. Its new FaceTime video-calling, while Wi-Fi only at present, is ludicrously good fun and entirely setup-free. Simply phone a friend and assuming you’re both hooked up with Wi-Fi, one tap is all you need to see their mush full-screen. You can even flip the image and show them what you’re seeing, or drag your own face around the screen to stop it obscuring the view.
The camera too is capable of HD video – for more on it, read our full iPhone 4 review: HD video and iMovie to find out more.
Several readers had doubts about the iPhone 4’s antenna and battery life, and while we’ve covered the former in our iPhone 4 review: New design, the latter seems on par with an iPhone 3GS in mixed daily use, and significantly better when in standby. We barely used our iPhone 4 last Saturday, and were pleased to find it still brimming with battery by Monday.
Call quality too has been improved. The iPhone 4 seems louder, less wishy washy and clearer than Apple’s earlier efforts. You could pin that improvement on its inclusion of a secondary mic for noise cancellation, but it still struggled a little as we made a call from a hectic train station.
Underneath it all is the brand spanking new iOS 4, which looks sharper and quicker than ever, thanks to the iPhone 4’s Retina Display. We’ve reviewed the iPhone 4 screen separately. It’s that good. But the iOS software is what really makes it shine.
Neat tweaks, such as folders and ultra-simple multi-tasking make the most of the iPhone’s resolution and speed. Yes, it’s another iPhone, more of the same, with improvements and upgrades dotted around. But Apple has succeeded in making a phone we’re so familiar with feel fresh and new.
There are niggling annoyances, such as the still-sluggish iTunes syncing, and the iPhone’s inability to pick up where it left off syncing if you’re interrupted by a phone call. FaceTime too is in its infancy, and easily confused if both participants instigate a video call at once. Likewise, HD video recording, while jaw-dropping, gobbles memory quicker than a fat kid at a cake sale, but they’re all minor points: there really are very few major sticking points when assessing the iPhone 4.
Quite simply, the iPhone 4 is the best performing, best equipped, most well-rounded mobile phone ever made. Apple has silenced its critics, out-performed itself, and above all created an iPhone that will keep its competitors following its lead for another 12 months at least.
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