Review: iPhone 4

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Review: iPhone 4
Highlights
  • It will be interesting to see how the iPhone 4 performs considering the iPhone 5 will not be out before September and the market is being flooded with dual-core Android devices.
Introduction

The iPhone 4 is, quite simply, the most sought after smartphone in the market even though it's a year old. It will be interesting to see how the iPhone 4 performs considering the iPhone 5 will not be out before September and the market is being flooded with dual-core Android devices.
 
Packaging and Content

Packaging wise the iPhone 4 is typically Apple.  It comes in a well-designed box, which houses the phone itself, the USB cable and a charging adaptor. Also included - a set of standard headphones and a set of manuals.

Hardware and Styling

Let's be clear here - the iPhone 4 is by far the plushest hardware we've come across. The glass coated back not only looks solid, it looks beautiful. It is also home to a 5 megapixel camera with LED Flash. The phone itself is like an expensive piece of jewellery. The gorgeous 'Retina Display' and the home button dominate the front.  The sides are tapered with a steel band, which also doubles as the dreaded antenna, which caused the infamous iPhone death grip issue which was causing call drop outs in the US.

On the right side is the micro-sim port while on the left Apple has provided the redesigned volume buttons (previously a volume rocker) and the mute button. The top of the device is home to the 3.5mm port and the power button while the bottom houses the 30 -pin connector slot.

From an aesthetic point of view, the design is absolutely stunning. The geometric lines of the iPhone make it slightly uncomfortable to hold but that's a minor issue.

When the iPhone 4 was launched in June 2010 it was the slimmest smartphone in the world at just 9.3mm thin. In the past year, it has lost the thinnest badge to phones like the Samsung Galaxy S 2 and the Sony Xperia Arc that are in the sub 9mm territory.

Interface

The iPhone is home to the simplest smartphone OS in the industry, the iOS. So simple to use is the iOS that this reviewer's eighty-year-old grandfather dumped his laptop for the iPad, which also uses the iOS.

The home screen of the iOS provides a wall full of all the applications installed on the device. There is also a Mac OSX like dock which allows four apps to be opened simultaneously and which can be customized by each user. Just swipe towards the right to reveal the other apps. Unlike other operating systems there is no menu button to reveal all the apps, the apps are just there.

This user interface works since it has no learning curve, making the iPhone a plug and play device for novices.

Sadly, it's not all rosy, as there are no widgets in iOS. This is a disadvantage as one has to no way of viewing information without entering an app - cue the Weather and Stock apps. On Android, widgets act as shortcuts and provide considerable information. Similarly, the tile interface on Windows Phone provides similar access to information.

iOS, in its current form, has a fairly bad notifications system which is very intrusive in nature. For example, with news app open in the background while playing Angry Birds, the app will flash the notification right in the middle of the screen pausing the gameplay. This happens even if the user does not want to view the notification. Fortunately, iOS 5 - which was shown off at Apple's World Wide Developers Conference in June - will have a revamped Android like notifications system along with other goodies.

The onboard keyboard is the best virtual keyboard on the market. Keys are well spaced and OS provides brilliant auto correction abilities.

Multimedia

The iPhone is the home to the world's best MP3 player, the iPod. There is simply no arguing with this statement. It is definitely a multimedia leviathan. Apart from the usual artist, album and song differentiation, there is a beautiful cover flow view of all the albums, which is enhanced by the superlative 'Retina Display'.

Like all iOS devices, this contains a movie player too. But, the biggest disadvantage of this app is its lack of support for popular video formats. One has to go through a lengthy conversion process for videos. However, once that is out of the way, prepare to be wowed as videos look stunning on the high resolution Retina Display.
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The 3.4-inch display boasts of a 960x640 resolution, which is currently the highest among all smartphones. It even has an astounding pixel count of 326 PPI through which it gets its Retina moniker.

Apple has upgraded the camera of the iPhone with a 5-megapixel OmniVision sensor. The images are very vibrant and the color reproduction is very impressive. Another noteworthy feature of the camera is the fast shutter speed, which captures motion surprisingly well. It's safe to say it's one of the best smartphone cameras one will come across. Even in comparison to the newer 8 megapixel sensors in the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc and the LG Optimus 2x.

As far as 720p video recordings go, the iPhone is right on par with the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc and the Nokia N8.

Another feature, which makes the iPhone a multimedia monster, is its 16GB and 32GB memory capacities. 16 GB should be enough for most but media gobblers would appreciate the 32GB capacity. Unfortunately, we don't get a memory card slot for expansion.

PC Sync and Market

As of now, all iOS devices including the iPhone have to be synced with iTunes. Google account users can easily sync all their contact information with iTunes, which is a boon.

One of the drawbacks of the iPhone is its dependency on the PC as it needs a PC sync to start things off. One cannot transfer data without touching iTunes. As a matter of fact, one cannot even start the device without syncing it. Fortunately, Apple is working on removing this dependency with its upcoming iCloud service and iOS 5 which will also feature file transfers over Wi-Fi.

As far as social networks are concerned, the iPhone is not very well synced with the Facebook and Twitter applications but all this is going to change in iOS 5 as Apple is introducing built-in Twitter integration.

The Apple App store is the most comprehensive software haven for mobile devices providing exclusive applications for the iOS. As of writing this review, the Apple App Store has more than 425,000 apps dedicated to the iPhone.

Performance

At launch, the iPhone 4 knocked the wind out of the competition with its blistering performance. This was possible because of the A4 processor, which is clocked at 1GHz and a meaty 512MB of RAM. We are told that Apple has under-clocked the A4 processor to 800 MHz, but it still scorches. Even today, in comparison to dual-core NVidia Tegra powered smartphones, the iPhone 4 feels like a screamer.

This is inherently because Apple develops its own software and hardware. The software is always in tune with the hardware, which helps Apple derive more performance from lesser hardware. The same cannot be said about the modern Android Smartphones, as all Android phones don't have a standardized hardware spec.

Our web browser test epitomizes this problem. The iPhone 4 scored 38648 in the browsermark test while the dual-core Tegra 2 powered LG Optimus 2x only marginally eclipsed this score with 42769 points. In comparison the iPad 1 scored a massive 47523 in the browsermark test.

The call quality of the Airtel iPhone can be best described as average. We haven't really faced the now legendary 'death grip' issues but its still not the best calling experience. This could be a combination of factors involving the network and the Phone.

The iPhone surprised us with an impressive battery life which lasted a day, which include constant 3G or Wi-Fi, Web browsing and phone calls while playing multiple games. It was very impressive and easily bested the Android competition.

Apple has worked a lot on its battery technology and it looks like its paying good dividends.

Verdict

In-spite of being a year late, the iPhone provides a sublime smartphone experience. On paper, one would think that the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S 2 and LG Optimus 2x would walk all over it due to their superior hardware but that was clearly not true. The iPhone matched them punch for punch and in most cases came out trumps.

Aside from these issues, the iPhone is home to largest mobile apps store and also the best Mp3 player in the world. And, lest we forget, it also has the best smartphone screen out there and a more than capable 5-megapixel snapper. Looks wise, it holds all the aces at the same time providing a rock solid feel.

Inspite of all the brilliance of the iPhone it still is not the best calling device and does not offer users access to the full web with the omission of Adobe Flash. The notification system leaves vast room for improvement and there are no widgets. But all this is secondary to its steep price tag starting at Rs 34,500 for the 16Gb version and a ridiculous Rs 40,500 for the 32 GB.


Pros

Retina Display
Fast performance
Apps Selection
Camera
iPod

Cons

Steep Price Tag
Dated Hardware
Poor Synchronization
Notification system
Minimal customization options
No Flash
Poor video codec support

Ratings
·         Performance:  4.5
·         Price: 2
·         Ease of Setup: 4
·         Ergonomics: 4.5
·         Wow Factor: 5

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product It will be interesting to see how the iPhone 4 performs considering the iPhone 5 will not be out before September and the market is being flooded with dual-core Android devices.
 
 

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