Posted Jul 28, 2010 in Tech | 0 Comments

iPhone 4 dissected

Can anyone ever build the perfect phone? None have so far, not even Apple. Just like any other phone we’ve seen, the iPhone 4 has the good, the bad and the ugly.

Apple’s newest is always marketed as the best and the greatest, none can dispute this. Sometimes it seems they put the same effort into making products as they do in letting people know they did. But with the Apple iPhone 4, they were obviously hard at work. The 4th generation iPhone has an all new look, new feel and plenty of new features. There’s much more there: A 1GHz chip, two cameras, HD video and of course the Retina display, the highest res screen we’ve seen so far on a GSM phone.

Key features:

  • Quad-band GSM and quad-band 3G support with 7.2 Mbps HSDPA and 5.76 Mbps HSUPA
  • 3.5″ 16M-color LED-backlit TFT capacitive touchscreen of 640 x 960 pixel resolution
  • Scratch-resistant glass front and rear, with fingerprint-resistant coating
  • 1GHz Apple A4 SoC; 512MB of RAM
  • 5 MP autofocus camera with LED flash and touch focus
  • 720p video recording at 30fps
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
  • GPS with A-GPS connectivity; digital compass
  • 16/32GB storage options
  • Accelerometer, proximity sensor and three-axis gyro sensor
  • Active noise cancellation with a dedicated secondary microphone
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack, stereo Bluetooth v2.1
  • Excellent audio output quality
  • Slim waistline at only 9.3mm
  • Secondary front-facing camera
  • Some degree of multitasking
  • Rich AppStore

Main disadvantages:

  • Hardware design is prone to reception issues
  • MicroSIM card support only
  • No Flash support in the web browser
  • No true multitasking for all applications
  • FaceTime video calls work only over Wi-Fi
  • No file transfer over Bluetooth or USB Mass Storage mode
  • No hardware shutter key for the camera
  • No FM radio
  • No stereo speakers
  • No microSD card slot
  • No smart dialing
  • Too dependent on iTunes for loading multimedia content
  • Poor loudspeaker performance

As you can see, most of the main disadvantages are simply passed from one generation to the next, but the 4th generation iPhone will tick most of your boxes. Upgraders will be used to the shortcomings, and unbiased observers will have fewer points to complain about. It just seems some features will be forever missing. The iPhone’s memory isn’t expandable and you can’t use the thing as an external drive. Bluetooth has been upgraded to cover not only for music and calls but a compatible wireless keyboard too. File transfers however are still missing. The lack of Flash support in the Safari browser is no surprise given the Apple-Adobe feud. Luckily there’s the good old YouTube app to partly make up for that but Flash games are still out of the question.

There is now a secondary video-call cam but the “reinvented” FaceTime video calls feature only works over Wi-Fi and between two iPhone 4s. As for the multitasking, this is the closest the iPhone has ever gotten but there is no true multitasking, and certainly not for all apps. You’ve probably also heard of the user reports of reception issues and you’re wondering how much of that is true. Well, we’ve checked that in detail, and it’s as ugly as advertised.

All that aside, the new goodies seem to merit at least some of the iPhone 4 hype. The Retina display is gorgeous. The 3.5” capacitive TFT touchscreen has four times the resolution of the older iPhones. At 640 x 960 pixels, it’s the best we’ve seen. There’s a generational leap in imaging too. The first two iPhones had a single 2MP fixed focus camera on board. Last year’s 3GS tried to make some sense with a 3-megapixel autofocus snapper. With the iPhone 4, Apple is finally beginning to look good. The primary 5-megapixel autofocus camera not only takes impressive images but shoots 720p videos too. Oh, and it has an LED flash, finally.

We would be lying if we told you we don’t like the iPhone 4. Quite the opposite, we found it really impressive. It is not the perfect smartphone but you’ll be inclined to believe it’s the perfect product. The iPhone 4 will probably outsell the older generations and there are good reasons for that. It’s just gotten sexier, flaunts a killer screen, incomparably better imaging and a blazingly fast CPU. Apple offers great support for their products and usually takes good care that everything runs smoothly on every iPhone. It’s also got one of the richest application markets out there. The AppStore turns Apple handhelds into unsurpassed entertainment units with the heaps of available apps fighting for your dollar that are changing how we use mobile phones in our daily lives.

We do understand the millions of people out there who are less than impressed with the iPhone concept. Apple-imposed software limitations are stupid, even unfair at times, and their phones lack the flexibility you may be used to on other devices. The iPhone 4 is ridiculously expensive too, $659 for the 16GB iPhone and $779 for the 32GB version. No matter how you look at it, it’s the most expensive GSM smartphone on the market right now. Hopefully, Rogers and Fido will support it soon.

So, to wrap it all up, we admit we enjoyed the company of Apple’s latest toy and we would like to keep it around. We wouldn’t mind a Samsung Galaxy S either to watch some movies on, or a Nokia N8 to take some cool pictures and videos. And we wouldn’t say no to a Moto DROID X that gets along with European networks.

No, there isn’t a perfect smartphone out there. There’s always something for anyone to love or hate. What makes the iPhone so special is that it takes the love and the hate with the loftiness of royalty. Enjoy!!

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