iPhone 4 First Impressions
The launch of a new iPhone has become somewhat of ritual in the past four summers: unprecedented amounts of speculation, hype and hysteria that launch consumers right into the times of warm weather, summer blockbusters and backyard barbecues. And never has the frenzy seemed so large as with the debut of the all new iPhone 4.
We were lucky to have ours shipped early and here are some first impressions of our experiences with the shiny gadget.
Design and Form Factor
Much has been said about the new physical design of the iPhone, with Apple opting for a more rectangular, boxy construction lined with the phone’s antenna and three seams on the sides. Previous versions subscribed to a curvier contour, with a seamless, silver bezel. The new phone is just as long, but much more slim and compact. The iPhone 4 might at first feel unnatural for long time users familiar with the curvy plastic back, but we found the new size to be perfect and easy to grip. The front and back are now a super strong glass and both give the phone a sleek, strong appearance. Overall, the phone looks impressive and feels more dense, a quality that makes it appear to be of a more solid build.
The Screen, aka the “Retina Display”
Once you get past the new body, the next thing you’ll notice is the screen. The “Retina Display” as Apple has coined it, is truly out of this world. Once you see it in person you’ll wonder how you ever functioned with anything less than the 960 by 640 pixels that it offers. There is no visible discernment of pixels and the screen is so crisp that it almost looks like it’s a static, printed background. But seriously, the screen is that good and, aside from the front-facing camera that we’ll get to in a minute, it’s the feature that makes the iPhone 4 the most upgrade-worthy.
Users that are upgrading from the 3G or the original iPhone are going to think that the iPhone 4 moves in light speed. For 3GS upgraders, the 4 is still even zippier than that device. Apple equipped the iPhone 4 with their A4 processor, which is the same chip they used in the iPad. What that means is that the phone is incredibly fast and responsive. Applications open almost instantly. The camera loads fast and snaps photos very quickly. It’s also been confirmed that it has 512 MB of RAM, allowing you to have many multitasking apps on standby (though most developers have yet to adjust their apps to take advantage of iOS4’s multitasking features). As for call reception, the iPhone 4 hasn’t ostensibly had better or worse 3G AT&T service than its predecessors, though we’ll need to spend more time on the phone. We haven’t had any dropped calls yet.
Probably one of the most griped about omissions from the 3GS was a front facing camera. The iPhone 4 features significant upgrades in the photo-taking department. It is equipped with two cameras, a 5 megapixel one on the back of the body and a new, front-facing camera on the flip side. And Apple also threw in a flash for the back camera. The picture quality is an obvious step up from before and the pictures are noticeably more crisp and vibrant. It is also equipped with a 5x digital zoom (a nice feature to have, but one that doesn’t allow for the best quality of images). The lens also records video in 720p now, which looks great on the device as well as when exported to your computer. Users will be able to chop up these videos in the all new iMovie app that is now available in the app store.
The camera app has been slightly tweaked to accommodate all this new functionality, giving an overlay to toggle the flash from “On” to “Off” to “Auto” mode. Another overlay allows the user to quickly switch between the front and back cameras. Most of the rest of the controls remain the same with the button to toggle between still and video recording. And like we mentioned before, the app is super-responsive, so you will be less likely to miss the picture with the iPhone 4.
The new design for the phone allowed Apple to cram a larger battery in. Short battery life is a problem that has plague the first three iterations of the the iPhone and the devices simply fail to last through a day of normal use, let alone a day with many phone calls, internet browsing, photo snaps and GPS browsing. Apple is advertising the battery of the iPhone 4 as having 40% more usage time then before and, at first glance, the device does appear to last much longer. We haven’t had the phone long enough to fully test out the battery’s life, but what we’ve seen so far is promising: it is holding up to above normal use.
Overall, the iPhone 4 (and iOS4 for that matter) have a lot to offer (much more than we’ve covered here), and we’re seriously impressed. The iPhone 4 is a truly amazing device and well worth the price of admission if you’re thinking about taking the plunge or upgrading. We’ll be spending more time on the device and checking out feats like FaceTime, so stay tuned for updates.
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