To the test – iPhone4
by Keris Lahiff
iPhone4. On paper, it doesn’t seem worth shelling out hundreds for it. When you’re holding the smooth, cold glass in your hot, little hands, though, it’s hard not to be enamoured.
One word to describe the iPhone4? More. More apps, more features, more speed, more functionality. Simply put, you can do so much more than ever before (and that says a lot, given the capabilities of previous models). Apple has reinvented itself, yet again, to be light-years ahead of the competition.
New decade, new iPhone. Apple has overhauled its design. While it’s slightly heavier (weighing in at 137g), it is much thinner at approximately half the thickness of its predecessors.
The new design – aluminum piping around the perimeter sandwiched between two black glass panels – seems more delicate, premium and, most importantly, exclusive. The industrial steely design of its casing is a far cry from the chunky plastic of previous models.
And the materials aren’t just for show. The glass panels, the bulk of the phone, are hewn from the same material used in helicopter windshields, about thirty times more durable and scratch-resistant than plastic. Even the feel of the casing seems different, softer and cooler to the touch (though it seems to be more susceptible to fingerprint marks so keep a cloth ready).
When it comes to resolution and image clarity, the iPhone4 has the sharpest image of any smartphone on the market – as it ought, given the amount of pixels Apple has managed to cram into the 3.5-inch screen.
Using technology coined the ‘Retina display’, the iPhone has resolution higher than what the human eye can register. While the eye cannot distinguish pixels at 300 pixels per inch (ppi), the iPhone4 has 326ppi. iPhone 3S had a measly 163ppi.
The difference is obvious. It will make the old iPhone display seem as if you are looking at it with gravel in your eyes. Gravel and cataracts.
Thankfully, Apple has also looked into the weak battery life seen in previous models. The new handset can last two days without charging, due in part to the new superfast and energy-efficient A4 processor (the same used in the iPad).
Apple fans pleaded in droves for a better camera. Apple has given them two. The cameras – a backward-facing and new front camera – are five megapixels (previously, only three) and allow for digital zooming and flash photography.
And, while it may not shoot the best images when on the move or close-up, it performs better than any smartphone camera before it. It does its job and it does it well, without compromising the speed or functionality of the phone.
The operating system
With the introduction of the new design comes a new operating system, iOS4. An upgrade for older models is available and highly recommended.
Let’s face it. In recent times, we’ve become scatter-brained, flitting between two or more tasks at once. Finally, the iPhone has indulged us, introducing the option of multi-tasking. This means you can run apps and switch instantly between them, picking up where you last left off. For example, say you wanted to write a message while you’re playing a game. Now you can pause and quickly flick between the two without exiting.
And, the new homepage options, such as personalised backgrounds and folder creation, mean the layout of the phone can be as organised, or disorganised, as you like. The search function has also improved, allowing you to spider through the entire phone’s contents, including the content of messages, email and notes.
While video chat is not new technology, Apple’s new addition, Facetime, makes it convenient and increasingly mobile. However, there are some downsides. For instance, Facetime only works between iPhone4s and is not as user-friendly as Apple makes out. The first time will take some figuring out.
One critical benefit of the iPhone is its accessibility to email. Not only can you pool multiple accounts together to quickly view all incoming messages, but you can access contacts and emails stored externally, retrieving them from a remote email server.
Finally, voice control is one of the smartest pieces artificial intelligence found in a consumer product. The iPhone harnesses smart voice recognition technology, meaning you can command it to call a contact by name or number. You can even ask it for the time or to begin a search.
Voice control can also be used in the iPod library of the iPhone. You can ask what’s playing, request a specific album, song or artist or ‘play more songs like this’, which activates the Genius function.
Is that a computer in your pocket? Simply put, the iPhone4 is a mobile computer – a tech rocket for your pocket, what you want to achieve up your sleeve, the best in the land in your hand – and while it has its share of limitations, there is no other smartphone on the market with as many features in one compact parcel.
While it may not be worth buying an entirely new phone, if you’re in the market for a smartphone, you can’t go wrong with this little device.
Published on: Thursday, September 09, 2010