Apple has dominated the smartphone market since the first iPhone release but with the recent releases from companies such as HTC, they’ve had to up their game. The iPhone 4 is the latest release from Apple with a view to smash their foes into submission, but have they ironed out the flaws of the previous releases enough to compete with the new contenders on the market?
Well firstly, the iPhone 4 is most definitely the most sophisticated piece of tech we’ve come across in the way of smartphones. The biggest selling points are the sharp Retina Display, the processor that packs a punch, the FaceTime video calling and front-facing camera and the improved battery life, but the iPhone 4 provides the user with much more than these features.
It is decidedly more compact than the previous 3GS release, being both flatter and slimmer. The toughened glass coating on the front and rear and stainless steal band leave you feeling reassured of the sturdiness of the model and so far it seems that it holds up against some bigger drops and bumps.
The screen most definitely lives up to the promise Apple gave it’s customers, as the improved sharpness is definitely noticeable, with images and videos looking crisp and superbly clear and when it comes to gaming, you can really see it’s value, especially when combined with the excellent resolution. Talking of gaming, Apple have also included a built-in gyroscope, which will definitely come into its own as time goes by.
The main rear camera is a huge improvement on the 3GS, at a reasonable five megapixels. Though not the largest in terms of megapixels when compared with other smartphones, it is incredibly fast and the LED flash is a real boon when taking night time shots. Video recording is also noticeably better, allowing you to shoot HD video at a resolution of 720p and the iMovie app allows you to create home movies on your phone that can be uploaded straight to YouTube or e-mailed to friends.
The launch of the new FaceTime feature, which is Wi-Fi only in nature, allows for good quality that laughs in the face of those who doubted them. There is a lack of distortion and you can switch between the front and rear cameras whilst on a call, allowing you to show your current location or something interesting.
Of course we’ve always loves the iOS software and iOS 4 doesn’t disappoint. Allowing for multi-tasking and the grouping of apps, you can organise everything effectively on one of the many menus. The battery life is also drastically improved, though it could still do with a little more boosting for those serious gamers.
There are a number of apps pre-installed on the phone however the iTunes App Store is full of free and paid apps that can be downloaded on your computer or directly to the phone. Syncing and installing is a breeze when you connect to your computer, which is especially good news when you realise that the iPhone 4 is also the latest improved iPod as well.
Unfortunately there’s always going to be downsides, of which there are few with the iPhone 4. If we’re being really picky FaceTime is quite annoying when you realise it only works on the iPhone 4, so you can’t use it if the person you want to call doesn’t have the same model. But it is generally thought that in time there will be a desktop based app that will support the feature as well as an endeavour to make the FaceTime compatible with other manufacturer’s handsets, so watch this space.
The external antenna – the stainless steel band running around the exterior of the handset – has been reported to be less that functional if held in a certain way, with many users claiming it loses reception. Apple claims that the problem is solved when the phone is used inside a case or one of the new ‘bumpers’, however this requires you to spend extra money. It is generally thought that a software update may solve this problem. We must report that on our end, this has never been a problem, but we would suggest using a case.
To conclude, we believe the iPhone 4 to be the best Apple release to date, that smashes competition in the way of ease of use, app availability and hardware features. Now we must wait to see what HTC can offer in way of a rival, though the future looks decidedly Apple shaped.