Product Type: Apple Smartphone
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Apple iPhone 4 16 GB
Member Name: ChewyBacon
Apple iPhone 4 16 GB
Date: 28/08/10, updated on 28/08/10 (48 review reads)
Advantages: Packed with Features, Great Design, Easy to Use.
Disadvantages: Signal Problems (Although it is blown out of proportion and there is a fix)
First impressions are very good, with a simple white cuboid box, not much bigger than the phone itself. It provides good protection for the phone, and it is really easy to open the box. Inside, there is the phone, instructions, a power adapter and a USB cable. Everything is neatly packed in a logical order, with the instructions on top of the phone, and the two other items below. The phone is covered with a plastic cover on both sides, so that it is always pristine. I kept mine on during setup, as the touch screen still works.
The phone is very different compared to the 3GS, and it is worth spending the extra money on the iPhone 4. Starting at £80 more, it boasts many more features. This includes the new retina display, which adds a lot more clarity, gyroscope, which can be used for games and apps to enhance the iPhone's orientation and a new design. Also, the battery has been vastly improved, along with the addition of a front facing camera, and the improvement of the main camera to 5MP and a new LED flash. For the first time in two years though, Apple have changed the design. The old 'classic' iPhone look has gone, replaced with a new 'sandwich' style design.
Also, the new iPhone uses a new micro sim. This is essentially a smaller version of the sim cards we are used to seeing. To insert it, you use a special tool to press inside the sim hole which releases the sim card holder. If you buy a sim free iPhone, you can get your mobile operator to move your existing number to the new card. This is quick and hassle free. However, this can make it hard to use your iPhone sim card in another phone. To do this, you can ask your mobile operator for an adapter.
First off, setup is really easy. You can't use the phone until you activate it through iTunes on the computer, so it can be annoying if you aren't near a computer as you just want to use it straight away. You need to download iTunes first, as there is no setup disc, but then all you need to do is plug it in and enter some information such as phone number and personal information to register the device. All of this takes 10 minutes at most. After the initial setup, you can personalise it, such as importing your photos, contacts and adding music, applications and videos. These sync automatically, and adding new things is really easy. The iTunes Store has a variety of films from all studios, and all the latest television shows such as Sherlock from the BBC. In the future, you can plug the iPhone into iTunes for updates, which are released frequently to improve features or to patch security problems.
The biggest change from previous iPhones is the new design. I think it is a big improvement, with little change from the front apart from the addition of a front facing camera located to the left of the top speaker. The phone is also a lot thinner with the curved back replaced with a flat glass back. This can make it difficult to hold if you like to rest the phone in your hand. Around the outside of the phone is a silver metal band, which acts as the antenna system. Again, this can make it hard to hold, as the corners and side dig into your hand. However, I believe this design is much improved and makes the old design look old fashioned. The camera is in the same place as the 3GS, the top left, but the LED flash has been placed to the right. On the left hand side of the phone is two buttons to control the volume, and a switch to put the phone in 'silent' mode. The power switch and the headphone slot are positioned on the top, along with a noise cancelling microphone. Finally, the Apple dock connector, a speaker and the microphone are placed on the bottom of the phone. The phone is a good size, and feels solid. Some users may find it to big to hold to their ear, but if it was smaller, the screen size would be reduced and it would be harder to use the apps and videos wouldn't look as good.
The retina display is simply amazing. Everything is much clearer, especially text and the colours appear much more vivid. When you first use it, it might not seem that special, but comparing it with the 3GS. It really shines when you browse the internet, or when you play 3D games. Also, the camera is vastly improved, with a quality that now rivals dedicated cameras. The clarity is superb, and the colours are bright and vivid. Tap to focus also means that there is no blur. However, the digital zoom is still really poor, and the pictures begin to lose quality. Also, even with the addition of the LED flash, the pictures look dark and become grainy at night. Video has also improved, with HD recording. The quality is also really good, and it is much better than the standalone Flip Ultra HD. The iMovie app, available for £2.99 is a great way to quickly edit the video footage.
Also, the build quality of the phone seems much better than previous models and similar phones on the market. The product feels durable and substantial in the hand. It feels like it will last, with high quality materials. The buttons have a nice solid click, which is good because you know they will last the frequency use over the users. However, the glass will still break if you drop the phone, so it best to invest in a case. The oleophobic coating means that it is easy to wipe away fingerprints, and helps to keep the phone clean. The glass will scratch, but seems stronger than previous phones and so far I have no scratches even without a screen protector.
A big problem with the old phone was the battery. Even with normal usage it wouldn't last more than a day. This is much improved, as I can go 2/3 days without charging, even with push email, a few games and web browsing. While not perfect, it is understandable considering the amount of use the phone gets, with other smartphones not lasting much longer either.
The phone is very easy to use, and with all of the features you could need. If it is your first smartphone, it will change will change your life. You will constantly check the internet, and the ability to access emails will make things so much easier. For existing iPhone users, the new hardware of the iPhone 4 will make everything quicker, from booting up to accessing an app. The software is simple, and everything is easy. Just like a computer, you click on the program you want to launch. Everything can be done by following directions, or the Apple Online Support website has plenty of step-by-step guides to help you on your way. It's suitable for all ages, as it is easy to pick up and you will learn your way around in no time. The Apple Store also has various tutorials and workshops in-store to help you learn. Everything from the basics to editing video is covered, and it's a really great way to discover new things.
One of the main things about a phone is the keyboard, to text and to browse the internet. It works really well, as it is simple to use and the keys are very big so you can rarely make mistakes. However, when you do, the autocorrect feature kicks in. It can sometimes make mistakes, but the more you use the keyboard, the more it will learn and can eventually help you type quicker as it 'guesses' the word or corrects it if you make a mistake. On the other hand, the keyboard is very small, so there is no room for symbols. This means that you have to stop, and move to the second or third keyboard to access other buttons. Unfortunately, this can be rather annoying, and it does take quite a while to move to next keyboard, which isn't very good if you are in a rush.
Another main part of a phone is the phone application. In some ways the iPhone application is good, but in other ways it is rather average, and not what you would expect from a premium phone. To begin with, the sound quality is very good, with the noise cancelling microphone helping to remove any background noise. However, the speaker isn't very loud, and it is sometimes hard to hear the other person. A few software problems also persist, such as not being able to remove individual phone calls from the records. Also, a nice feature is that the screen dims when you move the phone to your ear, to save battery life and to stop you accidentally pressing the touch screen with your ear. As you move it back, a keypad will come up, which can be used to enter you choice on customer service lines, such as "Press 1 for iPhone Support." However, this is currently a bit too sensitive, and some users have reported issues of the screen coming back on when you slightly move the phone, which causes them to accidentally press the buttons, which can mute or end the call. Of course, this would be really annoying, and Apple have said an update is coming. However, this gives an indication that if you need a rock solid phone, an iPhone isn't for you. There is also the famous signal problems, but more on that later. Overall though, I have found that the iPhone 4 has much better reception that the 3GS, with my iPhone 4 getting 2/3 bars more in the same location.
FaceTime, or video chat has been added with the addition of a front facing camera. This is currently WiFi only, but 3G support will be added in the future. When this happens, this could be a truly great experience, replacing voice chat and helping to make you feel like you are with the other person. There is no lag, and the ability to switch between both cameras is a brilliant idea. There is recent speculation that the new iPod Touches (Coming September 1) will also have this feature, which means even more people will be able to use this.
A big selling point about the iPhone is the App Store. With everything from games to books, it can make your life easier and also combines various devices you may have. You no longer need a gaming device, a phone or even a notepad, the iPhone is all this and more. There is something for everyone. However, with the App Store now packed, as developers try to make money from the iPhone's popularity, it is hard to find apps that really stand out. Also, a lot of apps haven't been updated to the iPhone 4 Retina Display, which means they look blurry and lack clarity. A few of my favourites include:
Doodle Jump: This is a beautiful game that is really addictive as you try to jump on platforms and dodge monsters to get as high as possible. An app store classic. A bargain at only 59p!
Flight Control: Again, this looks stunning on the Retina Display as you use the brilliant touch screen to guide airplanes to land on various runways without them colliding. A steal at 59p, as it also consumes lots of time.
iStudiez Pro: Brilliant for students, it gives you the ability to record your timetable, grades, and assignments to help make your life easier. More expensive, at £1.79, it will pay off as it is really simple and also looks really good. A 'lite', or demo version is available.
BBC News: A great way to check up on all the latest news from the BBC. It also lets you watch BBC News 24 live, and since it is free, there is no reason not to try it.
iBooks: Apple's own application has a big variety of books available to download. There is lots of free classics, and the latest releases. It's simple to use, and very clear to read. However, the books can be overpriced compared to the paper alternatives which is a shame.
Also, check out www.tvcatchup.com which offers free, legal streaming of television channels. Simple sign up is needed, but then it's a great way to watch television on the move and is really easy to use.
The iPhone also has a selection of apps built in. Notes, Stocks, Weather, Maps, Clock, Calculator, Compass and Voice Memos are also included. These are very basic, but this means that they are quick to use. If you want extended functions, various applications on the App Store will be available. Mail and Safari have been improved from iOS3, with most major problems solved. However, Safari still lacks flash, which means some sites will not display correctly. Contacts offers the ability to operate as a personal organiser, holding addresses, phone numbers, birthdays and much, much more. It's easy to input the information, but it can be long winded. The iPod application offers lots of functions and it is easy to navigate with minimal fuss.
iOS4 brought a few new features, such as multitasking and folders. You can also add a personal background to the home screen, but this can become hard to see when it is covered with icons. Multitasking works really well, and doesn't drain much battery life. It's easy to use, but the developers have to patch in support, which means that most applications lack the ability to multitask and you will still have to run the app. It's still great to be able to stream music and surf the internet at the same time, and as more developers get their act together, it will become a dream to use. Folders is also really good, increasing the amount of apps you can store on your phone. They are easy to use, as you can just drag an application into another to form a folder, and then drag more applications into the folder after that. This can also be managed in iTunes. However, they can also store 12 apps, so I still find myself with 4 folders of games, which can be annoying as you search through them all to find what you are looking for.
With all major networks now selling the iPhone, it's a hard choice to pick from the selection. I'm a customer with Orange, so can give a short review on their service. Overall, it has been brilliant, with steady service in my area, and signal almost everywhere I go, even in remote villages. The 3G is sometimes slower than other networks, but perfectly fine for web browsing and streaming video. I also receive texts right after they have been sent, and other people receive them straight away as well, much better than the service I had on T-Mobile, where there would usually be a delay. However, I have had a few days of interrupted service, with the Orange data network collapsing for a few hours. The 750mb per month data has been perfectly fine, and that includes many hours of streaming video and music. There is a few other options, and the best includes '3 Network'. They are much cheaper than other networks, and also have free tethering, which is handy if you travel (This costs £5 extra per month). However, they do have an annoying web filter which blocks sites which shouldn't even be blocked, to sell you their own 'adult content.' Sites such as celebrity gossip, and even sports sites have been caught in their trap. This can't be removed easily, and would be really annoying if one of your favourite sites is blocked.
However, the biggest problem by far with the iPhone 4 is the famous 'death grip' signal problems. Videos can be found on YouTube which show how covering the black line, or antenna on the bottom left side of the device can cause the signal to drop. In low signal areas, this can cause a problem as it will lose signal, and you won't regain it until you remove your hand from the black line. This is a major problem for people that like to rest the device in their left hand, or people who use there left hand to hold the phone when on a call. Personally, although I can recreate the problem, I have had no problems in normal usage and I think the whole problem has been blow out of proportion, especially by the media and it has been fuelled by general dislike for Apple, similar to how there was a general dislike for Microsoft a few years ago. As I said before, I have found the signal to be excellent, and it has been much improved from the 3GS, with at least 2/3 bars more in the same location. Many other phones have this problem, but it is enhanced on the iPhone 4 as the antenna is placed on the outside, instead of the usual position on the inside on the phone.
The problem can be solved by using a case, which stops your hand from covering the antenna. There is a big selection available on eBay, from, or at the Apple Store. Apple also offers a free case scheme at the moment, with a few cases available to choose from such as Belkin or the Apple Bumper. To take part in this scheme, you can either buy a case and send the receipt off to Apple for a refund, or download the app from the App Store called 'iPhone 4 Case Program.' Then, you can enter your details, select your case and it will be on its way. Delivery for some cases is quite slow, so you will have to live with the problem for a few weeks or buy your own. However, my case, the Black Apple Bumper came within a few days and has removed any signal loss.
I also find that the ability to simply walk into an Apple Store, and ask the various Genius Bar staff for help is a great bonus. No more sending off your phone and waiting for it to return, and having to make do with an old replacement in the mean time. Apple will simply replace it for you their and then, usually with a refurbished model, and you won't be without a device. For me, this alone makes it worth the premium for an Apple product, as you can't go without something as important as a phone. If you can't get to an Apple Store, you can call up and they will send you a replacement next day, as you simple swap devices with the courier. However, the phone lines are usually full, with long wait times so it can be a very annoying experience.
As the iPhone is such an expensive purchase, you don't want to buy old technology. For this, it is handy that the release schedule of the iPhone is predictable, with Apple releasing a new iPhone every summer, usually in June/July. This means that you can decide to buy at any time if the purchase is right for you, but it is best to hold off after April to wait for the new technology. Beware though, that Apple products don't really get discounted when a new product gets release, instead they phase the products out over time before. This means that you can't gain an advantage by buying the old model so it is best to purchase in your own time. Also, you might find it best to wait a few weeks, so issues with the new model, such as the Proximity Sensor on the iPhone 4 get patched. There is also a White iPhone 4 coming late 2010, which instead of black, has a white front and back.
Overall, the iPhone is a magnificent piece of kit. It might be more expensive than other phones, starting at £499 sim free, but it's ability to become a games console, a phone and so much more makes it worthwhile. The iPhone 4 is a worthy upgrade over previous models, with the modern new design and sensational Retina Display. Your life will change with the simplicity of the phone, and the ability to search the internet for little information, receive Emails and stream media on the go. There might the famous signal problem, but as usual it's been blown out of proportion by the media, and there's nothing to stop you enjoying it. As Engadget said it's "the best smartphone on the market."
Here's a few useful articles:
Engadget Review: http://preview.tinyurl.com/engadgetiphonereview
Picture Gallery: http://preview.tinyurl.com/iphone4gallery
iPhone 4 Signal Problem Experience: http://preview.tinyurl.com/iphonesignalproblems
Apple iPhone 4 Case Program: http://preview.tinyurl.com/iphonecaseprogram
Summary: It will change your life... a fantastic buy!