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iPhone 4 Review

July 2, 2010 – by Per Christensson

I recently bought the Apple iPhone 4 and have been testing out for the past few days. While I had some rather lofty expectations for the new phone, I am happy to say that based on my experience so far, it lives up to the hype.

In my previous posting, I mentioned the three features that made me decide to get the new iPhone were the retina display, the new camera, and the FaceTime video calling capability. While I haven't had a chance to use FaceTime yet (since none of my friends have the iPhone 4), I can attest that the other two features are great.

The term "retina display" refers to how screen resolution is so fine that supposedly the human retina cannot detect the individual pixels on the display. So of course I stared at the screen for awhile, trying to detect the individual pixels. But alas, it was to no avail. The pixels seem to just run together. The text is especially clear and appears more like handwriting than digital characters. In fact, the iPhone 4's screen is so clear that my computer monitor now looks blurry after using the iPhone. The only downside is that most current iPhone apps still use the lower resolution, which makes the graphics look slightly fuzzy on the new high-res screen. But this will of course change over time. Until other smartphone manufacturers match the iPhone's new screen resolution, this will be a huge selling point for the phone.

The upgraded built-in digital camera was another reason I decided to buy the iPhone 4. The higher megapixel count is nice, but the LED flash was the feature I was looking forward to the most. After taking a few pictures with the flash, I'm happy to say it works pretty well. It definitely isn't as powerful as the built-in flash on most standalone digital cameras, but it does the job in low-light situations. The flash also doubles as a light for the video camera, which is another nice feature. The scope of the light is limited compared to a digital camcorder, but it is now possible to actually see what you are recording at night or in a dark room. So far, the quality of the photos and videos I have taken with the iPhone 4 are noticeably better than the those taken with my iPhone 3GS.

While the iPhone 4's display and the camera are great, I was surprisingly impressed by something else — the speed. This iPhone is super-fast. In fact, it is significantly faster than the 3GS. Scrolling through documents and webpages is smoother, opening apps is faster, and the iPhone 4 is overall much more responsive than the iPhone 3GS. Therefore, I am pleasantly surprised with how the much faster the iPhone 4 is than previous models.

So far, I only have two qualms about the iPhone 4. First is that the camera's backlit sensor does not perform as well as I had hoped. The low-light shots without the flash are still pretty lousy. The color has not improved and the images are pretty noisy without sufficient lighting. My other complaint is the shape of the new iPhone. While I appreciate the slimness of the iPhone 4 (it is actually thinner than the previous models), the phone is not as comfortable to hold. Also, since it doesn't have rounded edges, picking up the phone is a little harder. I know it sounds like a lame criticism, but the phone is actually somewhat difficult to lift off a flat surface. My guess is that Apple will once again go back to a rounded edge design in a future model.

Overall, I am impressed with the iPhone 4. I still have yet to use FaceTime and try some of the new apps, but my experience so far has been great. I haven't come across any annoying bugs and the hardware is extremely high quality. It feels like a Bang and Olufsen device, but is reasonably priced. While I could describe the phone in many ways, my best description still doesn't compare to a hands-on experience. Therefore, if you're in the market for a new cell phone, I highly recommend visiting your local Apple Store and trying out the iPhone 4.

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