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Phone: iPhone 4

Preposterous reception issues still donít stop the new iPhone from being the best mobile you can get

Published: Sep 17, 2010 06:37:49 AM IST
Updated: Sep 14, 2010 11:52:41 AM IST
Phone: iPhone 4
Image: Pixeleyes

PRICE To be checked
SCREEN 3.5-inch, 960x640 pixels
CONNECTIVITY 7.2 Mbps HSDPA, Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, A-GPS,
3.5mm audio
BATTERY 7 hours 3G talk, 10 hours Wi-Fi
browsing, 6 hours 3G browsing, 10 hours
video, 40 hours audio
CAMERA 5-megapixel with tap to focus, LED flash
VIDEO 720p up to 30fps
SIZE/WEIGHT 59x115x9.3mm/137g

As you may have heard, the iPhone 4’s arrival didn’t go as smoothly as Apple might have wished, with a troubling signal loss issue for anyone holding the iPhone 4 “incorrectly.” (Who even knew that there was a “correct” way to hold mobiles?)

There is no denying that it is a stunning looking piece of tech: 24 percent slimmer than the 3GS at just 9.3mm, beautifully compact, but with considerable heft, and a hard-edged industrial sexiness instead of the more curvaceous, tactile charms of earlier iPhones. The glass front and back are very tough: We’ve dropped ours a few times and it’s come up smiling… so far. A more contentious design feature is the steel band that separates front and back. Not for aesthetic reasons but because it’s also the aerial, and the cause of the iPhone’s well-documented reception issues — seemingly something to do with contact between it and human skin.

Bizarre reception flaws aside, the iPhone 4 is a great showcase for Apple’s technological and design prowess, with the new iOS 4 operating system and a noticeably faster processor than the 3GS making operation a very smooth and enjoyable experience. It all chugs along nicely, from the media player to the apps to the Web browser. The processor is the same sprightly Apple A4 chip found in the iPad. You’d think that this much power would drain the battery at speed, but we can confirm the battery life is slightly better than the 3GS, at least so far. The 3.5-inch Retina Display, with an 800:1 contrast ratio and 960x640 resolution, sets a new benchmark for mobile screens, a joy to use indoors and at most outdoor light levels. It becomes reflective in direct, bright sunlight but it’s still far superior in this respect to the AMOLED displays found on most Android phones. The downside is that older apps and their icons can appear dated and grainy on the new display.

iOS 4 brings multitasking to the iPhone table — not all apps support the feature though — and has other tricks up its sleeve. You can create folders for your apps and set your own home screen image. iBooks makes the jump from iPad to iPhone with the arrival of iOS 4, offering  up text of impeccable clarity, although obviously insufficient size for anything more than half an hour or so of reading. Crystal clear fonts enhance Web browsing, email and all other text-based functionality. The keyboard’s visually unchanged and still excellent. We would have liked to have seen support for numbers and punctuation on the same keys as the letters, but autocorrection seems even better than on the previous OS.

The camera’s been improved too. Though stills are not suddenly of compact camera quality, they are much better than on the 3GS and the HTC Desire — and bigger, at five megapixels. An LED flash is a welcome addition. Video improvement is even more striking: 720p HD footage looks pristine not just on the phone’s display but also when uploaded to your computer. Some detail seems to be lost when compressing for uploading online. In-camera editing is also straightforward.

In addition to the main camera, there’s a second, front-facing one. This is to facilitate Apple’s attempt to popularise mobile video calling with its Skype-style FaceTime app. Let’s say it’s more fun than essential; it needs to work over 3G rather than just Wi-Fi, for a start.

iPhones have always been great media players and that’s still true. Should you choose to use Cover Flow it seems slightly quicker, as do synching and copying, though improvements are minimal.

The iPhone 4 is another classic slice of Apple. In just 12 months Steve Jobs and his band have again redefined mobile handsets. From the simply beautiful Retina Display to the addition of HD video, and from the idiotproof UI (user interface) to the attempted reinvention of video calling, the Apple iPhone 4 is a majestic piece of kit that will no doubt steal hearts. As long as that signal-loss issue doesn’t prove to be a killer…

Courtesy T3. Read a more detailed review in the magazine’s September issue.

(This story appears in the 24 September, 2010 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • drbhandu

    Apple i-phone is good to use.

    on Sep 18, 2010
  • Xiao

    "The main reason why people love the iPhone 4 is that you can use it like a mini computer. You are able to take the device and place applications on it." I chose to buy iphone rather than the others because my friend said that the Apps store is very interesting , and it is indeed true. I make them working on my iphone 4 which i regard as a mini testing machine ! Aha , that is so cool , but the most apps i use mainly are free. I love free app and software, and the Aneeosft free ipod video converter is a nice free ipod software . In fact , ipod touch is also a good device i like.

    on Sep 17, 2010