The latest in Apple's iPhone 4 series is heralded by the manufacturer as the next big step forward in mobile phone technology, but is it enough to regain Apples place at the top of the smartphone tree?
Apple iPhone 4 review – Performance
All of the improvement under the hood of the iPhone 4 has resulted in a device which feels much snappier in use. Obviously, the handset now has to support multi-tasking and as such the device features a boosted specification. ‘Teardowns’ of the device, such as the one seen on ifixit, have revealed that the handset features 512MB of Ram, which is double that of the companies recently launched iPad. Obviously, this extra processing power will place extra strain on the battery, and as a result Apple has improved the battery, which is now a 3.7V 1420 mAh Li-Polymer version, which Apple claim offers 7 hours of talk time on a 3G network, a claim that is supported by noticeably improved times.
Despite the improvements with the camera specification and added functionality, the on-board camera controls are fairly average. While the ‘touch to focus’ feature is nice, that’s essentially the extent of shooting features. However, this is of course an area where Apple can afford to be fairly complacent – one of major successes of the iPhone is the app store, featuring some 200,000 apps and offering an open platform for developers to improve the functionality of the device. As a result, there are a host of apps that improve the usability of the camera no end – for example, the Camera+ app features a ‘stabiliser’ that effectively operates as a self-timer.
There’s no doubting the improvement in the quality of the screen as well. It’s often easy to become complacent when manufacturers talk about improvements in pixels and the like, as rarely are they noticeable to an unscientific eye. The iPhone 4 screen, however, renders images beautifully, displaying a stunning level of detail and tone. Individual pixels are very difficult to discern, if at all, making the written word appear as if it were printed rather than rendered on a digital screen.
The new operating system, as mentioned previously, offers the prospect of multi-tasking. While this is an exciting prospect, it’s going to be some time before it’s broadly implemented. This is due to the fact the Apple require all developers to reprogram the apps to support the multitasking, so we could be waiting for some time. The other major change in the operating system is the ability to group apps into folders, which serves nicely as an organisational tool for keeping similar apps together.
While the design of the phone’s antenna is no doubt an impressive piece of design integration, there have been issues noted with a loss of reception when holding the phone in a certain way. It transpires that if you bridge the gap on the bottom of the handset, effectively creating a circuit between the two parts of the steel band that form separate antennae, signal will slowly drop. This is, without question, a design flaw of sorts, though it must be said that forming this bridge takes quite some effort and doesn’t happen with in the natural hold of the handset. Also, there have been rumours that Apple are doing more to rectify the error than simply suggesting people hold the handset differently and are in fact looking in to a firmware fix.