Updated 10th December 2011
Have a look at our iPhone 4S review which includes videos, tons of photos and everything you need to know about the iPhone 4S, siri, and iOS 5, plus make sure you read our article on the difference between the iPhone 4 and 4s.
When I got my iPhone 4 last month, we did a brief hands on article with the iPhone 4, I wanted to test it out for a couple of weeks before doing our full review, this gave me a good chance to test every aspect of the new iPhone 4.
The new iPhone 4 is the biggest update to the iPhone in a couple of years, it features a completely new design, as well as the latest version of Apple’s iPhone operating system, iOS 4.
The iPhone 4 features a 3.5 inch multi touch widescreen display with a resolution of 960 by 640 pixels at 326 pixels per inch, and a 800:1 contrast ratio. Processing is now provided by a custom 1GHz Apple A4 processor, the same one that is found in the Apple iPad, and there is also 512MB of RAM.
Storage wise, you get a choice of either a 16GB or a 32GB model, plus there is Integrated 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, A-GPS and a digital compass.
Apple has added a couple of new sensors to the iPhone 4, you get the accelerometer that was in the previous models, but there is also a three axis gyro and a proximity sensor as well as an ambient light sensor.
The iPhone 4 supports UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz) and GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz). The camera has had a major upgrade since the 3GS, there is now a five megapixel camera, but we will go into full detail about that later in the review.
The iPhone 4 features a completely new design over the iPhone 3G and 3GS, there is of course the new retina display on the front, which features toughened glass, and the back of the iPhone 4 is also made from the same toughened glass.
There is now a stainless steel band which covers the iPhone 4 on the sides, this is where the various antennas are housed, and it certainly feels like a quality product, I would say that it looks much better than the previous model.
Apple have really improved the design on the iPhone 4, with the less rounded edges, and more of a square design I really like it, the glass back is a nice touch, and should stop the back getting scratched as much as the 3GS, although having a glass back could mean it will be easier to break if you drop it.
The iPhone 4 features a completely new display, which Apple call the Retina Display, this is one of the major plus points of the new iPhone 4. The display is simply stunning, everything looks better on the iPhone 4, from games, to videos and even websites.
The Retina display features a resolution of 960 x 640 pixels with a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch, and a contrast ratio of 800:1, watching movies on the new Retina display is great, as long as they are high quality.
A lot of my previous videos which I had on my 3GS don’t look so good on the new display, as every detail is shown and I have had to re-encode a number of movies with a higher resolution, once this is done movies look amazing on the iPhone 4.
This is definitely the best screen we have seen on a smartphone to date, everything is so much clearer and sharper, photos look brilliant, and games look and feel amazing.
Apple has finally updated the camera on the iPhone 4 to a decent one, you now get a five megapixel camera that is capable of recording HD video in 720p, they have also finally added in an LED flash.
The quality of the photos from the iPhone 4’s camera is pretty good, as long as you have decent lighting it will do a great job on photos, and definitely on par with many of the other smartphones available on the market.
Apple has also released a version of iMovie for the iPhone 4, which costs $4.99 and lets you edit your videos directly on the iPhone 4, and whilst we haven’t tested this fully ourselves we have featured a couple of videos that have been shot and edited on the iPhone 4, they look impressive, you can see one of these below.
There is also a secondary VGA camera on the front of the iPhone 4, which is used for video chat and Apple’s FaceTime feature, the quality is what you would expect with a VGA camera nothing spectacular, but it certainly does the job for video chat.
The iPhone 4 comes with the latest major update to the iPhone 4 operating system, iOS 4 and one of the the major new features in iOS 4 is multitasking, now you can switch easily between multiple applications without having to close each one down, and although this is Apple’s interpretation of multitasking rather than true multitasking the feature works pretty well.
Folders is another new feature in iOS, you can now organize all your applications in separate folders, this is a great feature, meaning that you don’t have to have lots of pages of the iPhone Home screen and all your applications can be organized by time, for example all the games in a games folder and all the utilities in a utilities folder.
Email has also had a major upgrade in iOS 4, there is now a unified inbox that lets you see messages from all your accounts in one inbox and you can also manage emails by threads and open attachments in third party applications.
Another new feature in iOS 4 is the ability to change the home screen wallpaper, as well as the lock screen, although this is a small feature, it gives you the opportunity to personalize your iPhone 4.
Overall iOS 4 is great, and a definite improvement over iOS 3, there are some great features, and also some features that we would like to see improved, like the multitasking.
Having used the iPhone 3G and then the iPhone 3GS I was expecting the same sort of battery life, I used to have to charge my iPhone every night after using it all day. This is not the case on the iPhone 4, the battery life is impressive.
I was more than surprised after my first day of usage of the iPhone 4 that the battery life was sitting at 54 percent, and it had been used heavily all day, using it over the past couple of weeks, with daily emails, phone calls some light web browsing I now end up having to charge the iPhone 4 every couple of days.
If you use the iPhone a bit more with normal to heavy use you can expect around 36 hours of battery life, this is a huge improvement over the previous models.
One of the new features on the iPhone 4 is FaceTime, this allows you to video chat with your friends over WiFi, and whilst the feature is fun to use, we would have liked to be able to use it over 3G.
I would say FaceTime needs some development, but the good thing about it is that third party developers are able to integrate video chat into their applications we can expect to see some decent video chat solutions in the future.
The iPhone 4 is impressive, it is a huge improvement over the iPhone 3GS, in terms of design and functions, the new iOS 4 is a great improvement over the iOS 3 with a range of new features and some interesting applications.
Apple has managed to create another great smartphone, the overall package is great, it has its plus points and some minus points, we loved the new display it is simply stunning and makes everything look so much clearer and more detailed than the previous model.
The battery life is a massive improvement over the previous model, this was something that Apple needed to address and they have done a great job on this.
The new iOS 4 operating system is great, with lots of new features we like, which include folders, FaceTime and even multitasking, although we would like to see the multitasking feature improved in the future.
We would definitely recommend you check out the new iPhone 4 if you are in the market for a new smartphone or if you are thinking about upgrading from the previous models.
One thing I must point out to our readers is that there have been a number of reports of users having problems with cellular reception on the iPhone 4, this has been a hot topic over the last couple of weeks.
Neither myself of Julian have experienced these problems on our iPhone 4, I have tried to replicate the problem myself a number of times with no sucess, you can find out more details about it here, and you may want to take this into account when looking at the new iPhone 4.
Video Credit: Michael Koerbel