A look at the iPhone 4

Cameras are all about the Megapixels…

The iPhone 4 now features something we have all been waiting for – a front camera, and a redesigned rear one, and what an addition this is. Apple have to be credited for realising that upping the camera megapixel count to daft levels as most manufacturers do isn’t the way forward, so they have instead opted to reduce noise. Well they have succeeded on almost all counts. The rear camera is a 5MP affair, backed up by an LED flash for low light photography. The flash isn’t the best I must admit, but then again – no LED ‘flash’ is really good on any mobile device in the first place. General photo quality is superb in a word.

The camera interface features new additions, a toggle icon to allow the user to switch between front and rear cameras, as well as an icon enabling digital zoom and toggling that LED flash on or off. The shutter speed of the camera is extremely fast, mainly due to the OS immediately passing the capture data to NAND Ram and then to storage instead of straight to storage, which introduces a longer shutter delay. The front camera is sadly VGA only at this stage (and should be) as it is the best hardware for video calls – or FaceTime as Apple have now named it. At present Video/FaceTime calls only work over Wifi…unless you want your 3G data allowances to be completely destroyed rapidly.

720p recording is another excellent feature that the iPhone 4 excels at. The quality of the recordings are superb running in at very high bitrates, well above the competition. Having taken a truckload of HD videos at a recent party and played them back on a 50″ Plasma TV I have to say that all my friends were stunned by the quality and smoothness of the 30fps resulting video.

iOS 4.x

On the OS (Operating System) side of things, iOS4.0 flies on the iPhone 4 hardware and quite rightly so. Multitasking, or should I say ‘Task Switching’, which is the proper name for it is seamless and works very well without having the system slow down. This is mainly due to applications in the background being held in a suspended state, this greatly saves on battery usage but also begs the question – “This isn’t full multitasking, is it?”. Then again in my opinion, no mobile cellular device with limited capacity batteries should have full multitasking environments anyway.

A lot of applications have yet to be properly updated to support multitasking, let alone the stunning Retina Display. Some apps still feature low resolution icons suitable for the older 320 x 480 screens as opposed to the iPhone 4’s larger 640 x 960 display but they are being updated at a very rapid rate, which is good news.

To deal with the sheer number of applications most users tend to download and accumulate, Apple have implemented Folders to allow us to organise our apps. The feature works by simply dragging one app icon onto another, which in turn creates a folder that can be named to your choice. It’s an elegant system with one flaw – each folder is limited to a mere 12 icons. This means that most users will now have screens filled with folders… whereas previously they had screens filled with app icons.

On the whole, the iPhone 4 is an incredible device to use on a day to day basis – but this statement of mine needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, as successful phone call usage from area to area, and from city to city will vary for nearly everyone. In terms of applications usability, the phone is a screamer at almost anything you care to throw at it. I have yet to see the phone stutter during long winded gaming sessions.

For web browsing, the device cannot be faulted. Thanks to it’s WIFI ‘N’ performance uploads and downloads are a lot faster than older iPhone models and 3G browsing on the whole feels a great deal faster, with page renders in Safari being very snappy indeed. I absolutely love the camera and for once it is actually usable. 720p HD recording is another boon, the resulting videos are of very good quality.

Finally…

Apple’s sheer ignorance knows no bounds and they have shot themselves severely with their egotistical comments about how to ‘hold the phone correctly’ in order to allieviate the antenna issues. We all know Apple are on ‘Godmode’, with infinite supplies of cash since the iPhone took off in 2007, but Apple should have done a recall asap and stopped production before things got out of hand, but they didn’t as stopping a production line an retooling it to produce a redesigned device is incredibly expensive. They took a risk hoping the issue wouldn’t get out of hand and that risk failed and now everyone has jumped on the iPhone bashing bandwagon.

The iPhone 4 despite being a brilliant device, which will be marred by ‘You’re holding it wrong’, ‘got signal?’ comments despite the fact that a good proportion of users including myself haven’t got a problem with the signal dropping. Having said that, I do admit that it is a massive problem.

The way they have handled the ‘antenna issue’ is frankly incredibly poor, during a time when the Android OS and HTC phones that use them are gaining increasing popularity. Apple can’t afford to slip up, and they have massively here due to their own arrogance and ignorance.

Would I recommend the iPhone 4 to anyone? Not at this stage no. The antenna issue is a hardware issue yes, however the signal issues related to the antenna all depend on how strong your local 3G signal is in the first place. Some users (e.g me) will have dropped signal bars but still won’t have dropped calls as they are in a good signal area, others who are in a weak area will have dropped bars and calls.

US users will fare much worse with dropped calls due to AT&T’s apparently congested network. Us UK users have free reign over which network to use, so we generally have a better quality service in that regard.

Apple are due to hold a press conference in a couple of hours time to discuss this problem and hopefully resolve them at the same time. A mass product recall will equate into a good 500 million to 1 billion worth of losses. Free ‘Bumper’ cases will cause an uproar as the things are ugly beyond belief. Who knows what they will do.

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