Apple iPhone 4 Review Roundup

The first Apple iPhone 4 reviews are finally working their way online just as the newest iPhone shipments near the completion of their journey from the FoxConn factories of China to doorsteps across America. Apple has already delighted the waiting masses with an email letting some customers know that they would receive the iPhone 4 on June 23rd, a day ahead of schedule, but how has the iPhone 4 treated reviewers who have had much longer to play with Apple’s latest creation.


Trends – After reading through numerous iPhone 4 reviews and coverage — here’s what stands out:


  • Design – The reviewers, even if they didn’t have an issue with the curves of earlier iPhones, love the new industrial style design.
  • The Screen – The Retina display will be the new standard and despite some reports of increased fingerprints reviewers love the clarity of the screen and it’s durability to scratches (Boing Boing puts it to the test).
  • FaceTime – This is how videochat should be done. It’s not without flaws (WiFi only) but it’s integrated and simple. Like most things iPhone, it gives others a bar to aim for.
  • Camera – Not only is there a flash, but reviewers love the new camera for still and 720P video.
  • Battery Life – Still not user replaceable, but longer than ever with reports of much better battery life coming in on all fronts.

Cons: More below under what consumers need to know.

  • The Network – The iPhone is still on AT&T and that means dead zones and dropped calls — even if AT&T is planning to beef up their network in the next 30-90 days.
  • Multitasking – Multitasking has arrived, but it’s not the full on multitasking that Android has.

Things to watch out for:

As you pull the iPhone 4 out of the box this week — be careful! At least that’s what iPhone repair site warns after drop testing the new iPhone 4. Yes, the folks at iFixyouri dropped a new iPhone 4(minus the circuit board) not once, not twice but 3 times from 3.5 feet and the results aren’t pretty.

According to the iPhone repair experts, “On the new iPhone, the glass basically sits on top of the aluminum frame. On the old iPhone, it was recessed and protected by a chrome bezel.” That little change is what led to a quicker snap crackle pop on the iPhone’s screen. Still, Engadget notes that they have seen an iPhone 4 flung across the room without an issue and dropped from 2 feet without a scratch, so your results will vary.

The Retina display may look great and the glass may be able to bend more than half the people who use an iPhone but it looks like a full frontal drop could put your iPhone 4 out of commission. Time to start looking for an iPhone 4 case that gives your new thinner iPhone4 a bit of a bezel on the screen side.

What consumers need to know:

Unfortunately, while the new iPhone 4 is designed with reception in mind it still falls short. Mossberg and most reviewers still report dropped calls and dead zones thanks to AT&T’s coverage. Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing was the only differing opinion. While still stating the obvious, “AT&T still sucks, and the best engineering out of Cupertino won’t change that.” Jardin noted that she did have more bars in more places than the original iPhone or the iPhone 3GS. Mossberg did note that call quality seemed better in his car than with the older iPhones.

It’s also important for the users looking forward to multitasking to realize that Apple’s version isn’t the same as you’ll find on your computer or on Android devices.  That said, Joshua Topolsky of Engadget sums it up best, “Here’s the thing — this may not be “true” multitasking for a lot of us, but it amounts to multitasking for most of us.”

Apple iPhone 4 Reviews:

New iPhone Keeps Apple Top of Class – The Wall Street Journal: “I’ve been testing the iPhone 4 for more than a week. In both hardware and software, it is a major leap over its already-excellent predecessor, the iPhone 3GS.

It has some downsides and limitations—most important, the overwhelmed AT&T network in the U.S., which, in my tests, the new phone handled sometimes better and, unfortunately, sometimes worse than its predecessor. I’ll get into that below. But, overall, Apple has delivered a big, well-designed update that, in my view, keeps it in the lead in the smartphone wars.” – Walt Mossberg

Who is this review for: As always Mossberg has a great review of the iPhone that brings a balanced view to the device and what it can and can’t do. More and more I find myself looking to Walt’s reviews for an excellent high level overview of major devices. If an iPhone is the only gadget you own and you want to know more about the new iPhone 4 start here.

iPhone 4 review – Engadget: “We’re not going to beat around the bush — in our approximation, the iPhone 4 is the best smartphone on the market right now. The combination of gorgeous new hardware, that amazing display, upgraded cameras, and major improvements to the operating system make this an extremely formidable package. Yes, there are still pain points that we want to see Apple fix, and yes, there are some amazing alternatives to the iPhone 4 out there. But when it comes to the total package — fit and finish in both software and hardware, performance, app selection, and all of the little details that make a device like this what it is — we think it’s the cream of the current crop.” – Joshua Topolsky

Who is this review for: Engadget has one of the most in depth reviews of the new iPhone. It’s a review that will delight both geeks and average users as it dives into the geeky details while covering the things everyone cares about; such as picture quality, what video shot with(and edited on) the iPhone 4 looks like, how FaceTime works in real life and more.

Apple makes all the right calls on iPhone 4 – USA Today: “Buyers won’t be disappointed. The killer feature is what Apple calls FaceTime video chat. The promise that you and the person you’re talking to on a phone can gaze into each other’s eyes dates back to when LBJ occupied the White House. No one has really nailed video calling through the years, at least not the way Apple has nailed it here, with certain limitations. FaceTime is as simple as making a regular call. To help to accomplish this neat stunt, iPhone 4 adds a front-facing camera that complements the more traditional, and improved, camera on back.

There are other iPhone 4 features worth crowing about: high-definition video recording, super-crisp display, a handsome and thin stainless steel and glass design. Apple says the glass is chemically strengthened to be 20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic. To reinforce the point, an Apple executive dropped it in front of me. The phone was undamaged. Inside is an A4 processor, the power-efficient chip used in the iPad.” – Edward C. Baig

Who is this review for: If you know enough about gadget to be the go-to guy or gal in your office for gadget recommendations but your office isn’t in the IT department You’ll find Baig’s review does a good job of covering the things you want to know, and to answer your coworkers questions tomorrow.

New iPhone Arrives; Rivals, Beware – The New York Times: “Now, the iPhone is no longer the undisputed king of app phones. In particular, the technically inclined may find greater flexibility and choice among its Android rivals, like the HTC Incredible and Evo. They’re more complicated, and their app store not as good, but they’re loaded with droolworthy features like turn-by-turn GPS instructions, speech recognition that saves you typing, removable batteries and a choice of cell networks.

If what you care about, however, is size and shape, beauty and battery life, polish and pleasure, then the iPhone 4 is calling your name.” – David Pogue

Who is this review for: Pogue nails the reason many people buy the iPhone over competitors and his review follows the same logic. If you don’t want the nitty- gritty of the other reviews on this list and want to know in simple terms what’s new with the iPhone 4 then Pogue should be your go to reviewer.

Boing Boing

Apple iPhone 4: Hands-on review – Boing Boing: “Would I buy it? Yes.” – Xeni Jardin

Who is this review for: This review is another favorite as is perfect for the reader who wants to see a lot of images taken with the iPhone 4 and get a real world feel to how it works. I love that Jardin uses the device and reports back on how it holds up to how she uses the phone in real life. For more on tethering, video and the camera you need to read this review.

iPhone 4 Review: The WORST Things about Apple’s New iPhone – Huffington Post: “If you’re eligible for an upgrade, or a new user switching to AT&T, the iPhone will cost you $199 (for 16GB) and $299 (for 32GB). If you aren’t eligible for an upgrade, switching early to the new iPhone will require you to shell out $399 and $499, for the 16 and 32GB models respectively. Buy the phone without a contract and it’ll cost you even more: $599 and $699 for 16 and 32GB versions.” – Bianca Bosker

Who is this review for: If you like to complain about things that you can’t control or shouldn’t waste your breath on this is the review for you. While some concerns are valid — picking on the iPhone’s price off contract is a waste of time as it’s in line with almost every other off contract high-end smartphone and purchases indicate that many users won’t care about the closed nature, location tracking and etc.

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