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  • iPhone 4 Review - Everything You Want to Know
    The iPhone 4 is here.

    You've already seen it of course. Both before and while Steve decided to show it off. You've seen the box (although Apple.com had that up there since they launched the iPhone 4 on their site - who knows why that's so exciting, ha). You've had iOS4 in your hands for days or weeks. And I'm going to show it all to you again. Because now it's in our hands.

    The Packaging

    (you can click any of the photos in this article for larger versions)

    The box is smaller than the previous iPhones. It comes much the same as the other iPhones have - cardboard box, wrapped in clearwrap. Also, the box is white, even though the iPhone is black.

    Once opened, the iPhone 4 is immediately viewable on top of the box, with the same protective clearwrap as previous models. Also the same is the USB cable, earphones, and USB to AC adapter as well. The USB to AC adapter is considerably smaller than the past iPhone models were. Two Apple decals are in the box as well.

    Setting it Up

    Fairly straightforward here - same process as before. Although the first thing you notice when you plug it in is that screen. Apple calls it a "retina display" because it [arguably] displays more pixels than the eye can see. Regardless of whether I can see more pixels than this, it definitely looks incredible. Very noticeable difference between past models. I'll talk about this more later in the review.

    Connect the iPhone to iTunes, and you're greeted with a screen asking you to register your new iPhone. You can register the iPhone through your existing iTunes account, or add your info here now. Once synced up and ready, the iPhone 4 has a new microSIM inside, not the standard SIM in your previous model. Because of this, you can't just swap SIM cards and go - you'll need to activate the new phone with AT&T. The directions are slightly different depending on where you bought it.

    Through AT&T

    If you pre-ordered through AT&T, AT&T sent out an email to folks who ordered, although it's not mentioned /anywhere/ in the box [that I found]. You'll need to visit att.com/Activations to activate. When I visited (upgrading a line), it asked for my existing number I was upgrading, and a verification number (you choose - last 4 of social, birthday, or billing zip). I put that in, and the IMEI and SIM number (on the back of your iPhone box) were already pre-populated since I pre-ordered this one from AT&T. You may need to add those yourself if you didn't - not sure. They recommend the phone be OFF while you activate online (press and hold the top button, then slide the red slider to turn it off). AT&T says to wait 15 minutes after activating to turn the phone back on. I waited 5, turned the phone on, and it was activated fine.

    Through Apple

    If you pre-ordered through Apple it's even easier. When you connect to iTunes, iTunes prompts you to enter your AT&T account info to complete the activation. Phone number is pre-populated, and they ask for billing zip code and last 4 of social. Once you enter that and press submit, you're shown a screen letting you know your activation is now processing. You can disconnect your iPhone now - reconnect it if you want to sync to iTunes now.

    That's it! The phone is active now...


    First Impressions

    iPhone 4 is more chiseled than any previous model. The original iPhone was metal, yes, but still had the [slightly] curved back. The iPhone 3G and 3G[S] were more plasticky and had an even deeper curve than the original model. Apple has kept the curves here, but pushed them off to the corners only. If you've been using previous models, the first thing you'll notice when you hold the iPhone 4 is the back feels like it's missing. Your palm isn't gripping it anymore; your fingers are. The phone feels strong, sleek, and has an almost industrial beauty. It feels smaller, yet stronger.

    Specs wise, the iPhone 4's (h) 4.5 inches (115.2 mm) x (w) 2.31 inches (58.6 mm) x (d) 0.37 inch (9.3 mm) and weight of only 4.8 ounces (137 grams) are similar to the 3G[S], with some notable difference in depth. iPhone 3G[S] came in at (h) 4.5 inches (115.5 mm) x (w) inches (62.1 mm) x (d) 0.48 inch (12.3 mm) and nearly the same weight - 4.8 ounces (135 grams). The depth difference is very noticeable - this iPhone is very thin. If you were Apple you'd say it was magical - maybe not quite, but the engineering here is to be applauded for sure.

    The Retina Display

    The front of the phone brings a much heavier focus on the actual screen. The chromed bezel is removed in favor of a slightly wider black space on the sides than the 3G[S] had. The chrome of the 3G and 3G[S] reflected the surroundings which, setting these side by side, you can tell distracted from the screen. And who would want distraction from this screen? The retina display is gorgeous seen up close.

    Where previously letters would be blurry on curves or on edges where drop shadows were applied by the OS, they are now crystal clear and as sharp as the iPhone 4 itself. Stock icons have been retouched slightly to show off the higher resolution. The 3G[S] was impressive when it came out at a 480-by-320-pixel resolution at 163 ppi. The iPhone 4 laughs at those numbers with its 960-by-640-pixel resolution at 326 ppi and 800:1 contrast ratio. Blacks are much darker.

    Screenshots also share the new resolution. A screenshot taken on a 3G[S] running iOS4 comes in as a 308kb .png at 320x960. The iPhone 4 screenshot is 1MB at a 640x960 resolution.

    iPhone 3G[S] Screenshot:

    iPhone 4 Screenshot:

    The Buttons

    The hardware buttons are all steel now. The volume up and down button have been separated, and are round. The vibrate/silence button is also steel, and has a much more satisfying "click" feeling when moved between positions. The home button also has this same feeling - a stronger click, where the 3G[S] was more a "depression." The headphones jack is now completely flush with the top of the phone - no more slightly curved weird headphone access to your iPhone. There is a second mic on the top of the iPhone for noise cancellation.

    The Camera[s]

    The photos from the camera are brilliant. Apple showed them off a bit on their website and at WWDC, and some have leaked in the past couple weeks. They're all true - the iPhone 4 takes brilliant pictures and video.

    The video is a clean HD (720p) at up to 30 frames per second with audio. There is now tap to focus included in the video.

    Here's a quick video I took on the back porch with the iPhone 4:

    [ame=http://vimeo.com/12805538]iPhone 4 - Waterfall on Vimeo[/ame]

    The rear camera is a 5 megapixel one, with tap to focus same as previous models. These photos were taken just now with the iPhone 4, and resized down to an 800px width (or height on profile orientation) and saved as .jpg's at 80 quality. The full size images are ~2MB each. I have not touched anything on them other than resizing.

    The front camera takes VGA-quality photos and video at up to 30 frames per second. Here's a couple images taken with it, not resized OR retouched.

    The Innards [Performance]

    With 512MB of RAM the phone speeds through use without hesitation. Opening menus, playing back video, animations, etc are all quick and smooth.

    We've just laid our hands on it, so I can't speak for battery yet, but according to Apple the iPhone 4 gets 7 hours talk time on 3G and 14 on 2G. The 3G[S] by comparison gets 5 and 12 respectively, according to Apple. Standy is rated at 300 hours for both. Internet usage is 6 and 10 on those numbers, with the 3G[S] being rated at 5 and 9. Audio playback increases to 40 hours on the iPhone 4 from 30 hours on the 3G[S]. Video playback stays the same at 10 hours.

    The Video

    iPhone 4 can display video up to 720p (H.264), and can output up to 1024x768. It looks great on the phone.

    The Audio

    Apple doesn't mention any improvements to the speaker, so it could be my ears, but on both my 3G[S]'s here the sound distorts around the same volume, and with the same audio on the iPhone 4 I do not hear this.



    iOS4 has been covered quite a bit, and runs quick on the iPhone 4. I'll go over some of the major new features here.


    Facetime is a cool feature which Apple has pushed as a focal point on the iPhone 4. You can video chat with any other iPhone 4 owner, as long as you're both on WiFi. When you call someone with an iPhone 4 with FaceTime on (there's a setting in Settings > Phone where you can turn it on or off - of the two iPhone 4's I received today, one of them had it default as on, one did not) there is a button (where the hold button is on other iPhones) which says FaceTime. Press it, and you are shown your own video feed from the front camera. The person on the other phone is shown a screen which is similar to the call answer/decline screen asking if they would like to connect via FaceTime. If they accept, there's a 2-3 second delay while your phone says accepted, and then they blink into view.

    It works, but it's not perfect. The quality of the video is average (VGA) and the framerate is not fluid. I chatted with my kid a bit and it's definitely useable and fluid enough to not look "cheap." I definitely am not getting the 30 fps Apple says the front camera is capable of - and we were both in well-lit areas. Of course, this is the first revision, so let's give Apple a little time to work on it still. It's very cool to use.


    Folders on the iPhone 4 are a welcome addition. Categories has been doing it on jailbroken devices for a good long while, and Apple has finally picked up the idea and put it to use.

    To create a folder, simply tap and hold any icon to get them "wiggly" then drag an icon onto any other icon. These two will be the first in your new folder. iOS4 attempts to choose a name based on the app types, but allows you to edit that name to what you'd like. The folders open right on the SpringBoard with a nifty animation, and tapping anywhere else on the screen closes them (or pressing the home button).

    One negative aspect of Folders - no more than 12 apps in a folder. There is no scrolling within a folder, so once you've hit 12 apps in a folder, you need to start a new one if you want more space. Vertical scrolling within a folder would be nice.


    All your apps are automatically multitasking with iPhone 4. Tasks which were started will complete in the background. It's not exact state - start a level on Angry Birds, close it, open something else and then get back to Angry Birds via the multitasking bar, and you'll be starting that level over. Developers can work more in later using this feature. I noticed no slow-down in the device even with a dozen and more apps running.

    To check your multitasking apps, double tap the home button from anywhere in the iPhone. You'll see a list of all open apps in the bottom of your screen, while the rest of the screen dims out. You can scroll horizontally to see the apps. From the first 4 icons, if you'd like to see the iPod controls you're used to seeing when you double-tap home, just scroll to the left - they're right there.


    iMovie is coming soon to the AppStore for iPhone 4 - at only $4.99. It's not out yet, but when it is we'll update this portion of the review. I'm assuming they're waiting 'til the official launch date to put it on the AppStore. It allows you to edit HD video right on your iPhone 4 and upload to various sharing destinations.


    The phone /just/ became publicly available today (and only for those who got their pre-orders delivered early) - so there is obviously no jailbreak yet. iOS4 /has/ been jailbroken on all other devices. Modem firmware (baseband) is listed as 01.59.00 in the device, so Apple must be starting the naming convention over for the iPhone 4. The current baseband on previous devices is 05.13.04. The Dev Team will have their hands on devices this week if they don't have them already, so we'll wait on their testing.


    Apple has done well with the iPhone 4. It looks like art - in fact, Steve loves to say Apple lives at the corner of liberal arts and technology. The design inherent in the device is matched 100% in it's software, and in use it delivers exactly what you'd expect from it's form.

    Well done.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: iPhone 4 Review - Everything You Want to Know started by Kyle Matthews View original post
    Comments 143 Comments
    1. LastSonOfKrypton's Avatar
      LastSonOfKrypton -
      I went almost 3 hours without my phone being activated till I read this article I had no clue I had to activate online!

      I feel like a ra-tard
    1. BlackHoleSlam1994's Avatar
      BlackHoleSlam1994 -
      i mite want this over my moto droid
    1. iLoveWindows&iPhone's Avatar
      iLoveWindows&iPhone -
      I did pre order from best buy.. Well there version of pre-order: $50 down. I hope I get one the 29th, I can handle that wait, I just hope it's no later than that! I would have pre ordered at AT&T if they would have accepted a debit card with visa, or cash!! ONLY a credit card?? No
      cash? How does that make ANY since??
    1. jcrod73's Avatar
      jcrod73 -
      I got my iPhone 4 today also...FedEx almost delivered it to the WRONG HOUSE!!! Thank goodness there was someone there to tell them they messed up!!! So i got mine all set up today and am pretty please with it...the speed of the phone is awesome...taking pictures are quicker...the flash is awesome...so is switching from the rear facing camera to the front facing one is cool...BUT i am having the singal reception problem...i dropped 1 call so far...i had better reception with my 3Gs...i hope they fix this or if it becomes a problem i'm bringing mine back into the APPLE store...if i have to do that i just may throw it back in their faces....CMON APPLE!!!! JEEZ!!!
    1. romeoz's Avatar
      romeoz -
      I love this phone..cant wait till the jailbreak comes out
    1. Conas's Avatar
      Conas -
      Sweet review, Kyle, thanks.
      Can't wait to get mine! I bet it's jailbroken by then.
    1. MetallicaFan1991's Avatar
      MetallicaFan1991 -
      Is the speaker louder than on the 3GS?

      End of July is when stock will come here
    1. rubberneck's Avatar
      rubberneck -
      Hmm, I am seeing this reception bug... My video, please excuse the manual focusing issues
    1. MHmagic77's Avatar
      MHmagic77 -
      The display is simply amazing! I held my 3GS next to the i4, and took some video on each. Maaaaaannnnnn, the video quality is simply amazing! As for the regular display? Just look at the friggin text, and how clear and crisp everything is.

      As for the antenna issues...well my i4 seems to have 1 more bar than the 3GS had...so, so far I am happy.

      Overall, this phone is simply amazing. I am excited to see what apps we will have in store with the gyro!
    1. topless1967stang's Avatar
      topless1967stang -
      Quote Originally Posted by FURBY8704 View Post
      i just tried it and its true hahaha they slowly start decreasing til no bars >_<

      My signal is OK now. But for the first couple minutes I had a very weak signal.
    1. brian5s's Avatar
      brian5s -
      I received the iPhone 4 today, activated it and synced all of my apps from my Jailbroken 3GS. I noticed a few things after playing with it a bit.

      - Seemed to get quite hot. I have a case on my 3GS and not on the 4, so it's possibly just because I don't notice it as much on the 3GS? Anyone else experience this?

      - The Google maps seemed to lag quite a bit in drawing the actual map. I noticed this both via 3g and Wifi.

      - At one point, the iPhone completely shut down like the BSOD! I was listening to music via headphone jack, pulled the headphones out and bam! Went down like a ton of bricks. Hoping it was just a fluke. Tried to repeat it again and couldn't get it to do it.

      - The background (Multitasking) apps just seem to get in the way, more than act as a true multitask capability. They seem to just pause, yet, I couldn't figure out how to get them to halt completely. In Backgrounder, I can hit the home button as normal to close the backgrounded app at any time. Couldn't figure out how to do this in iOS4. Holding the icon in the recent list and deleting it seems to just remove it from the recent list. (The doc doesn't help much ;^) )

      - Folders work mostly well. Categories and other app/folder management, jailbroken apps weren't much better.

      Oustside of the new OS issues I have, the new hardware features of the iPhone 4 seem to be rock solid. I will keep an eye on the perceived heat and reboot of the phone.
    1. eballesq's Avatar
      eballesq -
      Dammit. Was loving this thing until I noticed the shrinking bars issue. Both mine (32GB) and my wife's (16GB) lose the bars when holding the phone normally. Set it down, and the bars spring back.

    1. ColsTiger's Avatar
      ColsTiger -
      Great review Kyle! Can't wait until tomorrow morning to get my hands on my first upgrade since the first gen version from three years ago.
    1. brian5s's Avatar
      brian5s -
      Quote Originally Posted by rubberneck View Post
      Hmm, I am seeing this reception bug... My video, please excuse the manual focusing issues
      I have seen this as well. Haven't dropped any calls yet, but, the reception does drop quite a bit depending on where you hold it.
    1. Jailbroken heart's Avatar
      Jailbroken heart -
      So any clue to still get the iPhone 4 without me paying $599 for mine? Can I get the iPhone through someone elses upgrade, and cut my sim card to fit? I know this is the perfect place to ask since, you know, we are trying to beat the "iSystem"
    1. topless1967stang's Avatar
      topless1967stang -
      Quote Originally Posted by MetallicaFan1991 View Post
      Is the speaker louder than on the 3GS?

      End of July is when stock will come here

      I don't have a Db meter, but at first I could swear my 3GS is louder. After much listening it seems to be the same volume, and with some full size headphones they sound the same too.

      I can't make a call with my 3GS now, so I can't compare speakerphone. It seems to be the same as the 3GS.

      Side by side my iPhone 4 is picking up my neighbors Wi-Fi signal stronger than my 3GS, so that looks promising.

      .... I just went outside my house with my 3GS and iPhone 4 side by side. My iPhone 4 picked up 8 Wi-Fi signals, my 3GS only picked up 5. And the iPhone 4 had stronger signals on all of them.

      The iPhone 4 definitely has much better Wi-Fi reception.
    1. anthonycarranza81's Avatar
      anthonycarranza81 -
      Dear Jailbreakers,
      I wanted to know if there was an update on whether the iphone 4 jailbreak is available for the Windows platform. A list of links and instructions would be helpful...
    1. lexquiles's Avatar
      lexquiles -
      Ahhhhhh great now cause of this great review I have to go camp out at an At&t like the rest of these fools Just kidding!
    1. Cer0's Avatar
      Cer0 -
      Quote Originally Posted by anthonycarranza81 View Post
      Dear Jailbreakers,
      I wanted to know if there was an update on whether the iphone 4 jailbreak is available for the Windows platform. A list of links and instructions would be helpful...
      There is not iPhone 4 jailbreak at all yet. There is one for iOS 4.0.
    1. tamaysz's Avatar
      tamaysz -
      Nice review!

      I have a new 3Gs, so I haven't bothered to order an iPhone 4 yet, but one thing has my curiosity, and I'm hoping someone might be able to find out and answer this question.

      The current 4.0 jailbreak by the dev team only works with the old bootrom. The thing I wonder about, does anyone know the iPhone 4 has the same bootrom that's in the new 3Gs, or does the iPhone 4 have a whole new bootrom?

      Hopefully the i4 has the same bootrom as the new 3Gs' so the dev team, Geohot, and other jailbreak creators can basically 'kill two birds with one stone'. Otherwise, if Apple added a third bootrom to the mix, it's gonna make things pretty interesting for jailbreak creators I think.