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  • philosofa - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    This kind of in-depth and insightful review is exactly why I read pretty much every Anandtech article (that and a liberal workplace when it comes to browsing lol). Cheers very much Brian & Anand. Don't feel a huge urge to upgrade from my 3GS, but it does look like a pretty damn fine smartphone! Reply
  • quiksilvr - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Yeah, but he's holding it wrong :( Reply
  • medi01 - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    But guys, who do you pay a fortune for these phones? If you'd buy iphone or whatever phone with 2 year contract in most of Europe you'd pay just the price of the phone over 2 years (a bit more, in case of iphones it's about 700 Euro)

    I mean, aren't there cheaper contracts? I could imagine, that you can't buy some models other than from mobile providers, but hey, there are other countries with online shops.
  • Snotling - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    In north America and even more in Canada, there is a lot of territory to cover and lower population density. Cellular networks need to plant antennas where there is theoretically too few users to pay for it. Reply
  • JimmiG - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    Sweden is kind of like a smaller version of Canada. Apart from the three major metro regions (Stockholm, Malmo and Gothenburg), the country is very sparsely populated. An average city is maybe 50,000 people. Yet we have extremely affordable plans by comparison.. I mean like less than $10 for a perfectly usable plan (1GB of data or so) and no more than $20 for 5GB or even Unlimited. Paying $100 a moth..geez. I barely pay that in a year. Reply
  • Ratinator - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    Sorry, I think that is a bad comparison.

    Sweden is 2/3rd the size of the province of Saskatchewan and 9 times the population of Saskatchewan as well. You can't even compare Sweden to the province of Saskatchewan let alone Canada. You have roughly 13.5 times the population density of that province. Mind you this is probably least densely populated of the provinces (not territories) Maybe not the best example, but lets look at a better one.

    You could maybe compare to Ontario (our most populated province) however, you are less than half their size with 80% of their population. When calculated out you still have almost twice the population density of our most populated province.
  • ABR - Monday, July 05, 2010 - link

    It's pretty hard to find countries with similar population density to Canada, ranked 228 out of 239 in the world according to wikipedia. On the other hand, most of the country is inaccessible by road and I seriously doubt you are putting up cell towers in Nunavut. On the other hand Finland has half the population density of the United States and yet has similar cellular and broadband rates to Sweden. We don't know what it is with North America, whether a lack of competition, cartel agreements, or all the companies being weighed down by historical investments, but you guys do lead the world in what you pay for communications. Reply
  • Guspaz - Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - link

    According to the CIA world factbook (yes, I use a foreign agency's site for info on my own country), 90% of Canada's population lives within 160km of the US border.

    If we make an estimated measurement and take the southern border's length at 6416 km, multiply that by 160 and you get an area of about a million square kilometres with a population of, adjusting for the 90%, about 31 million. That would be an actual density in that region of about 31 people per square kilometre.

    That puts us in 180th place, right behind the US in 179, which has a density of 32. This is close enough to say that, within our populated region, we've got about the same population density as the US.
  • ripwell - Saturday, July 03, 2010 - link

    Are you comparing data plans to voice and data plans? Telia was blasted when the iPhone first came out with some of the most expensive plans in the world. It's pretty amazing if you're suggesting that you can now get voice and data for just $10 a month. Reply
  • JimmiG - Sunday, July 04, 2010 - link

    "It's pretty amazing if you're suggesting that you can now get voice and data for just $10 a month. "

    You rarely get pre-paid minutes here unless you really want to. You just pay about $6 a month and get billed for your minutes afterwards. In my case, it's about 10¢ per minute, but to phones on the same network, you get unlimited texts, mms's and minutes. Yes, for $6 a month. That includes most of my friends and relatives that's pretty much what I pay for voice and texts.

    Then on top of that, you can add your data plan, for example 1GB a month at 6Mb is $9 (add $7.8 for 5GB at 10Mb/s).

    -Or, if you really must go crazy, you can get 3,000 minutes for $65. Combined with 5GB/month at 10Mb/s, you're paying roughly $82. That's the absolute maximum. No subsidized phone, but you get over 3x more minutes than the iPhone deal and 2.5x the amount of data. The phones aren't really subsidized at all when you look at the total cost.

    "You could maybe compare to Ontario (our most populated province) however, you are less than half their size with 80% of their population. When calculated out you still have almost twice the population density of our most populated province. "

    But what about the US? Its population density is 32/km2 vs 20.6/km2 for Sweden. There are definitely states that are comparable in size and population density.
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    How does international work? Are other parts of Europe covered by that as well or are they all additional? Reply
  • B3an - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    Theres way WAY less options for network and internet providers in the U.S, especially compared to here in the U.K..
    So less competition means higher prices. And of course the size of the U.S/Canada is a problem.
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    Some friends who have been living in England say that cell usage over there is way more expensive. They claim the only affordable way to do it is with pay as you go SIMs and just not use them much.

    But yes more competition would be nice. For me Verizon is the only carrier that offers the kind of coverage I need. So between the fact that I can't go anywhere and that they don't offer an off-contract rate I have no reason not to take the subsidized phones and contract extensions.
  • Chissel - Sunday, July 04, 2010 - link

    I'm an American living in the UK. iPhone 4 rates here are much lower. The best I have seen is from Tesco (o2 network). Low cost no frills service. 750 minutes + unlimited texts + 1gb of data per month. Also, incoming calls do not charge minutes. 1 yr. contract 32gb iPhone 4 = £299/$450 + £35/$50 per month (all tax included). After 1 yr. they have to unlock your phone. After you unlock the phone you can drop down to £20/$30 per month.

    This means the 2 year cost of the phone + service in the UK is £959/$1,438. In the US the 2 year cost is $299 + tax and $105/mo + tax. Total cost over 2 years is $2,819 without tax.

    As you can see the UK has much lower price over the 2 years. Plus, after 1 year you 'own' your phone and can resell and buy iPhone 5.
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    I think the unlock on AT&T can be requested after 3 months, definitely after a year as I had a friend do that. Reply
  • StormyParis - Saturday, July 03, 2010 - link

    I've abandonned data plans, and switched back to plain voice, on my HD2. I get Wifi most everywhere (at home and at work for sure, and most places in between). I was simply not using data that much, it's not worth the monthly 30 euros they want for it.

    99.5% of the time, there's no difference at all. 0.5% of the time... i can survive...
  • vol7ron - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I agree, but...

    "The fact that Apple didn't have the foresight to coat the stainless steel antenna band with even a fraction of an ounce worth of non-conductive material either tells us that Apple doesn't care or that it simply doesn't test thoroughly enough. The latter is a message we've seen a few times before with OS X issues..."

    Apple would just see this as another selling point for the bumper.

    I'm curious if you've had a chance to test with the microfilm covers like Bodyguardz or Zagg.

    I use these because of how thin they are and how great they are at protecting the device (scratch free even when dropping on concrete). They cover all points of the phone rather effectively. I'm curious if they would be beneficial to your testing.

  • Brian Klug - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link


    You're totally right, I need to test with a thin film or some heavy duty tape/invisible shield. I originally thought of doing that, but somehow it got lost in all that frenzied testing. I'll whip something up and see if anything changes. I mean that's a good point too, it might not do very much.

    I mean, ultimately there's a thickness you do need to achieve, and to be fair a lot of the benefit the case adds is that extra couple mm or two from the antenna. If the film is too thin, it might not do much. What makes me uneasy about saying anything definitively is that this is so near field - literally on top of the radiative surface. I'll admit I have only a basic level of understanding about what kind of interference happens in the very near field. I mean even at 1.8 GHz, one wavelength is 16 cm - the case and your hands on the phone is way inside near field.

  • rainydays - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Agree. Outstanding review. The detailed analysis and level headed tone is excellent. Keep up the great work.

    Antenna section was illuminating. Good point about using SNR. I wonder if that number by itself is sufficient though. I guess signal power in dbm along with SNR would give the most complete picture of reception.

    At any rate, as is abundantly clear in the article, you never really know where you are till you see the numbers.
  • John Sawyer - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    Yes, the numbers, details, etc. are more important than a lot of people realize. It often annoys me when I see people commenting about issues that involve actual measurement, technical facts, etc., without referring to any of those, and thus winding up with all kinds of conspiracy theories, bogus suggestions, etc. As applied to hardware problems from any manufacturer, generally many such commenters, in their understandable desire to just see a fix for a problem, wind up suggesting the only important thing is for the manufacturer to set up a return exchange program, which would be nice if it were always that easy, but it doesn't address the details of the problem that are often quite interesting, and can be very useful for people trying to learn from the situation. Reply
  • Mike Wadner - Saturday, July 03, 2010 - link

    Well then you're in pretty bad shape. Anyone who considers Microsoft not far behind Apple has their head up their F**KING ass. May be a nice review but I have doubts about their overall knowledge of whats going on out there. Reply
  • jorpoka - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    People seem to making a big deal about the increased ram in iPhone 4, but I think it was almost required.

    The graphics chip shares memory with the system (just like in previous models) so you have to consider the fact that the screen resolution has increased by 4. How is the system going to deal with the higher resolution grahpics... the 512 MB of ram.

    For now not every application on app store uses the updated resolution, but as more and more apps are updated for iOS 4 and the retina display i think the additional 256 MB ram benefit will decrease.
  • solipsism - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    The surprise wasn't that 512MB wasn't deemed needed, it was simply unexpected after the iPad with a higher resolution, faster processor and generally higher chance for more complex apps to run on the 8x larger display only being shipped with 256MB, like the 3GS, when 512MB was expected. On other words, if the iPad didn't get 512MB RAM, few expected the iPhone 4 being shipped just a couple month later to get it. Reply
  • John Sawyer - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    Not higher resolution on the iPad, but more pixels (but we get your meaning). Reply
  • Snotling - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    that's the point I'm trying to make since the iPad's release... it was not a planned product, it was ruched out just so they would not be assassinated by the press and the fanatics, my full conspiracy theory is on my blog:

    Now with the iPhone 4, we see what Apple was actually working on before rushing out the iPad and its a very good product. superior in every way to the iPad.
  • tkoyah - Sunday, July 04, 2010 - link

    Um, the iPad wasn't rushed. The iPad project actually pre-dated that of the iPhone. But when it became aparent that this would be the perfect interface for a Phone, the iPhone project began, and was given a higher priority.

    I expect this first iPad wasn't given more RAM: a) to keep the price-point under $500 b) because there was no pre-existing iPad software, so having less memory available wouldn't break any apps.
  • tipoo - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    The big deal is that the iPad, their tablet, has half the RAM of the phone they released shortly after. With a bigger screen and more pixels, people naturally would have expected the iPad to have the technological edge, but with only half the RAM of the iPhone that is not the case. Reply
  • AMDJunkie - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Begins after this post. Reply
  • Zokudu - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Wonderfully written article I love this line of high end smartphone articles you guys have been releasing. I love the quality of the writing at Anandtech.

    Just a few questions I have.
    Doesn't AT&T have a 5 year exclusivity deal for the iPhone meaning they would still have around 2 years remaining before an opposing carrier could offer the device?

    Also several of my friends with iPhones both 3G and 3GS constantly complained about AT&Ts coverage within New York and blamed the carrier. However several of them have gotten iPhone 4's and are reported fewer dropped calls if any at all. I have been using a Blackberry on AT&T's network for several years now and have had no issues with their coverage. Do you feel the dropped calls within hot spots such as New York should be blamed on the iPhone itself or the network?

    Also where do you feel that Windows Phone 7 fits into the future of smartphones. Do you envision it taking center stage against both iOS4 and Android or falling to the wayside such as webOS ended up doing?

    Once again thank you for the wonderful read and keep up the quality work.
  • JAS - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    AT&T recently upgraded its 3G network in New York City. So, the improved wireless connection experienced with the iPhone 4 might be coincidental.
  • John Sawyer - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    You mean, "might NOT be coincidental"? Reply
  • John Sawyer - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    A very large part of the problem between ATT and the iPhone prior to model 4, has been a weird interaction between the two, rather than being due to just one or the other. I don't know which party is more to "blame" for not having addressed this problem, but since the iPhone 4, and non-iPhones, experience much fewer problems with ATT's signal, I suspect Apple and the previous iPhone designs are more to blame, and ATT has allowed itself to take the brunt of it. Reply
  • Dennis Travis - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Another Outstanding review. So much detail. The part on the Antenna was great. Answered any questions I had about the iPhone 4.

    Thanks so much.
  • mongo lloyd - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    "If you're married to Android, in the next 6 - 12 months we should see feature parity from the competition."

    I must be mad then, because I'd say there are Android smartphones out there that match, or even surpass the iPhone 4's features (especially software-wise), apart from battery life and the high-res screen (but the difference isn't massive between 600x960 and 480x800 or 480x854, plus you have the TFT vs (S)AMOLED pros and cons).
  • mongo lloyd - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    It is a nice screen though, I must say. Reply
  • solipsism - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Buying and using nearly every new smartphone I can't say that Android beats iOS in any consumer way expect for the anemic notification system found on iOS, but while Android is pretty decent, it's still a far cry from WebOS. I haven't gotten the push for Froyo yet, have they finally fixed copy/paste on Android to?

    I see Android (and other) smartphones being in trouble in this next year against the iPhone 4. They will need to compete against the iPhone 4's display but at the risk of battery life, which they already do poorly in (despite the iPhone getting a bad rap). Unless Froyo has brought about some dynamic power management changes I don't think see other smartphones being as competitive as they would have been otherwise.
  • Spoelie - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    In GSMarena's preview of iOS4, there is a whole list of features that iOS4 does not do that Android does. This is not a stab at iOS4, but it does validate the conclusions Anand makes and it proves that you can't really make blanket statements like "can't say that Android beats iOS in any consumer way". It just depends how much you value those kind of features. The list reads like this:

    * No Flash support in the web browser
    * No true multitasking for all applications
    * iOS4 for iPhone 3G has limited new feature set
    * Poor performance on iPhone 3G
    * No quick toggles for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or 3G
    * No social networking integration
    * No info widgets on lockscreen or homescreen
    * SMS tones are still not customizable
    * No mass mark emails as read
    * No proper file browser or access to the file system
    * No USB mass storage mode
    * No vibration feedback when touching the screen
    * No Bluetooth file transfers to other mobile phones
    * Contacts lack a swipe-to-delete or mass delete feature
    * No SMS/MMS delivery notifications
    * No smart dialing (but Spotlight is a somewhat of a substitute)
    * No DivX or XviD video support and no official third-party application to play that
    * The whole iPhone is too dependent on iTunes - you cannot add the same type of content (video, photos, apps) to the phone from two computers, a regular file management interface would have been much better

    Again, not a stab at iOS4, just to point out the different markets.
  • FATCamaro - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I think all but 3 in your list are design choices rather than missing features. The only things that seem like features would be...

    * No info widgets on lockscreen or homescreen
    * No SMS/MMS delivery notifications
    * No mass mark emails as read
  • Griswold - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Theres no difference for the enduser between design choices and missing features - if it doesnt do what you want or need it to do, its not the right phone. That said, the feature set of android is much richer, but not everyone wants or needs that... apparently. Doesnt change the fact that android does beat iOs in many ways. Reply
  • Thorvald - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I understand that you aren't trying to stab at iOS4, but some of these really seem to be a stretch. For example, the iPhone 3G is just about two years old. What two-year old Android phone is running the latest OS with full feature parity as brand-new phones?

    I am quite sure that someone (with more time on their hands than me) could come up with an equally long list of points where Android falls short of iOS4, especially if we are going to be nitpicky about it.

    It would be more nice if there were ways to objectively measure quality of user experience. Specific features are something that can be listed, but implementation counts too.
  • Spoelie - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    You have to understand that that list was NOT originally compiled as a comparison to Android but was the negative part of a "what can you expect with this upgrade" (positives vs negatives) list. The iOS4 upgrade is offered on the 3G and that's why the point has merit: what does the upgrade mean for 3G users?

    However I concur it can read as a comparison since most of these points are Android features on SOME phones (social networking integration for example is mostly part of the proprietary custom UIs like HTC Sense and TouchWiz and not part of Android itself).

    Personally, since I do have an Android phone, it reads more like a "what would I miss if I made the switch" list. But only some of the points.
  • darwinosx - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Thats a really idiotic list composed by someone who knows nothing about iPhones.

    -Anyone who wants flash on a mobile device is not paying attention.
    -Comments on IOS4 on the 3G are silly. Especially since Apple says its not supported except on the 3GS and 4. Funny how they don't comment on how many Android phones are still on 1.6 and will never be upgraded including some pretty new phones.
    -"True' multi-tasking? I don't think they understand how Android multi-tasking works. It's certainly not "true" multi-tasking as on a desktop os. It's also highly inefficient and a major cause of poor Android phone battery life.
    -Android phones have widgets, which are intrusive and resource consuming because the stock Android OS UI is so awful.
    -There are plenty of ways to USB mass storage with the iPhone.
    -You can mass mark e-mails as read.
    -There are plenty of ways to access the file system not that 99% of users will ever want to.
    -You don't need vibration feedback when touching the screen because the iPhone screen, unlike many Android phones, actually reacts easily to touch.
    -You can do bluetooth file transfers.
    -SMS/MMS has multiple delivery notifications.
    -I play Xvid and Divx all the time and there are multiple third party apps for that.
    -You can add to the iPhone from other apps including Double Twist and others.

    Truly an idiotic list.
  • bplewis24 - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Whether or not the list is idiotic, you just solidified your own standing with this post. I'm not sure why I even bothered posting to such an idiotic retort.

  • mesiah - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    lmao, not to sound like an android fanboy, or even an apple.... haterboy (hmmm new term there.) But your reasoning for alot of those missing features just further backs up the apple fan stereo type.

    Any time an apple device lacks a feature its because "That feature is not needed.' "That feature is useless." or how about "Anyone who wants ___ isn't paying attention."

    But when the next gen phone comes out, and it finally does have those features. You know, the ones everyone else already had and you said you didn't need. You know, like... a camera. You then talk about how your new feature reinvents the phone its self. How "no one has ever done it like apple did."

    Seriously, its pathetic. I know every phone out there has flaws. I also know there are plenty of things apple gets right with the iphone. I will even go as far to admit that smart phones wouldn't be where they are today if it weren't for the iphone. But you people need to admit when you are missing features you should obviously have simply because the all knowing Steve doesn't think you need them. But then again, coming from a company that can admit no wrong, even when their products have a serious design flaw such as the new antenna issue, I can't really expect the followers to act any differently than the ceo.

    "If you want flash you aren't paying attention. If your reception went through the basement you don't know how to hold a phone. And if the AT&T network sucks its because you and all the other people are actually trying to use it."
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    One of my friends on facebook posted a screenshot of one of iOS4's great new features... can change your wallpaper. Really?
  • bregalad - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    -There are two main reasons to keep Flash off mobile devices: battery life and mouse-overs, a commonly used Flash feature that doesn't work on a touch OS. Given the choice between incomplete support for a resource intensive plug-in and all-day usefulness I'll take that all-day battery life.
    -Multitasking approaches still up for debate
    -iOS 4 runs slowly and lacks features on older hardware - agreed, but does Android do any better? Does your carrier even allow you to upgrade your OS or do you have to get a new phone?
    -Given how much battery life iOS 4 stole from me I really wish there were quick toggles
    -I don't live in any social network. I rarely even launch the facebook app.
    -Something akin to home screen widgets would be very nice
    -Every iPhone and iPod touch has the same sounds, it's terrible in an office with lots of them.
    -Agreed on the mass marking as read
    -Access to the file system is another thing Apple is philosophically opposed to. The iPhone is supposed to be an appliance not a computer.
    -Early iPods had disk mode which was very useful. I wish Apple wouldn't be so inflexible.
    -You want tactile feedback and all day battery life? Maybe next decade.
    -File transfers assumes you have access to the file system and aren't trying to transfer DRM'd files. Not going to happen.
    -I don't know about you, but I've never needed to mass delete contacts from any phone or computer. Do you suffer from multiple personality disorder?
    -Better notifications of all types would be welcome.
    -Smart dialling would be a good feature addition
    -An app whose sole purpose is to play "illegally" downloaded files. Yeah, Steve's going to approve that one 'real soon now'.
    -The dependency on iTunes is a philosophical one. Steve believes your computer is your digital hub, that it contains the master copy of all your stuff. By definition your phone, with its limited storage capacity, contains a subset of that data. I think that makes sense for the vast majority of the public. You're a niche Apple doesn't want to deal with.
  • Griswold - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Must be nonsenseday today.

    And before you say it, yes I got a 3G and I will replace it with a i4 when they're available around here instead of an android phone as I originally planned, but for other reasons than the fictional ones you just stated.
  • Bateluer - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Agreed, there are several Android phones that are out now that offer parity with the iPhone 4, and several within 2 months of release that will handily surpass it.

    As usual, Anand's reviews were very well written and detailed, but I'll still pit my year old Moto Droid against any iPhone product. :p
  • JAS - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    As Anand pointed out in his review, the Google/Android operating system feels more like using a computer; and the iPhone (iOS 4) operating system feels more like an appliance. The Android OS is apt to appeal more to the geek than to the "normal mainstream consumer," just as Microsoft Windows is a favorite of people who like to tinker with their computers.

    For better or worse -- each person has to make their own judgment -- Apple's products are defined as much by features that are purposefully withheld as by the cool innovations that are added.
  • The0ne - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Actually, Anand likes the performance of the iPhone and i don't blame him. It is smooth, well implemented and thus makes using it more enjoyable, quantifiable or not. Features be damn, what counts is how a user perceives the device he/she is using. And once attached or rather use to them it's hard to like something that isn't the same or better.

    For the most part, android OS and WebOS are fine for the vast majority of users. The slight sluggish performance is really not hindering anyone from doing anything practical. It is really just a matter of perception.

    As for features and design, I can honestly say unless you been in the design phase yourself many decisions are made prior to production. Missing features such as Flash memory support is a choice left out purposely. Don't kid yourself they are doing it because they either can't or because of lack of money/resources.
  • mesiah - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    I don't agree with the flash memory support. Flash memory is so cheap to implement that it comes on the cheapest of cheap products. And before anyone uses the excuse of "a flash port would clutter up the phone and make it look ugly" Look at the huge ugly connector port used to sync / dock an iphone. Compare that to micro usb. You don't think they could shrink that thing to a quarter of its current size, or less, and add in a flash memory port? Hell, A smart engineer could make a docking port that doubles as a flash memory port (makes me wonder why we haven't seen this yet.) The reason you don't get upgradeable flash memory is the same reason you don't get removeable batteries. There isn't money in batteries and memory, the money is in forcing people with outdated hardware to upgrade. Reply
  • The0ne - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    Err, I think u might has misread what I was trying to say. As you've stated flash memory support is very easy and cheap to design in. For Apple not to have it means they have purposely decided against it. For example, creative labs has flash support on some of their PMP devices but it is extremely poor in design that it's unusable. That's the other caveat to just putting features in and not properly supporting it. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    By feature parity I was referring to what's new that made it into iPhone 4: higher res screen, 45nm SoC, much improved battery life, smaller form factor. I'd expect that within the next 6 - 12 months we will see Android phones with similar specs.

    Software feature wise, Android is at parity in most cases and far ahead in others.

    Take care,
  • darwinosx - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    They you don't know much about either Android, the iPhone 4, or both. Reply
  • Mumrik - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    Are you aware that your username undermines every single pro Apple comment you make?

    Also, I think most of us will take Anand's word for it over an anonymous commenter's.
  • mmike70 - Sunday, July 04, 2010 - link

    Why does it undermine? Reply
  • John Sawyer - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    The somewhat larger number of pixels in the Retina display that Apple is using in the iPhone 4, plus its smaller size than the Evo and Droid X displays, do combine to make for a massive difference, as the pictures in the article show. I've compared the two, and the iPhone 4 display really is startlingly good. Many things don't look hugely different between the two, such as some videos, larger graphics and text, etc., but small text (which I look at a lot because that's what a lot of websites serve up) certainly does. Reply
  • semo - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I'm sorry Anand but I just couldn't bring my self to read your review after yet again detecting your bias towards this product. You come from an engineering background and it shows in your methods of analysis which appeals to me.

    Do you wait 6 hours in line for a new SSD? I detect hints of emotion in this article's introduction. I could be wrong but I always try to avoid technical reading when I suspect there is bias. It is plain to see on other technical sites where the companies' mission statement is part of the introduction but much more subtle here.

    I look forward to your next SSD and chip architecture articles.
  • bplewis24 - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Anand is about the most objective Apple iPhone fanboy there is. There is no denying this, and it's both a compliment and a criticism. Until he can stop making subjective generalizations like this:

    "There is this more open, more configurable, more capable feel you get with Android that you don't with the iPhone. That can be both a positive and a negative. Android phones feel more like computers while iPhones have more of that appliance feel. It still boils down to personal preference, the 4 won't change that."

    Really, Anand? Being more open and configurable can be a bad thing? We really need to stop perpetuating this myth that Androids can only be liked by "PC" geeks and people who like to dig deep into the OS. The reality is that Android devices don't force you to customize if you don't want to.

    I'm also fairly certain that the "scrolling" issue which isn't present on my Moto Droid has something to do with the live wallpapers eating up CPU processing power. Nevertheless, I don't experience it on my phone and to blanketly imply that the OS UI is clunky (which most iPhone fanboys cling to in every comparison) is completely disingenuous.

    Until Anand can rid himself of some of this bias, he will still be known as the best and most objective iPHone reviewer on the interwebs, but the title in and of itself won't be saying very much.

  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    It honestly is basic differences in UI design. Unified settings panels (iOS) vs. per-app options and global settings (Android), much more freedom to configure how you want things displayed/presented, extending all the way down to the keyboard (Android) vs. a single Apple dictated way. These are the types of things that make the iPhone more of an appliance, basically if you like Apple's approach then there's no better device for you. A *lot* of users don't, and that's where Android comes in to play. I don't believe the power and flexibility of a PC-like device is a bad thing, but not everyone feels the same way. Take a die hard iPhone user and give them your Droid, you'll probably get the same response I did when I let some of those folks use the Nexus One or EVO 4G. It's really a preference thing, it reminds me a lot of the Mac vs. PC debates.

    And while i haven't played with the Droid, the scrolling issue is present on the Nexus One with live wallpapers disabled as well as enabled. Although enabling them makes it worse. The HTC Incredible is the first Android phone I've used that actually improved it, although didn't solve it completely.

    I expect that in the next major Android update Google will fix it once and for all. I hope.

    Take care,
  • JAS - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Yes, "more open, more configurable" is a double-edged sword. A comparison of Microsoft Windows and Macintosh OS X is apt in this regard.

    P.S. -- Can we advance beyond the juvenile label of "fanboy" when criticizing a person's like for a product?
  • bplewis24 - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Juvenile comes with the intent. I have the utmost respect for Anand and his opinion/reviews. If you take "fanboy" as a disparaging remark, fine, but it essentially means you have a bias or preference that obscures some of your objectivity.

  • The0ne - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    As I've often expressed here, I like the reviews to not have any 1st person views. I don't care if one waited for 6hours for a phone. I don't want to hear any "this phone is the all to be". I just want a detail review of the phone and it's features. If one can qualify and/or quantify the differences with other products great. If you can't then don't, rather then having the innate urge to add your own opinions.

    Yes, the apple UI is more smooth, the experience is more enjoyable. The druid UI is a tad slower but by no means going to destroy or ruin anyone's experience. If you can't justify it, don't!

    Lastly, the problem with 1st person perspectives being included in reviews and especially technical reports is that the reader will see it as favoritism. This is why absolutely NO credible technical and scientific review/report is written this way. I don't write my engineering tests and reports in 1st person. Just stick to the material and leave opinions out of it. This type of review ONLY happens online and sadly it's affecting technical and scientific materials as well.

    Do the job, state the facts and tests and let the reader decide how to deal with it. Don't offer the reader any types of suggestion or persuasive comments. If you do include it, like other websites, in the editorial section or something similar.
  • kmmatney - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I wouldn't want to read reviews that just state facts. I'm an engineer/scientist and have written many peer-reviewed scientific papers. For tech reviews, though, I really appreciate user experience. There are just too many intangibles that can't be expressed by facts and tests. That's why I have been reading Anadtech for over 11 years - I appreciate the blend of techiness and user experience. Reply
  • totenkopf - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I have to agree with TheOne on this. Also, you can express "intangibles" without using the first person... If the iPhone's UI feels smoother than another phone then just say that and leave off the "I feel" bit.

    Remember that any statement comparing the iPhone to "Android" will have its flaws. You can only compare the iPhone 4 to other phones, not android. Any such statement will inherently be some form of generalization. Besides, Comparisons made with particular Android phones will be far more helpful as many android phones offer an experience distinct form any other Android phone.

    It's really not that uncommon for iPhone users to play with an Android phone and really like it. Many of them actually seem quite surprised that they actually like it; some merely think that iOS is the only show in town as it has been the best for a long time. Widgets, in particular, offer a lot of customization and, perhaps just as importantly, personalization, that many iPhone users seem to appreciate. If used correctly, widgets can multiply the functionality of your phone many times over, and in some cases preclude running many apps at all. That said, setting up an android with just the way you like it and hunting down the newest and best apps and widgets can be an ongoing struggle. However, many people will enjoy it immensely if for no other reason than to make their phone that much better in their own eyes.

    There! My experience with android without sounding too biased... I think ;) It certainly sounds better than "Android rulz 'cus widgets are soo good and apple doesn't even have them because apple is fail!"
  • John Sawyer - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    As an iPhone user for the past year, I can concur with your observation that many iPhone users would be impressed with the latest Android phones. I've tried the Evo for about ten minutes, and during that time, I did some web browsing, ran some apps, etc., and it was fast (even with a 3G connection), seemed polished, and I wouldn't complain too much if it was the only phone I had to use. If I had the chance to use it longer, I might start seeing its deficiencies, but a quick look, looked good.

    Though a week later, the iPhone 4 was released, and I was blown away by its display, which no other phone matches yet, though I'm somewhat biased about that since I like to be able to read tiny text.
  • The0ne - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    The problem with user experience is that it's just that and it affects how readers perceive the product. I don't mind really that reviews are done this way, but many are done extremely bad. Here are a few examples of comments people include in their reviews...

    "I let me wife play with it for a day or so and she loves it!" This is quite common for PMP player reviews.

    "This is the best thing ever to come out on a phone..." Best thing is more or less an exaggeration. Way too many improper adjectives are used in reviews. Anandtech is no exception to this.

    "I like it..." Okay, that means what, I should too?
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    I disagree, in that I think the subjective "feel" of one phone (and OS) relative to another is largely subjective and can't be quantified in just plain numbers. Would you really feel better if he stated that "after observation with a high speed camera phone X illustrates a scroll with 5 frames and phone Y does so with 20" as opposed to "phone X is noticeably choppier"? Or say for example Sprint shipped a special edition EVO with 768MB RAM, we know that is 50% more, but would it actually make a difference in your interaction with the phone if you had less than 20 apps open?

    I have an HTC Touch Diamond, a WM 6.1 phone with TouchFlo 3d. None of the reviews I read before purchase adequately described how clunky the interaction between the TouchFlo plugin and the background OS is, or how poorly optimized WM6.1 is for a touchscreen, and certainly not how the speed of the device goes from marginal when new to completely unacceptable after a few months and requires a hard reset to restore.
  • ipredroid - Saturday, July 03, 2010 - link

    What many fail to realize is with out opinion there would only be numbers and no reason to have site with user friendly technical data (a site like this). Everyone's opinion is biased or influenced by something, simply sticky by facts and zero emotion devoted towards every product is impossible. Many opinions itself is laced in bias preference for facts.

    I for one want as much information as possible not half the information.

    Facts and opinions have and always will be better than just one of them. Would you rather have technical data about someones trip to Mt. Everest or an opinion. I would want both, so would everyone else or else you are missing facts.

    Science and opinion go hand in hand. Cause and effect.

  • noiserr - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    I am getting really tired of people who have no clue what OS X actually is.

    Android is much more similar to OS X than Windows. OS X is based on an Open Source kernel for starters and both Android and OS X are *nixes, OS X also uses open standards (OpenGL vs. DirectX for instance).

    OS X is in many ways much more configurable and open than Windows, compare how many file systems Windows supports vs. those OS X does.

    Apple is foremost a hardware company. They strive to create tightly integrated devices which come at the price of less configurability but they are renowned for their intuitive UI and ease of use. You may disagree with it but you can't argue against the fact that It's a business model that has served Apple well.

    Personally I am a geek. I also write code for a living, while I do indeed like Android a lot when it comes to my phone I just don't care nor do I have time to tinker with it.
  • Mr Alpha - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    "If there's one thing I hope the iPhone 4 display does, it's generate demand for 300 PPI level desktop displays - the era of 110 PPI displays being the norm needs to end now."

    Hear, hear!
  • Griswold - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I dont want ppi inflated desktop screens. Ive tried to work with them and they are an utter failure for me. Reply
  • Zan Lynx - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I used to use a 150 DPI laptop screen. It was excellent.

    Blame your lousy desktop software, not the beautiful screens.
  • fabarati - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Haven't read through all of it yet, but the contrast part on the first page seems to be in the wrong place, or we're missing a whole section there. I'll add more stuff as I find them. Reply
  • fabarati - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    ok, on the first display page, you write "They're both entirely conventions." It may just be my non-native english speaking that's shining through, but that seems to be lacking a few words.

    And It's hard to know who's writing what. In one section, Brian's the third party, in another, it's anand. Especially when you're comparing things, it makes it a little hard to follow.
  • fabarati - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Some minor niggles, like videocalls already existing in other regions over 3G (and being hugely impopular), and not being sure about it being the best camera (comparisons to other phones than those listed are needed, like some nokia, sony ericsson and samsung phones), but otherwise a very thorough and fair review.

    Good job!
  • Jittos - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I've been sensing Anandtech's bias towards Apple's product for quite sometimes. Especially in cases where there are direct comparisons between iPhone and Android. However, I've always enjoyed the scientific/ fact-based method of tests Anandtech uses.

    Now please correct me if I misunderstood the article, but from what I'm reading in the signal strength comparison, it's iPhone 4 IN A CASE vs iPhone 3GS vs Nexus One? Why only test iPhone 4 in a case? Why not also show the results of iPhone without the case? I'm asking this so that we can all see how the iPhone 4 performs under various scenarios. Many iPhone users prefer to not put their beautiful device in a rubber case.

    IF Anandtech indeed intentionally omit the test results for iPhone without case just so that iPhone 4 can have good looking results, then I lose all respect I have for Anandtech as a professionally run tech site. (so please correct me that I'm wrong)
  • Jittos - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    OK, I re-read the article and I was wrong. sorry.

    Anadtech is still the best :)
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Yeah, don't be so hasty.

    This is easily the best, and most technical article I've seen on the antenna problem yet.

    It confirms it, and describes why people have varying experiences (the really, really non-linear bars.. my guess is those cutoff points WILL be changed in the next iOS build to mask the problem) and compares it reasonably to other devices, which do show the problem, but much, much less.

    I'd love to say this would silence everyone, but I know there will still be irrational people, who, in the face of decent research, will still argue their point with no basis at all.

    Thank you Anand. You do come across as gushing over Apple products recently.. but even so, this was a decent article.
  • Griswold - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Lets be honest, he has only very limited means to meassure the problem. To get to the bottom of this, it needs to be meassured in a HF lab. Reply
  • samspqr - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    "The fact that Apple didn't have the foresight to coat the stainless steel antenna band with even a fraction of an ounce worth of non-conductive material either tells us that Apple doesn't care or that it simply doesn't test thoroughly enough."

    I find it really funny that they would never catch this specific problem because of them just being apple: if their engineers are not as good as anand is (as in thinking "that's gonna be a problem" right after hearing the description of the antenna), and if THE FIELD TESTERS HAD THEIR PHONES DRESSED AS A 3GS BECAUSE OF PARANOID ISSUES, this kind of problem can only slip through
  • The0ne - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I think Anand was a little light on this topic. As an multi-discipline engineer myself this type of problem with the Antenna SHOULD NEVER had happened. It can only happened due to decisions that did not properly address it. This is not rocket science to engineers. If anything, testing WOULD HAVE discover the problem and yet it's in the finish product. Quite sad if you ask me.

    For example, why put a ferrite clamp on the end of the cable instead of designing it into the PCB . The only reason I can see why we did this was due to lack of time and we severely paid for it by having products become defective because the ferrite would pull the cables loose from the connectors.
  • deppbv78 - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I'm really disappointed at the lengths taken by AT to justify that iP4 losing signal as not a big deal...If it was any other product from any other manufacturer, I'm sure you'd not have gone to such lengths to justify the signal drop and just concluded that the phone has serious antenna problems. I'm not understanding why is it so difficult for anyone just provide an unbiased view of the product.

    I have HTC Hero & Touch Pro both of which lost a bar or two (with fluctuations) when cupped tightly. However, it was always just 1-2 bars and never went down like iPhone 4 does from 5 bars to 0. This continuous loss of signal is the problem. Justifying it telling that all phones lose signal is not right, as every other phone (including 3GS) loses signal temporarily and then stabilizes unlike iPhone 4.

    No wonder the iPhone 4 is engineering marvel, but that set aside it is also true that the design has created issues as well and the reviews need to acknowledge it and not justify it
  • geniekid - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    HTC Incredible owner here. I think AT successfully showed that the antenna issue is NOT a big deal and their methods for doing so are sound. I share your suspicion that maybe they wouldn't have made such a significant investigation if it had been another phone, but let's not accuse them of mistakes they haven't made yet. Reply
  • bplewis24 - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I have a sincere question though. Does this test really successfully show the antenna issue is NOT a big deal, or does it simply show that it's not a big deal in the utmost ideal conditions?

    Sometimes the article is difficult to decipher in terms of understanding who is saying what, but upon my initial reading I take it Brian did the testing of the antenna in Arizona. By his own admission (from my understanding), he lives there because the reception is absolutely stellar and about as good as it can possibly be.

    Again, from what I can tell, it is under those conditions that he conducted the attenuation signal loss comparisons. If it still drops down to 1 bar and comes reasonably close to dropping calls under the best possible conditions, how does it react under "average" conditions? Other people are reporting dropped calls for a reason. Is Brian's test the norm or an outlier?

    Please correct me if I've read this article wrong.

  • anactoraaron - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    My understanding is you are partially correct in assuming (which is what I interpreted from your post) that under "normal" or "average" conditions you will go to one bar - which with the improved reception even at 1 bar you are still fine - OR will drop signal completely.

    This is also the reason why they say "At the bare minimum Apple should give away its bumper case with every iPhone 4 sold."

    Again, fantastic in-depth review.
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    Well, he said the location he lives in has stellar reception. But he also said he drove around for a day testing, which implies to me that he found somewhere with a stable, "average" signal and did some testing there, then probably went somewhere with a "poor" signal and did some more, etc. Reply
  • bplewis24 - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link


    Correct. And in driving around to the less-than-stellar areas showed the phone dropping down below -107dB for reception when showing less than 2 bars. And this is on the low end of the reception spectrum as described earlier in the article. So it's pretty clear that the antenna does INDEED show poor signal strength in average or less than average areas when the "death grip" is applied.

    That is the determining factor. That determines that the design is defective and flawed. If it was not designed that way, when in average or below signal areas, the reception would still be average or below, and not well below because of the way you hold the phone.

    However, the article skirts this and attempts to present it in a way that shines the best possible light on Apple and their defective design. Big disappointment in terms of an objective review.

  • geniekid - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    The article made it clear that bars are a misleading way of measuring call quality/reception. In practice, it was noted that call quality/reception is improved/equal to the 3GS on the 4, regardless of bars (raw signal power).

    Who cares if you have 1 bar all the time if you're still making calls better than someone with 4 bars?

    HTC Incredible owner here.
  • MacTheSpoon - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    If you do have 1 bar all the time, then you're right: who cares? However, you may eventually find yourself in an area with less than 5 bars of reception and if you happen to hold the phone wrong then the antenna problem will drop your reception down to 0 bars. Then all the sensitivity of this phone at 1 bar will be irrelevant.

    Unless you spring for a case that Apple will not give you for free as they should.
  • czesiu - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I would love to see few more phones in the Signal Attenuation Comparison:) Reply
  • jed22281 - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Can you please have a round up like this?!??
    Only problem is, I don't think we'll have solid/detailed info about the n9 till Sept @nokiaworld
    But we do know it'll be the 1st smart-phone using Meego (maemo's cousin)
  • Finally - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    The straight lines, smaller dimensions and lack of unnecessary bulk make the 3GS feel like a car from the 90s, unnecessarily curvy. The styling is now so much more compact.

    (*sound of a cash register*) Ka-Shing! Apple Markting iBlah(tm) down to the very fine undertones...
  • Finally - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    You forgot to mention that it is also INCREDIBLE, BEAUTIFUL & AMAZING!
  • plewis00 - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    And 'Magical' Reply
  • Griswold - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Revolutionary - again! Reply
  • Finally - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link Reply
  • JAS - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    "Why go to a fine restaurant [iPhone 4] when you can just stick something in the microwave [Google Android]?"

    "Why go to the park and fly a kite [iPhone 4] when you can just pop a pill [Google Andriod]?"

    * With thanks to Seinfeld's Kramer
  • plewis00 - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I agree and I like Anandtech articles for the same reason - the in-depth nature and accuracy is what I wait for.

    Do you know then with this Bumper case if a ZAGG (or similar) clear body armour set will still allow the Bumper case to fit? I don't think it matters too much as if the dock connector is obscured that will be a bigger problem for me.
  • Dark Legion - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Not to be a grammar nazi, but since I'm posting other things anyway...
    "Even Palm entered the race with a competent offering, and Microsoft isn't far behind."

    Both the Evo and Incredible have 8GB built in + room for 16GB microSD (though they come with 8GB microSD?), and the Incredible also has dual LED flash.
  • SimKill - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I just printed this to a PDF, and its 75 freaking pages... Holy bleeding batman(in a good way) It's longer than even some magazines, 1 article.


    (I think it would be perfect on a Kindle...hmm next thing to buy :evilgrin: )

    It's going to make for a nice evening read.
  • griffonu - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Really cool review! The first informative one in a general noise of non-sense and subjective opinions on the net.

  • Furuno - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I don't now what should I say about those $29.99 bumper case... It's even more expensive than my $15 "backup" phone...

    And I wonder why you're so excited about video call? isn't this is an old technology already? I've been doing this since high school with Nokia 3G's phone (forget the name).

    I still prefer N900 tough, mostly because of it's Debian-based OS. As a programmer that's usually works with a Linux machine it's just incredible. Like, wow I can do apt-get install on my phone!

    Oh, and thanks for the in-depth antenna issue explanation! Great article!
  • Griswold - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I'd rather like to know what apple says about the bumper cases. They cost them maybe a dollar at the most to make and they sell it for 29 bucks. Thats a fucking fat cash cow right there and it explains why they refuse to hand one out for free. What would you rather have? $2m spent in a couple weeks for satisfied customers or $56m profit from partly annoyed customers?

    (yea I read it, the issue is not really an issue and not everyone is going to buy a bumper case... its anecdotal)
  • JAS - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Indeed, Apple's pricing for its Bumper is outrageous. Who would pay $29 for a small piece of plastic? But if you are running a corporation, have a legal responsibility to shareholders to maximize profits, *and* customers are willing to buy a product at the listed price ... ?

    How long will it be until a third-party case maker introduces its own perimeter case for under $10?
  • kmmatney - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    It won't be long at all. I bought by 3GS rubber case for ~$2 on dealextreme. It's now even cheaper: full view

    I agree that they should give away the cases for free, or heavily discounted . In any case, I don't anyone is crazy to not use a case on such an expensive device. You're going to drop it sometime.
  • Screammit - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    I'd have to agree with the video call bit, other phones (evo in particular) can do video calls over 3g AND can interface with computers through applications like Fring and Skype. I'm sure the video quality to only other iphone 4 users is stellar, especially over wifi, but isn't it a tad restrictive? Reply
  • archcommus - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I'm sorry, as much as I love Anandtech and Anand's in-depth and candid articles in particular, the bias here towards Apple is extremely strong. This article is night and day compared to the EVO review just posted. This is direct, interesting, discusses real impressions - EVO review was just a list of facts and things we mostly already knew. Honestly, it shouldn't have even been posted. I've gotten similar feelings about other Android reviews (Droid review 6 months after release? really?). I come to Anandtech to expect this level of quality in all articles, regardless of personal preference. As I said, I usually love your content Anand, but really the only thing I'm following of yours now are your SSD articles. All the rest of your attention goes towards Mac/iPhone. Reply
  • Griswold - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Have to agree, even though it assured me that my plan to get that phone is a good plan.

    Too much apple brown nosing.
  • Charlie22911 - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    The EVO does not really bring anything new over previous highend phones like the HD2, Droid, or Nexus One aside from the front camera. Android phones are a dime a dozen.

    - Former Droid owner
  • JAS - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Had AnandTech's review concluded that the iPhone 4 is a terrible product, would you complain that the reviewers have a bias *against* Apple?

    I've read the review a couple times and see it as nothing but fair.
  • g5isalive - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I registered just to thank you for finally getting to the meat of the iPhone reception issue. Absolutely the best evaluation I have read. Reply
  • k.alexander - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Hear, hear! I did the same. I have not read through the full review, but the page on the antennae issue is by far the most thorough and thoughtful think I've seen from looking all over the web. Great Great Work! Reply
  • mczak - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Looks like a glaring omission, however I'm not convinced yet it would actually improve matters a lot. The bumper case not only insulates but also adds distance between your fingers and the antenna.
    I think it would be an interesting experiment to actually try this out, with some duct tape as insulative coating for instance...

    btw I think that bumper case is _vastly_ overpriced. For that price I'd expect it would at least properly work with the dock connector, but as is that's not really good value...
  • kmmatney - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    It works with an "Apple" dock connector - just not with third party connectors that make the connector too large. I'd probably just file down my cheap third party connectors before paying for an overpriced Apple accessory. Reply
  • MurderMostFowl - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    In the signal Attenuation chart.... Is that iPhone 3GS "open palm" figure correct? 0.2 dB... I would think that kind of reception wouldn't be possible. since it is better than the other two devices by a massive amount ( remember dB is not linear )
    it must be an error, no?
  • eyk03 - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    This review is just phenomenal, I love it. So much more objective and in-depth than the 27 word reviews that Walt Mossberg or David Pogue deign to fart out. Reply
  • spunkybart - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Finally someone sits down and does some tests!

    I love, love your use of the Star Trek "ugly bags of mostly water" line, lol!

    I found it very interesting that your first thought was that the external antenna should have been coated -- that could have been a very easy thing to have done during manufacturing, so it sounds like Apple totally messed up on that decision!
  • InterHmai - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    This was an incredibly well detailed review, thanks for all the hard work! Reply
  • Stuka87 - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Yet another top notch, in depth review Anand. I love the amount of depth you add to any review.

    One question, on the first page you refer to the SoC used in many Android devices as "Scorpion" rather than "Snapdragon." Is there an actual difference, or just different names for the same device? Or perhap Scorpion is more specific to the revision?

    I am still thinking that for now I will keep my 3GS. next year when its time to upgrade, a new better iPhone will be out anyway.
  • Spoelie - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Scorpion is the CPU, Snapdragon is the entire SoC (with gpu etc etc) Reply
  • brandonicus - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Still reading the review, but from the first page pictures I have to ask...Did you already scratch your iPhone to hell? When seeing the front side comparison with the Nexus One I thought the iPhone looked terrible. Bad pictures? Or does it just scratch really easy?...I'm sure later in the review I'll read that you threw it on the ground a few dozen times :) Reply
  • ipredroid - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Many of your in-depth reviews have helped me decide on how to customize/purchase/learn about a product. Nevermind people saying you (Shimpi) are bias towards a product. People are just annoyed at anything Apple related because the media won't shut up about Apple. I realize you are smart enough not to respond to random haters and treat those here with respect and even respond to comments or questions. Thank you to the AnandTech team! Reply
  • The0ne - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Don't be a fool, many of us here are here at Anandtech because first many of us do like Anadtech ever since he started his site, secondly the reviews are good in general and lastly because most of us are either engineers or in the computer related field.

    What most of us criticized are valid to some extent. What I've criticized is immensely valid. Do the test and write the review without any type of unjustified opinions included. And if it's not too much trouble be CONSISTENT. I don't go around testing similar products every which way. I'm not saying Anandtech does this all the time but I get really annoy when things are not consistent from one review to the next; meaning testing was not consistent and thus results could be dark matter for all I know.
  • ipredroid - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    You Proved my point, you randomly hated on a general comment I made, (which I made to no one in particular). No one here is a fool. Base your opinions off of facts not general assersens of which you are speculating. Misplaced criticism based on speculation is for tabloids. Which is unfortunately how you come across when you call people fools and bash with out facts. I'm sure you realize how Hypocritical you are being. You are entitled to your opinion of course but your ignorance shows when you don't base off of facts. (Referring to antenna issue) Apple and Google are both guilty of faulty antennas saying either company's engineers didn't test properly is just silly. Reply
  • The0ne - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    Your comprehension is misplaced. When I called you a "fool" it was in referenced to you saying.

    "Nevermind people saying you (Shimpi) are bias towards a product. People are just annoyed at anything Apple related because the media won't shut up about Apple. I realize you are smart enough not to respond to random haters and treat those here with respect and even respond to comments or questions. Thank you to the AnandTech team!"

    In short you are saying that some of us that have differing opinions on the subject matter are idiots and that Anand is smart to avoid us and our lame comments. That is pretty much your entire take on it. All I'm saying is that there are many professionals as members here on Anandtech, many of which are very intelligent. Assuming we're that dumb is foolish, and hence the use of the word "fool."

    I'm sorry, this Antenna issue is a laughing stock to any respectable engineer. If could have only gone into the finish product by decisions made against the respectable Engineer(s). Whether you choose to believe otherwise is irrelevant because the FACT remains the problem is a basic one. Whether it's Apple, Google or our company is irrelevant as well. The discussion here is Apple iphone, thus the blame is directed at Apple. That does not imply it is ONLY Apple that does this.

    And lastly where do you get off telling me I'm ignorant because of my "hate." Where is this hate you are talking about? You're making things up to justify your own means to have something to say to me, less the lack of comprehension in the first place. As for what I've said, that is very general. Why is asking "Do the test and write the review without any type of unjustified opinions included" full of hate?

    Sorry you got the wrong idea of my original response.
  • ipredroid - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    I never said you were ignorant because of your hate... read it again... lol. Ignorant for calling me a fool and baseless facts (thank you for the apology). I even stated you ( everyone is) entitled to their opinion. Just stating some people comes across as "haters". People complain about everything, it is easier to see the bad rather than the good, human nature maybe.

    Anyways, I could careless, meant it as a thank you of sorts to the AnandTech team. Not to belittle other bloggers posts. To the overly negative with out sensible reasoning, yes. You, no. I enjoy reading others posts and rarely comment. I did this time because work put into the review by the AnandTech team seemed to be under appreciated in this review and I commented.

    Of course anyone that runs a business isn't going to respond to distasteful posts rudely that wouldn't be smart. Not that those who are "haters" are idiots, even though they certainly can be.
  • IKeelU - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I liked the review. It seemed objective to me and I appreciate that the phone and OS were covered separately.

    Something that wasn't addressed: will the straight edges of the iPhone4 cause damage to one's pants (or one's purse)? My old Sony Ericsson candybar phone actually caused damage to the lining of my left pocket after several months of use. It seems like the iPhone4's edges are the sharpest-ever in a phone...

    Though I must disagree about the iPhone 4 making the N1 look dated. In those photos, at least, the N1 looks way sexier to me.*

    * I own an N1 ;)
  • tdream - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    First of all calling the iphone 4 styling uptodate just because its new doesn't make any sense. Jobs says its like an OLD Lecia camera... The 3GS doesn't look dated in the objective sense. If you were to place these two devices in a test, a control group and another which was bombarded with marketing spiel (like the world has) you would get a vastly different viewpoint. Sharp edges are out, just because Apple have run out of ideas decided to be different doesn't mean it's better. Eg glossy vs matte, Apple have made matte cool again... even though all of my monitors are matte. Apple will do anything to be different and stand out, doesn't make it better though.

    Once again you ignore your own data and say the IPhone 4 is better than the 3GS even though in every case you tested it CLEARLY isn't. It a problem, you know it, Apple knows it, and now everyone in the world knows it. You "feel its better", well then if you feel it then I must feel it too right. Glad we live in a world which values science and facts too. Sorry but you're falling into Apple's main ploy right here, it's magical...

    However the rest of your article remains fairly objective and up to your old high standards.
  • JAS - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    The build quality of the iPhone 4 is outstanding. It reminds me of Nagra (Swiss-made) professional tape recorders I have used. Very solid.

    The edges of the iPhone 4 are not as smooth as those on the iPhone 3GS; but they aren't "sharp" or prone to cutting your pants when you slide the device into your pocket.

    Still, I would want to use a rubber/silicone "skin" on the iPhone 4, not just a bumper, primarily to improve its grasp.
  • jsbruner - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I see the reception bar issue as well but do not experience any dropped calls because of it. However the biggest issue I have is with the proximity sensor. I have accidentally hung up numerous times because the screen lock turns off and the buttons become active. I watched myself in a mirror talking and I see the phone flickering on and off. Have you seen this issue at all? Would the bumper minimize this issue?

    Great article.
  • Wolfpup - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    While in theory I'd love higher resolution displays on monitors, in practice they're already too high, and can't get any higher until somehow operating systems are able to offer true resolution independence where ANY program (even if it's written in 1988) will be flawless scaled so it's the right size at a given resolution. So far the ONLY example in the computer world of this being done right is on Palm devices, where they just quadrupled the resolution and on older programs 1 pixel = 4 real pixels. Presumably it's the same on iOS.

    But until OSes can do that that successfully on ANY content on ANY monitor at ANY resolution, raising the resolution is a TERRIBLE idea, as we're already WAY past the point of usability on a lot of displays, since stuff just keeps shrinking rather than adding detail.
  • inperfectdarkness - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    "If there's one thing I hope the iPhone 4 display does, it's generate demand for 300 PPI level desktop displays - the era of 110 PPI displays being the norm needs to end now."

    i could not have said it better. 1080p on a 17" screen is pathetic for a laptop.
  • minememy21 - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I registered just for the sole purpose of saying thank you to Brian and Anand.

    I really appreciate the amount of work and objectivity you've put in this review. I don't know of any other site with the same level of dedication and thoroughness.

    Please don't pay attention to the few, vocal, and overly sensitive anti-apple crowd and just continue writing the way you do.
  • HilbertSpace - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    "Perhaps even use diamond vapor deposition (like they did with the glass screen atop the iPhone 3GS) to insulate the stainless steel from users." -The Real Story on iPhone 4's Antenna.

    There's no way apple used physical vapor deposition (PVD) on the iPhone 3GS, way too expensive! Supposedly a Nokia Vertu phone adds a TiC coating - the cost - oh only ~$15000!
  • gronkman - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    The word on the grapevine is that the antenna issue will be dealt with by an upcoming software update. What I am interested in is whether it will really change the antenna attenuation, or whether it will "fix" the bars just by not showing the bar degradation. I'm hoping AT will do an in-depth look at the update when/if it comes out. Reply
  • thomas.magnum - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I am not sure what you mean when using 40% in the context of the bar. But I think you need to improve the discussion of dB. Because it runs on a log scale, changes in dB are more complex than just looking at dB1-dB2 and computing percentage. You really need to think about 10^(dB/10). I would bet that the bars are setup to be representative of a dB scale. NOT simple percentages base on dB numbers, like you're trying to do. Reply
  • The0ne - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Your comment reminds me of richter scale :) Most people will look at 6.0 and 7.0 and say oh that's nothing hahaha If only they knew they'll be completely shocked. Sorry, I had a good laugh out of this. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    Of course that is also assuming they think the Richter scale is still in use. Reply
  • Brian Klug - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    You know, I realized that seconds after writing it and decided that it'd just be too much to go into a detailed explanation. I corrected it to something much simpler ;)

  • zerosomething - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Fantastic article thanks for the in-depth review.

    From the article on page 5. "...iPhone capacity markings have disappeared from the back of the phone - no doubt this was done so Apple could make one part and one part only for each color."

    There is actually a Model number on the back of mine. So there will need to be 4 different backs. However they can make one part for each color for the fronts. In reality they will have to make 2 fronts and 4 backs to cover all capacities and colors which is one more than they had to make for the 3G/GS phones.

    Wow I'm picking such tiny nits in a fantastic article. Guess everything else was so through this one stood out.
  • Shadowmaster625 - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    If you already own an iPhone, how is it worth it to upgrade? You said so yourself... tiny text is still tiny. So what are you getting for hundreds of dollars that the 3GS doesnt give? Reply
  • Guspaz - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I'm a 3GS owner in Canada (Fido is my provider), so we've had tethering ever since iOS 3.0 launched roughly a year ago. I noticed two small errors in the discussion on tethering, and felt one thing was possibly mischaracterized.

    First, I'd like to give a brief mention of how tethering works with Fido (and other Canadian providers). We've always had data caps on our iPhone data plans. Typically, you get something vaguely like 1GB for $30, but both the 3G and 3GS launches featured limited-time 6GB for $30 offers that are permanently grandfathered.

    Fido/Rogers policy is that all users with a 1GB dataplan or higher get free tethering (this appears to be a permanent position), which uses the same data cap. So, in effect, the vast majority of Canadian iPhone owners have tethering.

    The first error is "With the iOS 4 upgrades the iPhone 4 supports tethering over Bluetooth or USB." Tethering is not new in iOS 4; it's been supported since iOS 3, and tethering support is identical in iOS 4.

    The second error is "You also need to either have Bluetooth enabled or be connected via USB to the computer you wish to tether." Firstly, Bluetooth doesn't need to be enabled before enabling tethering. If you enable tethering while bluetooth is disabled, a prompt appears asking you if you want to enable bluetooth, or just tether over USB. Secondly, not really an error but an important clarification: on Windows, you can only tether via USB with a computer that has the iPhone tethering drivers installed.

    These tethering drivers are bundled with iTunes, and cannot normally be installed separately, but iTunes and the drivers have separate uninstallers in Add/Remove Programs. This means that you can set up, say, a friend's laptop to tether via USB by installing iTunes and then uninstalling iTunes, leaving the drivers behind. Annoying, but workable if bluetooth is unavailable.

    In terms of the mischaracterization, the performance of tethering is called into question. This may be an AT&T networking issue, as I've not experienced the performance issues. Generally, whatever the networking performance my phone is achieving, a tethered computer will also achieve. There is no difference between the two, so any connectivity issues are strictly network-related rather than tethering-related. Performance is generally good; latency is usually 130-150 to a close remote host, and downstream bandwidth is 1-5 Mbps depending on congestion/location. Upstream, since the iPhone 3GS lacks HSUPA, is limited (335Kbps in practical tests), but tends not to vary quite as much as downstream based on signal quality.

    Upstream performance isn't stellar, but it is relatively reliable, if a tad slow. Packetloss is rare if the phone has a good signal. I regularly use tethering to get laptops connected on the road, and remote desktop over a tethered connection is very snappy, and is amazingly faster than on-device RDP.
  • Mike1111 - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    "Even if you just cover the camera it’s actually better to make calls over FaceTime than 3G based on the sound quality alone."

    Cover the camera? Why? Just press Home and you have a traditional voice-only VoIP call with reduced bandwidth.

    Also I would like to see some comparison to the competition. Video calling on phones exists for quite some time. How about a comparison of video and voice quality?

    And in regard to the bandwidth requirements, would it have been realistic to allow FaceTime over 3G?

    You also mention that the compression is too high for text, is that because of a bad compression algorithm or codec, too low resolution or bandwidth? Is that something that realistically could have been done better?
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    Does returning to the home screen actually kill the camera? That would be annoying if you only wanted to look at your calendar or something else on the phone while in a video call. Reply
  • Mike1111 - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    As with a normal (cellular) call you can always resume the video by tapping on the green status bar (call active...). Reply
  • Oyeve - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    How is the sound quality? Is there an EQ (missing from all things "i") Reply
  • bkman - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    An interesting review but flawed by bad metrics. The authors confuse absolute power measurement, dBm, with relative power measurement, dB. For example, a signal strength drop from -51dBm to -83dBm is not a drop of 24dBm, it is a drop of 24dB. Reply
  • hgoor - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Hi, I loved the review: really (and mean really) thorough! Thanks for that.

    However: unless I blacked out while reading and missed it: what about the noise canceling microphone? How does that work? I guess it's not that noticeable as you only mention it one time?

    I'm very curious to find out if it's a feature that helps? Also: I wonder if it can be used for listening to music? I have an expensive pair of headphones from Sennheiser, but I wonder if it can be used (in the future?) to help listen to music (and on/or on the phone) when you have a lot of ambient noise?

    Would be nice if you could clear that up. Also: I wonder how the iPhone 4 holds up against the new Samsung 1ghz powerhouse?

    Keep up the good work!
  • MacTheSpoon - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Hi, thanks for a really great review (I hope this isn't a double post, I had a problem when I submitted this before). I especially liked the hard numbers you used to measure things. Seeing the screen black levels, brightness, and contrast, plus how they compared to other phones, was really wonderful. I did have a few questions:

    1. Are you sure it's reasonable to conclude the maximum drop in signal strength when holding the phone is 24 dB? Doesn't skin capacitance vary from person to person? Also, I've seen some people put keys on their phones to connect the two antenna and demonstrate the reception problem, and I wonder if you could consider measuring the dB effect for that as well. Considering that keys are often kept in pockets with cellphones and could rest against the phones it seems like a reasonable scenario to explore.

    2. Did you mention the problems people have had with the glass shattering easily? I've read many reports of this online. I didn't notice it but perhaps I did not read closely enough.

    3. Since a case is, as you say, a must-have accessory for the phone, not only for the antenna but also apparently for the brittle enclosure, it seems unfair to give the phone credit for being 9.3 mm thin. Could you please give the thickness of the phone with the bumper? That seems to be its real thickness to me, honestly.

    Thanks again for the review!
  • PhilBrandn - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    See this video:

    Even replicating the problem doesn't seem to force a dropped call.
  • MacTheSpoon - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    It does, actually. Check this out:
  • bill4 - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Cant shake the feeling of overwhelming Apple bias from most tech sites, and Anandtech.

    It doesn't help that it seems every tech editor's personal phone is an iPhone. And that's most certainly not because it's better, in fact in most cases the iPhone is objectively inferior to other phones.

    This line in the article:

    "On top of the battery life improvements Apple finally plays catch up and surpasses the technological advancements in its Android competitors. The 4's camera is as good as it gets today and the screen is a beauty. I don't believe this advantage will last for the lifetime of the iPhone "

    Battery life is routinely massively overrated by Anand, it's simply not as important to most people as it seems to be to Anand. Charge your phone each evening and it's done. What's the big deal? Seems like the unnatural battery life obsession is just a way to give fake props to Apple in every review.

    Likewise, "surpasses the technological advancements in its Android competitors. " Huh? Not hardly bud. By far the most important metric these days is screen size. Yes, it's probably not politically correct to say, I should talk about "usability" or some other subjective thing so we can pretend Apple is the winner, but it's the hard truth. Android phones have 4.3" and 4" screens aplenty. That's why I'm way more excited over the Evo, the Droid X, the Galaxy S, then a lame 3.5" iPhone revision. The iPhone 4 screen is actually (slightly) smaller than the 3GS screen (though they're both nominally 3.5" in screen area the 4 screen is smaller than the 3GS screen)! (Funny Anand never mentioned this fact once). Apple actually went BACKWARDs in this crucial area.

    Then we have the weak 800mhz CPU vs the 1ghz+in many android models, etc etc.

    Then we have the camera, worse in all respects to top droid phone cameras.

    So in every relevant area except a currently meaningless one (resolution), the iPhone 4 objectively has worse specs than top Droid phones, already, yet Anand says it "surpasses the technological advancements in its Android competitors". OK, no bias there...

    Overall, I just wish more reviews would call the 4 what it is, a small revision to the 3GS that falls short. Apple should have named it the 3GS+, it certainly doesnt deserve true succesor status. Hell, when sitting side by side, it's actually difficult to tell the 3GS and 4 apart, I guarantee no casual female (like, a Mom) could do it offhand. Your mom literally would not know which is supposed to be the "new" iPhone!

    The Retina display is so much marketing BS. It's a small, typical incremental, completely non-revolutionary bump in resolution, yet dishonest tech sites are proclaiming it like it's somehow something tangibly new. More screen size would have been far more useful, the high PPI is truly almost completely useless compared to other 800X480 android phones, which are more than fine in that area as is. What's coming next Apple, 1080P on a 2.5" screen on the iPhone 5? Makes about as much sense. Screen size is objectively far, far more important than resolution on these phones, at least if they're 800X480 or above.

    In the end I see another year of Apple losing share to the Droid phones, the 4 is a very minor change to the 3GS. Maybe next year Apple will do better.

    I'm a good example, I'm limited to ATT, so I have few options, even though I dislike Apple, the iPhone 4 seemed like a good choice for me (only other option being the unsubsidized 529 Nexus One currently!), yet, there's just no way I'm going to settle for the no flash, small screen, iPhone 4.
  • kmmatney - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    "And that's most certainly not because it's better, in fact in most cases the iPhone is objectively inferior to other phones."

    You pretty much lost your credibility right there..

    About the battery life issue - it's huge - at least with people who travel a lot, like me. And I'm not about to carry an extra battery around.
  • JAS - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    The iPhone 4 is a significantly greater upgrade over the 3GS than the 3GS was over the iPhone 3. The new A4 processor and doubling of the RAM make the iPhone 4 a noticeably faster device. Its improved camera and 720P video recording are additional noteworthy plusses.

    Yes, the Google Android OS is bound to be running on more smart phones than the Apple iOS by virtue of the fact that Andriod phones are available from more manufacturers and wireless carriers. The situation is not unlike the great abundance of computers that run Microsoft Windows versus the number of OS X Macintoshes in use. Only Apple sells Macs while MS Windows boxes are available from a wide range of manufacturers.
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    Well the first phone I know of with a 4"+ screen was the HD2, but as it runs Windows Mobile that rules it out for a lot of people. In the US at least I don't think there are any 4" or bigger screens actually released other than the EVO, the Droid X doesn't come out for another few weeks and the Galaxy S class (shouldn't these have been named the Galaxy, Yamato, Enterprise...) do not have a firm release date yet.

    On the subject of battery life, if the phone cannot make it through your day (as he states previous iphones could not make it through his) then that can be a problem. Sure I would prefer a phone that can go 3 or 4 days without recharging, but until battery technology allows that to be pocketable I will live with lasting a full day. But if I start needing to have a charger at work and in my car just to make it through the day that is a problem. I do wish he would have some type of a more mixed battery life test though, after all I don't know anyone who is just going to sit and browse the web over 3G very often. How about a mix of (per hour) 10SMS, 3 min on voice call, 5 min web browsing, 5 min gaming, 5 min listening to music, checking email 4 times, and the rest of the time just flicking the screen on occasionally to check the time, or calendar, or a sports score, etc? How long could it last in a more general use scenario like that?
  • Mumrik - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    "Battery life is routinely massively overrated by Anand"

    I can't get my head around why you'd ever say something like that. Having to recharge every night is a major hassle and completely unacceptable. We don't all sleep the same place every night or want to keep our chargers by the bed. Battery life is a huge issue right now as companies put more and more powerful and power consuming chips in phones while batter life suffers. It used to be normal to recharge you phone 1-2 times a week you know...
  • ale087 - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I see the Galaxy S as a direct competitor to the iPhone 4, the SoC has been said to be extremely similar... Please give us an in-depth review with awesome hardware info that we can't get anywhere else :-D Thanks for doing a great job as always! looking forward to that Galaxy S review ;-) Reply
  • navderek - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Are you really sure you know what your talking about when it comes to reviewing RF related topics? You seem to know the basics but I don't think you know enough to actually review handsets in this manner and your comments can be misleading.

    I work in the RF field as an RF Operations Specialist for a several large network that include iDEN, CDMA, and UMTS, as well as microwave and fiber optic transmission. Anyways this is not about me but I thought I would state this before continuing...

    The signal bars do not always simply signify signal strength in decibels. For many handsets what the actually signify is signal QUALITY. This could be SNR as you mentioned in your article however it is not so simple...

    For example, in an iDEN network the quality measurement is "SQE" and for a UMTS network (or as we like to call it - 3G network), the first and foremost quality measure is "CQI"

    Lets use the CQI metric in UMTS for our example...CQI values will determine the coding technique used by the serving BTS (tower) which will determine how many redundant bits to send to keep the BER low as well determine which modulation scheme to use (i.e. different levels of QAM, like 64QAM in the best quality scenario).

    Now I won't go into detail here about how all this works and how it's tied into the graphical representation of the bars you see on the handset but I will let you in on something...over the years those bars have become less and less reliable as a measure of signal strength and/or quality. Why? Because cellular carriers don't want clients to see less than 5 bars, so they have been pretty much rigged to display 5 bars in most situations until the signal is VERY BAD.

    Finally, about your coments in regards to signal strength in decibels...-107dB is extremely
    bad for a signal on any network. You stated that for voice and data that -107dB is perfectly fine...this could not be further from the truth and this is the point where the signal levels out with the noise floor. The BTS and/or UE begin to really lose communication with eachother at this level and on top of that you'll never get good data rates at such a poor signal level with UMTS for reasons stated above. At that signal level (-107dB) the BTS will be sending a ton of redundant bits with the most redundant coding technique as well as factoring down the QAM constallation in an attempt to keep the link alive. The data may still work in some cases at -107dB but your speeds will suffer GREATLY.

    Please consider hiring an RF expert before making generalized RF based reviews. I highly respect your reviewing cabability and your intelligence, however I question your wisdom when you do such a review.


  • Brian Klug - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I've read your commentary but don't see how we're in disagreement, about anything to be honest. I know for a fact that Apple is reporting RSSI (signal strength) in dBm and not using SNR. You'll just have to trust me that this is the case ;). This is entirely the point of the section - to illustrate just how useless that metric is especially in the case of the iPhone 4, and how much they need to use a different quality metric like CQI.

    In addition, this: "Because cellular carriers don't want clients to see less than 5 bars, so they have been pretty much rigged to display 5 bars in most situations until the signal is VERY BAD."

    Is exactly what I've stated, a few times in so many words in the article. In fact, it's that kind of blatant lying about the dynamic range which makes this effect even more exacerbated. I realize that carriers have a vested interest in making the network look great everywhere - but turns out this ended up biting apple back with the iPhone 4 for reasons I stated.

    I agree that normally -107 dBm of signal is bad, but have reason to believe that the iPhone 4's baseband deals just fine with the link even at that signal. Definitely grab someone's iPhone and try it out at -107 and -113; the amount of success I've had is unparalleled compared to other UMTS handsets I've played with.

  • fhaddad922 - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    The subject says it all, but I'll type it again for the slow.

    If you have any type of "smart" phone (I have no idea whats so "smart" about it) and you are paying $100+ per month to use it, you are really dumb. The only smart people are the ones that convinced you to buy this crap!

    Now, if you are some type of a business owner and you need to keep in contact with employees or customers or something similar, than by all means, purchase one of these phones and use it.

    But for the rest of the world (which is probably 90% of the readers here), why the f**k do you need a $100+ / month plan?

    The phone does nothing that you need. Stop making the cell phone companies richy.

    They talk about how good the camera is on it... IT SUCKS!
    They talk about how good the video is on it... IT SUCKS!
    They talk about how you have to hold the phone the right away... I bet one of the designers said "oops"
    FaceTime.. lawl... really?

    They are already gouging their customers. For example, to charge $0.25 to send a text message is asinine. It's not even $0.50 to put a letter in the mail and mail it across the country. How do they justify $0.25 to send a text message? On top of that, for $50.00 / month and you don't get unlimited calling. Thats dumb.
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    Thank you for the anti-capitalist rant Reply
  • petzi-bear - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Have you tried it with a glove?
    Should be easier that applying a thin film.
    I thinking about clear coating the frame :-)

    But a.) I am right handed
    b.) I couldn't get my hands a phone yet - still sold out
  • Brian Klug - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Very good point, I'll try that too!

  • MonkeyPaw - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Actually, you might have more issues with the "touch of death" if you are right-handed. I'm a righty, and I hold cell's in my left hand all the time so that I can free my dominant hand for things like writing or mouse clicking.

    Personally, the iPhone4 is a nice step up, but I really question the design choices. Glass on both sides? A non-coated metal rim that doesn't like human touch? Serious engineering flaws for an otherwise well-designed device.
  • Brian Klug - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    See this is exactly how I end up holding the phone. I hold it in my left hand (the wrong way) and use the right hand to tap, select, e.t.c.

  • vol7ron - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Trying with a glove would be interesting, since around here summers are hot and winters are cold (glove worthy).

    I was suggesting the film because many people I know use it because it makes the phone more pocket-worthy. Using a hard plastic case, or even a silicone case, provides unnecessary bulk, which is uncomfortable when wearing those stylish tight new pants -ha.
  • jasperjones - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    usually i find something to criticize but not today. excellent review. that is it. Reply
  • jasperjones - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Actually I found something.

    The battery life figures for the Nexus One were simply copied from the original Nexus One review (when the phone ran 2.1/Eclair). This doesn't make sense as you updated all other figures (performance etc.) to reflect FroYo.

    FroYo has much improved battery life on my Nexus One.
  • Brian Klug - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I just used the data I had in my bench for the Nexus One, but retesting with Froyo is coming soon since the OTA final update only got pushed out final yesterday. I've been holding off waiting for that final.

  • vlntwarrior - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    The drop in signal from cupping the device with a case on is purely a function of us being "ugly bags of mostly water."

    and I thought I was the only geek to randomly quote this line in normal everyday conversation
  • JP_Lager - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    From the article regarding the Apple Bumper Case..

    Third party connectors will not fit, I had the same issue.

    To fix just take a nail file and file the edge so it is at a slight angle all around. Takes about 2-3 min to do, now all my third party accessories will connect and lock with no problem.

  • Lothsahn - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    "ugly bags of mostly water"

    "going places no iPhone had ever gone before"

    Anyone else see any Star Trek references I missed?

  • rs1 - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    "The main downside to the iPhone 4 is the obvious lapse in Apple's engineering judgment."

    I think you're giving their engineering and marketing departments too little credit. If anything, I would think that the antenna placement and all-glass construction were intentional design decisions stipulated by marketing, so that they could sell a $30 piece of rubberized plastic. It's quite clever, really. Completely lacking in moral sense, but clever nonetheless.
  • Toadster - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    just kidding! (well, maybe not)

    Great writeup! Keep em coming!
  • balazer - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    This article has sloppy use of power units.

    dBm is an absolute measure of power. Thus, you could say a received signal is -119 dBm.

    dB is a relative measure of power - a logarithmic representation of a factor. Thus, you could say that one signal is 10 dB stronger than another, which is to say that one signal is 10 times as strong as the other. (20 dB is 100 times as strong; 30 dB is 1000 times as strong, etc.)

    The difference between -109 dBm and -119 dBm is 10 dB, not 10 dBm. 10 dBm is actually much more power than the difference between -109 dBm and -119 dBm.
  • Brian Klug - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    The funny part is that I did it the right way the first time, and then changed it hastily. Fixed!

  • Janet55 - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Nice and insightful review!
    My new iphone is fantastic...
    The picture definition ...I'm speachless....personally I really like the grouping of apps much tidier than before and the camera zoom. And I have no signal problem yet, I have held it in the way which is supposed to drop the signal several times and only notice the signal drop once.
    I showed the phone to my team at work and let them play with it...they all love it and there are a few green eyes I can assure you.
    As the iPhone 4 high-definition video clips, watch video on IPhone 4 must be cool and amazing, I've been looking for a good program to Convert videos or rip DVD movies for the iPhone 4 and i think iFunia iPhone 4 Video Converter is the one which worth trying, Im ready for enjoying on the go!
    I am very pleased, it's expensive but it actually feels worth it. can't recommended it enough. Gorgeous to look at and an absolute pleasure to use.
  • Cr0nJ0b - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I haven't seen this widely reported...and I sort of expected this when i did the update...but my company of 20,000+ is having HUGE exchange issues related to iphone users who upgraded to IOS4. I'm not sure exactly what the issue is, but I'm guessing it has to do with ActiveSync. It puts a LOT of stress on the fact, my corp has asked us to avoid upgrading if we haven't done so yet. They also say that there is a patch on the Apple website, but it hasn't been tested, so they are asking for more time. Reply
  • JAS - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    More information about the Microsoft Exchange patch is here:
  • campbbri - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Thanks for the review. I love that you intelligently think about the issues and aren't afraid to get into technical details. Too many reviews out there are boilerplate copies of each other, checking off boxes of features and impressions without trying to truly understand what is going on. Reply
  • jwwpua - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    I have an iPhone 4 and while the battery life isn't bad, it does not seem nearly as good as I keep hearing. (It also arrived completely dead, even though it was manufactured the same week)

    Any chance you can provide the scripted web pages so I can compare my results with yours? Thanks, and great review!
  • vol7ron - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

    Am I one of the few that do the one-hand approach?

    Dominant hand to hold for tap, dominant thumb to tap/scroll/hold, dominant hand to hold to ear. :)
  • thekimbobjones - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    Maybe I could coat my hand in hard plastic film, instead of obscuring Apple's thoughtful industrial design with a bumper covering that stainless steel band of awesome. Reply
  • mealsonwheels - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    Great article! I pre-ordered my iPhone 4 through bestbuy so I didnt have to wait in any lines. I really like my phone but I'm having some serious antenna band issues! I really hope Apple addresses this by giving out free bumpers (similar to Wii giving out free grips) but i HIGHLY doubt Apple is going to do that. :( Reply
  • kreacher - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    The best iPhone review so far, especially the antenna issue. Reply
  • sporadic - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    I'm not finding the CPU to be the limiting factor, at least not at the speeds you were mentioning. Using the same speedtest app and a relatively dormant 10Mbit leased line I'm seeing access to the full bandwidth over wifi. In fact on the second run my transparent proxy kicked in and the download speed topped out at 17Mbit. It should be even faster from the cache but I suspect my structured wifi is likely to be the limiting factor.

    Screenshot here:
  • damianrobertjones - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    Please now review the other phones in as much depth.

  • bplewis24 - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    Not gonna happen. Remember there is a bias in play here.

  • Mumrik - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    Stop that shit. We all know major iPhone (iPod, Windows, Intel CPU etc.) releases matter more for the industry and the majority of people so it is only natural that they put more work into these articles that are going to get more readers. There is one iPhone out there at a time but a gazillion competing Android phones. They can't cover them all like this - that is why they put extra effort into articles that cover Android itself.

    I say this as someone who has sworn to never own an Apple product.
  • Henry 3 Dogg - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    Re your final comment

    "Changing the bars visualization may indeed help mask it [the signal drop], and to be fair the phone works fine all the way down to -113 dBm, but it will persist - software updates can change physics as much as they can change hardware design."

    From my own tests, I think that you are missing something here.

    When you bridge the left corner line and see the signal strength drop, it does so over the course of several seconds. One would tend to assume that this is time averaging in software BUT...

    if you make a call in a very weak signal area and then bridge the gap, the call degrades and possibly drops in the same way i.e. over the course of several seconds.

    If the whole effect is physics, then the call should degrade instantly - but it doesn't.

    Clearly there is a physics effect, but it also appears that the phone software is responding to this physics effect in a manner that makes it more of an issue.

    It may/should be possible, by software changes, to make the final signal degradation when the gap is bridged, no more that it is immediately the gap is bridged, and in all honesty that would pretty much close the issue.

    Personally I just don't bridge the gap, and then I find, like you did, that I can simply use this phone in places that I've never been able to use a mobile before.

    This really is the best phone yet.
  • John Sawyer - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    "It may/should be possible, by software changes, to make the final signal degradation when the gap is bridged, no more that it is immediately the gap is bridged, and in all honesty that would pretty much close the issue."

    Hopefully this is what Jobs meant when he said, "Stay tuned."
  • mmike70 - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    Maybe calls are more forgiving because I haven't had one drop yet. What does happen is when I hold the iphone4 normally in my left hand (I'm right handed, tap with the right hand fingers, hold with the left), the data connection drops immediately. I'm not talking even over the course of five seconds. The currently loading web page will stall the instant I pick the phone up. This is in an area with a very close tower, constant 5 bars on an iphone 4 and 3gs. I can't cradle, grip, pinch, cover, etc the 3gs to make any detectable difference in data performance. Reply
  • chinkgai - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    Hey Brian or Anand,

    Just wanted to point out that on my wireless N/G with the same app tests, my download speed usually always tops out around 10700-11000 kbps, so I'm not sure why you're getting such a low speed on average. It also maxes out my upload speed which is far lower than yours. I'm on a 16/2 line here in Los Angeles.

    Great article though!!
  • bparun - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    Obviously a good thorough review. Why is there not a good amount of detail about the newly added Gyroscope in iPhone 4? I have read that its the electronic version of a vibrational one. More on that would be a nice read, as the future of games and apps using this gyroscope for augmented reality would be in abundance. I am sure all the other phone manufacturers are ready to follow, as usual. Reply
  • Mumrik - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    Such a minor feature in the larger perspective... Reply
  • John Sawyer - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    It seems to me, that if the iPhone 4's signal is attenuated when one's hand bridges the gap between the two antennas on the lower left side, but not if one bridges the two antennas by holding the iPhone 4 at its sides, above the gap, that one possible fix for the future, might be to move the gaps so that they're at the topside left and underside left, so one's hand (left or right) doesn't touch the gaps (I doubt many people cover the bottom or top edges of their phones while in use). This would allow the lengths of the two antennas to remain nearly the same, and so it might not compromise the original antenna design's signal strength, unless the original design relies on the upper and lower left corners/ends of the two antennas to be untouched by a user's hand, which would be stupidly unnatural (as nearly everyone notes). If full antenna strength does require these two corners/ends to be uncovered, does this mean the iPhone 4's main radiating signal power, for both antennas, emits from the upper and lower left corners/curved ends of the two antennas, rather than from the entire length of the antennas? If the entire length of both antennas send/receive, moving the gaps to topside left and underside left wouldn't seem to greatly affect the right-side UMTS/GSM antenna's exposure to the world (more critical than the left Bluetooth/wifi/GPS antenna's exposure, since a cell tower is usually further away than a local wireless router, etc.), no matter which hand it's held in (can't say the same for the left-hand antenna, but that may not be important due to closer proximity of wireless routers, etc.); but if the signals for both antennas send/receive mainly from one end of each antenna (currently the curved ends), requiring them to have some uncovered access to the world, then what about moving the gaps closer to the center-top and center-bottom locations? I have a hunch that these potential end-radiating points don't have to be curved, as they currently are at the corners, but maybe I'm wrong. However, this would make both antennas nearly the same length, which might affect signal strength too, if the different frequencies sent/received by the two antennas require their lengths to be as they currently are.

    If Apple doesn't want do anything like that (or if the antenna design doesn't allow for it), or even to coat the exposed metal antenna with some kind of clear coat (if that even helps enough), it might be best to move the antennas back inside, wrapped around the inside of the case--I don't think too many users will moan about not being able to touch metal around the sides of the iPhone. Another approach (which would work for either internal or external antennas) might further improve the antenna: two antennas for the phone signal, one at each lower corner (since FCC phone-to-head maximum radio signal level requirements now force manufacturers to put the phone antenna in the bottom of new cellphones), with whichever one that's not covered by the user's hand being used (circuitry in the phone could detect this).
  • iwod - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    1. I dont know why no one mentioned it in their reviews. And only Anand manages to point out my same thoughts, Why no insulation coating on the Stainless steel? It add less then 1mm of thickness and is cheap and easy enough to do so.
    The only reason would be Apple Engineer were using 3GS casing while they were testing..

    2. No one mentioned the new Skyworks Baseband chip. I have never head of them, and dont know how good they are. Wiki shows they have been in the business for nearly a decade now, so that should be good. The Less Drop calls on iPhone 4 were more to do with this Chips instead of AT&T network upgrade. The previous Infineon Chipset were simply poor. It was Infineon first chip into communication and mobile network. And it didn't work well although the problem were easily pointed to AT&T network. It wasn't only AT&T were having drop calls, Every iPhone 3G user in the world were having drop calls with different Network. And the Drop Calls rate for iPhone 3G/3GS on AT&T were much higher then any other phones on AT&T network. That simply points to a problem the lies within iPhone.

    3. The iPhone A4 is a package on package SOC. The Memory was Dual Channel Low Power DDR. Why didn't they use Low Power DDR3? It is lower power and faster then ancients DDR.

    4. Why didn't Apple upgrade their GPU? The iPhone 4 is 4x as much resolution. Playing Games on it requires much more computational power.

    5. 110ppi may not be enough for desktop. But how many ppi would a Retina Display for Desktop and Notebook need? I just measure we are typlically at least 24 inch away from the monitor, double the distance as you would hold on a iPhone. If a iPhone 4 requires 330 ppi, then Double the distance would half the ppi, which means 165ppi, That means 2560 x 1200 Resolution for 18" Display. For a Large Desktop Display 27", you will need 4K ( 4096×1716 ) resolution, which is actually perfect for Digital Film making and Broadcasting. I think it is time we distinguish a Computer Display to Normal TV. They can keep with their 1080P for as long as they want. We want Retina Display on our Mac.
    ( Notes: However even the lastest DisplayPort 1.2 does not offer enough bandwidth for 4K resolution )

    6. Software Side - Some Reports indicate iOS 4.0 uses more memory then older iOS 3.0 which more useless process standby ( Such us Internet tethering and Bluetooth.exe even when both features are OFF ). While they may only consumer 2 - 3MB of memory. It is still a lot on a mobile devices. I hope anand can verify if they have time.

    7. Saferi on iOS 4.0 seems to be using a older version of WebKit as well. I am sure SunSpider will run faster and on par with Andriod once Apple update iOS.
  • brownreese - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    I am blown away by the thoughtfulness of this review. Too many sites read like regurgitated press releases. I have just become a lifelong reader. Thanks. Reply
  • scarnie - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    See my article here:

    Basically, the iPhone 4 is about 33% faster than the 3GS (600MHz) and 25% slower than iPad (1GHz) putting it squarely at 800MHz.


  • heri16 - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    Since it has been confirmed that Apple would not be able to beat physics, the best way for them is to issue a firmware update to hide the signal loss in terms of bars (GASP!) . Since after-all, calls won't be dropped at one bar, why make us all worry?

    From my tests, attenuation by water-containing bodies is always a problem to RF. My best way around has been using micro-strip circular polarized antennas to reduce the effect. I've been using such antennas to cut 2.4Ghz signals through dense trees, which have "waterly" leaves. It also works better in rainy conditions compared to linear antennas.

    (My tests shows reduction in attenuation by 70% in dbm units for my modded 2.4Ghz enterprise router through those same trees.) This will work since our hands/bodies are "waterly" too.

    My suggestion to Apple to is have both thin circular-polarized micro-strip antennas embedded in the back surface, and linear polarized antennas at the sides, and diversity-RF controllers to get improved best-case and worst-case performance.

    I'm not sure whether an iphone accessory maker can create the same fix through a paper-thin antenna plugged in.
  • heri16 - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    Here are some links to help understand the iphone RF fix.
  • NordicNINE - Thursday, July 01, 2010 - link

    I finished up work & school for the day and just popped down to relax. Brought up my favorite tech news site and started the recorded DVR shows. I pulled up this article and then the recording of the new Futurama started up. Reply
  • Xeeros - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    Not to nitpick but The Incredible has 8GB internal PLUS the microSD which Verizon gives you a 2GB stick so it would be 10GB stock as they now package the SD card in the phone. Had a Launch unit and the refresher that says Droid on the box versuses the HTC incredible box. ONly difference was my store gave me a card for the 2GB and now its pre-packaged. To be honest most review sites that have it listed in comparison have it labeled this way, so probably not your fault. Reply
  • sporadic - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    A question though:
    When you ran your PDF download tests were you using any encryption or was this on an open network?
  • dhvanii - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    This is a great article on i4 antenna and DL reception. I have a few questions.
    1. if you take 1.5 MHz channel bandwidth, then the lowest signal strength measurable should be around -112 dBm. But this WCDMA and so if it is 4.5 MHz the lowest RSSI should be -107 dBm. Add to that a 4-6 dB noise figure and the lowest RSSI should be around -100 dBm. How is the device reporting -113 dBm for 3G ? Is that only for GSM reception where it is 200 KHz channel bandwidth and so theoretical lowest is around -120 dBm ?
    2. How about UL ? What is the Max Tx Power of this device ? 23 dBm ? How is that affected by this antenna glitch. Radio link protocols requiring UL acks for DL packets will definitely get affected by this poor antenna performance if UL is also affected.
    Thanks again for your detailed analysis.
  • navderek - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    Well I'm glad we be honest I did not read the entire article, but only the section about the antenna issues with the handset.

    I did not see you bring up the point of CQI, nor did I see you mention that RSSI is really not a good measure for network coverage / quality (when used alone). Perhaps you've mentioned it in other articles, and if so a link to those would have been warranted for charities sake.

    Have you ever considered writing up an article about how the air interface works? I think everyone would be much further ahead if they had a good basic understanding of the air interface and how the handset communicates with the BTS...especially now with so many networks competing it would put a little more power into the consumers hands to judge the quality of the network rather than rely on their silly marketing adds and crappy signal strength bar displays.

    Finally, you said that at -107dB the iPhone4 "deals just fine" with it. Do you have data to back that up? What kind of data rates were you getting? I'd be surprised if you could even hit 1MB/s.

    Just so you know, I work for TELUS Mobility in Canada. We have the first TRUE "all IP" network running in North America. We launched back at the end of 2009 with a 3.5G network. In my area we use NSN equipment and in practical use you can easily get sustained data rates greater than 10MB/s (downlink, theoretical = 21MB/s). We are also talking latencies of less than 50ms and almost no did we do this? Well we are the only company in North America to have built the network from the ground up using IP transport all the way to the radios. We have fiber going to every single tower which serves only this 1 network (we have 2 others to manage as well, PCS / iDEN). :-) I'm not trying to prop-up my company or anything, but just giving a hint as to why other carriers such as AT&T have so many problems with their "patchwork" network which still most likely uses legacy copper circuits multiplexed and converted into IP packets...this puts significant strain on the core to keep up with the demands.

    If people understood the air interface protocols in a general and basic sense at least they could judge the quality of this part of the network and then focus on looking into the other parts...I just find it frustrating that most people who don't understand how it works tend to give the network a "basket" rating based on simple RSSI measurements which does not really give much insight except as to how much radiation your standing in.
  • zmslink - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    So the net effect is that iPhone 4 drops fewer calls then the 3GS despite losing as much as 24dB when held "incorrectly," but does that signal loss affect battery life much? Reply
  • davidcjones - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    It is amazing how someone can do such detailed research to get to the bottom of this!

    Thanks for your hard work. Of course, I am distressed that people are so inclined to run to the courts to file class action suits before they actually investigate the issue in detail...

    David Jones
    Jericho, VT
  • Lemurion - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    I was disappointed that you they only compared the iPhone 4 screen to the 800 by 480 AMOLED screens on some of the Android devices. As far as I know, all those devices use the Pentile system, which reduces the crispness of text.

    I would have really liked to compare the new Apple screen to the Motorola Droid's 266 PPI screen and see how noticeable the difference there was.
  • Matt Campbell - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    Nice investigation work on the signal strength. Just wanted to point out that AnandTech is cited in the Apple iPhone 4 software fix story on CNN today. Reply
  • Bad Bimr - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    http://www.cnn DOT com/2010/TECH/mobile/07/02/apple.iphone.apology/index.html

    Apple admits iPhone 4 reception issues, says fix is coming

    After initially dismissing the reports about the iPhone 4 antenna reception issue, Apple has officially admitted it exists, promising a software fix in a couple of weeks. There's a catch, though.

    Apple's promised fix may not be good news for users experiencing the problem. Apple claims it has erroneously calculated the formula which displays signal bars on the iPhone, and therefore the iPhone has been showing too many bars in areas with weak signal strength.

    Here's how Apple explains it:

    "Users observing a drop of several bars when they grip their iPhone in a certain way are most likely in an area with very weak signal strength, but they don't know it because we are erroneously displaying 4 or 5 bars. Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place."

    Unfortunately, this seems like Apple is only acknowledging one part of the problem. Anandtech's in-depth analysis showed that the signal drop when you grip the iPhone 4 by its lower-right side is very real.

    Therefore, Apple's fix probably won't fix that part -- arguably the biggest part -- of the problem, and will merely make the iPhone 4 display fewer bars in weak signal areas.

    Interestingly enough, Apple claims the miscalculation was present "since the original iPhone," so the fix will apply to older generation iPhones as well.

    Here's Apple's official announcement:

    Dear iPhone 4 Users,

    The iPhone 4 has been the most successful product launch in Apple's history. It has been judged by reviewers around the world to be the best smartphone ever, and users have told us that they love it. So we were surprised when we read reports of reception problems, and we immediately began investigating them. Here is what we have learned.

    To start with, gripping almost any mobile phone in certain ways will reduce its reception by one or more bars. This is true of iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, as well as many Droid, Nokia and RIM phones. But some users have reported that iPhone 4 can drop four or five bars when tightly held in a way which covers the black strip in the lower left corner of the metal band. This is a far bigger drop than normal, and as a result some have accused the iPhone 4 of having a faulty antenna design.

    At the same time, we continue to read articles and receive hundreds of emails from users saying that iPhone 4 reception is better than the iPhone 3GS. They are delighted. This matches our own experience and testing. What can explain all of this?

    We have discovered the cause of this dramatic drop in bars, and it is both simple and surprising.

    Upon investigation, we were stunned to find that the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong. Our formula, in many instances, mistakenly displays two more bars than it should for a given signal strength. For example, we sometimes display four bars when we should be displaying as few as two bars. Users observing a drop of several bars when they grip their iPhone in a certain way are most likely in an area with very weak signal strength, but they don't know it because we are erroneously displaying four or five bars. Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place.

    To fix this, we are adopting AT&T's recently recommended formula for calculating how many bars to display for a given signal strength. The real signal strength remains the same, but the iPhone's bars will report it far more accurately, providing users a much better indication of the reception they will get in a given area. We are also making bars one, two and three a bit taller so they will be easier to see.

    We will issue a free software update within a few weeks that incorporates the corrected formula. Since this mistake has been present since the original iPhone, this software update will also be available for the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G.

    We have gone back to our labs and retested everything, and the results are the same- the iPhone 4's wireless performance is the best we have ever shipped. For the vast majority of users who have not been troubled by this issue, this software update will only make your bars more accurate. For those who have had concerns, we apologize for any anxiety we may have caused.

    As a reminder, if you are not fully satisfied, you can return your undamaged iPhone to any Apple Retail Store or the online Apple Store within 30 days of purchase for a full refund.

    We hope you love the iPhone 4 as much as we do.

    Thank you for your patience and support.


    Just like apple, finally admitting a problem, pleasing the fan boys by saying it will be addressed and doing nothing to fix it. I am so glad I never jumped on the apple bandwagon.
  • fischerm83 - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    So i was reading various news articles today and saw that apple finally figured out/admitted to what you guys found out earlier this week...

    Now the company says its engineers have made a "stunning" discovery. Reception is poor and calls may be dropped because not only are people holding the phone wrong, but they also think they have a better signal than they do. In the statement, Apple says that it has made a mistake in the formula that calculates the number of bars that display the signal strength on all of its iPhones.

    "We were stunned to find that the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong," it said in a statement.

    Full Article:

    Nice work guys, keep up the amazing work!
  • anandreader - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    I'm confused as to what had to happen to get Fieldtest onto the iphone 4. Understood the bit about jailbreaking the iphone3 but didn't understand how that information got transfered to the 4.

    Could you elaborate a bit there?
  • Per Grenerfors - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    Thanks for the great review, AnandTech.

    In countries where 3G coverages isn't spotty like a teenagers face, the whole antenna/at&t/verizon debate is just utterly unnecessary.

    Apple is the only brand name in tech today that's recognized by the broader public. Their products therefore make a big splash in the media when they hit the market. But the bigger splash you make, the more mud comes floating up from the bottom. Like people complaining with a spec sheet in hand without ever having seen the device in real life. Or just plain old haters. This is the downside to fame. But I'm sure Apple's laughing all the way to the bank.
  • Stokestack - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    A case isn't an acceptable workaround for this. I don't buy a thin phone to bulk it up and junk it up with a cheesy case or add-on of any kind.

    While I'm not planning on getting an iPhone 4, if I had one and wanted to keep it I'd try to spray a coating onto the antenna band. I'd mask the front & back, the buttons, and any seams, then spray with polyurethane or something. While it would be microscopically thin, there's be no direct contact with skin. And really, that's what you said you expected Apple to have done anyway. Let's see if it would work.

    Excellent review. The hack to get the numeric signal strength rocks.
  • Fulle - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    Thank you for the review. It was useful to be able to look at something that was detailed, and included facts, good and bad, without a ridiculous amount of bias. It's obvious that Anand likes, or at least really wants to like most Apple products, but it was nice that that didn't get in the way of the review.

    The new iPhone seems to be an OK device that's on par with new Android smartphones in way of hardware... The screen's got 20% higher pixel density than the Droid, but 50% worse contrast ratio, and worse black quality... Java performance is clearly inferior to a Nexus One, but browsing performance is competitive (I'd say good, but I think all handsets have shit browser performance). Its sleak and thin, but it has no hardware qwerty. The 5MP camera produces low noise, but, the white balance is messed up, making it overall inferior to the camera in a Nexus One or HTC Incredible (or Moto Droid, even, IMHO... screwed up over-saturated colors with bad white balance are a big deal to me). Overall, it's an average device when put up against worthy competition (EVO4G, DroidX, HTC Incredible, Nexus One, or even a Moto Droid).

    But, that's before you have to deal with the obvious design flaws. Glass panels on both sides? WTF? Uninsulated external antenna? These aren't minor flaws here.

    So, overall I'd say that the new iPhone is inferior to at least 6 Android smartphones.... and at first I grin at that... but then I'm disappointed and mad. Apple has helped make the smartphone market the competitive environment it is today, and when they drop the ball like this, it means that other venders don't have to raise the quality of their devices to compete. It's just fortunate that Android has so many hardware OEMs, like HTC, Samsung, and Motorolla, all competing with each other... or else I'd be afraid the only thing the iPhone4 would push in competition is a higher ppi on the screens.

    Lets hope this helps push the Cortex-A9 equipped Android's this winter to include higher resolution in their displays... but, man, I'm disappointed with this device.
  • tgibbs - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    Does zero dB represent a standard absolute signal strength or is it an arbitrary reference value that will differ for different phones? Reply
  • navderek - Saturday, July 03, 2010 - link

    The signal is actually measured in dBm which means it is a reference to 1mW of power.
    For example -30dBm = 1000 times less that 1mW = 1uW
    1 microwatt does not seem like much, but actually this is a very strong signal for the mobile and you would rarely have that much power arriving at your handset from the tower. In good conditions, close to the tower or serving antenna with minimal obstructions you could expect about -50 to -60 dBm (-60dBm = 1nW (nanowatt). The system is designed to deal with such small signals...this is why I laugh when people are worried about cell tower "radiation" when actually 5 min. in the sun is a bazzillion times more radiation than what's coming out of a tower....cellular towers that is, broadcast radio towers or paging systems are another story!

    But I answer your question simply, zero dBm simple equals 1mW.
    Zero dBm signifies that there is no difference in ratio from the reference of 1mW.
  • Belard - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    On the back of all iPhones... whats with the ugly logos on the back of the phones?

    I don't know another phone that has such things and you'd think on a style-brand such as Apple, they really would work to NOT put such things on.

    Look at the HTC-EVO review. Other than HTC & Sprint logos, its all nice and clean looking.

    My SONY phones... only say Sony. Even the bottom of my Logitech mouse only has a CE logo and product text "DUAL LASER".
  • mikelward - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    The Nexus One photos looked much better to me. The iPhone 4 was too yellow and the Evo was too noisy.

    Out of interest, is this something that could be fixed in a firmware update, and what version of Android was the N1 running?

    Thank you very much for the review, especially the antenna section.
  • QuantumForce - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    Did you average dBs as if they were linear numbers? Really? They are a log transform of a ratio between measured and standard linear intensity or pressure. 20 dB * 2 is not equal to 40 dB. Just how did you deal with the math here in your sample analysis of six readings?
  • metalev - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    I re-charted the signal strength quoted in this article to make the huge signal strength range given to 5 bars much more obvious:
  • KOTULCN - Saturday, July 03, 2010 - link

    You said you restored your iPhone 4 to a back-up of a jail broken 3.1.3? Alittle bit more explanation is due! Reply
  • MrBrownSound - Saturday, July 03, 2010 - link

    Very detailed review. In the end with Froyo coming I'd have to choose Evo no matter the extended wait because of integration with sense UI. Although I will have to compromise battery life, stunning display and sheer expensive look and feel compared to the iphone. To make up for it I will be able to make calls, have a bigger screen, and also have the all open android OS. trade-offs trade-offs. I'll take it over being locked to at&t for two years with three hundred something termination fee.

    Again very thorough review. This is why i read Anandtech
  • spiritu - Saturday, July 03, 2010 - link

    I note that some subtle but significant changes have been made to your article since it was first published.

    In particular, the following line:

    It originally said:

    "Apple should add an insulative coating to the stainless steel band (which implies a recall), or subsidize bumper cases." (which implies apple should pay for the cost of the bumper)

    Now it says:

    "The most sensitive region of the antenna should have an insulative coating (next time round?), or everyone should use a case. (which implies the user should buy a bumper).

    I can only presume that you made these changes under duress.
  • orangpelupa - Saturday, July 03, 2010 - link

    great review. very in-depth. Nice knowing what the reason behind iPhone 4 "signal problem".

    seeing this
    i got struck by nostalgic feeling :D

    it really looks like my 4 years old cellphone. (now its dead lol)
    Sony Ericsson M600i.

    the "sides" design really remind me of my old phone :)
  • drwho9437 - Saturday, July 03, 2010 - link

    "The Antenna is Improved" is a subheading. The content is more or less fine, but it shouldn't be called the Antenna is improved. If the software is correctly reporting the number of dBm and it just works at lower levels because of a lower noise floor in the RF amplifier, then you should say "reception is Improved" or something.

    The improvement in the signal is down to the mixer, amp or filters not the antenna gain as you note from your dBm level measures.
  • Axelband - Saturday, July 03, 2010 - link

    This is simply the best and most thorough product review I have ever read. It had just enough technical information to satisfy an engineer like me but not too much to bore a layman. Bookmarking your site now. Reply
  • metalev - Saturday, July 03, 2010 - link

    I ploted the signal-strength-to-bars mapping for both Android and the iPhone 4 on the same axes:

    This shows that the iPhone 4 consistently reports a higher percentage signal strength (as defined by the fraction of bars lit) than Android GSM devices at the same signal strength.
  • R. Johnson - Saturday, July 03, 2010 - link

    I don't understand how Apple (Iphone4) can say the antenna issue is a math problem when I can sit here with all full antenna bars and then hold the phone with my left hand and get only half a bar within 15 seconds. I don't know what to trust anymore when Apple decides to use different math and different bars in an upcoming update. I am afraid they may now use different bars to have it APPEAR there is better reception than there really is.

    R. Johnson
  • SunSamurai - Saturday, July 03, 2010 - link

    You better hurry and put on the tinfoil hat too.

    Give me a break. The article already pointed out it was a simple error in how the bars were representing signal. The actual numerical signal is actually better. They basically did the opposite of what youre freak'n out about.
  • navderek - Saturday, July 03, 2010 - link


    Plenty of reason to freak out. This is a very obvious design flaw that has been overlooked by Apple, and now denied by Apple. I am an RF Engineer and when I watched the Apple keynote presentation of the device I almost fell off my chair when he presented the antenna design...Then I thought, no it must have a light coat of something to shield the antenna....guess not.

    Apple is making profit hand over fist and paying sweatshop workers pennies to put these things together...the least they could do is provide free bumpers. No they won't though because they will open the door to legal issues...who cares, they can afford the legal costs and it would save their face and allow them to continue unscathed...Now they just look like any other greedy company out there. They've really lost there magic IMO. It's discouraging that profits > honor. They are a real good company and this will really hurt them.
  • StormyParis - Saturday, July 03, 2010 - link

    The article is very nice, but the conclusion lets us down and not gently by falling into the fanboi worldview. I'm neither an Apple nor Android nor Palm fanboi. I recently bought an HD2, and I'm definitely NOT an MS fanboi. I just wanted the biggest possible screen, and the HD2's is 40% bigger than the iPhone's... it's not about resolution, but size: I'm getting old.

    If the Dell Streak had been out in my country, I'd probably have gotten it instead. If palm had a big-screen, keyboardless phone, I'd have strongly considered it, seeing that right before the HD2, I was still using my Palm TX because it just works.

    Right now I wouldn't consider Apple because it's too closed, and too cumbersome to get content onto (iTunes crapped out on my PC every time I tried it). I'm not sure I could get winhttrack'ed sites onto it.

    I think most phones have reached the point of "good enough". On mine, I'm using a browser, an ebook reader, a media player... and that's about it. I don't game, I don't do social web things, I don't need a fashion accessory/personality crutch...
  • SunSamurai - Saturday, July 03, 2010 - link

    You sound bitter. Tell us where the iphone/droid touched you. Reply
  • btharms - Saturday, July 03, 2010 - link

    My phone drops from 5 bars to 1 bar frequently. The way I comfortably hold the phone covers the black strip more often than not. I have run speed test after speed test, and what I have found is that while covering the strip, my 3g connection will drop to 0kbps! I can literaaly freeze safari while loading any web page by temporarily placing my finger on the black strip (it will continue to load a second or two after I remove my finger).

    I was achieving download speeds of around 1600 kilobits/sec with the phone in my hand without covering the black strip. When redoing the test while holding the phone normally (with my pinky finger covering the strip) the speed dropped as low as 0 (100 kilobits per second was the fastest). Actually, many times the test would not start until I removed my pinky from the spot. Then, after the test began I would softly place my pinky back on the strip - and instantly the speed drops near 0.

    So as thorough as your testing was, realizing that the phone misrepresents signal strength is really not a pertinent issue when you consider that the 3g signal virtually dissapears immediately on contact with the black strip.

    I'm basically demanding that apple comps me a free bumper or i'm returning my phone.
  • navderek - Saturday, July 03, 2010 - link

    The main point is that by Apple redoing the math on the signal will have no effect on the issues your seeing. Bars don't man a thing. Real life means everything and if the call drops with 5 bars or zero bars it does not matter - the call still drops!

    THIS IS JUST A STUNT BY APPLE TO PUT THE BLAME ON THE CARRIERS...OPEN YOUR EYES PEOPLE. Once the SW update happens then people will go back to complaining about AT&T and others...just like Apple wants it.

    Thing is, poeple aren't as dumb as Apple thinks. But I guess this is the most financially obvious thing for Apple to do. Shift the blame, it's not our problem!
  • Mike Wadner - Saturday, July 03, 2010 - link

    I started reading your review and stopped immediately upon seeing this statement: Apple has real competitors in the smartphone space. Android phones have grown in features, polish and popularity. Even Palm entered the race with a competant offering, and Microsoft isn't far behind.

    What cave have you been in for the last year? Do you not have a F**KING clue what Microsoft just did with their phone this week - THEY ARE MILES BEHIND EVERYONE IN HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE. My 13 year old kid wouldn't even make a statement this stupid.

    Microsoft is stillborn when it comes to mobile. To even consider Microsoft a worthy competitor in the smart phone area is insane.

    You're credibility just went down the crapper with that statement.

  • navderek - Saturday, July 03, 2010 - link

    Agreed...the review may be good to the laymen, but for others not so much. I highly respect Anandtech's reviews but this is really the first one I've seen where they seem to have done the review just to get some of that Apple limelight without actually asking the tough questions like why Apple went and designed the antenna like this? What is the link between this poor antenna design and the sudden sale of bumpers by Apple? hmmmmmm Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    I would assume they were referring to the launch of Windows Phone 7, which may prove to be a viable smartphone competitor. But being still months away that is a long time for competitors to move ahead.

    Also, as far as hardware goes, there are phones built with modern hardware, such as the HTC HD2. The software is the real problem.
  • softdrinkviking - Sunday, July 04, 2010 - link

    the biggest turn off for me is still the lack of micro SD support.

    i use my phone as my primary mp3 player, and i end up filling up 16GB really quickly.
    with SD cards, you can swap out your storage on the go, rather than having to return home and do a sync in itunes.

    also, itunes is awful. it's such a pain in the ass to use, and i can think of no good reason that we can't drag and drop mp3 files onto our phones, or better yet, onto SD cards. (other than the fact that apple wants to force you to go through their online marketplace on a regular basis)
  • D3lta - Sunday, July 04, 2010 - link

    By far the best review I've ever read. Thanks and keep up the good work. Reply
  • avoidz - Sunday, July 04, 2010 - link

    Cynical maybe, but I'm sure this was all part of the plan, knowing that users would require the $30 bumper case. Reply
  • Consolidated - Sunday, July 04, 2010 - link

    A rough (eyeball) estimate of your diagram finds the umts antenna to be about twice as long as the WiFi antenna. Connecting the two would increase the length of the umts antenna about 50%, midway between the base length and the first harmonic length. Nasty VSWR there.
    The same calculus INCREASES the wifi antenna length by a factor of three, just about the second harmonic (an odd harmonic, yes but way better than midway between, no?).
  • zero01 - Sunday, July 04, 2010 - link

    This is a must have, I hear it fixes everything

    Very funny although I cant see them selling many.
  • docflash - Sunday, July 04, 2010 - link

    as a physician, i've had lots of patients who've had allergies to metal - nickel in particular. an effective fix is coating the metal, often in a ring or other piece of jewelry, with a couple of layers of clear nail polish. this doesn't allow their skin to touch the metal, and stops the allergy.

    it's *possible* that some clear nail polish would have the same effect on the metal of the iP4's antenna. now, i am not an engineer (nor do i play one on TV) but i see no reason this won't work. and if it does: well, i'm in the market for a new phone, and the iP4 could be it.

    if it *does* work for you, great! but share the news - i'd like to try it myself (and so might other folks).
  • scubasteve03 - Monday, July 05, 2010 - link

    I have searched everywhere! Where can I find that the background on the home screen in the " The Real Story on iPhone 4's Antenna" section? It has the vertical stripes that is yellow and black. If anyone could please help me figure out where to get send me an email. First person to find it for me gets 10 internet points! selphs03@gmail Thanks everyone! Reply
  • Romion - Monday, July 05, 2010 - link

    First of all, regarding battery life I dont think that the real talk time is bigger than what Apple announced (about 7h). I know from experience that all my phones till now had talk times around 1/2 up to 2/3 of what manufacturer announced (the talk time announced is IDEAL, most probably non existent in real life.) Just curios, how did u check the talk time?


    Anand, if u use some technical data this doesnt mean that they are correct/ true and we can rely on this review.
    U said that u were in line at mall for every Iphone model till now, well, that tell us/me everything.
    Sorry if my english is not perfect, im not a native english speaker, but a smart enough guy to see things how they are in reality and not listen to others in their bias reviews.
  • Stoli89 - Monday, July 05, 2010 - link

    It would be interesting to understand if changes to the WiFi/Bluetooth/GPS portion of the antenna system has an impact on the 2G/3G portion. If energy from wifi and/or bluetooth and/or GPS is causing interference with the 2G/3G signal processing when the so-called "gap" is conductively bridged. Current test seem to focus on the 2G/3G antenna being de-tuned when the external antenna gap is bridged, without considering if energy is also leaking through and corrupting the 2G or 3G signal(s). Just curious if this is just one more parameter which has confused the outcomes for different customers. Reply
  • macmanitou - Monday, July 05, 2010 - link

    Hi Brian,

    great article, but one question just pops in my mind looking at the signal attenuation table, is the iPhone 3GS really the best? If yes I should really stick to it and probably just cancel the iPhone 4 order ;)

  • isotropic - Monday, July 05, 2010 - link

    Posted by: isotropic | 07/5/10 | 5:01 pm |
    This link Shows a Test phone TEMS sony/Ericsson K800i test phone (cost 2500+ Euro) being given the grip of death. A test done in a few minutes. It shows at a given point up to 16 dB losses by being held tightly as I have seen people doing it on the new iPhone. Not saying the iPhone could not have a problem, I don’t own one. But the iPhone is not alone for sure on this one. And Apple’s latest explanation seems pretty valid to me
  • Akv - Monday, July 05, 2010 - link

    I don't mind being locked in the Apple network for my iPod, because I find iTunes a quite convenient solution. However for a professionally strategic device like my cell phone, I would prefer a more independent solution.

    Besides, I still think it doesn't bring enough for the price. I could buy an excellent netbook for less than that price, and I would still have some money left for a simple but efficient clamshell phone.
  • ifartinyoutdirection - Monday, July 05, 2010 - link

    It is a feature
  • davehutch - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    Your screen captures don't actually reflect what is being recorded. The video capture screen is a full-screen version that is not showing the correct ratio. the screen should be double-tapped for a tru representation and yes, the video angle of view is indeed smaller than the still image angle of view.

    please see my post here:
    for additional screenshots and comments.
  • r2d2droid - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    Interesting. . . but I still want a droid. Reply
  • estarkey7 - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    Why didn't you use Sprint's Everything plan pricing? For $99.00+$10.00 for the Evo 4g tax you get unlimited EVERYTHING, now add in tethering and see where that brings Sprint in comparison with AT&T and Verizon.

    Different ballgame all together, because 900 min is nothing. I talk 1200+ every month.
  • RadioGuru - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    Hello guys. Thanks for the review. I have a quick question. Your wrote that "To generate these numbers, I measured at least 6 times and took the average"
    I wonder, did you convert the dBm number to linear, took the average and the recalculated the numbers back to dBm, or took the average using the dBm values. If you did the later, the numbers are completely wrong.
    Your testing is better than most of what I have seen online so far, but real engineering testing has revealed that the TIS (Total Isotropic Sensitivity) of iPhone4 in Free Space is better than the 3GS, which is great!!!! but.....and here comes the big but....phamtom head testing of WCDMA 1900 TIS/TRP spec testing has shown a degradation of close to 30 to 40 dB in chamber testing. Which means a controlled lab environment...not a cowboy lab testing like the one you used. Sorry, I respect your work and I support what you do...but this time of evaluation requires far more engineering power.
    in WCDMA/HSDPA systems, a call dropped is usually driven by reverse link limitaiton. Therefore engineers also consider TRP (Total Radiating Power) to measure antenna performance. in the case of iPhone4, TRP degradation due to HAND+HEAD is close to 40 dB, which will kill the call or increase drop calls or reduce data througput performance.

    By the way, BAR maping using SNR makes sense for HSDPA data calls. GSM calls should use RSSI.
  • jacobdrj - Thursday, July 08, 2010 - link

    You rock. Reply
  • kylewat - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    Watch my iphone 4 freakout.
  • dalebeal - Friday, July 09, 2010 - link

    This is the most comprehensive review I have read - and I've read a lot of them. Thank you! Reply
  • iam.sarakhan - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    Apple has launched an iphone4 which is very useful for the upcoming and young generation.
    It is getting more and more advanced day by day. It given features are just superb which enhances our mentality. Apple has become a real competitors in the smart phone space.
    The stylish modal represented by Apple is very nice and looks very attractive.
    Many <a href="">Music Production</a> are using this company to promote because of their music.
  • bplewis24 - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    Consumer Reports confirms what I have commented on earlier about this article: that the "best case scenario" testing of one phone is clearly an attempt to excuse away this clear design flaw in a biased review. See the article here: .

    And watch the video. This testing was done in a controlled environment with an RF Isolation Chamber that is impervious to outside radio signals. I suggest you guys stop misleading the tech nerd population with this review now, and revise it.

  • plastic_avatar - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    How can you not respect the research of someone who slides in an apt geek reference? Reply
  • zholy - Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - link

    Only Apple can release a product with such a design flaw and respond to complaints with either "you're holding it wrong" or "buy another product to make it work correctly". Any other company would have their product returned in droves, Mac fanatics just say "ok" Reply
  • xubeibei - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    I feel so sorry. Your article is so long. And there are so many new words for me,so I can't undersdand it clearly.Thank you!
  • xubeibei - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    I feel so sorry. Your article is so long. And there are so many new words for me,so I can't undersdand it clearly.Thank you! Reply
  • savanna - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    Think about it too. How can you download? Obviously all money goes to Apple and then Apple pays you. Therefore, it's nothing you can simply "download." Apple would have to keep track of tax forms and bank info. So there's no way you can "pirate" a iPhone developer certificate.
  • chedy5sche - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    this webiste is good, you can go and see it
  • Hengie2000 - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    Help! I am a wireless tech that uses field test daily to survey in building wireless projects, but the iphone 4 or 4.0 upgrade lost that capability. I am willing to pay for someone to make a field test app or follow the steps that Brian and Anand have listed in this story. Is there any way to reach these guys for more details to get field test running on the iphone4? Does this give full field test menus or only replaces the signal bars with decibels? Reply
  • Stang289 - Monday, July 26, 2010 - link

    It would be great if you had Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus performance numbers included in smartphone reviews. I would like to see how they stack up against other smartphones. Reply
  • Acel-cr - Wednesday, August 11, 2010 - link

    iBand Aid Antenn-aid for iPhone 4 is a custom sized vinyl sticker for your iPhone 4. When placed over the lower left corner of the antenna it may improve signal performance.

    Antenn-aids act as a Band-Aid for iPhones
    and are designed to be placed over the lower left corner of the antenna, in the area where the signal dropping issues occur.

    Almost any mobile phone in certain ways will reduce its reception by 1 or more bars. This is true of iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, as well as many Droid, Nokia and RIM phones. But some users have reported that iPhone 4 can drop 4 or 5 bars when tightly held in a way which covers the black strip in the lower left corner of the metal band.

    Gorgeous colors
    Each iBand Aid package has seven gorgeous colored stickers. Colours: patch, silver, dark gray, turquoise, lime, pink and white
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  • sophiamake - Sunday, August 15, 2010 - link

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  • gregnewton - Wednesday, August 25, 2010 - link

    I found these great guys -
    They are the only one seller of micro sim adapters in UK and I just get mine. I must say I didn't thought it would be so cool, it's just what I was needed, it does the trick and I think I saved a lot of money with that thing. They also offer these cool looking skins called iDecal case, I think I'm gona try it out, it should give my iPhone 4 a great individual look.
    Be sure to check them out these guys can be trusted.
  • marxster - Thursday, September 09, 2010 - link

    ...after all that, I'll give you my real world experience. We have a 3Gs and a 4 in our household. The 3Gs always shows more bars and does not drop calls at all while my iPhone 4 does drop calls and has less bars.

    We live far away from the closest tower and the iphone 4 doesn't ever get better reception here than -103db.

    I'm now afraid to receive calls because I know they'll be dropped. Makes my phone useless.

    I should say that both phones are on the latest iOS version and there isn't much of a difference whether I use a case or not.

    By the way, please explain this to me. Why did Apple bother to spend millions of dollars shipping out cases when they clearly don't get rid of the problem. When I cup my phone with the case on, the bars drop just the same as without.
  • dnghiem - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    Thanks so much for the info. Please visit to learn more about the cell-phone issues and solutions. Reply
  • MisterQED - Wednesday, October 20, 2010 - link

    I am not a member of the “tin foil hat” crowd, I’m a guy with a physics degree and a Ham license, so I know a bit about radios. What I am about to point out seems so obvious to me, but I have never heard it discussed anywhere. Your article discusses the effects of having a exposed antenna as it effects phone reception, but that misses the main point, this is a receiving and transmitting antenna. Having skin contact with a transmitting antenna is not safe. Allow me to explain my thought process and tell me if I have a flaw in my logic.

    1) Constant irritation causes cancer. Whether it is fiberglass fibers, silica dust or coal dust in our lungs, to UV radiation from skin exposed to the sun, if you irritate an area consistently for long periods of time, you are just asking for cancer.

    2) RF radiation from most phones is a subject of worry and present discussion, but it doesn’t worry me. RF radiation is a worry because it will cause electrical conduction thru body tissue. This would be an irritation and consistent irritation can lead to cancer. RF radiation from most phones has two methods of conduction, capacitive and inductive.

    a) Capacitive needs: a sizable area, small dielectric distances and high frequencies. Cell phones have the high frequencies, but all other designs keep minimal gaps between antennas and the operator’s skin. Also the operator’s finger tips provide a rather small area to support capacitive conductance.

    b) Inductive conduction needs frequency matched radiators to allow conduction i.e. a good antenna on each end. Body parts make poor antennas, and bodily dimensions generally don’t match the proportions of ideal radiators, so inductive conduction isn’t really a worry.

    3) iPhone 4s, unlike any previous device, allow a third and a magnitude more effective connection between an operator and a transmitting antenna, a resistive connection. All a resistive connection needs is a low resistance, which skin has when sweaty or damp and the antenna has if it is not covered by a non-conductive coating. To add insult to injury, this contact de-tunes the antenna making it less efficient. This inefficiency causes the transmitter to up the power output as cell phones work on a “yell loud enough to be heard” system, so the worse the reception the more power the phone will pump into the antenna to be able to communicate with the cell tower.

    So unless you can show me where my logic has lead me astray, I would expect that in the future some percentage of the population that use an iPhone without a case may find a small possibly cancerous mole forming on one of their fingertips.

    That is a bigger problem than some dropped calls, so why didn’t you mention it.
  • smithpercy - Sunday, November 14, 2010 - link

    Does this mean that I could cold weld a suitable socket to the gsm antenna side strip to allow a patch cable to an external antenna and get reception in the very marginal areas that I spend most of my time in?? I know that the shield would have to be grounded but that could be done thru one of the other connectors. I understand that would void the warranty, and give apple a conniption fit but that is their problem. Reply
  • keri - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    serious question here. Reply
  • Rizi - Friday, July 13, 2012 - link

    The iPhone 4S doesn't offer much in the way of camera controls. The sensitivity settings, white balance and exposure, for example, are all set automatically with no way of adjusting them prior to taking a shot. There's not even an exposure compensation facility to tweak the exposure. A camera manufacturer wouldn't be able to sell a compact camera with such a limited level of control unless it was for a child. However, it does make the camera of this <a href=" very easy to use and of course extra functionality can be added via apps. One useful option that is available is the ability to manually select whether the flash fires or not. Those who prefer to handover complete control can leave this set to 'Auto' - and generally we found it fired at the correct points, often appearing to improve shots we considered already well-lit. The flash is weak, but it's useful for illuminating very dark scenes or adding a little sparkle to eyes in daylight. It's a very small light source, so if it is the main one for an image, expect strong shadows and highlights – it's not the most flattering option for a night-time portrait, but very strong for a single LED. A tap of the screen is all that is required to set the focus point. The camera then usually does a quick backwards and forwards focus adjustment before the subject is made sharp. There's no clear focus indicator, the subject just looks sharp when the focussing has completed. Although the touchscreen is core to the iPhone, Apple hasn't given the camera a touch-shutter facility. This would trigger than camera to focus and take the shot with a single touch of the screen. Instead, after choosing the focus point, the shutter icon needs to be hit to take the shot. The 'up' volume control can now also be used as the camera shutter button too - however, it was very stiff indeed on our test sample, meaning there was an element of shakiness about some of the photos that simply pressing the screen could accomplish. However, it's still a nice touch to have - taking pictures of yourself is much easier with this as an option. Although there is no optical zoom facility, the iPhone 4s camera allows users to zoom digitally into the scene using the pinch to zoom option on the touchscreen. Plus you could always look SUPER COOL and get one of those optical attachments for the iPhone 4S to make it into a longer range shooting device - but you'd have to be really dedicated to do that. Rather than reducing the size of the images, however, the iPhone interpolates the digitally-zoomed shots so they have the same 3264x2448 pixel dimensions. On-screen icons provide access to the secondary camera and the grid display, flash and HDR options. These icons can be difficult to see when you're shooting from an awkward angle and it's easy to touch one accidentally when you are trying to set the focus point. It's helpful that, if the camera is active when the iPhone 4S is put into sleep mode, the camera is available as soon as the lock screen is swiped open. You can also jump straight into the camera from the lock screen with a double tap of the Home Button, although you can only see the snaps you've taken from that session, meaning you can't sneak into the photo gallery of a code-locked iPhone. Reply
  • Rizi - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    When Apple announced the new Siri software for the <a href=" 4s</a> it was easy to just dismiss it as another company trying to get on board with the voice recognition gimmick we've seen companies trying to make work for years. But there are a couple of things to remember here: firstly, this is Apple, a brand that will always make something seem cool and work pretty well. And secondly, it's not a technology that it's had to develop fully in house, with the company buying voice recognition development app-maker Siri. We've played with some pretty advanced voice recognition software on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S2, so we've also taken a look to see how the same command is registered on both phones. Long pressing the home button will result in the Siri voic icon popping up - or alternatively, you can set the iPhone 4S to activate the service when you hold the phone up to your ear in standby mode, so you don't look as ridiculous when talking to your handset. From there, you've got quite a range of things you can achieve with speech alone, be it sending a message, playing a song (or even a playlist), setting the alarm, creating a reminder... we were very impressed with the range of options on offer. And the system is quick too - where with many other phones you have to open up the voice recognition function (often in a long winded way) and then wait for the beep to speak, Siri opens up in around a couple of seconds from anywhere in the phone. The voice recognition is pretty darn good too - we were straight away impressed with how many phrases it managed to get right on the first go, including some pretty obscure bits and pieces of speech. You do have to pronounce your words a little more clinically than you might do normally, but even garbled speech comes through pretty well. To put a number on it: we went through the list of functions Siri offers, and found that around one in three or four attempts went awry, which is miles better than the one in two we encounter on most other phones. However, before we get into the comparison, we should say this about Siri in the UK - the full range of services aren't available, and that's a real shame. This means you can't ask where the nearest McDonald's or petrol station is, a feature that's been talked up in the US. We do have high hopes that the same features will eventually be enabled in the UK, as it's just a matter of licensing the information and incorporating it into the system, but it will be annoying for a number of users to see that Siri comes back with 'I cannot do that' time and time again for cool functionality. But what it does do well is work out the context of what you're saying, something that most other voice recognition software fails to do. So if you say 'Tell Andy his hair looks amazing today' it will work out that you'll want to tell him by message, rather than asking what method you'd prefer to speak to him. Messaging isn't as straightforward as we'd like though, as using the 'Send message' command to a person in your address book will result in you being asked whether you'd like to do it using the phone number or email address - and there's no way to set a personalized choice. Reply

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