Final Words

The iPhone 4 is a tremendous improvement over the previous phones from Apple. Battery life alone is enough to sell a brand new notebook, there's no reason the same shouldn't apply for a smartphone. Being able to deliver real world battery life use of between 5.5 and 10 hours on a single charge is quite impressive. And if you aren't using the phone nonstop? Expect even longer battery life.

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 4. The phones that are in development today at least surpass the 4's specs in terms of raw CPU speed. Given that Apple's retina display is in high volume production already I'd expect other manufacturers to pick it up in due time.

And believe it or not, even if you upgrade to the iPhone 4 today in another 12 months it'll most likely be replaced by a dual core version that you'll want even more.

The lower clocked A4 was most likely a result of wanting to save battery life, a tradeoff I'm willing to accept. The 512MB of RAM was an unexpected surprise, and a giant disappointment to iPad users. The extra memory comes in handy while multitasking, something the iPad won't be able to do until this fall. By then it's probably only a few more months until updated iPad hardware, which will almost certainly feature the same 512MB of RAM as the iPhone 4. It does mean the early iPad adopters got shafted a bit. They got a much lower density screen and less memory than the iPhone 4, despite a higher upfront cost. 
I'm not terribly happy with this but I suspect the best move at this point is to hold off on buying an iPad until you see what the next generation will offer, If it's anything like the 4, it'll be worth the wait.

HTC EVO 4G (back) vs. iPhone 4 (front)

The main downside to the iPhone 4 is the obvious lapse in Apple's engineering judgment. 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, the iPhone 4 simply reinforces it. At the bare minimum Apple should give away its bumper case with every iPhone 4 sold. The best scenario is for Apple to coat the antenna and replace all existing phones with a revised model.The ideal situation is very costly for Apple but it is the right thing to do. Plus it's not like Apple doesn't have the resources to take care of its customers.

As for the iPhone vs. Android debate, the 4 doesn't really change much. If you're not a fan of iOS 4 or Apple then the 4th generation iPhone isn't going to change your opinion. If you're an existing iPhone user you'll want to upgrade. It's worth it. The 4 simply makes the iPhone 3GS feel dated, which it is. It's a mild update to three year old phone vs. the significant redesign that is the iPhone 4. If you're married to Android, in the next 6 - 12 months we should see feature parity from the competition. And if you're a fan of Palm, let's just see what happens when the HP deal closes.

There's another category of users who are interested in the iPhone but simply put off by AT&T. While enabling HSUPA and the improved baseband make the iPhone 4 more attractive from a network standpoint, if you hate AT&T's coverage there's nothing Apple can do about it. I do get the feeling that the AT&T exclusivity will be over sooner rather than later. The iPhone and iOS are soon to be a mobile advertising platform, which means Apple needs as many users as possible. This is in direct contrast to the Mac strategy which purposefully didn't focus on volume to maintain high profit margins. Ultimately it means that AT&T either has to grow to be much larger than Verizon, or Apple has to embrace both carriers in order to fend off Android.

Living with the 4


View All Comments

  • Belard - Friday, July 2, 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 2, 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 2, 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 2, 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 3, 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 3, 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 3, 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 3, 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 3, 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 3, 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

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