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

  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, July 6, 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 4, 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 4, 2010 - link

    By far the best review I've ever read. Thanks and keep up the good work. Reply
  • avoidz - Sunday, July 4, 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 4, 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 4, 2010 - link

    This is a must have, I hear it fixes everything

    Very funny although I cant see them selling many.
  • docflash - Sunday, July 4, 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 5, 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 5, 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 5, 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

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