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

  • macmanitou - Monday, July 5, 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 5, 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 5, 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 5, 2010 - link

    It is a feature
  • davehutch - Tuesday, July 6, 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 6, 2010 - link

    Interesting. . . but I still want a droid. Reply
  • estarkey7 - Tuesday, July 6, 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 6, 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 8, 2010 - link

    You rock. Reply
  • dalebeal - Friday, July 9, 2010 - link

    This is the most comprehensive review I have read - and I've read a lot of them. Thank you! Reply

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