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
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  • 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,
    Anand
    Reply
  • 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?
    Reply
  • 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.

    Brandon
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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!"
    Reply
  • John Sawyer - Thursday, July 1, 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.
    Reply
  • The0ne - Thursday, July 1, 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?
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, July 1, 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.
    Reply
  • ipredroid - Saturday, July 3, 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.

    Reply

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