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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  • noiserr - Friday, July 2, 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.
    Reply
  • 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!
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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!
    Reply
  • 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)
    Reply
  • Jittos - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - link

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

    Anadtech is still the best :)
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply

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