The smartphone that was apparently an iPhone 4G found on the floor of a Californian bar has made its way into the hands of technology bloggers, and has been thoroughly examined by a crack team of experts. It looks like the real deal folks, so here are Tech Digest’s thoughts on what’s good, bad and ugly about Apple’s latest monster smartphone.
Finally, Apple introduce a front-facing camera onto an iPhone! And about time too, we’ve all been crying out for one of those since what feels like the dawn of time right now. It means video calling is almost a dead-cert now, so lets hope there’s a Mirror app thrown in so that we can make sure we look our best when our pals connect. A much larger lens and camera flash on the regular camera is obviously a good thing too, with the iPhone falling behind the competition in the megapixel count pretty drastically of late.
The iPhone 4G’s screen seems significantly sharper, maybe as much as a resolution of 960×460, as had previously been rumoured. While movies and games are obviously going to benefit from a sharper screen, a higher resolution also means for sharper web browsing and improved picture editing options. All good, no?
I’m never a fan of split volume buttons, so I’m glad to see dedicated hardware buttons for both up and down volume controls. The metallic look is also a plus, as the joint plastic iPhone 3GS volume controls never felt all that comfortable to me. The power and mute buttons also get the metallic overhaul, and will be all the better for it.
The plastic back may also be a blessing in disguise too – if you’ve ever struggled to pick up a wireless connection on your iPad then this would be the solution, causing little interference with Wi-Fi connections compared to the tablet’s aluminium back.
According to Gizmodo the screen is actually smaller than that of the iPhone 3GS. Not hugely reduced, considering that both units are roughly the same size, but smaller nonetheless. It seems a shame to bump up the resolution and then downgrade the screensize, and if there is anything that gaming on the iPhone could benefit from it would be more screen real estate. In fact, everything would benefit from that I suppose, other than maybe checking drunken Facebook snaps. They should be kept small. Invisibly small.
Though thinner than the iPhone 3GS (with the 4G measuring up at 4.50 by 2.31 by 0.37 inches), it’s actually heavier at 140 grams. That’s likely due to the larger battery now inside, and is a fair trade off for an extended battery-life. You’re very unlikely to notice that bump up in weight.
We’re still unsure about the iPhone 4G’s Micro-SIM use. I suppose the main downside of that for the moment is their relative rarity compared to the widely available regularly sized SIM cards. Rarity usually translates to “added expense” though, and that is obviously a bad thing.
The new look of the iPhone 4G is sure to split opinion straight down the middle. Gone are the curved edges and notably round back of the iPhone 3GS, replaced instead with fairly severe straight edges. While I’m all for the new squared-off look that brings the iPhone harmoniously in-line with the hard edges of the iMac and the iPad, those seams are totally fugly. The aluminium edging is fine, but seams just cheapen the whole look. There better be an as-yet undisclosed utilitarian reason for their being there.
Also, the seemingly plasticy back cover is a bit of a let down; I know this contradicts what I said earlier, as I recognise that a Mac Book Pro style single piece of aluminium isn’t practical in a phone that needs to pick up wireless reception as easily as possible, but I’d have hoped there was another solution other than plastic.
It’s not that I want my smartphones to look as if they were carved by elves from a single piece of adamantium or something like that, but the seams at least seem a step backwards from the illusion of one-piece design that iPhones have previously offered.
Looking pretty good we think – a better camera, better battery, a better screen, better hardware buttons, near-certain video calling. Better, better, better. Best though? Hmm. Give us a reason to ignore the seams along the aluminium edge and you may well find Tech Digest queuing up with the Apple faithful outside the House of Jobs come launch day.
Whenever launch day ends up being, that is…
You can register your interest in the iPhone 4 at Phones4u.