Thursday, October 20, 2011

iPhone 4

"iPhone 4. I need an iPhone 4. The one with the bigger GB's. Can I get it in white? Will you waive my activation fee?" I am convinced you are already familiar with the device that changed how we talk on the phone - the cell phone. I'm sure you're familiar with the device that changed how we listen to music - the iPod. By now I'm sure you've heard about the device that changed not only both of those categories, but also the world, and earned a spot in pop culture history forever, the iPhone! Apple released the original iPhone in 2007 and has since released 3 new models since then. 6 months after an iPhone comes out, something else outdoes it and it becomes outdated. However, it continues to remain at the top despite lacking key features of the time. For instance, people were still crazy over the original iPhone even after they released the 3G model with GPS. The iPhone 4 is about a year and a half old now, it's by far outdated by several models including the Samsung Infuse, the HTC Inspire, the Motorola Atrix 2, maybe the LG Thrill, and definitely the Samsung Galaxy S II, and that's just on AT&T's network. But people are still spending nearly twice as much money on the iPhone 4 just to get their paws on one. This review will help you decide if you want to believe all the hype, make the upgrade to the iPhone 4S, or jump ship to an Android or Windows Phone 7 device. Read on for more:

-iOS 4 operating system (upgradable to iOS 5) or, if you have the new 8 GB version iOS 5 comes pre-loaded
-5.0 MP back camera with flash capable of recording video at 720 P HD, VGA front-facing camera
-1 Ghz Apple A4 processor
-3.5" display with 960 by 640 resolution retina display - possibly the clearest display available on a phone currently (and the same display as the iPhone 4S)
-Rated at 7 - 7.5 hours talk time on 3G and 6 hours internet use time, also on 3G
-Available in 8 GB, 16 GB, and 32 GB sizes (16 and 32 for limited time at Verizon and AT&T) and memory is not expandable
-Earbuds included in box
-iCloud serves as wireless backup (when upgraded to iOS 5)

-The biggest downfall of this phone is that it's a year and a half old, therefore, a front facing camera and a 5 MP back camera are old news
-Facetime has to be used on a wifi network with another iPhone 4 or 4S user
-There is no expandable memory
-The phones are also significantly more expensive than others, despite being outdated
-The camera hardware is low quality, and the phone does not take very good photos
-The Antenna design is flawed, causing lots of dropped calls

A screenshot of the front screen of an
iPhone with iOS 5 on it.
Apple clearly believes in the fact that if it's not broke, don't fix it. They've been using virtually the exact same operating system with key updates being featured, for 3 years now. Visually, it has changed very very little. Functionally, apple listens to it's users and adds on features we ask for like copy and paste, and also brings forward some that are innovative that we didn't even know we needed, but now refuse to live without. It's a panel based system with applications neatly arranged on each page. You can choose 4 apps to hang out on the bottom that will not change as you slide through from panel to panel.

Some of the key native apps on the phone that are helpful to me are the compass, voice memos, clock, stopwatch, and alarms.

You'd be surprised how handy that compass comes in. Let me tell you a short story... This past weekend I went up to the arrowhead region of Minnesota, where I spend a lot of time in the fall hunting, fishing, and hiking. There is very little, if any, coverage out in the woods there. I was in an unfamiliar area for the first time, and I just assumed I would use the GPS on my phone. The GPS will not work without cellular service. I realized this only after I had already found myself lost and confused by the dizzying effects of the northwoods. Fortunately, the compass did still work, and I knew I had to head due east to get back to the road. My iPhone saved my life!!!!

The top of the iPhone 4 with the old break in the antenna
to the left of the headphone jack. Also showing the power/
lock button, the front facing camera and the top speaker.
The voice memo app is awesome as well, because you can record anything with it, and send it to someone. For example, when I'm at home writing a song, and I want to send it to my drummer to work on, I can record it, send it either via text message or email, and the next time we jam together, it's already written.

The clocks and alarms app allows you to ditch your old clock radio. Since smart phones are notorious for having horrible battery life, set your charger up next to your bed, and set your alarm.
The SIM card drawer pulled out of the side of the iPhone.
The iPhone 4, 4S, and iPad 2 are the only devices to use a
micro-SIM card to connect to GSM networks.
Lets take a moment and talk about the camera for the iPhone. When digital cameras first came out, a 1.3 mp camera cost around $300, and it took mediocre pictures at best. The iPhone 4 has a 5 mp camera on back, with flash. Most of the time, it takes pictures worse than those old digital cameras. Every once in a while, it'll take a remarkable photo. I have no explaination for this, and it's clearly an embarrassment for Apple. One of the features it boasts is taking "HDR" photos, which stands for "High Definition Resolution." Basically how it works, is the phone takes 3 photos of the same image, mixes all three together, and displays the best features of each one. Again, some are amazing, and most are terrible.

Your best bet when it comes to taking pictures is to use a camera effects app, which leads me into the app store. Apple has the largest, most exclusive applications available. It's easy to see why - apple virtually invented the app store. With over 50,000 apps, there really is truth to the statement, "There's an app for that...." There are several productivity apps and games in there to keep you on task. For more info on must-have apps for apple, see our blog's story called "Rob's top apps for iPhones."

The Volume buttons and switch. The iPhone 4S has an
antenna break just above the switch whereas the 4 doesn't.

The battery on the iPhone 4 is still one of the best on the market. You can tell that it's a good one when phones that are a year-and-a-half older than it still compare their battery life to the iPhone 4. It is rated at 7-7.5 hours of talk time on a 3G network and it fails to disappoint with a rating of 6 hours of internet use time, also on a 3G network.

For me, the biggest feature this phone has is the High-Retina display. The best way to compare this display with a different one, is like going from standard definition TV, to High Def. Surprisingly enough, even in 18 months, no other phone has come close to being as crystal clear and bright as the iPhone 4, not even the Samsung Galaxy S II, or LG Thrill, which are very new to the arsenal of smart phones available to AT&T customers. It is also worth noting that the iPhone 4S uses this exact same screen - they haven't changed a thing. It is still clear and eye-popping.

iPhone... don't throw it away.
With the iPhone 4S now available, the iPhone 4 (original) has become the cheaper little brother to the iPhone 4S. It is now available in 8 GB only and is $99 on a two-year contract. For a phone that is, in fact, a year and a half behind, it is still an amazing edition to the pocket of any individual lucky enough to carry it. It's powerful and still innovative with the ability to get software upgrades from Apple to keep it up to date even as it ages. For those customers who aren't interested in a smartphone that isn't the most up-to-date but still want to be caught up to the 21st century, this is the phone to do it with. For those of you who are looking for more, need more storage, or want to have the newest stuff out there, the iPhone 4S or another Android phone is more for you.

One thing you can count on no matter what is that Apple has been a strong, steady leader in innovative products, and they will continue to do so with every smartphone they release.

-Written by Tony Campo

*Note: The black iPhone pictured in the above pictures was a display phone at our store and is extremely scratched because of it. I apologize for the looks of it. If you don't want your phone to look like this, I'd recommend an Invisible Shield by Zagg or something like it. For screen protector ideas visit this article.

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