Review of the iPhone 4
In a move that surprised absolutely no one, Apple released details on the new iPhone 4 today at the Worldwide Developers Conference. So now the big question for those in the market for a new phone is, "Should I buy one?"
The answer is a resounding "maybe".
The iPhone 4 is an evolutionary (not revolutionary) upgrade to the iPhone 3GS. While it improves nicely on many of the 3GS features, there was nothing new in the iPhone 4 that made me sit up and say, Wow!" But that shouldn't diminish the fact that the iPhone 4 is a very nice phone.
Some of the major upgrades the iPhone 4 offers are:
- 720p HD video recording at 30 fps. This is an improvement over the current iPhone 3GS VGA video, and Apple is also now offering iMovie ($5 through the app store) for on-phone movie editing. Maybe you don't need a separate camcorder after all...
- 5 MP camera with an LED flash, plus a second front-facing camera for video chat (more on that later).
- High-resolution 960 x 640 pixel 3.5" display has double the resolution of the iPhone 3GS. With 300dpi, the iPhone 4G has the sharpest image of any phone on the market.
- New battery extends talk time from 5 hours to 7 hours.
- Slimmer profile (9.3mm vs 12.3 mm), though weight is the same. Apple claims that it is currently the slimmest smartphone on the market.
- Faster processor, though no details yet.
In addition, the iPhone 4 has some completely new features that sound cool and may be really useful in the future, but aren't yet:
- Gyroscope. What will the iPhone 4's built-in gyroscope do for us? New games? Sleep analyzer? We will have to wait and see.
- FaceTime video chat. Finally, video chat for the iPhone! Awesome, right? Er, no. FaceTime requires both sides to be using an iPhone 4 and only runs over WiFi. That's pretty limiting.
Pricing on the iPhone 4 is actually pretty reasonable. The 16GB model is $200 and the 32GB model is $300, with a 2-year contract. There's also good news for current AT&T customers whose contracts are set to expire in 2010—sign up for a new 2-year agreement and you can upgrade to the new iPhone at these prices before your current contract is up.
Given the choice between the iPhone 4 at $200 or the iPhone 3GS at $97, I would definitely go for the iPhone 4. If you already have an iPhone 3GS, the case for upgrading to the iPhone 4 doesn't seem compelling enough to justify shelling out $200.
And there are still some reasons why you may want to consider other options:
- Like its iPhone 3GS predecessor, the iPhone 4 is only available through AT&T. Whether that's good or bad depends on the quality of AT&T service in your area.
- The iPhone 4 is not 4G. Sprint just launched its HTC EVO at $199, with 4G network access and a beautiful 4.3" screen. If you're a media download junkie, the EVO will be a pleasure.
- Still no Flash. Does it matter? Yes, it does. Many, many sites still use Flash, whether Steve Jobs likes it or not. And not having it limits your browsing experience.
- There are a bunch of new Android phones launching over the next few months and Windows Phone 7 is coming this fall. So, you may want to wait a little bit before committing to a 2-year contract for the iPhone 4.
Whatever decision you ultimately make, it's hard to go wrong. The iPhone 4, available starting June 24th, is a great choice. The EVO and other new Android phones are great choices. 2010 is shaping up to be a terrific year to get a new cell phone.