Apple iPhone 4 review: Love it or hate it

GSMArena team, 01 July 2010.

GPS: Google maps and a compass

It’s Google Maps again and this means the iPhone 4 doesn’t offer proper SatNav out of the box. You know what we’re gonna say next then – AppStore. At least Google Maps have the benefit of a fully integrated magnetometer (digital compass).

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Google Maps

Last year many full-featured sat-nav applications made their way to the App Store – iGO, TomTom, Navigon, etc. Every one of them will satisfy the average Joe. A SatNav capable iPhone with a proper car kit is a good enough replacement of any standalone navigation solution.

#1 AppStore

The AppStore is the place to browse, buy and download all available third-party applications available for the iPhone platform. There are both free and paid apps with detailed descriptions and screenshots.

User ratings will help you decide which ones are worth it or which not. There are also numerous web sites that do app reviewing with videos and everything, so you can get pretty much all the information on any of the available apps.

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The featured apps tab • sorting by categories • Top 25 paid and free apps • updates

You can also pick and download apps via iTunes and next time you sync your iPhone, you get all the applications on board. Since iTunes 9 you can also rearrange your homescreens using the desktop software.

If for some reason you need to reset your iPhone, the licenses for the paid applications are not lost, and you can freely download and install them again.

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Previewing an app

The AppStore has an effective app update system to push all new goodies available for your currently installed software. If an app has been updated you will be notified with a red badge on the AppStore icon.

Apple introduced in April a new advertising service for the AppStore called iAd. It launches today (1 July) and offers inline multimedia advertisements for AppStore applications. We’re not quite sure how bugging the new iAd system will be in everyday use, but at least it holds a promise for getting us some interesting, but free ad-supported apps.

The Apple AppStore is currently the largest official repository of mobile phone apps with more than 200 000 titles available.

Final words

We would be lying if we told you we don’t like iPhone 4. Quite the opposite, the iPhone 4 has a way to impress.

The iPhone 4 is not the perfect smartphone but you’ll be inclined to believe it’s the perfect product. It can’t be just how they market it, or can it? Apple is great at giving people what they want, but even better at telling them what they get is the best for them. The iPhone still has very important features missing, some software and multimedia limitations and an annoying iTunes dependency.

But come a new iPhone launch, and you’ll still see people putting up tents at Apple Stores to be the first to get one. Even if they hear about easily breakable glass panels and some bizarre reception issues, they’ll still want to get one and learn to hold it right (or buy some Bumper cases).

The iPhone 4 will probably outsell the older generations and there are good reasons for that. It’s just gotten sexier, flaunts a killer screen, incomparably better imaging and a blazing fast CPU. Apple offers great support for their products and usually takes good care everything runs smoothly on every iPhone. It’s also got one of the richest application markets out there. The AppStore turns Apple handhelds into unsurpassed entertainment centers – games, social networking, video and imaging, silly pranks or whatever – the heaps of available apps fighting for your dollar are changing how we use mobile phones in our daily lives.

We do understand the millions of people out there who are less than impressed with the iPhone concept. Apple-imposed software limitations are stupid, even unfair at times, and their phones lack the flexibility you may be used to on other devices. The iPhone 4 is ridiculously expensive too – 630 euro for the 16GB iPhone and 740 euro for the 32GB version. No matter how you look at it, it’s the most expensive GSM smartphone on the market right now.

For this kind of money, you can get whatever high-end handset you lay your eyes on. And competition is probably at its fiercest.

The newly released Samsung I9000 Galaxy S is the first device to go head-to-head with the new iPhone. Samsung’s Super AMOLED screen, similar hardware and camera plus the great Android OS v2.1 inside are just the start of the Galaxy S feature list. It’s exactly the phone for those who don’t like being told what they can or cannot do with their devices. Yes, its plastic case makes it feel cheaper, but there’s no denying that the Galaxy S IS less expensive than the iPhone 4.

Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
Samsung I9000 Galaxy S

If you are interested in more high-end Droids, you should definitely check out the HTC Desire and Google Nexus One. The Desire enjoys the great HTC Sense UI, while the Nexus One has already been updated to Android v2.2 Froyo for a performance boost and native Flash support. HTC Desire should also get a bump to 720p video recording via a software upgrade before the end of the year. Stateside, a monster of a phone is about to make Android even more compelling. The lethal Motorola DROID X boasts a massive 4.3″ high-res screen at and a top-of-the-line imaging package.

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HTC Desire • Google Nexus One

Nokia N8 should be released this quarter and, given the reported iPhone 4 market shortages, it might just land in time for the big show. It brings the revamped Symbian^3, a nice capacitive AMOLED screen and the hottest feature of all – 12 megapixel camera with Carl-Zeiss-certified optics and Xenon flash. Oh, there is 720p video recording too. Nokia N8 is an excellent package and it will be offered at the very tempting price of 370 euro (before taxes). That’s almost half the iPhone 4 price tag.

Nokia N8
Nokia N8

And finally, there’s the iPhone 3GS, which some of you may consider if your local iPhone carrier can give you a good deal. Buying last year’s Apple tech is a good enough way of getting the iPhone experience. Software-wise, the iPhone 3GS is nearly the same as the iPhone 4. Here's a rundown of the advantages the iPhone 4 has over the 3G - they're all hardware-related.

iPhone 4 advantages over iPhone 3GS

  • Sexy new design, exclusive glass panels
  • New display has 4x the resolution and contrast ratio, wider viewing angles
  • 1GHz Apple A4 platform is faster than ever before
  • Double the RAM amount (now reaching 512MB)
  • Quad-band 3G with HSDPA and HSUPA
  • 802.11n Wi-Fi support (though conclusively faster even in G mode)
  • Three-axis gyro sensor for unsurpassed motion control
  • 5MP AF camera with backside illuminated sensor and LED flash
  • Camcoder shoots 720p HD videos at 30fps
  • Front video-call camera (FaceTime calls)
  • Active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic
  • Improved battery life

So, to wrap it all up – we admit we enjoyed the company of Apple’s latest toy and we would like to keep it around. We wouldn’t mind a Samsung Galaxy S either to watch some movies or a Nokia N8 to take some cool pictures and videos. And we wouldn’t say no to a Moto DROID X that gets along with European networks.

No, there isn’t a perfect smartphone out there. There’s always something for anyone to love or hate. What makes the iPhone so special is that it takes love and hate with the loftiness of a royalty.