Apple’s iPhone 4 is a magnificent smartphone. It has a huge list of pros, and very few cons. However, if you already own an iPhone 3 is V4 sufficiently different (and better) to justify the hefty price tag? Here’s our comparison of the two phones:
iPhone 4 is 24% thinner than the iPhone 3. It comes in at 9.3mm rather than 12.3mm. However, it is 3.5mm wider than V3. It’s also a little heavier – 137g as opposed to 135g.
The iPhone 4 display screen is the same size as the iPhone 3 – a 3.5-inch diagonal display. Apart from the size, though, everything is different: Apple’s new technology ‘Retina Display’ in iPhone 4 provides 400% more pixels, and vastly better image lucidity. The V3 had a 480 x 320-pixel resolution, while the iPhone 4 ups the ante considerably: it offers a 960 x 640-pixel resolution and an 800:1 contrast ratio. With that new display technology, iPhone 4 features much more bold colors, more clearly defined graphics as well as vividly clear text. Retina Display also results in noticeably reduced screen glare when you’re in direct sunlight.
As far as connectivity goes, iPhone 4 adds 802.11n to the iPhone 3′s 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.1. The aGPS, compass and Wi-Fi location specifications haven’t changed between the versions – but then they were all pretty great already. iPhone 4 includes new stainless steel borders that double as antennas. The first antenna is intended for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, while the second one is for EDGE and 3G. The result of this intelligent new element is superior reception, with no drawback for the design. Although Apple haven’t come out and admitted so much, these new antennas are an indirect admission that reception has been a problem with the iPhone. For those of us who have struggled with iPhone signal quality an apology would have been nice, but I guess this is the second prize.
The iPhone 4 Hard Drive storage comes in two sizes: either 16 or 32GB, which mirrors the iPhone 3. It looks like we’ll have to wait until the 5th generation before Apple produce a 64GB version.
The iPhone 4 camera is a sizable step forward from the iPhone 3. Admittedly it doesn’t yet match up to the best standalone cameras, but it is perhaps the best phone-based camera you can buy. Whereas the 4rd generation iPhone had 3 megapixels the 4th generation brings the number up to 5 megapixels. An LED flash has also been added to the latest model.
Apple claim that iPhone 4 has a 40% longer battery life than iPhone 3. They reckon that it can last for seven hours of talk time, rather than the 4-5 hours of talk time the iPhone 3 allowed before charging. Standby time is unchanged between models.
A key improvement with iPhone 4 is what Apple term ‘multi-tasking’. Specifically this means that iPhone 4 will juggle multiple apps at one time – Apple currently set the maximum number at seven. Thus you can leave, for example, your Twitter app open the whole time running in the background, and if you need to access that app it’s one click. This has been made possible by the increase in memory, and is considered by Apple a central selling point in a world where people increasingly expect their phone to do many things at once. Apple’s approved processes for multi-tasking include radio stations, VoIP services such as Skype, GPS as well as fast app switching.
Another clever upgrade for iPhone 4 is called Gyroscope. In a nutshell this is a device for handset orientation, velocity and rotation – in other words it allows motion control. The Wii was the gaming console to show the wider world what Gyroscope could do – and now iPhone 4 apps and games are starting to incorporate similar motion control techniques.
The iPhone 3 was already an excellent device for checking your emails, but with iPhone 4 the functionality has been improved. It’s now easy to switch back and forth between multiple accounts, and it lets you organize emails by names or dates. It also allows the user to resize photos before they’re emailed, and lets the user choose which app they want to open attachments with.
Changed SIM Card Size
The main drawback with the iPhone is the new micro SIM card. The iPhone 4 uses a micro SIM card which is smaller than the card used in the 3rd generation iPhone. The result of this is that it’s difficult to switch SIMs between your iPhone 4 and any other phone, even iPhone 3. It will also make it more difficult to unlock the iPhone 4. Sadly it’s another example of Apple wanting to restrict user freedom. There are solutions you can find online, such as using a SIM card adapter, but it’s unfortunate that Apple felt the need to change from the default size.
Conclusion: Which Phone Should You Buy?
iPhone 4 is streets ahead of the iPhone 3. It has a more intuitive user interface, better apps, superior hardware, faster internet access, a far better display screen with more vivid colors and no glare. It’s has a dazzling design, brilliant features, and is all-round a more technically advanced piece of tech. Yes, it’s better than the iPhone 3 – but it’s also better than every other smartphone in 2011.
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