Consumer Reports: iPhone 4 Exceeds high Expectations

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This hit my inbox from Consumer Reports so I figured I’d share it with you, it’s basically an excerpt form Consumer Reports and their initial impressions of the new iPhone 4.. On a side note they were kind enough to also send me a print copy of their latest issue of Consumer Reports, or actually the Electronics Buying Guide for Spring 2010.. an interesting read for sure…

“The iPhone 4 appears to offer an exception to the rule that successful franchises typically run out of excitement and creativity after several sequels. Based on the first few hours of using this fourth-generation Apple smart phone, it’s the best iPhone yet.

That said, the utility of its most dazzling innovations are somewhat limited, at least for the time being. Also, many of its other improvements derive from a new operating system that’s available free for most older iPhones, too.

Here’s a rundown of the many things we like so far about iPhone 4, and some of those caveats:

The superb display. Called Retina, Apple claims this is four times sharper than the one on earlier models. Looking at photos, I did notice an improvement in sharpness, as well as richer colors, compared with the third-generation iPhone 3G S.

However, that difference was noticeable only when I held both iPhones very close to my eyes—say, within a foot or so. When I held the phones at a more natural distance, the difference in display quality was much less apparent.

Text, however, appears dramatically sharper on the iPhone 4, even at the typical distance. The improvement is especially apparent with small type, which remains remarkably readable on the iPhone 4 screen.

Video-calling on the second camera. Probably the coolest new feature on the iPhone 4 is its front-facing camera for video chats. The feature, called Face Time, works very well, and calls can be made at no extra cost.

Place a call from one iPhone 4 to another, when both phones are connected to wi-fi, and the receiving phone sees the image of the caller, with their own image in a thumbnail at the top corner of the screen. Image quality, while not outstanding, is perfectly serviceable. You can even switch to the back-facing camera to show your caller what’s in front of you, or they can do the same for you.

While the feature is beautifully executed, keep in mind that it’s available only if your friend or family member also has an iPhone 4 and when both phones are connected to Wi-Fi networks. Absent being in public Wi-Fi hotspots, that’s likely to mean one or both of you is home, where you do have the option for video chat via computer, using such apps as Skype.

The unique Gyroscope feature. By responding to movement in all directions, rather than on a single plane, as with past iPhones, this unique feature facilitates a new generation of multidirectional games. When using one such app, Egg Painter 3D, I was able to easily rotate the phone to view and paint all sides of the virtual egg.

As of yet, however, there are relatively few apps that exploit the Gyroscope––though that’s likely to change in short order.

Its stylishness. This new iPhone is slightly thinner than its predecessors (at 0.37 inches, compared with 0.48 inches for the 3G S) and the old rocker-style volume knob has been replaced by snazzier buttons. This attractive metal trim is actually part of iPhone’s antenna, which Apple says should improve reception. (Some reviewers have reported problems with reduced reception when the iPhone 4 is being held in the left hand. So far, we’ve been unable to replicate the problems, as shown in this Engadget video; scroll down to the first video on the page.)

So should you consider buying this iPhone? If you’re been a iPhone watcher from the sidelines, waiting to jump in, your patience has arguably been rewarded by this new version. But if you already have the last-generation iPhone, you can get a lot of the same functionality by just upgrading the software to the new iOS 4, which is free. The extra functions you’ll get with the iPhone 4 likely don’t merit the $200 and up you’ll pay for the device, unless you’re enamored with that video-calling feature.

The new features of that system work fine, at least on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3G S phones on which we tested them. We’ll have more on iOS 4––and the iPhone 4––in the days to come.”

Mike Gikas

 

For more information, including video of the iPhone 4, please visit http:/s.consumerreports.org/electronics/iphone/.

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