Review: iPhone 4
The "Retina" display, as Apple calls it, is nothing short of amazing. Pull up a photo of an ice cream cone on a hot summer day and just try not to lick it. I dare you. It's simply luscious. Glossy magazine photos have nothing on this.
What makes it so great is the high resolution, or pixel density. It may only be twice the resolution of the last generation iPhone on each axis (four times counting both dimensions) but up close, it seems like even more of an improvement than that. Apple has truly leapfrogged the competition with this display.
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The higher pixel density is a huge boon in several specific places, like maps and the web browser. You can zoom all the way out and still read the text on phonescoop.com, for example. Photos look fantastic, of course.
The display technology is TFT LCD, which is not as exotic as newer OLED technology, but Apple is using a type of LCD panel called IPS, which is notable for its wide viewing angle, meaning you can view it from a side angle without the image washing out or turning psychedelic on you. Indeed, comparing it side-by-side with the iPhone 3GS, the image does look better from a steep angle. It's only the color that benefits, though. Brightness still falls off dramatically when viewed from anything other than straight-on, just like on the 3GS. Still, IPS is an improvement that makes it a tad nicer to show off photos and videos to friends, for example.
The display performs well both indoors and out. It's reasonably legible outdoors in daylight, at least as well as any other phone, including the 3GS. In 100% direct sun, it's not as reflective - and therefore not nearly as visible - as the display on the iPhone 3GS. That's only when the sun is right over your shoulder, though; turn a little to the left or right and it becomes much easier to see.
When it comes to voice, the signal performance rated no better or worse than the 3GS. That's not a compliment. In just a day of use each, we both experienced multiple dropped or failed calls. Color us unimpressed. The signal meter doesn't exaggerate. If you only have two bars, you may be able to make a call, but don't expect to hold onto it for long. Some people have reported worse performance making calls with the phone in their left hand; Philip was able to replicate that, but Rich was not.
Data was another story entirely. It was blazing fast and, so far, very reliable. Apple has clearly concocted some new magic to make this one of the fastest - if not the fastest web browsing phones on the market. Again. I really had no idea AT&T's 3G network could send me web pages over the ether so fast; apparently all it needed was the right phone on the receiving end. A new standard had been set.
A frequent complaint with previous iPhones has been speakerphone volume. Fortunately, the iPhone 4 has a louder speakerphone. It's not dramatically louder, but the boost is noticeable and definitely helps. Speakerphone sound quality is good. Music and ringers get a volume boost as well, although it's not as noticeable with lower-pitch ringers. When the ringers are turned off, the vibrate feature on the iPhone felt a bit weak, so beware when you slip it into deep padded pockets.
Apple touts noise cancellation as a new feature. This technology uses a secondary microphone - away from your mouth - to listen to background noise and filter it out. We tested it in a noisy bar, and it worked great. The party at the other end could tell we were in a bar, but could hear us loud and clear over the din.
Unfortunately, the earpiece is far too quiet to hear the other party in any remotely noisy environment. In a quiet place or with light background noise, all is fine, but expect to step outside the bar to take a call, or put your finger in your other ear walking down a noisy street. So while the noise cancellation works, it's rather pointless with such a weak earpiece.
Volume aside, call sound quality was good in both directions.
Google Now Pushing Desktop Search History to Android, iOS
Google today announced that it is providing Android and iPhone users with access to their desktop search history from their smartphone browser. As long as users are signed in to their Google account both in their desktop browser and in their mobile browser and have web history enabled, recent searches will appear across all types of devices.
iPhoto Available for iPhone and iPad
Apple today announced a new version of iPhoto, its desktop photo editing and management software, for iOS devices including the iPhone and iPad. iPhoto for iOS supports a wide range of photo-editing features, including scrollable thumbnails, crop, rotate, exposure, contrast, saturation, and other multi-touch editing functions.
AT&T Wants Platform-Agnostic Video Calling
AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega asked the wireless industry to agree on a single video calling standard that can be used by all devices and all network types so that customers can more easily use the service. As things stand today, there are plenty of video calling options, but the services are often only compatible with other devices running the same software and platform.
Dropbox Adds Auto Photo Upload Feature to Android App
Dropbox recently updated its Android application with a new feature that automatically uploads user photos from their phone to their Dropbox account. According to Dropbox, it will upload full resolution files over either Wi-Fi or cellular data to a special "Photo Upload" folder in the user's account, which can then be accessed from other devices and the Dropbox web site.
Google Refutes Safari Tracking Accusations Made by WSJ
Researchers recently discovered that some online-based advertising companies — including Google — were using a software workaround to avoid the privacy settings of Apple's Safari browser for the iPhone and its Mac computers. The Wall Street Journal reports that the workarounds allow the sites to install cookies on user devices even if the users have set their device to reject such cookies.