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Review: iPhone 4

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The Safari browser on the Apple iPhone 4 is top notch, and Web browsing remains one of the best features on the iPhone. However, having spent months with a Google Nexus One loaded with Adobe Flash 10.1, I can't help but feel like Apple fans are missing out. Regardless of the public brouhaha between Adobe and Apple, Flash works very well on the Nexus One, and it's the only thing keeping the Apple browser from being the best on the market.

Web sites come through looking perfectly rendered in their full HTML format. Our own homepage looked great, with sharp text and clear, colorful pictures. Favorite news sites like CNN and the New York Times were equally accurate. The iPhone doesn't see the same HTML5 page that CNN offers to the iPad, so plenty of Flash videos won't play on this device. Google's pages, like Google Reader and Gmail, work very well on this device in their touch-friendly versions.

The Web browser is exceedingly fast. I saw great download speeds running on AT&T's 3G network down here in Dallas. On Wi-Fi, though, the iPhone really flies, thanks to it's 802.11n support. Few phones support this faster Wi-Fi standard at the moment, so the iPhone has a clear advantage using capable Wi-Fi hotspots.

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There are not many customization options on the iPhone 4, but the few additions Apple has made to the new iOS do make a difference. As I've mentioned the folder feature is great, allowing for even better organization of your home screen panels. Folders will react to the apps they hold, so when you get a message in Facebook, the folder containing the app will show you a red message counter. You can even rearrange app icons and folders on your desktop using iTunes. This is a significant advantage Apple has over Google and WebOS, using the iTunes / iPhone combo to great effect. The iTunes screen management can be a little too sensitive, which can make dragging and dropping frustrating, but I found the feature very useful even so.

You can also now add a wallpaper behind your app icons, though it isn't a panoramic, scrolling image, nor can you add moving, Live Wallpapers like you'll find on Android phones.

You can customize ringtones and create your own tones to sync with the iPhone through iTunes. You dont have to buy the pre-cut ringtones on iTunes, though making your own requires some skill cropping audio files. You can customize tones for outgoing and incoming mail and messages, new voicemail messages and more.

Otherwise, there are no other significant customization options. You can't change menu colors or themes, and you can't change the basic app menu design past the same old icon grid format. You can't even leave white space in between icons; they always align to the grid from top left to bottom right.


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