Digital Life: Should you get the new iphone?
Published 17/08/2010 | 05:00
YES To gaze on that deliciously vivid screen is to fall in love. The familiar iPhone icon system may not appear much different but photos, video, games and the web shine thanks to the luscious high-res display. Only a couple of other rivals come even close.
Extra megapixels cannot always improve picture quality but, in iPhone 4's case, the 5MP camera is a serious upgrade from its predecessor, showing creditable aptitude in low light and now packing an LED flash.
Even the high-res video comes up sharp as a tack. Judged purely as a cameraphone, though, it's still bested by models from Sony Ericsson.
The iPhone 3GS was no slouch but the new model is a screamer, concealing more power in its belly than even the iPad. More RAM and the addition of a gyroscope will enable more complex apps, particularly in gaming.
If you've been finding yourself in the battery's red zone every evening, iPhone 4 will see through to another day. Other similar phones out there can do even better but this is the longest-lasting iPhone ever.
The software improvements that come with iPhone 4 make a great system even more sophisticated. Best of all is multitasking, which allows many more apps to run in the background while you do something else.
One word: Antenna-gate. How did this ever get past the testers? Seriously? Grip a specific part of the case and the signal falls or even drops totally. This isn't an imaginary problem nor are other phones so noticeably affected. Sure, hold it slightly differently or use the free case from Apple and the issue goes away. But the head of the iPhone division has already paid the price for the gaffe and left Apple.
Some people love the new, more angular design but many, me included, cling to a hankering for the smooth curves of the 3GS. Plus, it's slightly heavier and both front and back are made of toughened but scratchable glass.
At least three-quarters of the software improvements are available free to owners of the 3GS (and, to a lesser extent, older iPhones). In fact, buying an 8GB 3GS is still worth considering.
The networks know the iPhone 4 is so popular that customers won't mind paying over the odds compared to, for example, the UK. But at least you have a choice now of three operators. Note that Vodafone will slash its data allowance to just 500MB from September 1, compared to the others' more generous 2GB.
Apple makes a huge fuss about FaceTime, the video-chat function that uses the iPhone 4's new second camera.
But it's an unpopular feature that's been available elsewhere for ages and isn't cross-compatible, working so far only with other iPhone 4s over WiFi. Maybe its time will come, but not yet...
Apple iPhone 4 -- €600 to €700 without contract; about €200 to €300 on 18-month contract from O2, Vodafone and Three.