The iPhone 4 comes with plenty of internal changes, and now sports Apple’s A4 processor, which is what the iPad uses. We are expecting much faster performance compared to the iPhone 3GS, and we’ll be testing this below. Other hardware changes include a gyroscope on top of the accelerometer, so the phone will now detect your phone's movement on a three-dimensional axis, allowing for more interactivity for games that make use of this feature.
One of the biggest and most visible changes to the phone has to be its new Retina Display - the iPhone 4 gets a major upgrade with a 960 x 640 pixels resolution screen with a pixel density of 326 ppi. While it’s still an LCD screem, Apple uses IPS technology for the display, which means you get great viewing angles no matter where you are looking from at the phone. The only problem is a loss of privacy, since anyone can easily see what you are doing from any angles.
Back to the Retina Display, the new screen is crisp and clear, much like phones with AMOLED or Super AMOLED displays, and having a huge ppi count works wonders with small text. They appear crisp and clear on the eyes even when shrunk down. That said, the phone’s display doesn’t do very well in direct, bright sunlight, but that’s mostly the case for phones with LCD displays.
During our review time with the phone, we’ve basically tested it with and without the casing while using the phone in areas around town. While we never did have a problem with dropped calls, losing the 3G data signal was a big problem when the phone was used without the casing. Unless you want to use hold the phone in a really silly looking way to avoid the antenna death grip, your best bet would be to get a case. As we found that with Apple's Bumper case, the signal bars don’t drop when you hold it the same way.
We mentioned earlier that we didn’t encounter any dropped calls while testing our phone’s reception and the iPhone 4 also does well here. Similar to how the Google Nexus One works, the iPhone 4 sports dual microphones, one at the usual bottom spot and one just next to the headphone jack. The one on top acts as a noise cancelling device, resulting in you sounding very clear even in a noisy place.
While video calling isn’t anything new, Apple’s inclusion of FaceTime, their new video calling feature may actually help start making it a much more common feature in most phones. Our tests on the iPhone 4 didn’t quite impress us, as we found the experience to be laggy while video quality was grainy. Still it’s a cool gimmick to have, and who knows, maybe FaceTime will actually become common enough that people will use it. For that to happen though, Apple will need to allow it to work on 3G networks and for more folks to own the iPhone 4. Otherwise, video calling as a feature will probably remain gimmicky and niche.
The iPhone 4 is much faster compared to the previous phones - even the iPhone 3GS which is known for its speed, and to test, we loaded an iPhone 3G, an iPhone 3GS, an iPad and the iPhone 4 with Plants versus Zombies for the iPhone. The reason for this speed is simple, of course. Apple is using its new A4 processor, and according to iFixit, the iPhone 4 has 512MB RAM, which is twice what the iPhone 3GS and iPad have. More RAM means apps have more to play with, and multi-tasking won’t actually slow down the phone as it tries to free up memory for the app to run.
Well, the result is pretty interesting as you can see from the above video - the iPad and iPhone 4 both finished loading at around the same time though the iPhone 4 was just a little bit slower. The 3GS too wasn’t that far behind but the real kicker is the 3G, as it took an eternity to finish. This is all tested on iOS4, so you can see just how bad the iPhone 3G is these days.