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Preview Summary:Apple iPhone 4 4.5

Though Apple no longer dominates the smartphone market, its iPhone devices will continue to attract a loyal fan base.

The iPhone 4 offers a welcome upgrade to iOS 5, complete with stylish design and a bunch of great apps. While it isn’t quite as fancy as the 4S, the iPhone 4 is perfect for users looking to join the Apple iPhone club without paying quite the full ticket price.

In a word or two

The iPhone 4 is thin, powerful, and exciting – it’s the Apple smartphone we’ve been waiting for and a worthy successor to the iPhone 3G S.

The Design

Continuing the trend of the iPhone, the iPhone 4 is a beautiful device. Narrower and thinner than the 3G S model, the 4 version measures just 9.3mm in depth and is the thinnest smartphone to-date. The rounded, smooth back of the 3G S has been replaced with a flat reverse and stainless steel band which holds the volume controls etc. The thin sides are also flat – both aesthetically pleasing as well as practical, letting you stand the phone on its side to take a photo or capture a video moment, for example.

Weight wise, the iPhone 4 is a mere 2g heavier than the current version. And considering all the technology onboard, this is 2g extra we’re happy to carry around. On the outside, you’ll appreciate the new screen has a Retina display with 960 x 640 resolution, making it incredibly bright and sharp. Whether you’re viewing text or an image, the 3.5 inch screen shows it in all its vibrant glory – in fact, Apple says the iPhone 4’s high resolution screen is market-leading.

The screen also uses IPS (in-plane switching) technology, the same technology found in the iPad and which gives a wider viewing angle. So the iPhone 4 ensures browsing the internet, emailing colleagues, chatting on Facebook or playing games, is picture perfect, however you happen to be holding the smartphone.

And that’s not all. The contrast ratio of the iPhone 4’s screen is 4x that of earlier iPhones so all the colours have a richer look to them, enhancing the visual experience. The beautiful display is pretty shielded from everyday knocks too – thanks to the materials used in the screen’s glass, the same materials found in high-speed trains, the screen is harder, scratch-resistant, and oil-resistant to help keep it clean.

If you have the current 3G S model of the iPhone, you’ll already know how friendly the virtual keyboard is. And on the iPhone 4, there is predictive text, spell check, easy cut/copy and paste options, and you can open attachments even in compatible third-party apps. If all this is not enough to support your typing, then the iPhone 4 also has support for Bluetooth-enabled keyboards so you can wirelessly connect an external keyboard to the phone.

On the iPhone 4 you can have up to 11 home screens. The arrangement of all the apps and features is just like on the current iPhone, in easy-to-access rows. But on the 4 model you can create folders – ideal if you have lots and lots of apps or you want to keep your home screens neat and tidy. Creating folders is easy too, as all you need to do is press an app until it begins to wobble, then drag it into another app. You can repeat this as often as you like, adding up to 12 apps per folder and grouping games, news, work apps together – the iPhone automatically names the folders and you can personalise these names if you wish. The iPhone 4 supports up to 180 folders with up to 12 apps in each, meaning you can have an incredible 2160 apps on your phone at any one time.

iPhone 4 Specifications

With so much to say about the design, you can probably guess we have a similar amount to impart about the internal prowess of the iPhone 4. And we do – starting with a design-related feature, the lighting on the screen. With LED backlighting and an ambient light sensor, the display should look bright and clear even when the sun is bright and dazzling too.

Apple has incorporated some clever battery-saving initiatives into this lighting aspect – and the phone as a whole. For example, when you pick up your iPhone 4 to answer a call, the inbuilt proximity sensor switches off the display to save power. The internal Apple A4 processor is powerful and efficient, and supports multi-tasking. You can quickly switch between apps, and apps remember where you had got to so when you return you can seamlessly continue. This new feature is a fantastic addition and opens up the possibilities for work or fun purposes. You can speak on a call and write an email or listen to music and browse the App Store; use Skype as you send a text message or even leave photos/data uploading as you switch to something else in the meantime.

Another enjoyable advancement of the iPhone 4 is FaceTime. You can make video calls on the phone through FaceTime, using the inbuilt front camera and simply pressing the FaceTime button when speaking to a friend or colleague. An invite appears on your friend’s or colleague’s screen, asking them to partake in the video call. And if you happen to be somewhere with breathtaking scenery or amusing happenings, simply switch to the main camera so your friend and colleague can see – before switching back to the front camera.

The main camera has 5-megapixels, a 5x digital zoom, an LED flash which you can choose to have on or off, and autofocus. And the video captures HD-quality images. Sharing is easy as you have the choice of email, MMS, MobileMe gallery which your friends can see, or contacts to assign the images to – all from the camera feature on the iPhone 4. You can also save an image as your wallpaper, personalising the handset. With videos, sharing is equally easy and includes YouTube for uploading directly online. The iMovie app is coming to the App Store soon which will let you edit videos, add music, send in postcard style, or add a theme.

Considerations

The screen is the same size as the iPhone 3G S, but smaller than the likes of the HTC HD2 and Dell Streak. However, the resolution is so high this should be no real consideration – and it helps to keep the device more portable.

Verdict

With some impressive upgrades on the 3G S, the iPhone 4 is a seriously powerful and appealing smartphone. And even when you’re not making the most of the features, you can experience an improved call quality and the voice control function – say a friend’s name or number and the iPhone will dial it (after confirming the number first); or request music on the music player just by speaking to the phone.

If you’re an Apple fan, you will appreciate the iPhone 4 for its design, technology and power. And if you’re not a fan, you will be once you see this smartphone – provided it lives up to its hype, the iPhone 4 will be a real and worthy success.