iPhone 4: One year later
Just over one year ago, Apple launched iPhone 4. Typically that would mean a newer, shinier iPhone would have taken its place by now, and it'd be that iPhone we'd be talking about. But not this year. This year there won't be a new iPhone -- an iPhone 5 -- until fall, and that means iPhone 4 is still, one year later, the flagship iPhone on the market.
We've reviewed the original AT&T/GSM iPhone 4, we've reviewed the Verizon/CDMA iPhone 4. We've even reviewed the flipping white iPhone 4. We looked at iPhone 4 after 3 months on the market and we've written post after post about it, day after day, over the course of the last year.
So how does it stack up? Is the A4 still a good chipset? Is the Retina Display still the best screen in the business? Is the industrial design and fit and finish still above and beyond all other contenders? Is it still on of the best phones on the market?
We put the question to the staff here at TiPb and the greater Smartphone Experts Network, and here's what they had to say.
How do I feel about iPhone 4 one year later? I have to say that the iPhone4 is still one of the most esthetically pleasing, most beautiful phones on the market. Yes, there are phones which are faster and have larger screens but the iPhone 4 is still competitive, the retina display is still industry leading, and the battery life is just amazing. Add to that its ease of use and the massive App Store, and the iPhone 4 is still ahead of the game. That it's still, one year later, and one of the best selling phones on the market proves that.
Does Apple have to release the iPhone 5 soon? Probably not. But they will, because if you are not the ones pushing the envelope you will end up being the one licking it.
One year later and iPhone 4 is still an amazing device. I have friends with other phones and none of their devices are in nearly as good a shape as mine. The iPhone 4's design and quality is top notch and stands next to no other device. The picture quality is still far better than other phones. Even the front facing camera captures amazing photos, and with FaceTime and the Retina Display, it is still the best mobile device on the market. As for software, Apple is always good about releasing updates and bug fixes. Having a company that stands behind their product is definitely something to consider when purchasing a new phone. With the incorporation of Apple TV's AirPlay, and soon to be released iOS 5, I believe iPhone 4 is still the best phone on the market.
With iPhone 5 just around the corner, I am very interested to see what direction Apple will take with it.
When the iPhone 4 was first announced, I was blown away. The revolutionary retina display and 5MP/720p camera was enough to wow me. I upgraded from my iPhone 2G to the iPhone 4 on day one and to this day, there are still parts of the phone that surprise me and make me think, “Am I in the future?” I still use the HD camera as my primary video camera, saving money on a new dedicated video camera, yet still being able to produce HD quality videos for YouTube. The incremental software additions, like tethering and Game Center, makes the phone even better than when it was initially released.
I’m extremely happy with the iPhone 4, and with iOS 5 just around the corner, its going to get even better. Unless the iPhone 5, completely blows me away (which it will), I’ll happily stick with my iPhone 4.
Matt Miller, Nokia Experts
It's now been a year since the iPhone 4 was released and during that year I have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Symbian, Android, Windows Phone 7 and BlackBerry and I have to say if there was an iPhone 4 on T-Mobile USA I would have one in my hands right now. I tire of Symbian's lack of great apps and old UI, Android devices always stalling or freezing after the 4-week honeymoon period, rather lame hardware of the current Windows Phone 7 devices, and old OS and lack of apps on BlackBerry. The iPhone 4 is a fantastic smartphone and the only thing holding me back is the carrier availability.
Most of why I used other devices (notifications, OTA updates, etc.) are nearly all addressed in iOS 5 and Apple may be able to satisfy people with just an update. Then again, we now expect a new iPhone every year so let's see what Apple has in the iPhone 5.
I typically have extremely bad phone ADD. I've somewhat grown out of that over the past few years. I'm quite surprised that over a year later, I'm not dying for a new phone (yet anyways). As excited as I am for the iPhone 5, I think the iPhone 4 has kept me pretty content. I've found the camera to be more than sufficient for a camera phone and the speed to be more than what I need at most times. Even jailbroken, I've had no lag issues with my iPhone 4.
I also think my iPhone 4 has held up better than any of my other iPhones, with or without a case. At first I was nervous about the front and back being glass but I haven't had any issues. I did, however, have to have my iPhone 4 swapped twice for a faulty sleep/wake button. Not sure if this says anything about build quality or I just had bad luck twice. Either way - I think the iPhone 4 is still topping the smartphone market for a reason. Most smartphones being released now are still contenders to the iPhone 4. RIM still hasn't caught up and Android is still an extremely fragmented platform. While I'm excited to see what the 5th hardware iteration will bring with it, I'm perfectly content with my iPhone 4 until then.
It's been a year since the iPhone 4 was released and it's still the best phone on the market -- but it's a year old. In a world where consumers like to have the "newest and greatest", Apple needs to take the role of "newest" and launch the iPhone 5. I absolutely still love my iPhone 4, but the novelty has worn off and I'm ready for something new.
Kevin Michaluk, Fearless Leader of Smartphone Experts (and CrackBerry.com)
Has it been a year already?! For the mainstream consumer, the iPhone 4 still hits on all fronts: easy to use software, beautiful, well-built hardware and a supporting ecosystem that helps you get the most of the device (iTunes, App Store, etc.). For the average person, the iPhone 4 really is still "good enough" and for the near future I think it's a device people will keep buying as long as Apple keeps selling it. They shouldn't rush on the iPhone 5 - they should release it when they feel it's truly a better device. Others may be catching up on specs, but Apple is still leading the experience pack and is still in fashion and will be for the foreseeable future.
For the tech savvy, the operating system is getting a little boring so I am looking forward to the changes in iOS 5 (though I'm pushing for a homescreen experience that does more than just launch apps - maybe we need some widgets?) and I can't help but think it's time the iPhone come in some additional sizes. Though the resolution is amazing, I can't help but wish the iPhone had a bigger screen. After using Android devices with 4.3" display, it seems small.
Keith Newman, PreCentral.net
This is the first time I can recall that the iPhone 4 has become technologically irrelevant to me. The current innards of the device are at a point where using it feels clunkier than ever. Sometimes it just can't get out of it's own way when trying to app switch or refresh. Than again, it's a year old device with an anemic 512 megs of RAM.
Why so negative? Actually I'm not... those are just facts.
The other facts are it is still one of the sexiest devices I have ever held and used. In the land of black slabs (and technically, this device is one), it's the metallic curve of the iPhone 4 that sticks out the most. The machine cut buttons... the double sided glass panels... hell, even the bottom speaker grill and screw assembly looks slick. Which is why I am worried the next iteration of the iPhone will have a hard time topping the 4 series. The technology will be there... the A5 (or maybe even the rumored A6) chip, more RAM, a better GPU perhaps and thus the burden of a one year old device trying to be cutting edge will be relieved. (It's a shame since the iPhone 4 got hurt with product cycles this time around, it's now the kid on the block that's got to keep it all together for an extended period.)
But I don't think from anything rumored to this point will be able to beat out the pure svelte that is the iPhone 4 design.
Phil Nickinson, Android Central
If there's ever phone that could weather a launch as tumultuous and under as much scrutiny as the iPhone, it's the iPhone 4. The radical design (glass and metal? Who knew!) might have brought some technical challenges, but that hardly slowed sales, did it? No, the iPhone 4 refined and extended the platform, doing so in a way that kept it fresh and exciting.
Consider this: No one can deny that the Motorola Droid was a wildly popular phone when it launched in late 2009. The Droid 2 launched in fall 2010 with little fanfare, and only a minor spec bump. The Droid 3 is on its way, but will it suffer the same fate?
That's the difference between Apple and, well, just about everybody else. Controlling the hardware, software and, maybe more important, the message -- Apple's able to release devices on its terms, just like it always has. Whether apple releases the iPhone 5 this summer or fall is moot. It will be met with the same fervor whether it's released in two weeks, two months, or sometime next year. And the longer it takes, the more the excitement grows.
When I first realized that there would be no iPhone 5 announced at WWDC I was utterly horrified. Having always updated my iPhone every year this just seemed so wrong. After the furore had died down inside me, it actually dawned on me that this iPhone 4 is still a top draw phone. What do I really need from an iPhone 5 that this one can’t already do? The screen is still stunning; the device is still very fast. It does everything I need it to do and it does it well.
When I get asked by friends if they should wait for the next iPhone before buying, it is no longer an easy question to answer. Before the iPhone 4 was released the 3GS was ready to be upgraded. The iPhone 4 however is still a current top of the range phone. I would still recommend it above any other handset available right now. Apple will have to give us something very special with iPhone 5 to outshine this beautiful iPhone 4! Will I upgrade? Of course. Do I have to upgrade? No.
Chris Parsons, CrackBerry.com
Here we are, one year after the launch of the iPhone 4, and it still reigns as one of the top devices on the market. Although Apple could likely ride out the success of the iPhone 4 a bit longer, iPhone users are looking forward to the next big launch from Apple and rightfully so. With Android moving fast, around Apple must keep momentum going and introduce something more than incremental changes this time around.
I've used iPhone day in, day out over the course of that year, from iOS 4 at launch to iOS 5 beta now. And thanks to that last part, when the screen lights up, I still light up with it.
Don't underestimate the power of regular major software updates rolled out -- on the same day -- to all on-market devices. iOS 4 made a lot of iPhone 3GS users happy last year and iOS 5 on an iPhone 4 will once again make users locked into a contract or looking for a cheaper option feel like they have a brand new phone anyway.
Okay. A software update can't give iPhone 4 an LTE radio or 3D display or dual core processors or a kickstand. But it doesn't need to. Perceptively, iPhone 4, one year later, is absolutely still competitive with the latest and greatest competitive devices on the market, and while it's missing some specific features, it's still best in class at others. If you want a phone works for you rather than you having to work for it, iPhone is still your go-to device.
But here's the thing -- nothing lasts forever and mobile has never been more competitive. iPhone 5 needs to come, and it needs to come soon enough and be impact-ful enough to keep up Apple's hardware momentum.
Your turn! What do you think about iPhone 4 one year later? And how much pressure do you think Apple should be feeling to release iPhone 5?