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iPhone 4 Review Roundup: Still the Smartphone Leader

The first round of iPhone 4 reviews are in, and they’re overwhelmingly positive. What’s everyone saying?

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With gadgets of the iPhone 4’s importance, Apple tends to hand out a certain (small) number of early review units to preferred publications. (I don’t think it would surprise anyone to discover that Gizmodo is no longer on Apple’s nice list.) For the iPhone 4, there were five. Here are the highlights:

David Pogue, New York Times

“The iPhone 4 is already a hit. AT&T
says that it received 10 times as many preorders as it did for the
iPhone 3GS last year. On the first day of taking orders, Apple processed
600,000 requests — before its ordering system, and AT&T’s,
descended into chaos.

In short, the public seems to be perfectly capable of sniffing out a
winner without the help of tech critics.”

“Now, the iPhone is no longer the undisputed king of app phones. In
particular, the technically inclined may find greater flexibility and
choice among its Android rivals, like the HTC Incredible and Evo.
They’re more complicated, and their app store not as good, but they’re
loaded with droolworthy features like turn-by-turn GPS instructions,
speech recognition that saves you typing, removable batteries and a
choice of cell networks.

If what you care about, however, is size and shape, beauty and battery
life, polish and pleasure, then the iPhone 4 is calling your name.”

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Walt Mossberg, Wall Street Journal

“I dropped it several times from a few feet onto a hard surface with no
problem, and it acquired no scratches at all in my testing, even though I
didn’t use a case or coddle it.”

“The new rear camera is another big plus. My test pictures came out sharp
and clear, even in low light and close-up situations. It isn’t the best
cellphone camera I’ve tested, but it is a big improvement.”

“The most important downside of the iPhone 4 is that, in the U.S., it’s
shackled to AT&T, which not only still operates a network that has
trouble connecting and maintaining calls in many cities, but now has
abandoned unlimited, flat-rate data plans. Apple needs a second network.”

“Apple has delivered a big, well-designed update that, in my view, keeps
it in the lead in the smartphone wars.”

Josh Topolsky, Engadget

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“Overall, you simply won’t find a better display on a phone, and that’s
not just lip service.”

“Let’s just say that again: yes, the iPhone 4 does seem to alleviate the
dropped call issue. It wasn’t perfect, and we had some connection issues
in downtown New York City in particular, though it’s tough to say if it
was the fault of our phone, the cluster of buildings we were near, or
the person we were speaking to, who was on a 3GS in the same location.”

“Here’s the thing — this may not be “true” multitasking for a lot of us,
but it amounts to multitasking for most of us. That is, it
looks, feels, and acts like multitasking, so it’s pretty tough to
complain about it.”

“In our approximation, the iPhone 4 is the best smartphone on the market right now. The
combination of gorgeous new hardware, that amazing display, upgraded
cameras, and major improvements to the operating system make this an
extremely formidable package.”

Ed Baig, USA Today

“No one has really nailed video calling through the years, at least not
the way Apple has nailed it here, with certain limitations. FaceTime is
as simple as making a regular call.”

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“Apple improved the battery life on the iPhone 4. It uses a larger
battery, for one thing. Pounding it pretty hard, I still sometimes
reached low-battery warnings late in the day, so having chargers where
you work as well as where you live isn’t a bad idea.” [Note: This is the most critical view of the iPhone 4’s battery life of all, which is why I included it. Other reviews claim battery life as long as 38 hours under normal use.]

“As with previous iPhones, the latest model breaks new ground. FaceTime
video calling on the iPhone 4 is one of those cool “seeing is believing”
features, and it arrives on top of several across-the-board
enhancements. And iOS 4 is a mostly terrific software upgrade.”

Xeni Jardin, Boing Boing

“The squared-off, thinner, steel-and glass form is more masculine, more
substantial. Like a really hot designer watch. There are bevels and
grooves and linear details that didn’t exist before. It feels really
nice to hold. Once my hand got used to it, the 3GS body felt more like a
toy, and I didn’t much feel like holding it anymore.”

“With light use, but with 3G data and WiFi turned on the whole time, I
got a full 4 days of battery life. With very heavy video recording and
playback, instant messaging, email and data tethering over 3G, I got a
full day of battery life.”

“Here’s the thing: AT&T still sucks, and the best engineering
out of Cupertino won’t change that.”

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“Thank you Jesus. At last. Orientation lock on the iPhone, like we have
on the iPad. If you’re reading Boing Boing in bed, just double-press the
“home” button, then swipe that menu bar all the way to the left, and
you can lock the display in portrait mode so it doesn’t switch direction
on you when you roll over or sit up or whatever.”

About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law.

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