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We were fortunate enough to have been invited to MTN’s launch of the iPhone 4 last week, and for some foolish reason they entrusted one of Apple’s latest handsets to us. Especially strange that it wound up in my hands, considering we have our own resident mactard Mac evangelist.

I’ve been using the phone for two weeks now, so let’s have a look at the phone from the perspective of an Apple virgin. Is it worth all the fuss and media hoopla?

front-off

The first thing you’ll notice about the iPhone 4 is its rather incredible build quality. It’s an expensive device, for sure – but everything about it’s build just screams “premium.” As you’re likely well aware by now, although the face of the iPhone 4 looks appears nigh identical to it’s forebears the concave bottom shell of the previous generations has been axed, replaced with flat, toughened, scratch resistant glass, not unlike the front. Note that it’s scratch resistant, and not scratch proof – and the mysterious hairline scratch on the back of mine attests to the renewed necessity of a cover.

It makes the iPhone 4 sleek and slim and, coupled with the aluminium band that surrounds the device and the complete lack of plastic, adds to its inimitable calibre. I was so acutely aware that I had something premium, that for the first few days I handled it with kid-gloves, paranoid that I’d lose it, or drop it, or misplace it somewhere inside my favourite Swedish hooker. It’s an impressive looking unit – and that’s while it’s still off.

all

Switching it on reveals one of the iPhone 4’s biggest features, its incredibly crisp, high resolution touchscreen. Apple are calling it a “Retina Display.” What it really is is a 960×640 resolution LCD screen with an incredible high pixel density, in the region of 326 pixels per inch. That’s more than the useful, perceivable limit on pixel density, which caps out at 300 ppi.  Sure, it’s a lot of marketing hype, but it does result in an amazingly crisp and clear screen – making text and iOS4 specific content look incredible. There is a caveat in that apps and content not designed for the Retina display don’t look fantastic, akin to watching SD material on an HDTV screen.

Rtinadisplay

The display has an interesting technology called In-plane switching.I’m not even going to pretend I have any idea what that means technically, but the result is that the screen is perfectly viewable from a wide range of angles. It also benefits from a 800:1 contrast ratio, which gives you deeper, richer blacks  and brighter colours than previous models, and allows for use in direct sunlight.

The phone now sports two microphones; one on the bottom edge, that’ll relay your voice, and a pinhole microphone at the top of the phone that assists in noise cancelling and suppression. Some pretty fancy tech that should make your angelic voice sound even clearer to whoever you’re talking to. Joining the posterior microphone is a suitably loud speaker for dock-less audio playback, but you’re still going to want a dock or external set of speakers if you wish to assault the ears of those around you in stereo. The left edge is where you’ll find the phone’s volume buttons (now individual buttons, unlike the rocker on previous models) and a dedicated mute switch. You’ll also find the power switch and a 3.5mm stereo jack on the top. The right edge conceals the rather small sim card slot. The iPhone 4, like the iPad, uses the slightly smaller micro-sim.

Last Updated: October 1, 2010

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Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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