The king of smartphones is reborn, but does the fourth incarnation of the iPhone do enough to stop gadgeteers from signing up to the Android army?
The iPhone 4 is here – and it's the most significant update to Apple's mobile messiah thus far.
The new design is better in the flesh than in pictures – in particular, the reinforced glass on both front and back turns the plasticky iPhone into a true object of desire. The steel rim acts as an aerial, too, and reception is noticeably improved.
The iPhone 4 is powered by the same Apple A4 chip as the iPad – and it shows. The screen is so responsive that it feels like it's one step ahead of you, and that teeth-grinding wait for the camera app is totally gone. Even iMovie runs at breathtaking pace.
If you thought the iPad's screen was nice, look away now. The iPhone has almost as many pixels into a screen a quarter of the size. Pictures are full of details while screen text has never looked this good. In fact, you can read a webpage while fully zoomed out – if your eyesight's good enough.
The joys of iOS 4
Multi-tasking has arrived! Being able to run Spotify in the background is a relief, so it's a shame O2 has ditched unlimited data in its iPhone 4 tariffs. Elsewhere multi-tasking is limited but at least it doesn't eat battery life.
Organising apps into folders is a great idea, and allows you to store over 2,000 apps, but it's annoying that all the folders look the same at first glance – the tiny app thumbnails they contain are too small to be recognisable, even with the hi-res display.
Unifying all emails into a single inbox isn't revolutionary, but it's very useful. Makes work emails harder to avoid at the weekend, though. A bigger leap forward is the message threading that does wonders to group replies and declutter your inbox.
Charge of the app brigade
The iPhone's battery-life is a victim of the Apple's success; we're so app-happy that it's hard to make a 3GS last a single day. While iPhone 4 has an improved battery life, you'll still need to charge it every night.
It's too early to say whether the Xbox Live-style online gaming service will take off – but we've a feeling it's going to be huge. iBooks, meanwhile, will appeal to iPad users who can sync books with their iPhone, too, but as a standalone ebook reader the iPhone is too small.
So the iPhone 4 improves on the 3GS in every way, and blows away the Android competition in everything except sheer geekery.