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iPhone 4 – First Reviews…

We’re not going to beat around the bush — 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. Yes, there are still pain points that we want to see Apple fix, and yes, there are some amazing alternatives to the iPhone 4 out there. But when it comes to the total package — fit and finish in both software and hardware, performance, app selection, and all of the little details that make a device like this what it is — we think it’s the cream of the current crop. We won’t argue that a lot of this is a matter of taste — some people will just prefer the way Android or Symbian works to the iPhone, and others will be on the lookout for a hardware keyboard or a particular asset that the iPhone 4 lacks — but in terms of the total picture, it’s tough to deny that Apple has moved one step past the competition with this phone. Of course, in the hyper-accelerated smartphone market where the Next Big Thing seems to always be just around the corner, it’s anyone’s guess how long they keep that edge.

Source: Engadget

“I’ve been testing the iPhone 4 for more than a week. In both hardware and software, it is a major leap over its already-excellent predecessor, the iPhone 3GS,” Walter S. Mossberg reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“It has some downsides and limitations—most important, the overwhelmed AT&T network in the U.S., which, in my tests, the new phone handled sometimes better and, unfortunately, sometimes worse than its predecessor. But, overall, Apple has delivered a big, well-designed update that, in my view, keeps it in the lead in the smartphone wars,” Mossberg reports.

“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,” Mossberg reports. “Apple needs a second network.”

Mossberg continues, “However, on at least six occasions during my tests, the new iPhone was either reporting ‘no service’ or searching for a network while the old one, held in my other hand, was showing at least a couple of bars. Neither Apple nor AT&T could explain this. The iPhone 4 quickly recovered in these situations, showing service after a few seconds, but it was still troubling.”

“Just as with its predecessors, I can’t recommend this new iPhone for voice calling for people who experience poor AT&T reception, unless they are willing to carry a second phone on a network that works better for them,” Mossberg reports. “For everyone else, however, I’d say that Apple has built a beautiful smartphone that works well, adds impressive new features and is still, overall, the best device in its class.”

Source: Walt Mossberg

“Even its most strident critics — folks frustrated by AT&T’s dropped calls, people who never cozied up to a multitouch display — must concede that the iPhone is the smartphone by which others are measured,” Edward C. Baig reports for USA Today. “The new iPhone 4 I’ve been testing for about a week and a half — along with the major refresh of the mobile operating system software at the core of recent models — demonstrates once again why Apple’s handset is the one to beat,”

“Buyers won’t be disappointed,” Baig reports. “The killer feature is what Apple calls FaceTime video chat. The promise that you and the person you’re talking to on a phone can gaze into each other’s eyes dates back to when LBJ occupied the White House. No one has really nailed video calling through the years, at least not the way Apple has nailed it here, with certain limitations… Both you and the person you’re talking to need an iPhone 4, though Apple hopes to make FaceTime a standard that would permit video calling across numerous devices.”

Baig explains, “Both parties need to be connected to Wi-Fi. FaceTime doesn’t work over AT&T’s cellular network, even though you typically make the initial call through AT&T. It takes a few seconds once you tap the FaceTime button for AT&T to hand the call over to the FaceTime application.”

“There are other iPhone 4 features worth crowing about: high-definition video recording, super-crisp display, a handsome and thin stainless steel and glass design,” Baig reports. “Apple says the glass is chemically strengthened to be 20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic. To reinforce the point, an Apple executive dropped it in front of me. The phone was undamaged. Inside is an A4 processor, the power-efficient chip used in the iPad.”

Baig reports, “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. Cutting through the hype, Apple has given longtime diehards, and first-time iPhone owners, plenty to cheer about.”

Source: Ed Baig

“Despite the strong initial, positive reaction, this must still be a nerve-racking time to be Apple; the iPhone is no longer the only worthy contender. Phones running Google’s Android software are gaining rave reviews and packing in features that iPhone owners can only envy. The Android app store is ballooning, multiple phone makers are competing, and Google updates the software several times a year. Apple releases only one new model a year, so the new iPhone had better be pretty amazing to compete,” David Pogue reports for The New York Times.

“It is,” Pogue reports.

“The new phone uses the same custom chip that’s in the iPad; it’s really, really fast. It makes a difference every time you tap the touch screen” Pogue reports. “It’s not the first phone with both a front and back camera. It’s not even the first one to make video calls. But the iPhone 4 is the first phone to make good video calls, reliably, with no sign-up or setup, with a single tap. The picture and audio are rock solid, with very little delay, and it works the first time and every time. This feature, called FaceTime is pure Apple.”

Pogue reports, “However, you can enjoy this classic ‘show Grandma the baby’ fantasy only if you and Grandma both have the iPhone 4, and only when you’re both in strong Wi-Fi hot spots. Both limitations may change in time; other software companies are free to create FaceTime-compatible programs for other gadgets. And Apple implies that next year, you’ll be able to make such calls over the cellular airwaves. Clearly, Apple is giving its ball and chain, AT&T, time to get its network ready.”

Pogue reports, “The new screen, with greater contrast, is excellent. It packs in four times as many pixels as before; at 326 dots an inch, it’s now the sharpest phone screen on the market.”

“Now, peculiar as it may sound, phone calls have always been the iPhone’s weak spot. It took too many steps to dial. Audio quality wasn’t state-of-the-art. And from Day 1, dropped calls in several big cities have driven people there wiggy,” Pogue reports. “With the iPhone 4, Apple tried to relieve the wigginess. Sound is much better on both ends of the call, thanks in part to a noise-canceling microphone and an improved audio chamber (which also helps speakerphone and music sound). The stainless-steel edge band is now part of the antenna…. Does any of this mean no more dropped calls in New York and San Francisco? No. But there do seem to be fewer of them.”

Source: David Pogue

No surprises there then.

In other news – 1/5 of Android Apps expose private data…

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