The iPhone 4 is a touchscreen smartphone developed by Apple and is the fourth in the iPhone generation. The “i” prefix does not officially stand for anything anymore, but is Apple’s branding trademark for all its products (like the iPad, iPod, iTunes, etc.). A smartphone can be best described as a mobile phone integrated with a handheld computer. They run complete operating system software allowing the user to install and run more advanced applications. The list of iPhone Apps gets longer every day (over 350 000), and you can find an app to do basically anything these days. The phone comes out with a few apps installed already, but you can easily download more from Apple’s App Store. Many of these apps are free, and many are not, so just double-check before you download to avoid unexpected costs.
The touchscreen functionality is one that is becoming more popular in gadgets lately, and is also available on some Nokia, LG, and HTC cell phones, to name just a few. Instead of pushing or touching buttons, you simply touch the screen to operate the device. The touchscreen means that the phone can have the minimum amount of external buttons without impairing the usability and functionality of the phone. It also means that the phone can have a larger screen. The iPhone 4 has only one button on its front face, and four buttons on its side. When using a touchscreen phone for the first time it might feel a bit different and complicated, but it is actually a lot more logical and user-friendly to many of the standard mobile phones we’ve grown accustomed to. The key to getting used to it is simple: don’t be afraid! Touch and drag and point as much possible. If you break it by just touching, it was broken to begin with. And most of the time the phone will ask for confirmation before deleting anything, so you are quite safe. The glass on both the front and back face of the phone is coated with a special fingerprint-resistant coating, so unless you operate your phone with grimy and greasy fingers, you won’t leave too many finger marks. The coating also helps your finger to glide over the glass, making it easier to work with Sky Birds.
The iPhone 4 has many cool features like FaceTime, Retina Display, Multitasking, HD Video Recording and Editing, and a 5-Megapixel Camera with LED flash. Here is what they do.
FaceTime is video calling using two cameras, one in the front focusing on you, and one in the back focusing on everything else. You can switch between cameras at any time during a call with just a tap of a button. The best way to explain why you would want to use this is an example of a news journalist on the scene of some news-worthy story. He wants to show the viewers his face while he is reporting, but he also wants to show his viewers what he is seeing when something is happening. Now if he didn’t have two cameras to cut to, he would have to do the whole 180-degree camera spin a few times, resulting in some sea-sick viewers. As with all video-calling devices, you can see what you are showing the person on the other side using the little “view-finder” window in the bottom corner of the screen.
The Retina Display is a very sharp, vibrant, high-resolution screen, the best yet in the iPhone family. The name comes from the fact that the pixel density of the screen is so high that the human eye can’t distinguish individual pixels. Looking at the object on the screen is compared to looking at the object with your own eyes. Nice.
The Multitasking feature enables you to easily switch between third-party apps and iPhone-apps without slowing down the performance of the foreground app or draining the battery. The fact that Apple is drawing attention to this feature must mean that is was a problem in previous iPhones. Glad they fixed it.
The HD Video Recording feature enables the user to shoot their own movies in high definition. Many other mobile phones also have a video recording feature, but very few have high definition recording. The iPhone 4 can also capture good-quality footage in low-light using the built-in LED light and illumination sensor. The editing part, however, is not included as standard with the phone. It is done using the iMovie app, which is available on the App Store for $4.99 (about R40.00). The good video recording quality of the iPhone 4 means it can replace your digital video camera for most instances when you are not recording for long periods of time. The longer the recording time and better the quality, however, the more memory it requires, so best to restrict your recording to a few minutes at a time.
The iPhone 4 also has a 5-Megapixel Camera with built-in LED flash. By using the front-facing camera it is now also easy to take self-portraits.
Another cool feature of the iPhone 4 is the gyroscope and accelerometer. I know it is not unique to the iPhone, but it is still something worth mentioning. The iPhone 4 has a gyroscopic sensor that detects angular acceleration in all 3 axis, enabling it to calculate yaw, pitch and roll. The accelerometer detects any acceleration, shaking, vibration shock or fall of the device along all 3 axis. Although this is one of the less functional features of the iPhone 4, it is one of the coolest, according to me anyway. It makes the device seem more life-like when it interacts with the user in such a way. It is mainly for use in apps like games where you use tilt to navigate an object, but there are a lot of clever and creative people who have thought of a lot of fascinating ways to entertain the user with this feature.
Regarding network connectivity, the iPhone 4 uses a Micro-SIM card for all devices running on a GSM network (cell phone network with 3G). The Micro-SIM card is not like an ordinary SIM card that you can buy for a few cents. This is an important thing to keep in mind. The launch of the iPhone 4 in South Africa was actually delayed in many parts of the country because of the fact that the Micro-SIM cards for our networks were not readily available yet. I think that this issue has been sorted out now, but it is still worth keeping in the back of your mind if you want to purchase an iPhone 4. You can convert an ordinary SIM card into a Micro-SIM card with knife or a pair of scissors, but I don’t really recommend it. In contrast with an ordinary cell phone, the iPhone 4 does not store data on the SIM card, but in built-in flash memory. There are two iPhone 4 models, one with 16GB internal flash memory, and one with 32GB memory, which is understandably more expensive.
One of many accessories available for the iPhone 4 is a Bumper. A Bumper is a ring of rubber and plastic that surrounds the edge of the iPhone 4. The people at Apple have worked very hard to produce the delicate design of the iPhone 4, and they don’t want you to damage it. The Bumper wraps around the edges of the device but does not cover the front or rear faces of the phone. It does protect the screen from hard bumps and shocks, but not from my handbag. I would, therefore, get a carry-case or other cover to protect the screen also.
Availability and Price: The iPhone 4 is readily available at many global sites such as Amazon. Take note that if you live in South Africa, you can’t order from Amazon.com. They no longer deliver to South Africa due to the high rate of postal theft. You can however order from Amazon.co.uk. They usually have similar products to the American site, and prices just differ slightly depending on the exchange rate. In South Africa, the iPhone 4 is mostly available at Vodacom and MTN stores. It is, however, at this stage only available for Vodacom and MTN networks. Take note: Before buying an iPhone 4, make sure that it will work with your cell phone network provider. Most of them come out locked onto one network only. This is especially important if you are buying your iPhone 4 online. If it is locked to the wrong network, you will have to unlock it by “breaking” it (read: hacking and cracking), and personally I do not like “breaking” anything that costs this much.
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