Ye Quickie White iPhone 4 Review
The White iPhone 4 landed on our desk this weekend. Since we never actually had the opportunity to review the iPhone 4 when it launched, we figured we might as well take a look and see if a change in color makes this phone worth the buy, more than a year since its release.
But since there are a gazillion iPhone 4 reviews out here, we figured we’d take a look at the White iPhone 4′s 10 month delay, whether the causes of the delay should be any concern for buyers, and how a one year old device fares in today’s competitive smartphone market, and basically, just focus on what’s different here.
The Unboxing and Video Overview:
The White iPhone 4 was announced right along side the average joe Black iPhone 4 at WWDC 2010 by Steve Jobs himself, during his main keynote. Unfortunately though, right in July rumors of a delay started surfacing with Apple saying that the White iPhone 4 Models were “more challenging” to manufacture than they originally expected. As a result Apple postponed availability of the White iPhone 4 to the end of 2010. But then in October, Apple announced again that the White iPhone 4 release would be delayed all the way to Spring 2011.
Rumors for this delay varied from the White color resulting in light leaks, proximity sensor malfunctions, camera troubles, and a lot more. Apple’s SVP of Marketing, Phi Schiller then felt he needed to offer a general explanation, saying:
It was challenging. It’s not as simple as making something white. There’s a lot more that goes into both the material science of it–how it holds up over time…but also in how it all works with the sensors. We thought we were there a year ago, or less than that, when we launched the iPhone 4, and we weren’t.
He also said that there were a lot of unexpected interactions between the color of the device and various internal components of the phone, with the White iPhones even needing more UV protection from sunlight. Apple found this so challenging, that they didn’t officially confirm the launch, until one day in advance, when they announced the White iPhone 4 on April 29th, 2011.
As a result of this, the White iPhone 4 hit the market almost 10 months after the Original Black iPhone 4, with the same hardware, like the retina display, stainless steel external antenna band, double sided glass and more. What was one time a state-of-the-art smartphone, now faced competition that had 10 months to catch up, and in some cases move ahead.
The Supposed Issues: Proximity Sensor
The Proximity sensor on the Black iPhone 4 is notorious for being a challenge for Apple, with iOS 4.1 fixing most issues with it, with some users still complaining about their iPhone misfiring and muting calls while they were talking, etc.
The White iPhone 4 was rumored to have even more trouble, because of the white color interfering so much that Apple tried using a series of perforations over the sensor, which made it look like a grid. Apparently they decided against all that, because the retail White iPhone 4 has a black patch, which we’d imagine allows for better sensing. As a result, we havent had any problems with it in the few days that we’ve been using it. But if we ever do, we’ll deffo remember to update this section.
The Supposed Issues: Camera and Flash
Another rumor that was going around about the White iPhone 4 delay, was that there’s light leakage from the camera & LED flash. The retail version has no such problem, and pictures taken with the 5 Megapixel camera look just the same as ones taken with the Black iPhone 4.
Here’s a couple Camera Samples from the White iPhone 4, just to show:
Image 1 (Sorry the cover I was using at the time spoilt the edges of this one):
Compared to the Black iPhone 4:
There’s no doubt that the White iPhone 4 does infact look quite good. It’s not just an iPhone 4 rendered white though, having noticeable differences with the proximity sensor and the White glass overall.
It’s a very subtle difference but you’ll notice that the Black iPhone 4 seems like its made of Black glass, while the White iPhone 4 seems like its coated in Clear White Glass. It could be something to do with the UV coating used to protect the color, or the opacity of the White color, but its noticeable.
Most importantly though, the White iPhone 4 is uniformly white, with the same shade from front to back, from top to bottom.
Consistent just like Apple usually does things. It’s much like the White iPad 2, but different than the 2009 White iPhone 3GS which had white plastic backing, with a black front.
And it all looks pretty neat in person. We liked it, but it’s upto personal preference to be honest (after all, I am the man who likes the Pink Nokia N8).
Compared to today’s Smartphones:
When Apple first introduced the 960×640 IPS LED Retina Display, there wasnt anything else on the market like it. Right now most manufacturers still dont, have some of Google’s Android OEM partners have gotten close, with the just-as-good 960×540 qHD resolution screens.
However, when it comes to overall build quality, very few have come close. Nokia is in a league of their own with pure metal, anodized aluminum almost-indestructible phones like the Nokia N8, but other manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, Motorola and the like, have only created things made mostly of plastic. Arguably plastic is a better case component compared to steel and glass, and owners of devices like the Galaxy S can survive without cases or bumpers. When you think about the sheer amount of cases available for the iPhone 4, it kinda speaks for itself, which isnt a good thing. Still, you have to admit, as delicate as it is, all that glass on the iPhone 4 looks quite gorgeous.
Coming to Apps, Android has been getting faster more powerful processors like there’s no tomorrow. The White iPhone 4 still uses the ARM Cortex A8-based Apple A4 Processor that was released back in 2010. In comparison, Android devices have reached Dual Core ARM Cortex A9-based processors. Worth pointing out though, is that the iPad 2 has a Dual core Apple A5 processor, which will probably come to the next iPhone.
Even cameras have gotten better with the competition. Nokia has always had great cameras on some of their devices, like the N8. However, both Windows Phone and Android OEMs have started up-ing the Megapixels, with LG introducing a 3D camera.
Then there’s also hardware improvements like NFC in the Nexus S, LTE/4G, etc that isnt on the iPhone 4.
When you step back and look at it though, the iPhone 4 is arguably still competitive with the latest and greatest, only because it seems to have a very complete package. But not for very long, we’d imagine.
The White iPhone 4 ships with iOS 4.3.2, but if there’s a later version of iOS, iTunes will prompt you to update when you plug in for the first time. Apple has added a whole suite of features to iOS since the iPhone 4 first released, and even more with the upcoming iOS 5. The point being, the iPhone 4 is on the latest version of iOS. When you compare it to Android or WebOS devices, many of which wait weeks or months for an update (if they even get it at all), it is definitely something to note. Additionally, the iPhone 4 has been around for long enough that all apps in the iTunes App store are compatible with it, and the retina display. Everything from Angry Birds and Doodle Jump, to the Facebook and Foursquare Apps.
And just like the Black iPhone 4, the White iPhone 4 runs iOS 4.3.2 which means its jailbreak-able using the same methods.
So, a year after the original, is the White iPhone 4 worth buying?
Let me put it this way. If you don’t need an iPhone right now, or for the next few months, then we’d advice you wait for the next generation iPhone 5 (or whatever it’s going to be called) which is supposed to be announced this Fall. It’ll most probably have Apple’s new A5 processor like the iPad 2, and will probably bring a host of new improvements and features as well.
But if you really really need a phone right now, and the White iPhone 4 seems tempting to you, then we’d say its deffo worth considering. It’s still competitive (but like we said, not for very long), and still one of the best built, and best supported smartphones on the market right now. If you don’t care about 3D, LTE/4G or Dual Cores, and you find the various features of the iPhone 4 more tempting, AND you prefer a white coloured device, then by all means pick one up. You’ll probably be very happy with it. Atleast until the iPhone 5 is announced.