Hardware and New Software Features

The iPhone 4 is now available on both AT&T and Verizon. We tested the Verizon model which is similar, but not completely identical, to the AT&T model. We’ll point out the differences as we progress through this review.

On the face of the iPhone, shown in Figure 4, you can see the front-facing camera opening and a slit for the earpiece near the top, above the display. The Home button is at the bottom, just below the display. Just above the Home button on the screen are the typical four Apple buttons: Phone, Mail, Safari (for browsing the Internet), and iPod (for music and videos). Above that are small white dots that act as page indicators.

Verizon iPhone 4 ReviewFigure 4: The front

When looking at this iPhone, the first thing you notice is the clarity of the screen. This phone has what Apple calls their Retina display which has a resolution of 960-by-640-pixels at 326 ppi. The typical contrast ratio is 800:1. The brightness is adjustable in the settings. This multi-touch display is not only clear and crisp, but it is very responsive to the touch. It is, without a doubt, the best display that we’ve seen in a mobile phone. There is absolutely no pixelating of text and photos look extremely smooth and clear.

Figure 4 also shows one of the newer features of the iOS operating system that runs this phone. If you look at this figure closely, you will notice that the first two icons (top row, left) are folders that contain other icons. As the Apple App store grows, so does the number of apps that the average user downloads. This feature helps you organize some of the 350,000 apps that you can now download to a mobile device.

The top of the iPhone 4 is seen in Figure 5. The on/off, sleep/wake button is shown on the left and the 3.5 mm headphone jack is on the right. If you look closely, you can also see the new noise-canceling microphone next to the headphone jack.

Verizon iPhone 4 ReviewFigure 5: The top

The bottom of this iPhone, shown in Figure 6, has a speaker, microphone, and the typical 30-pin Apple dock connector port in the middle.

Verizon iPhone 4 ReviewFigure 6: The bottom

The left side of the iPhone 4, shown in Figure 7, has three simple buttons: the redesigned mute switch and the round up and down volume buttons. These buttons are nicely raised so you can easily find them by touch.

Verizon iPhone 4 ReviewFigure 7: The left side

In this Figure, you will notice a slit or notch in the silver band that surrounds the phone. This is a break for the antenna. There are several other “breaks” of this kind in the metal band, and because AT&T and Verizon use different technologies, the antenna breaks are in different locations on the two phones. This causes little difference except for the antenna slit on this side of the Verizon iPhone. There is no break on the AT&T phone; so on the Verizon phone, to accommodate this antenna, the mute switch has been moved slightly closer to the volume controls. This causes no change in usability, but will mean that some cases made for the AT&T iPhone will not fit the Verizon iPhone.

The rearrangement and the adjustments made to the antenna system have solved any problems that the initial AT&T iPhones had with the antennas. Even holding the phone in the so-called “death grip” resulted in no change in connectivity.


Sandy Berger, respected computer authority, journalist, media guest, speaker, and author, has more than three decades of experience as a computer and technology expert. Her eight books include: How to Have a Meaningful Relationship with Your Computer, Your Official Grown-up's Guide to AOL and the Internet, Cyber Savers –Tips & Tricks for Today’s Drowning Computer Users, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Better Living through Technology, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to the Internet, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Gadgets & Gizmos, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Health & Wellness, and Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Travel. Sandy’s newspaper column, magazine articles, feature stories, product reviews, and computer tips can be found at her website, Compu-KISS.