Unlocked iPhone 4 are now available in Canada and can be purchased directly from Apple Canada (apple.ca) - pop in a live MicroSIM from your carrier of choice and you're good to go. Just know that if buying the thing outright, the newest iPhone is expensive - $659 for the 16GB model and $780 for the 32GB. That said, iPhone 4 does come off as a significantly high-end product, not just a faddish plaything. In terms of build quality, few smartphones can compare to the iPhone 4’s fit and finish.
Of course, if you get one through a mobile provider, it will be heavily discounted - but you need to sign up for a three-year plan, naturally. Bell, Telus, Rogers and Virgin Mobile Canada all carry the iPhone 4 in Canada.
Next to the iPhone 4, its competent and reliable predecessor, the iPhone 3GS, seems simply bulbous and toylike.
The new, hardened aluminosilicate glass (AKA Gorilla Glass) covers the front and back of the device and is finished with an fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating. Thanks to the new squarish shape and the grooved stainless steel border, the iPhone 4 is, uh, grippier and easier to hold than the slippery smooth iPhone 3GS.
This is also the first iPhone that can stand up on its own either horizontally or vertically because the edges are now flat. Slightly denser than the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 feels more solidly serious for it.
The glass that covers the front and back of the iPhone 4 seems scratchproof enough and is suitably glare-resistant. We've used our test unit for over a week without a case and it still looks like new.
Comparing the iPhone 4's retina display to the 3GS in similar brightness settings reveals the iPhone 4's display to be the most vivid, most detailed and accurate screen we've seen. We used to think the 3GS had a reasonably bright and crisp screen but next to the iPhone 4 it seems washed out and slightly dull.
While we were impressed with the AMOLED screen from the Google Nexus One, we're convinced that the iPhone 4 has the advantage in terms of clarity and color fidelity without being over saturated (a typical problem with AMOLED screens).
The iPhone 4's screen is readable outdoors and substantially bright. It does particularly well with text.
iPhone 4 performs more quickly that 3GS, but not by much. Opening apps is slightly faster, for example, while sending mail and switching apps (multitasking) is incrementally speedier but not as blazingly fast as you might expect.
The speed and quality of the iPhone 4's camera, meanwhile, is impressive. The new camera comes with an LED flash, a welcome addition. What sets the iPhone 4's camera from the run-of-the-mill, multi-megapixel add-on in most smartphones, however, is its new internal gyroscope, which works to minimize camera-shake by counteracting movement. Together with the built-in compass and accelerometer, iPhone 4 does an impressive job of emulating a "steady cam" when shooting both photos and videos.
For an additional $5.00, you can purchase iMovie for iPhone, a video editing suite, complete with themes and the ability to add subtitles and theme music right there on the iPhone itself, which is quite amazing.
As for the iPhone 4's well publicized antenna problems, an iPhone 4 as tested on the Telus HSPA network had no real signal issues - though it should be noted that this reviewer is left-handed and naturally holds the device in such a way that closes the apparent antenna gap blamed for signal loss.
We did squeeze the bejeezus out of it to see if the attenuation issue could be replicated, and we did manage to bring reception down two bars, but we were squeezing it with unnatural force.
As it happens, "antennagate" isn't as prevalent internationally as it is in the US, where iPhone 4 is only available on AT&T. Reports from as far as Singapore tell a similar story; the antenna issue is a non-issue everywhere but home.
As for battery life, the iPhone 4 tested managed two and a half days between charges with Wi-Fi on, audio and video use and making a few calls a day. That's quite a feat, but not really "magic." Unlike previous iPhone's, the iPhone 4 uses a MicroSIM and an external antenna, allowing Apple to cram a larger battery into the thing.
Overall, the iPhone 4 is an improvement over its predecessor, though it may not be as compelling an upgrade for iPhone 3GS users who can access most of the same features of the operating system if not the upgrade hardware and chassis. But new users will likely enjoy the vivid display, the super spiffy camera and improved battery life.
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