iphone 4 (AT&T)


The iPhone 4 is a smooth slab of metal, glass, silicon and electricity with design accents reminiscent of the color of obsidian. Somewhat taller and wider — but definitely thinner — than an Altoids® tin, the iPhone is small enough to grip in your hand, and powerful enough to rule the world.


The iPhone 4 is sandwiched between two panes of glass. The front pane covers a multi-touch viewscreen laminated in an oil-resistant film. The outside edge is a single continuous band of brushed stainless steel alloy to which the guts of the phone are anchored; the steel band doubles as the iPhone’s two antennae. Embedded along that band are the power, sleep/wake, ring/silent and volume buttons, the phone microphone, a 3.5-mm headphone jack, a multimedia speaker and a dock-connector port for syncing the iPhone with iTunes (among other connection purposes.) A single “Home” button adorns the front side below the view screen facing the owner, along with the earphone and a video camera for “FaceTime” video calling. A second camera lens is situated on the rear side facing away from the owner, accompanied by an LED light for taking five-megapixel pictures and shooting high-definition video in the dark.


When powered on, the standard iPhone homescreen displays icons for the phone, mail client, Web browser and internal iPod along the bottom row. Additional app icons include messages, texting, calendar, photos, camera, contacts, maps, weather, stocks, notes, clock, calculator, iTunes, App Store and Settings. Depending upon how many apps are installed, the iPhone homescreen can display up to 180 icons. Touch and sweep the screen toward the right to reveal a search screen with virtual keyboard. Touch and sweep in the other direction to access more app screens. Touch any app and it opens, ready to use.


As of 2011, the App Store houses between 300,000 and 400,000 apps available for instant download to the iPhone. Some are paid, some are free. There are apps for turning an iPhone into a TV remote control; discovering a classy burger joint in the immediate vicinity; drawing a funny mustache on a picture of your best friend; shooting virtual pieces of paper into a wastepaper basket; making multi-million-dollar transactions on eBay while sunning; tweeting about it; checking and organizing your personal philately catalog; sending a condolence card to your acne-beset teenager; letting your trash collector know about some rolled-up area rugs that require immediate removal…the list does not end. Ever.


The iPhone 4 is powered by iOS4, the mobile operating system from Apple. The central processing unit is part of an “A4 chip” engineered for battery efficiency; the battery is larger and longer-lasting than that of the iPhone 3. The accelerometer is still present — the internal mechanism that “knows” when the phone’s orientation changes, and adjusts screen orientation accordingly. In addition, a gyroscope lends three-dimensional sensitivity to the iPhone accelerometer. All of the guts of the iPhone 4 are anchored to the exterior steel band.

Apple, AT&T and Verizon

Until 2011, AT&T was the sole phone and data service provider for the iPhone, per an exclusivity agreement between Apple CEO Steve Jobs and AT&T executives. In February, 2011 the five-year contract expired, opening the iPhone to competitors — namely, Verizon. Both telecoms have 3G networks, which allow for near-broadband download and upload speeds. Verizon rolled out its 4G network — which it claims is ten times faster than 3G — to 100 million customers in major metropolitan areas in late 2010 and early 2011. AT&T was set to activate its own 4G network by mid-2011. Connection quality and data speeds vary by location, not necessarily by provider.