Posted 1/Dec 2010 at 11:44
by in Science & Tech read by 170 people

Iphone 4 Review Part 1 - Retina Display

The Apple Iphone 4. Does it really change everything again?

The first thing I notice when picking up the Iphone 4 is that it is rather square and even a bit lumpy. Unexpected from Apple, a company always thriving to progress their designs to ever sleeker, futuristic and smaller.

But there are serious mitigating circumstances. This phone is combines high definition (HD) video, 5 megapixel photo, mp3 player ipod style and oh yes, a phone as well.

Not to mention a whole bunch of standard functions such as an alarm clock and a compass and a user interface which, while very standard Apple, doesn’t bring much surprise but doesn’t have to because it just continues on the same groovy road Apple took when it combined touch screen technology with amazing design and eye for detail in their technological offerings.

So what does Iphone 4 offer then? I will be covering the highlights in a series of short reviews on, of which this is part 1.

Personal experience

Apple Iphone4 Review Part 1 - The Retina Display

Resolution The display that is so high resolution that it is supposed to be almost too much to handle for your eyes. Having said this, my eyes are megapixel too (honestly), so it matches my requirements. The Retina display’s pixel density is so high, that that eye is unable to distinguish individual pixels. This allows for an experience similar to HD television or vintage photography so sharp that the image almost looked real. The pixels are only 78 micrometers wide, some four-fold improvement on the resolution of the iPhone 3. The key word here is “Continuous”. It makes anything on screen look continuous no matter its size.

Contrast The contrast ratio is four times better than previous iPhone models. Lighter colours are brighter and darker colours are darker. And it's true! Ever experienced taking a picture, thinking it was crap when you viewed it on your phone, only to discover it was actually pretty good when watching it on your computer? Iphone 4 puts and end to this. You will see your photos and videos on screen exactly as good (or bad) as they really are.

 In Plane Switching To top it all off, the iPhone 4 retina display has "In Plane Switching" (IPS) so that the display can be viewed from any angle and in any direction. The phone can be held in any way desired and still deliver an optimal visual. This is great when you have a large number of people huddling around a phone to see a video.

Glass Ever heard about chemically strengthened glass? Neither had I. But I did know that in cars, planes and other high speed vehicles a certain very strong glass was used for safety and durability purposes. Apple claims that it is this glass that is used for the iPhone 4, not just on the front but also on the back side. The glass is very difficult to scratch (I dropped my keys on it and it left no mark at all, and my key chain is fairly messy and heavy with lots of clangy keys on it)

Technology below the glass The devil is in the detail. In the case of Iphone 4, the enjoyment is in the detail… with subtlety such as a proximity sensor in the phone just below the glass which makes sure the screen functions switch off when you put the phone to your ear to save battery life and to prevent accidental dialing. There is also a light sensor which automatically adjusts the screen brightness to maximize the optimum viewing experience.


First impressions count, and the quality of experience when using the screen of the Iphone 4 is excellent. To me, this is the most important feature of the Iphone 4 and Apple have made a wise decision to put a lot of their eggs in the screen basket, so to speak. The entire user interface is conveyed through the screen (except for 4 buttons and a few sockets for headphone, charging, connecting to another device and general look and feel) so this is an excellent feature.

To protect the screen, you can buy protective plastic film, and this seems a must-have even though the glass is supposed to be near indestructible according to Apple. But who would want to risk it. I don't, so I got one.

Downside? None yet, other than that it attracts a bit of dust around the top of the phone. Stay tuned for part II in which I will be looking at the Camera feature.

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