AT&T iPhone 4 Review: How’s it stack up now?

Posted by AndrewFomera on November 2, 2011 09:06 pm 1

Note: I wrote this with a high level of influence from Josh’s iPhone 4S Review and I wrote it as if I was a vergester writing a review on the iPhone 4 in the current market. I was going to add more photos… but I can’t put them in a fancy manner like the Verge Crew can.. so I limited it for everyone 🙂 

In a world where cellphone makers and other people have to constantly innovate it’s a tight arena where everyone is in a battle for consumers, companies must constantly innovate for the money of the people. 

Released in June 2010, it’s one of the older phones still selling on the market today. Heck, if you think about it, it’s still one of the bestselling phones on the market. Granted it was introduced again in February 2011 for Verizon, which certainly helped to fuel the sale of it.

So how does it compare to other phones on the market now that it’s over a year old? Let’s dive right in!


Introduced as an all new design with glass fronts and back, it was certainly a step up from the iPhone 3GS. the volume switch on the side is easily accessible due to the smooth flat side of the phone, and the rounded separate buttons for the volumes are easily within reach while using the phone.

When holding the phone in my left hand, it’s natural to use just my left index finger to change the volume as my finger tends to rest there. the recessed home button is the same classic button you’ll find on all the previous models of the iPhone. 

and Yes: my phone has been well used.. and is rather torn up. It’s not the most durable phone, but consider I drop it nearly three or four times every day, it doesn’t have many major blemishes other than a few nicks and scratches.  


Starting with available storage for music, apps and other things you’ll find now days you can get the iPhone 4 in 8gb directly from Apple and the carriers. however, you may still be able to find the versions of the iPhone 4 with 16gb and 32gb of storage on eBay. my phone is a 16gb version and it tends to be enough for my “light” music library (around 4gb) and around 2gb in Apps and app data.

Moving on, to one of the more important features of the phone, is the phone antenna. my phone is an AT&T Model so it has a GSM Antenna band around the edge… and yes the “death grip” can certainly be seen here if you hold it that way.  But yes, the 3G band for AT&T works well, and my speeds are fair enough when used on AT&T’s network.

The iPhone 4 has Apple’s own A4 Processor, which was the first phone to have Apple’s own design for the chip which helps to focus on power conservation yet still providing a powerful experience to consumers. Alongside the A4 Processor you’ll find 512mb of RAM, the same that you’ll find in the new iPhone 4S, but double what was in the iPhone 3GS (256mb) .

Oh and one more thing, the Retina display screen is still one of the most beautiful displays out of any phone on the market, only matched by Apple with the next generation iPhone 4S. it provides a 326 pixels per inch (which is more than any human eye can see).


The camera sports a 5 megapixel back camera (with flash) and a VGA front camera, which provide an adequate camera experience while “on the go”, granted the front camera isn’t good for much other than Facetime, or the hair check in the morning. the back camera will record in 720p up to 30 frames a second with audio, which was one of the first phones to do so.

One of the reasons the iPhone 4 camera is so good when compared to other phones with the same megapixel camera is due to the fact the iPhone 4 has a bigger sensor which lets more light in which results in a better picture quality.

Unfortunately, there are phones now on the market which provide a better point-to-shoot experience than the iPhone 4, but for a phone that’s nearly 2 years old, it’s crazy to think that it went nearly unmatched for so long. (granted, it may be my fanboy-ism coming out here.. but I didn’t think nearly any phone ever beat it until recently)



Just a few shots I took with the iPhone 4’s camera. I think those are my two favorite photos that I recently took.. but once again I think it depends partly on what you take a photo of and the settings. 

Reception / Call Quality

Wow is really the word to sum up all of this. When it was introduced in 2010 as an all new antenna design there were enormous expectations for it, and to be honest, it didn’t live up to all of them. while I noticed significant improvements over the 3GS’s call quality and reception there was a major issue with the “antennagate” crisis where if you held the two bands at the bottom the bars would drop significantly.

Apple announced a free case program in July of 2010 which provided a free case to iPhone 4 owners who raised concerns (this program lasted a few months but is now over) with the issue. I never experienced the death grip issue with my phone in all the time I’ve had it (since June 2010) but then again I’ve always had a case on it except for the rare moments it’s been out for cleaning.

So yeah, as for download speeds… it’s not as fast as the newer 4S and other phones but I still find my phone pulling things up faster than other phones on AT&T and other networks.. though your network speeds may vary from region to region. (Mine up here in Northwest Missouri is 3G but my upload speeds are around 1.5mb and download is around 1.1mbps which makes me sad) But in other metropolitan areas I have decent speeds. Again, it depends on the backhaul of the network and the congestion in the area on the towers. (sad fact of life)

I will occasionally drop calls on my iPhone 4, but it’s around 80% AT&T’s fault… which is just something I put up with because I’m grandfathered into the Unlimited plan.

Battery Life

Ah, the one thing I wish I could change about my phone. Apple has done reasonably well with all of their phones with Battery Life and ensuring they have great power conservation. I manage to get around 5.5 hours of heavy use out of it before it’s time for me to plug it up. (and that’s talking like hard use, Texting, iPod on, heavy App usage, using Safari, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on etc). Oh, and I also have the screen on full brightness.

Apple totes 7 hours of 3G talk time, 14 hours of 2G talk time, up to 300 hours of standby time, 6 hours of internet usage on 3G or 10 hours on Wi-Fi. while my usage is well below what Apple says, I’m one of the heavy users of my phone. It’s always on and it’s always by my side, constantly pushing for email, checking apps like Facebook or on Safari with an occasional phone call or so.

There has been days I’ve been up at 5am and managed to conserve my battery life until around 11:30pm that night, but it took tough preservation on both my part and the phone’s settings.

The iPhone 4S actually adds another hour of talk time, but loses an hour of Wi-Fi browsing time, maybe due to the A5 Chip inside, but recently there have been reports of issues with terrible battery life due to possibly a location checking bug. Apple announced on 11/2/11 that a fix for it would be coming within a few weeks.


The iOS 5 update brought with it a large number of changes which, depending on your preferences are a good thing.  Something important to note: You won’t find Siri on the iPhone 4.

I believe that Siri is one of the only features that sets the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 apart (someone correct me if I’m wrong please!) Granted, Siri is a major selling point to the 4S but people looking for a good phone instead of a great phone will do fine without it (trust me, I’m getting by just fine without it.)

Also new with iOS 5 was the Notification Center – Easy access to all the notifications and swipe to the right to reply/go to access. this is a big thing that I find useful especially with the Weather widget. I find myself actually checking the weather more with the widget. I turned off the stock one in the options because I just frankly don’t follow the stocks.

 the software  brought tons of improvements to the phone, many unnoticeable until you really get into it… but Apple dubbed this release when iOS really went “PC Free”. this is because of iCloud and all the work the Apple Engineers have done. You no longer have to plug up to a computer to sync your music, photos, documents, contacts and so forth.  Just turn on iCloud and bam, your stuff will be on a new device if you get one and elect to restore from an iCloud backup.

I use iCloud to sync my Calendar (well, what little is on it) and my Contacts. my contacts are my life and if anything were to happen to that.. well I’d be hurting.

Also new is Wi-Fi syncing, which I do not use, so I’m quickly going to sum it up. if your phone is plugged in and charging on the same Wi-Fi network your computer is on it’ll sync over Wi-Fi. I think you may only be able to choose one on if you want to sync to iCloud or your iTunes, so it is really a preference here if you want it in the cloud or on your computer.

Another quick note on iCloud, they give you 5gb of space for free with more space available for purchase.  I did not realize how quickly apps took up the space with iCloud and I’ve almost ran out of space, but you can choose which apps get to use iCloud’s space and you can turn that off in the Settings.

Wrap up

So how does it all end up? if you’ve got an iPhone 3GS or another phone from a previous generation and you’ll looking to upgrade to another phone here is what I recommend: Upgrade to the iPhone 4S if you’re looking to get an iPhone.

If you don’t mind being stuck with a phone that’s almost two years old for another two or so years in a contract then the iPhone 4 is a great phone for 99$ with a new contract (mind you, it’s only 8gb) but you COULD always find a used phone on eBay off contract. (or even if you’re looking to get a phone for a kid or something, the iPhone 4 has that sleek sexy look of the iPhone 4S with half the price)

Personally, I’m sticking it with my well-used iPhone 4 until the big A announces the iPhone 5 (or whatever it is!). I’m not making the upgrade because in reality even though Apple updated the processor, gave it some more battery and added Siri, the iPhone 4 is still a great phone.