The iPhone is Apple’s only smartphone. Since it’s initial release in 2007 there have been four iterations of the iPhone, two of them can be considered as major releases with changes to the design.
The most recent iPhone, the iPhone 4S is the second revision of the iPhone 4. The two versions are visually exactly the same, but the 4S has a bit more processing power, a better camera, and a few additional features.
The iPhone 5 (which will actually be the sixth model) is expected to be released in October 2012.
The iPhone is driven by the iOS software that comes preloaded on every phone and requires activation via an iTunes account. iOS is updated via iTunes either over a wireless network or when directly plugged into a computer.
Third party software is able to be installed on the iPhone within the iOS, and only if approved by Apple, unless you choose to jailbreak your iPhone.
Software Score: 7/10
The iOS interface is designed to be easily navigated using one hand, all applications are available as square icons on the homescreen, and additional application icons may be accessed by swiping the screen sideways. Navigation is further improved through the use of ‘swipe gestures’ such as placing two fingers on the screen and spreading them further apart or bringing them closer together, a gesture known as ‘pinching’.
Interface Score: 9/10
Lest we forget, the iPhone is a phone at its core. With features including video calling, call waiting, call holding, call merging, caller ID, etc etc, the iPhone works well as a phone. Additional features include a proximity sensor which shuts off the touchscreen as the phone approached your face, perfectly timed music volume fading as a call comes in, voice activated dialing and voice-to-text voicemail.
Phone Score: 7/10
Batteries are not (supposed to be) user replaceable. However, if you do need to replace your battery out of warranty it is very simple to do with a good third party kit. Most people will never experience battery problems though, the battery life is pretty good until you start smashing games or the phone struggles to find a good cell signal. In our experience we have got over a week out of the battery when used just as a phone and iPod, and less than a day when used to play Angry Birds constantly.
A user replaceable battery would be a good option but unlikely to ever happen.
Battery Score: 5/10
The iPhone 4S comes with two cameras. A front facing lower resolution camera for video calls, and a 8MP rear facing camera for HD photos and videos. With an iPhone, you don’t need a compact camera anymore.
Third party applications such as Camera+ or Instagram enable you to capture and edit photos that are on par with professional photographers. Scientists are even using iPhones to capture shots of cells down a high powered microscope. The camera is good.
Camera Score: 9/10
The iPhone is able to be used to store and play high definition video and music which can be transferred onto the phone from iTunes, or downloaded directly to the iPhone over a cell or wifi network. With the introduction of iCloud in 2012, any multimedia purchased on any iDevice will instantly be also available on all iDevices on that same iCloud account, so music purchased on your iPhone, will also be available on your iMac and iPad. This great feature also woks for photographs, videos, and contacts.
Multimedia Score: 9/10
The iPhone has a built in native internet browser, Safari, and a number of third party browsers are also available if preferred.
The iPhone can access the internet over a 3G cell network or a wifi connection. Flash is not available on the iPhone as Apple have announced a preference for HTML5 on mobile devices. The lack of Flash has been criticised for preventing a number of websites displaying correctly.
The iPhone uses its built in GPS abilities to know your location, so that it can effectively serve you localised results and geolocate your photographs etc.
The Safari, and other browsers, support automatic zoom to the webpage content by double tapping the screen with a finger. Very cool.
Internet Score: 10/10
Overall, the iPhone is an exceptional smartphone and is highly recommended.