Reviewing the iPhone 4 Reviews: Better Than the Last Upgrade

Unlike previous upgrades, praise for this release is nearly unequivocal

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Speculation, breathless excitement, announcement, pre-orders, reviews. Repeat.

Like every Apple product before it, the long saga that is the iPhone 4 release is coming to an end as fans (and enemies) finally get the first detailed iPhone 4 reviews. The publications that Apple deigned to provide with an early release (what about us Apple?) have posted videos, inspections, and reflections. All are glowing, most universally so. But how do this year's reviews compare to last year's takes on the iPhone 3GS release? They're more positive this time around, with many saying there's a better case for getting an upgrade. Here's a comparison of what four reviewers said this year and last.


iPhone 3GS: Paradoxically, Joshua Topolsky loved last year's release, but felt robbed nevertheless:

So while it's tough to argue with the package Apple has put together (a stellar device with just enough new to make it nearlyIon (and it's possible we're a little numb to OS 3.0 since we've played with the beta for a while now), but the additions of video recording, a compass, and a speed bump just don't seem that compelling to us. perfect), we couldn't help feeling a bit let down by the 3GS. Maybe we've been spoiled by devices like the Pre and

iPhone 4: This year, his love was unfettered. Apple defended its title as reigning phone champion:

We won't argue that a lot of this is a matter of taste -- some people will just prefer the way Android or Symbian works to the iPhone, and others will be on the lookout for a hardware keyboard or a particular asset that the iPhone 4 lacks -- but in terms of the total picture, it's tough to deny that Apple has moved one step past the competition with this phone. Of course, in the hyper-accelerated smartphone market where the Next Big Thing seems to always be just around the corner, it's anyone's guess how long they keep that edge.

The New York Times

iPhone 3GS: David Pogue complained last year that while his heart loved the iPhone, his brain wanted more functionality. He got that with the 3GS: "Apple is finally throwing your head a crumb. After two years, the iPhone's designers have finally gotten over whatever weird objections they had to providing those basic functions." Last year's upgrade wasn't just an improvement, it was a time-warping step forward:

All of these changes make it much harder to resist the iPhone on intellectual, feature-counting grounds. The new iPhone doesn't just catch up to its rivals -- it vaults a year ahead of them.

iPhone 4: Haters gonna hate, Pogue says (in a few more words). Apple had a lot of hype to deal with, but in true Apple fashion they seemed to pull it off:

Despite the strong initial, positive reaction, this must still be a nerve-racking time to be Apple; the iPhone is no longer the only worthy contender. Phones running Google's Android software are gaining rave reviews and packing in features that iPhone owners can only envy. The Android app store is ballooning, multiple phone makers are competing, and Google updates the software several times a year. Apple releases only one new model a year, so the new iPhone had better be pretty amazing to compete

It is.

USA Today

iPhone 3GS: Last year's release kept loyalists happy, Edward C. Baig wrote at the time, but it might not be worthwhile for everyone:

Not everyone should feel the need to splurge on the latest phone, however, especially if you have to pay full price -- the 3.0 software adds a lot of rich features by itself. But you'll appreciate the extra storage on the 32-gigabyte 3G S, and you'll have to upgrade if you want the video camera, voice controls and a new screen reader that describes what's on the device for those who are visually impaired.

iPhone 4: This time around, everyone should be excited: "Cutting through the hype, Apple has given longtime diehards, and first-time iPhone owners, plenty to cheer about."

Wall Street Journal

iPhone 3GS: Kingmaker Walt Mossberg was careful to note the iPhone's faults last year:

Before I detail the new features and how they worked in my tests, let me state up-front what the new iPhone and its new operating system don't deliver. The iPhone still lacks a physical keyboard. It still can't run more than one third-party app at a time, as the Pre does. Its otherwise excellent Web browser still can't play videos created in Adobe's Flash software, which is widely used on the Web. And it still isn't available on any U.S. carrier besides AT&T.

All told, he wrote, the 3GS was a better product, but an upgrade to the then-new operating system could be enough for most users.

iPhone 4: This year's release still has its problems, the biggest of which is AT&T's overwhelmed network, Mossberg writes. But the product itself is yet another hit: "I'd say that Apple has built a beautiful smartphone that works well, adds impressive new features and is still, overall, the best device in its class."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.