5 Things iPhone 4 Still Lacks - InformationWeek

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6/8/2010
09:30 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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5 Things iPhone 4 Still Lacks

The new Apple iPhone 4 earns passing marks on most fronts, but Apple still left out some key innovations. Here are five awesome technologies that iPhone 4 should have on board, but doesn't.

The new Apple iPhone 4 earns passing marks on most fronts, but Apple still left out some key innovations. Here are five awesome technologies that iPhone 4 should have on board, but doesn't.Faster 3G

The iPhone 4 comes with quad-band GSM/EDGE and quad-band HSDPA/HSUPA 3G. It can download at a theoretical maximum of 7.2Mbps and upload at a theoretical max of 5.8Mbps. What about HSPA+? I realize AT&T is enriching its 3G network slowly, and these faster 3G speeds aren't necessarily available immediately, but Apple had a chance to take the 3G lead here and have one of the first HSPA/HSPA+ 14.4Mbps devices. It didn't. That strikes me as odd.

(That it has 5.8Mbps HSUPA is a really nice upgrade, though, as photos and videos will transfer from the iPhone to the network much faster.)

According to AT&T, its entire network has already been updated to 7.2Mbps, and the 14.4Mbps HSPA+ upgrade is on track for roll-out by December. AT&T said it will cover 250 million people with 14.4Mbps HSPA+ by the end of 2010. That's certainly early enough into the contracts for many iPhone 4 owners that it would have been a nice inclusion with the new device. Oh well.

Bluetooth 3.0+HS

The iPhone 4 comes with Bluetooth 2.1+EDR. That's the same Bluetooth it has had forever. Why not upgrade to Bluetooth 3.0+HS? The Bluetooth 3.0+HS spec has been approved since 2009, and chip makers have had silicon available since 2009.

The 3.0+HS spec's largest feature is vastly increased data speeds. In devices that have both Bluetooth 3.0+HS and Wi-Fi on board, the new spec will pair the devices via Bluetooth, and then transfer data wirelessly via Wi-Fi at a rate of up to 24Mbps. This will allow end users to transfer large amounts of data between devices quickly without the need for cables. The new specification also has enhanced power control features to reduce battery drain.

The high-speed data transfer and power savings could have been amazing stand-apart features. This could have been another real leap forward for Apple. Instead, it stuck with older technology. (It strikes me that developers, in particular, would have loved to have this feature available.)

HDMI Out

The iPhone 4 can record 720p HD video at 30 frames per second. It would appear to be the perfect vehicle for capturing and then sharing HD video on an HDTV. What an odd omission. This is another blown opportunity that Apple could have used to really impress with the iPhone 4. Instead, those wishing to share video will have to use Apple's proprietary connector with an expensive accessory cable to share video signals with HDTVs. That, or upload the content to another device/service, first. Bad form.

64GB of Storage

The iPhone 4 comes with either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage. Don't get me wrong, 32GB of storage is still very generous, and more than what most other phones come with. I still think it would have been great for the iPhone 4 to ramp up to 64GB of storage. Here's why.

The iPhone 4 records HD video. That stuff eats up storage like you wouldn't believe. And guess what? The 5-megapixel camera will also chew up storage with each image captured, too. Users who are more prone to take pix and shoot video will be forced to prune down the music and/or movies and/or TV shows they might otherwise store on the iPhone 4 in order to leave sufficient room for what they capture.

Also, since the display supports such a high resolution, that means high-def videos from the iTunes Store will also play back on the iPhone 4. High-def movies often creep over the 3GB mark.

(Slightly) Bigger Display

The original iPhone had a 3.5-inch display. So did the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, and now the iPhone 4. Many of the higher-end Android devices are shipping with 3.7- to 4.3-inch displays. Granted, devices with 4.3-inch displays feel like a cookie sheet in your pocket, but it would have been nice if Apple had bumped up the size of the iPhone's display even a teensy amount. Still, the new display does look stunning with its 326 pixels per inch.

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