The iPhone 4 is Apple's "biggest leap since the original iPhone," at least according to Steven P. Jobs speaking at the WWDC 2010 keynote. Indeed, in the three years since Apple first introduced the iPhone, the device has come quite far. At the same time, the basic concepts behind the iPhone have remained very consistent over the years. Despite regular modifications to the OS and yearly hardware upgrades, the iPhone 4 is very much a more modern, more capable version of that original device that made such a splash in the industry back in 2007.
We're not living with our heads in the sand: if you have come to hate the iPhone, walled gardens for developers, and everything Apple stands for, you will likely hate the iPhone 4, and there's nothing anyone can say to change your mind. Luckily for you, Apple is no longer competing against the saddest of the sad: there are now plenty of solid phones from other manufacturers that have multitouch screens, app stores of their own, great cameras, and much more extensible OSs. If you are curious about Apple's latest offering, however, read on. The iPhone 4 is not without its flaws—some of them more serious than others—but the device remains a really cool evolution in Apple's lineup.
(We have already reviewed the majority of the OS, now called iOS 4, in a separate review. If you're looking to read about our impressions of the features in iOS 4, go read that one first and come back. This review is focused on the hardware of the new iPhone and on specific parts of iOS 4 that are limited to the iPhone 4.)
What you get in your grubby little hands
The iPhone 4 comes with the same accessories that iPhones have come with since the iPhone 3G launched in 2008 (sans microfiber cloth): a wall plug, a syncing cable, and a set of Apple earbuds with a built-in mic. The device does not come with a dock—that costs extra, to the tune of $30—but a dock isn't necessary in order to use it with a computer. (I prefer using a dock at my desk, however, so I always find myself forking over the dock tax.)
The phone itself, as you likely already know, has a completely new design compared to previous generations of iPhones. Gone is the curved back of the iPhone 3GS and 3G, and the plastic has given way to glass. The iPhone 4 is flat from top to bottom, making it considerably thinner than its predecessor: 0.37 inches thick versus the 0.48 of the 3GS/3G. Otherwise, it's basically the same overall shape: 4.5 inches tall (same as previous iPhones) and 2.31 inches wide (slightly thinner).