First iPhone 4 Arrivals Are Benchmarked and Dissected

Apple gave some iPhone 4 buyers an early Christmas by delivering the phone two days early.

The deal was only for those who pre-ordered directly from the company and requested the phone be shipped to their home or place of business, rather than picking it up in an Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) or AT&T (NYSE: T) store.

Almost immediately, a handful of bloggers had tested and benchmarked the device and disassembled it to inspect the internal components.

iFixIt, the online repairs site that has emerged as a popular source for iPhone leaks, was the first to disassemble the device in a tear-down. Apple was rather coy on the internals of the phone, but iFixIt revealed a few answers.

For starters, the iPhone has the same A4 processor as the iPad, a custom ARM design that's considerably faster than the older ARM processors used in previous iPhones.

The tear-down also revealed that the phone has 512MB of memory, double the 256MB in the iPhone 3GS and four times the iPhone 3G, which has 128MB. This should make multitasking, a feature of the new iOS 4 operating system, much smoother.

iFixIt did not get into costs. That will likely come from iSuppli, the supply chain market researcher that does its own tear-downs and determines the cost of parts based on its knowledge of the component market.

Others who got their phones did not disassemble them, but they did put them through some paces. Wall Street Journal tech guru Walter Mossberg gave the device an enthusiastic review, praising its design and the FaceTime video-conferencing ability, but calling network performance "a mixed bag" due to the iPhone's downsides and limitations -- namely, AT&T, its exclusive U.S. carrier.

He said the phone "handled sometimes better and, unfortunately, sometimes worse than its predecessor." One common problem was the phone losing service and unable to connect to the AT&T network.

Engadget also praised the iPhone's elegant design. "Overall, the iPhone 4 outclasses pretty much every smartphone on the market in terms of industrial design," the review said.

It also praised the improved 5 megapixel camera and the multitasking support. Like Mossberg, Engadget noted far fewer dropped calls than with the 3GS, a testament perhaps to the stainless steel band that wraps around the phone and acts as an antenna.

There is some issue about the phone's new glass front and back. The Corning-created plastic was compared to sapphire crystal by Jony Ive, Apple's chief of design, and said to be 30 times stronger than plastic. Mossberg said he noted no scratches or dents despite dropping the phone a few times (deliberately), though Engadget showed that it can be scratched.

Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

No White iPhone

Users have noted that the phone with the white plastic body has been unavailable for pre-order. Apple has said little. The company issued a new statement that reads:

"White models of Apple's new iPhone 4 have proven more challenging to manufacture than expected, and as a result they will not be available until the second half of July. The availability of the more popular iPhone 4 black models is not affected."

Why white plastic would be more challenging to manufacture than black is unclear. It could be an issue in the coloring of the plastic. Ars Technica notes that in the past, the white plastic MacBook has had problems with discoloration, and the iPhone problem could be related to that.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


iPhone, Apple, smartphone, 3G, tear-down