Advantages & Disadvantages of the iPhone

by Valerie Liles

Going head-to-head with other cell phones, Apple's iPhone 4 has a list of key features that meet, exceed or fall short of users' needs. Owning an iPhone also tethers you to Apple's support partners, which you use to move apps onto your phone. The advantages and disadvantages of owning an iPhone come down to design, quality, support and cost. Before you can make a decision, you need to know what you are really getting and whether you really want what you are paying for.

Key Features Upside

Holding the 4.5-inch by 2.31-inch iPhone 4, you will notice the fingerprint and scratch-resistant, high-resolution 3.5-inch diagonal multi-touch screen with a 960 by 640 pixel resolution at 326 ppi. The phone has an 800:1 contrast ratio, which is typical for high-end cell phones. The 8-megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash has a tap-to-focus feature, video recording and photo and video geotagging. With Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n capability, you can stay connected through thousands of available hot-spots. The iPhone offers 8, 16, 32 and 64GB capacity options.

Key Features Downside

Going up against the competitors, the iPhone 4 falls short on just a few key features. You can't use your iPhone as a USB drive without a few tweaks, which is a standard feature on the BlackBerry and Android phone. Unless you want to use iTunes gift cards, you have to have some form of credit or debit card connected to your Apple and iTunes account to download apps and multimedia content. As far as other features go, the iPhone does not have a shutter key for the camera. It also doesn't have a memory card slot, stereo speakers or smart dialing.

Battery Life

Talk time on the iPhone 4 is up to 7 hours on 3G, quite an improvement over the iPhone 3GS at 5 hours. Standby time is still about 300 hours on both models. Audio playback on the iPhone 4 is up to 40 hours. When you compare the iPhone 4 to the Samsung 19000 Galaxy S for instance, talk time on the Galaxy is up to 6.5 hours on 3G with stand-by time up to 576 hours. Not much difference in talk time, but a considerable difference in stand-by time. The disadvantage to owning an iPhone is that certain key features such as battery life may be lacking when compared to the competition.

Wireless Carriers

According to the United States Apple support site, the three main iPhone carriers are AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. However, the iPhone is sold and supported by 13 additional local carriers making it fairly easy to find someone that can help you figure out some of the more confusing features. You can also purchase and activate your iPhone through Apple, but you have to designate a wireless carrier in your area which essentially "locks" the phone to that carrier.


One disadvantage to owning an iPhone is that if you have a problem with your phone and it seems to be hardware related, Apple policy requires that you visit an Apple store or mail your iPhone directly to Apple for repair or replacement. This leaves you without a phone. Apple will overnight you a short-term loaner for a fee. If the problem is software related, you always have access to online and over-the-phone support.

About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Valerie Liles has been writing about landscape and garden design since 1980. As a registered respiratory therapist, she also has experience in family health, nutrition and pediatric and adult asthma managment. Liles holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University and a Master of Science in technical communication from the University of Colorado.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images