iPhone 4: Dated, Dusty, or Desired?

How the mighty have fallen. A little more than five years ago, the smartphone world was ruled by BBM and QWERTY keyboards. Today, the current people’s champion is the iPhone. Apple has sold over 1 billion iPhones to date and the iPhone 4 contributed a lot to those huge sales figures.

After all, the iPhone 4 was manufactured by Apple almost 4 years, the longest of any iPhone ever produced. But with about 11 iPhone models released since the 4, a lot has changed in the smartphone game.

So naturally you should wonder: is the iPhone 4 still good? If you’re looking to get a smartphone, can you still use this model?

More than just a where-are-they-now look at the device, here is everything you need to know about actually using this device today.

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What Makes The iPhone 4 Still A Good Phone?

There are plenty of people out there who are still using an iPhone 4. So if you’re wondering if you can still use this smartphone in general, the answer is a definite yes.

That being said, there are some limits as to what you’ll be able to do with it. First, we’ll go over what you can actually do with the 4.

To Apple’s credit, the design is relevant and, because of the quality invested in the device, a large portion of these phones continue to be in good working order.

Staying Connected

The iPhone 4 can offer you the basics: email, web browsing, texting, calling, and FaceTime. This might not seem much better than what you can do with a flip phone. However, the experience with this model is hugely improved thanks to its beautiful, intuitive touch-screen.

This is a big part of why people go with Apple— their devices are made with premium materials. As a result, their smartphones feel great in your hands and come equipped with easy-to-use software.

If you’re currently texting on a keyboard with actual buttons, upgrading to the iPhone 4 will be pretty huge.

Taking and Sharing Photos

While the photo quality won’t blow you away, the iPhone 4 has a 5 megapixel back camera and a .3 megapixel front (selfie) camera. It can shoot HD video at 720p and has a 5x digital zoom with LED flash.

You’ll see this model struggle with low light shots, but it’s still a fine option for those who want the ability to take photos with their phones. Sometimes having a camera attached to the phone in your pocket is better than no camera at all. Having all your photos on your phone means that you’ll be able to easily share them over email, text, or upload them on social media.

Downloading and Using Simple Apps

Apple’s App Store has a huge number of apps and the iPhone 4 might be the perfect way to introduce yourself to the basics.

Using an online banking app or your city’s transit app will really open up your world. You don’t need a $1,000 iPhone to do this— the iPhone 4 should work just fine.

The Limits of Using an iPhone 4

No More iOS Updates

With the launch of iOS 8 in 2014, the iPhone 4 no longer supported the iOS latest updates. Most of the apps out there today are tailored to iOS 8 and above, which means that this model will start experiencing some hiccups and crashes while using more intensive applications.

But in all honesty, unless you’re an early-adopter who cringes every time your latest app download doesn’t render properly, this isn’t the end of the world.

Speed (Or Lack There Of)

Aside from the fact that the iPhone 4 is only capable of 3G network speeds, its software may be slower than newer models. This model is powered by Apple’s A4 chip, which will struggle to power apps that use anything but simple graphics.

Limited Features

The 4 misses out on certain features that are only available on newer models.

Just to name a few of the things that aren’t available on the iPhone 4: Siri, 3D maps and turn-by-turn navigation, AirDrop, AirPlay mirroring, live camera filters, panorama mode, and so on.

Who Is The iPhone 4 Still Good For?

Anyone who re-sells an iPhone 4 should feel comfortable knowing that their phone is going to a good home; there are tons of people for whom this model is ideal.

iPhone 4 Still Good

For starters, take someone who wants their first dip into the smartphone game. These days, most seniors know that an app like FaceTime can help them stay connected to loved ones. Its bright and intuitive interface makes the iPhone 4 still good as a gift for your parents or grandparents. Load it up with music, podcasts, and apps that you think they might like for extra brownie points.

There is also the 10 year old that is begging for a phone because “all my friends have one”. Because there is no way you are going to buy a brand new iPhone for someone that isn’t even out of 5th grade, the iPhone 4 is still useful as a starter phone.

At the iPhone 4’s price point, its inevitable grisly demise at the hands of your child won’t feel like such a tragedy.

Other bargain hunters are out there: newcomers to Canada, students on a budget, habitual phone losers, frequent travelers, and those who need an in-between phone after a good night out.

The Verdict

Think about it this way: the iPhone is nothing like the old phones you used to have. Even today, it will blow your Motorola RAZR circa 2005 right out of the water.

Forget the days when old electronics ended up in a drawer to live the rest of their days. We feel like the iPhone 4 is still good as an introduction to the iPhone for people who want something to handle basic tasks. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles but it can handle basic texting, calls, and social media updates without much problem.

If you’re looking for a budget phone, but aren’t quite sure that the iPhone 4 is the best fit for you, check out our articles on the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, and iPhone 6!

A thing to note: even though we think that the iPhone 4 is still good, Orchard stopped buying and selling it a short while ago. As new phones come out, we have to drop older models from our line up to avoid carrying too much inventory.

If you’re looking to buy an iPhone from us, we recommend checking out our selection of iPhone 4S.

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  • Robert 5 March, 2016   Reply →

    Sadly this is Apples overall market strategy. Just as it has been with their laptops and desktops, Apple loves the idea of NOT letting you upgrade their hardware or devices just as you could do with a PC or Wndows based device. Why? So they can quickly make all their hardware obsolete forcing you to buy a completely new device rather than an inexpensive upgrade. Sure I still use an iPhone but I refuse to ever buy their computers for their diabolical and arrogant approach to force you into buying new hardware WAY before you should ever have to.

  • Michael 23 July, 2017   Reply →

    A positive that was not mentioned in the article was the size of the phone was designed in mind as perfect for the average human hand. Its a great smartphone for those who don’t want the newer phablet type smartphones out there now that maybe too large for some people. The 4 in a sense is more discreet (even though thicker than newer models).

    • Bianca @ Orchard 24 July, 2017   Reply →

      You know, that’s a fair point. Later models like the iPhone 6 have software tricks built in to help with reachability, but really nothing beats a phone that is just the right size from the beginning. The iPhone 4 and 4S are just very grip-able phones that feel sturdy in your hand. I like what Elizabeth Stinson says about the iPhone 6 in this Wired piece: “The specs made it a better phone [than the iPhone 4s], but it felt a little bit wrong, as though you were holding a slick $650 bar of soap.” (https://www.wired.com/2016/03/iphone-se-smaller-phone/)

  • Ryan Sears 30 July, 2017   Reply →

    My 4 won’t connect to the internet, is so slow most pf my apps don’t work so mine is completey useless.

    • Gromit 31 March, 2018   Reply →

      Reformat the hard drive.

      • Kela 31 January, 2019   Reply →

        How do you do that? I have an iPhone 4 that I converted from at&t to straight talk and I ended up having to get another phone because the one I have won’t do a whole lot and runs slow because the person I got it from downloaded a bunch of apps and stuff and would look at “adult” stuff on it and I need to know how to make it work again but I also don’t want to lose the pictures I have in it and would like to use it but I want it to run better but the fact it’s at&t and not Verizon makes a huge difference to because there aren’t any at&t towers around where I am so I don’t know if I will ever be able to use it and it work right. But if you can help that would be so awesome lol because I dropped my android several times and now the screen on it is broke and I can’t afford to buy another one right now. Anyways thanks!! ☺️☺️

        • RobYGK 18 April, 2019   Reply →

          If you install iTunes on a computer, you can plug the iPhone into it, transfer anything you want to keep, ie music and photos, then restore the phone using iTunes. You can update the iPhone 4 to the latest iOS version that it will run, and erase all of the unwanted apps and start fresh,

          • Emily 25 February, 2020  

            Em… i have a trashy samsung SO thanks!!

  • Mike 14 October, 2017   Reply →

    I still use my iphone 4 to this day. I can still do all the basics and use some apps (although they’re dropping like flies). It really irks me when app developers won’t allow you to retain the older version of software and demand going to ios 8 or higher. Puzzle and Dragons has been out for years and still supports phones with only ios 6! Just like on pc, a person should still be able to use an older version of the app software on their device!

  • JLNelson 4 November, 2017   Reply →

    The iPhone 4 is perfect for those of us that do not live on our phones. We want to talk, text, check email, weather and occasionally facebook. Many of us still prefer our desktops and laptops for real computer time. I am sad that now I can no longer get any apps for my iPhone4 since Apple redid their app store. I used to be able to go on iTunes and ‘purchase” or get a free app with my Windows 10 PC. Once I had purchased it with my Apple ID through my PC I could use then pull it up on my phone APP and they would offer me the version for my iPhone 4. No longer… They cut off all support for that.

  • AFaber 4 January, 2018   Reply →

    I have used an Iphone4 for the past two years, a gift from my grandson whom had upgraded himself to the higher versions. He recently said that actually there was no need to do so but he was caught up in the hype.
    Yes I am a senior who uses this devise basically for calling and texting and pictures etc. with no data it keeps the cost down. Data is for my home computer. I like it very much and it does the job for my lifestyle.
    Thank you for all your advise on this Iphone, much appreciated. It’s nice to know I can keep it for a while yet.

  • Nuisance 8 January, 2018   Reply →

    Poor Apple users, I’m still using my Samsung Galaxy S2 (bought in 2011). Running on a custom 4.4 Kitkat rom. I’m still able to download and run 99% of the apps available on the Play store. Everything works just like day 1. I’ve system-wide ad-blocking host file which saves me computing power thus battery life. I get over 1 day of use with 3h+ screen on time.

    Hate the big phablets everyone has nowadays. Samsung should remake it with updated specs while retaining the form factor.

  • Xaver Au 2 February, 2018   Reply →

    Just wonder is it possible to use iphone 4 to connect and run an dji drone like Mavic Air today. Because I got the iphone 4 lying around and want to use it as a remote linked to the dji.

    • Orchard 4 February, 2018   Reply →

      As of iOS 8, you can get any of the updates on iOS apps for the iPhone 4. For that reason, I wouldn’t count on being able to use your old 4 to sync to any DJI products. That being said, it’s my understanding that the Mavic Air comes with a remote, so you might not need a phone at all!

    • Ernie Shown 9 July, 2020   Reply →

      gotta have the DJI app, and it only runs on newer devices

  • Jared 13 June, 2018   Reply →

    Thanks for the article! In 2018 just bought a used iPhone 4 off ebay. So far so good. I am going with the 4 cause I am trying to stop my youtube addiction. So again so far so good, phone will stream music but video streams slow, so that keeps me off youtube somewhat…. Using an unlocked iPhone with cricket wireless. $30 a month.

  • Kia 3 October, 2018   Reply →

    I am currently using an iPhone 6s and 7. I have no qualms, although I would want to upgrade to a plus. My brother just got an iPhone 4 and he is having a difficult time setting it up. I hope he visits me this weekend so I could show him this article, plus help him with his concerns.

  • Nj 15 November, 2018   Reply →

    I have an IPhone 5c, I have thought about replacing it but when I look at the $1,000 price tags for an X I just can’t justify it. My 5c cost me $50 back in the day when phones didn’t cost you an arm and a leg.

  • Marvin 24 January, 2019   Reply →

    My I-Phone4s keeps rebooting over and over can’t shut off

    • Stanley 3 July, 2020   Reply →

      What’s the difference between the two iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s what be best one to buy for internet browseing I’m not to bothered about the applications and soical media

  • Arerral 7 June, 2019   Reply →

    The problem with continuing to use old hardware is they no longer receive security updates. The iPhone 4 hasn’t received a security update in five years.

    Contrary to popular belief, Apple patches security vulnerabilities all the time.

  • walkerny 21 September, 2019   Reply →

    I have an I4s. With an Otter case and a screen protective film, I’ve never had an issue. Battery life still good. For what I need, email, phone, camera, text, it is still overkill. It is slow on web searches, who cares. It can wait till I get to work or home. In reality, if I can make it last 4 years until early retirement, I’m getting the DUMBEST phone I can find and paying for calls & texts only. This is just another parasite we have let corporations introduce into our lives to keep us poor. Resist!

  • Terry Thompson 23 February, 2020   Reply →

    I have an iPhone 4 that I want to be able to use with my grandkids. I connected it to iTunes and it tried to came back to life until the very end when I got the on screen message that it could not be updated. It went without being powered on for the years between transferring to iPhone 6 and now. Is there anything that I can do to bring it back to life to use for pictures with my little ones?

    • Dylan @ Orchard 25 February, 2020   Reply →

      Hi Terry, thanks for reaching out. Sorry to hear that you’re having difficulties with your iPhone 4. It’s hard to troubleshoot this issue without physically examining the device — I’d recommend taking it into your local cell phone repair shop to see what they can do for you.

  • Fred 28 April, 2021   Reply →

    My iPhone 4 can’t .. Track & Trace .. update too low?

  • Stevo 5 June, 2021   Reply →

    I maybe getting a iphone 4 or 4s kid but I read this and I got a lot of nice thinks about it thanks. I have a moto G 3rd ten and I got naked out of the phone so ya. The 4 was my step Dads but he has a 6s now

  • Stevo 5 June, 2021   Reply →

    Spelling mistakes
    – 4 or 4s kid but= and
    -3rd ten= 3rd gen
    -naked out= kicked out
    Sorry for the spelling auto correct

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