Is the iPhone 4 Magical? You Decide.

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Is the iPhone 4 Magical? You Decide.

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Apple CEO Steve Jobs officially announced the fourth generation iPhone today at the WWDC conference as expected.  There were also a few features we didn't expect, but the prototype that Gizmodo nabbed ruined some of the surprise.  That said, there's certainly a bunch of details below that are worth looking at if you're looking to compare the new iPhone with other mobile platforms.

The Look

Jobs calls it the "thinnest smartphone on the planet," at 9.33mm thick.  That's 24% thinner than iPhone 3GS with a sturdier feel than the old 'mounded' back.  The sturdiness comes from a stainless steel rim that also functions as part of an antenna that loops around the edge of the phone.  

The display could very well be the most flattering feature of the new iPhone.  The multitouch screen has a 960 x 640 resolution; that's 326 pixels per inch.  It's also four times as many pixels as the iPhone 3GS.  Apple says the contrast ratio is four times better as well.  Looks like iPhone developers will need to start using higher quality images and rendering if they want to take advantage of the new display.

The Guts

The iPhone 4 battery is 16% larger than the previous model.  According to Apple, the longer battery-life enables:

    •    6 hours of talk over 3G
    •    7 hours of talk over 3G
    •    10 hours of Wi-Fi browsing
    •    10 hours of video
    •    40 hours of music
    •    300 hours on standby
    •    40% more talk time

Like the iPad, the iPhone 4 has an Apple A4 chip in it.  Having several hardware components in one chip allows the iPhone 4 to process things faster using less battery power.  Sub-components are also switched off when they are not being used.  

Other Widgetry

The front facing camera is exactly what you thought it was for - video calls.  Apple had a good time showing off its new Face Time app with a heart-warming commercial.  The video also showed that a video caller would be able to switch to the back-end camera to show people things.  However, this feature will only work over WiFi, at least until 2011.

While the front camera has standard VGA resolution, the back camera now includes an LED flash, and it has better light sensitivity for taking nicer photos (it remains a 5 megapixel camera, like the 3G).

A new gyroscope is built in to the iPhone 4 that adds three more axes to the 3-axis accelerometer in previous iPhones.  The 6-axis motion sensing was put to the test when Steve Jobs played a Jenga app, giving the audience a couple laughs.

Other hardware features included a secondary microphone for noise cancellation and a micro-SIM card slot.

Apps and the iOS

Apple was kind enough to shorten the name "iPhone OS" down to just "iOS" today.  It includes multitasking and all the other goodies that were announced with the SDK release in April.  Today, Apple announced the GM release of the iOS 4 SDK.

A lot of the keynote time was spent looking at apps, but the two apps that really stood out were iBooks and iMovie.  I'll be interested to see how such a little computer handles an intense task like video editing, but with simple software like iMovie, Jobs showed in a demo that it can be done - video can be shot, edited, and uploaded right on the iPhone 4.  The iBooks application will be just like the iPad version, and now the iPhone has the resolution to support it.

Release Date and Pricing

Pre-orders for the iPhone 4 will be taken starting June 15th.  The iPhone 4 will be available in the US, France, Germany, UK, and Japan starting June 24th.  In July, it will ship to 18 more countries; 24 more in August and 40 more in September.  The 16GB model will cost $199 and the 32GB phone will cost $299.

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