Apple launches the iPhone 4 and iOS 4

Over a 100 new features…

IT’S BEEN A LONG time coming, but Steve Jobs has announced the fourth generation iPhone at the WWDC 2010. Despite numerous leaks ahead of the launch, there seem to be very little that stopped Apple fans from cheering and clapping when the new handset was unveiled.

Steve Jobs claimed it was the thinnest smartphone on the planet and at 9.3mm thick it’s 24 percent thinner than the iPhone 3GS. The metal band around the edge of the iPhone 4 is made out of stainless steel and the reason for the two splits is that the right part is used as an antenna for GSM and 3G, while the smaller half is the antenna for the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

As expected, Apple added a much higher resolution screen to the iPhone 4 at 326 pixels per inch. As predicted, the new screen features 960×640 pixel resolution which is so far the highest we’ve seen on a smartphone. Apple calls this new display a “Retina Display” which is meant to offer a pixel density so high that it’s beyond what your retina can see. As such it’s meant to result in much higher quality text and pictures due to no visible aliasing. The display measures 3.5-inches and it uses IPS technology, just like Apple’s desktop PCs and it has an 800:1 contrast ratio which is meant to be four times higher than the previous iPhones.

Again, as predicted, the iPhone 4 features the same Apple A4 ARM processors as the iPad. On top of that we got the bigger battery, although this was spied a while back when Gizmodo tore the unit they got hold of apart. Steve Jobs claimed that the new hardware and battery combination increases the battery life. As such you’re looking at 7h talk time on 3G and 300h of standby power. If you want to browse the web, then you should expect to get about 6h worth of 3G browsing or 10h of Wi-Fi browsing. As for media playback, expect 10h of video or 40h of music playback.

Other new features include 802.11n Wi-Fi support, dual microphones for noise suppression, quad band HSDPA/HSUPA with speeds of 7.2Mbit down and 5.8Mbit up and of course a micro SIM, just like the iPad. Apple has also added a new 3-axis gyro and a new accelerometer that is meant to increase the sensitivity of the motion sensor of the iPhone 4.

The camera, well, it’s a 5Megapixel camera with LED flash and tap to focus. Apple claims to have kept the sensor the same size as the 3Megapixel sensor in the older iPhone 3GS. The sensor is the latest generation of the backside illuminated kind which is meant to improve the quality of the pictures taken. You also get 5x digital zoom thrown in for good measure.

The big news with regards to the camera is instead the fact that Apple has added support for 720p video recording at 30fps. This is a huge step forward and it’s a feature that is so far only found on high-end smartphones. Apple also created iMovie for iPhone which allows you to edit your videos on the phone itself. We can’t see that many people doing any serious kind of video editing on their phone though, as it’s likely to not only be slightly fiddly, but the time it takes to render out the final files – which can be done in 360, 540 and 720p – before you upload it to wherever you want people to see it.

There’s of course a front facing camera as well, so you can make video calls. Again, how many people actually use this feature on their current 3G phone? Apple calls this “new” feature FaceTime and we can’t imagine anyone getting the iPhone 4 just to get this one, mostly useless feature, right? Oddly enough, FaceTime will only work over Wi-Fi, at least for the remainder of this year. We can’t quite figure out why Apple has imposed this limitation, especially as the iPhone 4 supports higher upload speeds than most smartphones.

For some reason Apple decided to rename the OS as well, to iOS 4. This does sort of make sense, since the OS is also found on the iPad and iPod Touch. The new OS does of course support multitasking, something Apple already announced that it was going to implement. As it happens, IOS is a Cisco trademark, as it’s what Cisco calls its router OS. As it happens, Apple has already signed a deal with Cisco to license the iOS trademark for use with the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

That takes us to the final and most anticipated feature, the colour options. Well, ok, maybe not, but the iPhone 4 will be available in black or white with the 16GB version being priced at $199 with the 32GB version going for $299 on AT&T. Upgraders can get their hands on the new iPhone 4 six months ahead of the end of their contract as long as the contract expires this year. The iPhone 4 will go on sale on the 24th of June and at the same time the 8GB 3GS will drop to $99. The first countries to get their hands on the iPhone 4 will be the US, France, Germany, the UK and Japan with 18 more countries getting it in July.

Overall we can’t say we’re overwhelmed with what Apple announced, but the new display should at least put Apple’s new iPhone ahead of the competition in terms of screen resolution. The improved camera is at best on par with the competition and as far as the rest of the features goes, well, nothing much ahead of anyone here. So there you have it, the iPhone 4 has finally been announced, but does it live up to all the hype and leaks?S|A

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