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Apple iPhone 4
After months of speculation and one very high profile case of a prototype being lost in a bar, Apple today announced details of their new fourth generation iPhone, the Apple iPhone 4.
One immediately obvious feature is the new design with a flat glass front and back and a stainless steel band around the outside of the phone which doubles as a pair of antennae to give improved reception for GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth and also GSM and UMTS signals. The iPhone 4 is also much thinner than previous models at just 9.3mm thick, and Apple say that this is the thinnest smartphone available today. The iPhone 4 will be available in two colour schemes as before, black and white.
One side effect of the different size of the iPhone 4 is that the accessories will be different, especially when it comes to docking stations. Perhaps some enterprising company will make an adapter to ensure that the iPhone 4 can fit in older docks.
Another widely rumoured feature was a high density display, and the Apple iPhone 4 has a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch, which is actually better than many printers. In order to maintain compatibility with old models, Apple have simple doubled the number of pixels along each axis giving four times the pixel count overall. This gives the iPhone 4 a resolution of 960 x 640 pixels which is much higher than anything else comparable on the market, although the display size remains the same as the previous versions at 3.5". The resolution is still less than the iPad though, but Apple's choice seems to be a logical one.
One the back is a 5 megapixel camera, which was pretty much the minimum upgrade you would expect from the 3 megapixels on the 3GS. Although this doesn't sound particularly impressive, Apple have done a lot of work on the optics and electronics to offer high quality results. In fact, the previous iPhone also managed to produce excellent photographs from quite a limited resolution, so Apple fans will probably be looking forward to the results.
Not only are stills photos better, but the iPhone 4 can also record HD 720p video at 30 frames per second. Users can edit videos on the iPhone 4 itself using an optional version of iMovie (priced at less than $5 in the US). Video capture can use the LED flash as a camera light, something that some other phones rather annoyingly omit.
The Apple iPhone 4 is the first iPhone to have a front facing camera allowing video calling, using Apple's own "FaceTime" technology which is restricted to the iPhone 4 only at the moment, but it is based on open standards that Apple seem to be keen to promote and allow on other devices. Apple say that more work needs to be done with cellular carriers to make it work over 3G networks. Unusually, video calling can be made with the rear camera too. Incidentally, the FaceTime name is already in use by another technology company who may not appreciate Apple's use of it.
We have known for a while that the new version of the iPhone OS allows multitasking and a number of other improvements, and of course this is included in the iPhone 4. The interface has had to be reworked a lot for the higher resolution display though, but overall the look and feel of the new iPhone will be very familiar to existing users. Apple have renamed this version of the operating system iOS 4, which makes sense as it will also be used on the iPad as well as future iPhones. There are a number of other improvements with iOS 4 when it comes to usability and enterprise integration. Additionally, iOS 4 will be available as a free upgrade for owners of the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3, although not all features will be available.
Inside is the Apple A4 processor, as found on the iPad, which should mean that the iPhone 4 has a similar performance to its larger sibling. One other improvement is a larger battery which of course means a longer talktime, and in combination Apple say that this gives a 40% improvement which means that users can expect an impressive 7 hours of talktime and 12 days standby time. And while we're talking of talking.. the iPhone 4 also has dual microphones for improved sound quality.
Internal memory is either 16GB or 32GB, without the 64GB option we were expecting to see. As with the iPad, the new iPhone 4 uses micro SIM cards, presumably to allow more space for internal components.
As you probably would expect, the iPhone 4 supports 3.5G data with a maximum download speed of up to 7.2Mps, and uploads of up to 5.8Mbps where supported. As before, the iPhone 4 supports WiFi, but this is now one of only a very small number of devices to support the improved 802.11n standard which promises more reliable and faster connections where WLANs allow it.
One novel feature is the inclusion of a gyroscope which can accurately
detect 3D movements. Quite how something like that fits in such
a small case is a complete mystery to us. Apple indicate that this
can be used in games and possibly many other applications too.
Apple have also improved their iBooks offering, and their new iAd advertising platform will allow applications to display advertisements, so some apps will be ad supported rather than paid for. Apple say that many large advertisers have already signed up to this platform.
In the US, the 16GB iPhone 4 will cost $199 with a 2 year contract, the 32GB version will be $299 on the AT&T network. The US, UK, France, Germany and Japan will have the iPhone 4 available from June 24th onwards, with 18 more countries in July and a grand total of 88 countries having availability by the end of September.
Images courtesy of Apple Inc
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