Steve Jobs took the stage in San Francisco this morning to announce the long-rumoured iPhone 4. It’s a fantastic upgrade to the iPhone lineup, incorporating a brand new design, and a range of new features. We also saw another demonstration of the iPhone OS 4 (now iOS4) operating system, highlighting the additions we’ve covered previously on iPhone.AppStorm.
In this article, we’ll be exploring exactly what you can expect to see in the brand new iPhone 4, including a stunning new design, FaceTime video calling, the gorgeous “Retina Display”, and HD video recording. Intrigued? Read on.
Completely Redesigned Hardware
There wasn’t much to note in terms of the hardware difference between the iPhone 3G and 3GS, so today’s brand new hardware design is obviously the most striking change in the new model. I was always a big fan of the aluminium design, and am pleased to see it make a reappearance.
The new enclosure consists of an aluminium border surrounding the iPhone case, and a glass front and back. It’s more or less identical to the photos released by Gizmodo in April, though looks far more appealing in Apple’s high-key press images.
The metallic frame surrounding the iPhone actually functions as the phone’s antenna – something fairly innovative in mobile phone design. Inside the phone, you’ll find the same A4 chip as included in the iPad. This means that performance should be lighting fast, and allows for some of the impressive new features seen below.
This thing is thin. Touted as the thinnest smartphone available on the market, the specs are as follows:
- Height: 4.5 inches (115.2 mm)
- Width: 2.31 inches (58.6 mm)
- Depth: 0.37 inch (9.3 mm)
- Weight: 4.8 ounces (137 grams)
iPhone 4 is also the first phone with a built-in three-axis gyroscope. This leads to vastly improved motion gestures and far greater precision for playing games. I can’t wait to see what developers do with this.
Last, but not least, the phone now has two microphones to help suppress background noise when making a call.
Improved Camera & HD Video
The iPhone’s camera has received a welcome upgrade, now with an in-built LED flash, a bump up to 5 megapixels, and the ability to record high definition video (720p at 30fps). This is a major addition, and not something to be taken lightly. It allows the iPhone to compete with a completely different category of other devices.
Low light photography is also made easier with the addition of an advanced backside illumination sensor, delivering great-looking video in both bright and low-light settings.
Apple also announced iMovie for iPhone, a stripped-down version of their desktop video editing software for making the most of your high resolution footage. This will be a seperate purchase through the App Store, and is priced at $4.99.
FaceTime Video Calling
Video calling has long been the territory of science fiction, but today makes the move towards reality – albeit in a slightly limited fashion. FaceTime is Apple’s name for their new video calling application, making the most of the forward facing camera in the new iPhone 4.
You can flip between either of the iPhone’s cameras, and show the person at the end of the line what you’re seeing, or what you look like. Calling also works in portrait or landscape.
It looks stunning, but comes with a number of limitations. You’re only able to use the service over Wi-Fi (Apple are working with carriers to bring it to 3G next year), and it works solely between two iPhone 4 devices. This is something of a shame, as it would have been great to see one-way video calling compatibility with older iPhone hardware.
Incredible “Retina” Display
The new hardware sports a brand new “Retina Display“, with a remarkably high resolution. The actual screen size is the same size as the 3GS, though the resolution is 940×640. It looks stunning on screen, but I imagine that you need to experience it first-hand to really appreciate the improvement over the previous design.
Older iPhone applications are simply scaled up to this new resolution, and should appear exactly the same as they do on older hardware. If they use standard iPhone UI controls, these will be displayed as the new “retina resolution”.
The glass used in front of this display is hardened to a greater degree than that found in the 3GS, and also features an oil-resistant coating that helps keep the screen clean (I’m really looking forward to trying this out).
Improved Battery Life
Battery life is always an issue on a mobile device, and it’s a big challenge for companies such as Apple. They’re taking another step in the right direction with the iPhone 4, using a MicroSIM to allow more room for the battery, meaning that it lasts longer than ever.
You can get up to 7 hours of talk time on 3G (14 hours on 2G), 300 hours of standby time, 6 hours of 3G internet use, and up to 10 hours of Wi-Fi internet use.
Is media your thing? You’ll be able to keep going for 10 hours of video, or up to 40 hours of audio. To say that this is impressive would be an understatement!
Apple altered the name of their iPhone OS to “iOS” today, something far more appropriate considering the range of devices the operating system is used on. Is this trampling another of Cisco’s trademarks? Time will tell…
The new operating comes with a huge range of new features – too many to go into detail in this post. Fortunately we’ve covered these extensively in the past. I’d recommend reading 7 Features to Get Excited About in iPhone OS 4 for the highlights of what to expect.
Although the iPhone has supported tethering for a long time, AT&T have only now started enabling it for their customers in the USA. You can take a look at their recent pricing announcement to decide whether the extra money is worthwhile. There are a few other options available to you as well, a couple of which we highlighted in a recent article.
This didn’t make up part of the keynote, but we assume that it’s functionality you might like to know about now that it’s available!
Sizes, Pricing & Availability
So now we come to the two crucial questions. When will the new iPhone model be available, and how much will it cost? Apple have chosen to follow the same pricing as in previous years, following what has proven to be a very successful model. The iPhone 4 is available in two different sizes, and two different colours. These are:
- iPhone 4 16GB White: $199
- iPhone 4 16GB Black: $199
- iPhone 4 32GB White: $299
- iPhone 4 32GB Black: $299
If you’re more than happy with a slightly older model, the iPhone 3GS will soon be available for the bargain price of $99. These figures assume that you’re happy to sign up to a standard two year contract with AT&T.
The iPhone 4 will be going on sale in five countries (USA, UK, Germany, France and Japan) on the 24th June. Pre-orders are being taken from the 15th, and Apple are happy to notify you when you can submit your order. iPhone 4 will be rolled out to 88 other countries by September.
If you’re more interested in the software update for your existing iPhone, you’ll be pleased to know that it will be available free for all iPhones and iPod touch devices on June 21st. There are a few older generation iDevices that it doesn’t work with, so be sure to check whether yours is supported!
Side Note: Bumpers for iPhone 4
Apple has also announced a range of cases for the new phone, called “Bumpers”. They look pretty vibrant and stylish, and are due to launch around the same time as iPhone 4.
Will You Be Buying One?
The obvious question to ask is whether you think the upgrades and additions announced today are worth forking over your hard-earned cash for. Has Apple successfully lured you in with their swanky new hardware, or will you be content with the free software upgrade?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments either way!