iPhone 4 Hands-On: Mind-Blowing Display Meets Crazy Thin Design

Today, we had the pleasure not just of sitting fifth row in Steve Jobs’ annual keynote at WWDC, where he unveiled the long-leaked iPhone 4, but getting some face time (pun intended) with it immediately afterward. While we’d like to spend more time using the newly renamed iOS 4 on a daily basis, we quickly warmed to the phone’s slimmed-down design, high-resolution display, and elegant video chatting app, FaceTime. Can’t wait until June 24 to try it yourself? Get your fill now with some close-up photos and videos of Apple’s newest smartphone.

New, Slimmer Design

The newest iPhone claims to be the the thinnest iPhone on the market, at 9.3mm thick, and is 24 percent thinner than the iPhone 3GS. It’s actually a touch heavier than the current 3GS, but you wouldn’t know it from holding the iPhone 4. Because it’s so thin, it’s easier to cup your fingers around it, cradling it in your palm. It’s to the 3GS what the HTC Droid Eris is to the Droid (below, see some side-by-side shots of the iPhone 4 next to the Motorola Droid). The glass front and back surfaces feel great, although we noticed plenty of fingerprints after I and other journalists had spent just a few minutes playing with it. We especially dig the all-white version, which looks totally unlike the last white iPhone that was sold or really, any other phone on the market. In fact, something about the combination of its finish, shape, and color actually reminded us of some of the all-white phones we saw on the subways of Seoul, when we visited a year ago.

High-Resolution Retina Display

The iPhone 4 was rumored to have a high-resolution 960 x 640 display, but what no one knew was that it has a new technology called Retina, which Apple described for the first time today. This construction, which crams in 326 pixels per inch, allows the display to look sharp even when you zoom in on text, photos, or within apps. While not as sexy a feature as video chatting, 720p movie recording, or an iMovie app, it’s details like these that make this new iPhone impressive, and compelling compared to the 3GS and other smartphones. We took both video and photos so that you can appreciate how sharp pictures and words look, even when magnified. It’s the closest Apple has gotten to a paper experience. Amazon should feel a bit less cocky about its easy-on-the-eyes display now.

Early Thoughts on FaceTime

Finally, the video chatting experience, courtesy of FaceTime, is elegant. We love that it’s built into the phone, something that’s not true of the new EVO 4G, and that calling someone is as easy as pressing Video Call on Skype, the video chatting experience users are mostly likely already accustomed to. See our post on FaceTime for a more detailed run-down of what the video calling experience is like.

Check out our hands-on video and photo gallery, and check out our comparison between the iPhone 4 and 3GS to see if an upgrade is right for you.


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  1. dave Says:

    “subways of seoul” as if Korea matters in this market. I remember crazy Korean’s bragging back in the 80’s how korea number 1, best number 1, well not so fast kimo soba noddle.

  2. pizwillie Says:

    Can we please ban the use of the word “elegant” in hyping Apple products? It’s such an imprecise, subjective term.

  3. Techboy Says:

    In all fairness, Apple products are streamlined and elegantly designed. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I see an elegant iphone indeed.

  4. remy Says:

    It seems to me that this reviewer has no idea what they are talking about in regards to the display.

    first off, the resolution is 960×640…not 960×480 as stated in the video.
    also, the pixel density, 326 ppi, (or “hundreds” as said in the video) doesnt have anything to do with smoothness when zooming in on anything. It is actually the opposite…when looking at text on a web page, for example, the text can be miniscule but since the resolution is so high, it is still readable.
    Your examples of zooming in on text dont really show us anything that the 3gs cant do, iphones have always smoothed text when zooming in.
    This ultra-high resolution display is CALLED the “retina” display…its a marketing term, and has nothing to do with the technology behind it. The word, retina, refers to the human retina and how it cannot differentiate pixels on a display of this density.
    I feel that someone who does this for a living, reviewing products and going to special events like this, should be on top of this kind of information. Check your details and at least TRY to sound like you know what you’re talking about.
    I will admit, i got a few good laughs from this article/video.
    details are everything in the technology and gadget world.

  5. Alex Says:

    Bravo for technical change, but finally I prefered iPhone 3’s design

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