At long last, Steve Jobs unveiled what we’ve long since gotten a glimpse of: the next iPhone. Officially called the iPhone 4, the device has has a stainless steel band and a glass front and back, dual cameras, a high-resolution display, noise-canceling mic, and all the connectivity you need: GPS, 802.11n Wi-Fi, 3G, and HSDPA. It will go on sale in the U.S. and four other countries on June 24, and will start at $199 with a two-year contract on AT&T in the U.S. What makes the iPhone stand out is its Retina screen and FaceTime video chat app. And it’s thin. Really thin.
“Some of you have already seen this,” Jobs quipped, in a nod to Gizmodo’s leaking of an iPhone 4 prototype. “This is really hot.” The phone, which measures just 9.3mm thin, is 24 percent thinner than the last-generation iPhone 3GS. Jobs claims it’s the thinnest smart phone on the market. Moreover, the antenna is built into the stainless steel band, a unique kind of construction. “Its closest kin is like a beautiful old Leica camera,” Jobs concluded. “It’s unheard of in consumer products today.”
Industry insiders had ventured a guess as to the iPhone 4’s resolution, but Steve Jobs nonetheless wowed the crowd, unveiling what Apple calls its “Retina Display.” The phone’s 960 x 640-pixel screen delivers 326 pixels per inch, which is designed to deliver a sharp image even when users zoom in on images and text. Jobs promises that even existing apps, designed for a lower-resolution screen, will still look sharp. The technology behind the display is IPS, not OLED. In his keynote, Jobs claimed that an OLED display cannot support the iPhone’s resolution.
One cool surprise: the iPhone 4 has a gyroscope, allowing onscreen objects to rotate on a 3D axis. In his demo, Jobs showed off the game Jenga, in which a precarious tower of blocks wobbled as Jobs virtually removed individual pieces from the stack. Needless to say, the potential for games is enormous. This feature drew appreciative applause and cheers from the thousands of developers in the crowd.
We already knew the newest iPhone would have two cameras. As that front-facing camera suggests, the phone supports video calling, a feature Apple has branded FaceTime. This feature is built into iOS 4, no third-party app needed. However, you can only make calls to another iOS 4-powered phone. The calling is also Wi-Fi-only. Somewhere, AT&T is breathing a sigh of relief.
We also now know that the iPhone 4’s camera records 720p video at 30 frames per second. Moreover, users can edit their videos inside the phone, using a brand new iMovie for iPhone app. Like the desktop version, the app ($4.99) lets users add music, themes, and effects, including the popular Ken Burns effect. It also boosts the resolution from 3-megapixels to five, and boasts 5X digital zoom. Users can use the LED flash in both still and video shooting. Also, the iPhone 4’s camera has what Apple calls a “backside illuminated sensor,” meaning some of the wiring on the sensor is tucked out of the way. That sounds an awful lot like the technology Sony uses to make sure more light trickles down into the pixels inside its camera sensors.
Also predicted but not confirmed: the iPhone 4 runs on the A4 chip, the same one found inside the iPad. Thanks to this processor, Apple promises up to 7 hours of battery life on 3G (six if you’re browsing). The phone will support up to 32GB of flash memory and, as always, support HSDPA connectivity.
iPhone 4 runs the latest version of the iPhone OS, now called iOS. In addition to multitasking, folders, and iBooks, all features announced earlier this year, the operating system supports Apple’s new Retina technology. Smartly, if you read iBooks on your iPhone and iPad, your notes and bookmarks will sync across these devices. iOS 4 also now has Bing built in as a search option (Google and Yahoo remain options as well).
The iPhone 4 will be available in black and white. It will cost $199 for 16GB and $299 for 32GB. The 8GB iPhone 3GS will now cost $99. Moreover, any AT&T customer whose contract ends in 2010 can upgrade to an iPhone 4 up to six months early. Look for the iPhone 4 to go on sale June 24. Pre-orders start June 15. One June 24, the iPhone 4 will come to the U.S., France, Germany, the UK, and Japan. In July, it will come to 18 more countries, which, with the exception of Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea, are in Western Europe. By the end of September, the phone will reach 88 countries, in what Apple is calling its fastest roll-out ever.