Apple introduces iPhone 4

Apple on Monday announced the next version of the iPhone, called the iPhone 4, during Steve Jobs’s keynote to kick off the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

Jobs described the phone as, “beyond a doubt, the most precise thing and one of the most beautiful things we’ve ever made” before highlighting a number of its new features.

Updated design

Apple says the iPhone 4 is 9.3mm thick, or 24 percent thinner than the iPhone 3GS. It includes a new camera with an LED flash on the black, but a second, front-facing camera as well. There are new volume buttons, a mute button, plus a second microphone on the top for noise cancellation. Just like the iPad, it now incorporates a micro-SIM tray.

Apple has also engineered three integrated antennas into the design: one for Bluetooth, one for WI-Fi and GPS, and one for UMTS and GSM.

Improved display

A new screen technology called a retina display adds much higher precision to the iPhone. In fact, at 326 pixels per inch, it’s double the 163 pixels per inch resolution of the iPhone 3GS.

The new display is the same 3.5 inches diagonally, but at 960 by 640 it has four times as many pixels as the previous model. And the 800:1 contrast ratio is also four times that of the iPhone 3GS. It uses the same IPS display technology as the iPad and the iMac for good color fidelity, brightness, and viewing angle.

New processor

Designed by Apple, the A4 chip is tiny and has good power management. Apple went with the micro-SIM design to save space, mostly for a new battery that—coupled with the new chip—Apple says provides 40 percent more talk time. The company says talk time is up from 5 hours to 7 hours; 6 hours of 3G browsing; 10 hours of Wi-Fi browsing; 10 hours of video; 40 hours of music; and 300 hours of standby.

Environmentally, the new iPhone is arsenic free, BFR-free mercury-free, PVC-free, and made from highly recyclable materials.

It comes in sizes up to 32GB of storage (the same as the iPhone 3GS) and includes quad-band HSPDPA/HSUPA networking with a maximum of 7.2Mbps down and 5.8 Mbps up.

“That’s theoretical because the carriers don’t support it yet,” said Jobs.

There’s also 802.11n Wi-Fi wireless networking, an improvement from 802.11g in the previous model.

Gyroscope

The iPhone 4 add a three-axis gyroscope for measuring angular velocity. It can figure out pitch, roll, and yaw; and rotation about gravity. The gyroscope plus the accelerometer provide six-axis motion sensing. There are also new CoreMotion APIs that developers can call for extremely precise position information—ideal for games.

New camera system

The iPhone 4 has a new, 5-megapixel camera with 5x digital zoom and an LED flash. It also adds 720p HD video capture at 30 frames per second. To go along with the new video capabilities, Apple has created a version of its iMovie consumer video-editing application for the iPhone. With it, you can record or edit you videos (and add photos as well). You can add titles, changes themes, and use music from your iTunes library.

iMovie for iPhone will be available for $5—“if we approve it,” Jobs joked, in reference to the App Store.

Video chat

For Jobs’ patented (well, probably not, but it should be) One More Thing moment, he sat down on a chair to show off the iPhone 4’s video chatting capabilities. Using either of the two cameras, you can make video calls—a feature called FaceTime—between iPhone 4 phones over Wi-Fi only—at least through 2010. Jobs said Apple needs to “work a little bit with the cellular providers in the future”. You can switch between cameras and chat in landscape or portait mode.

Pricing and availability

The iPhone 4 will come in black and white, at $199 for 16GB and $299 for 32GB (with the same qualifications and two-year contract with AT&T as in the past). Apple will also add an 8GB iPhone 3GS for $99.

Jobs said that AT&T is going to make “an incredibly generous upgrade offer.” If your contract expires any time in 2010, you’re immediately eligible for that pricing, for up to six months early eligibility. The iPhone 4 will be available from Apple and AT&T’s retail and online stores, as well as at Best Buy and Wal-Mart stores.

The iPhone 4 goes on sale in the U.S., France, Germany, the U.K., and Japan on June 24, with pre-orders starting on June 15. It will ship in 18 more countries in July, in 24 more in August, and in 40 more by the end of September.

Apple also showed off some accessories: a $29 dock and a $29 case called a Bumper that comes in white, black, blue, green, orange, or pink.

Updated at 11:48AM pacific with information on video FaceTime as well as pricing and availability.

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