As expected, Steve Jobs officially announced the new iPhone model today, even kicking things off with a joke asking if we’ve seen it before. Ha ha. But seriously, the leaks didn’t lie. It’s thin, it’s sleek, it’s… probably going to slip out of my current holster.
Nitty-gritty first, the U.S. pricing remains unchanged. The iPhone 4 will be available in 32GB and 16GB capacities for $299 and $199, respectively, with two-year contract. Color options are black or white. The 3GS with 8GB will be the new $99 model. Available June 24th with pre-orders on June 15th for U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Japan. Later for everyone else.
As previously seen, the new iPhone ditches the plastic case for glass on the front and back. I’m sure that move will draw some criticism, but while my brother has shattered a face corner on his iPhone, my main concern has always been the plastic. There are scratches on mine and a hairline crack near the bottom right screw. By contrast, the glass remains spotless.
Keeping the glass faces together is a two-piece stainless steel band. Obviously, you can’t argue with the strength of stainless steel. More importantly, it acts as the radio antenna with the phone using one piece and Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS using the other. Structurally, it looks like a solid improvement over the previous model, while also improving the antenna situation.
The whole body is 24% thinner, 9.3mm, and, they claim, “the thinnest smartphone on the planet”. Looks like the whole “thinner is better” philosophy is back. Oh, and the SIM card has been chopped down to the micro as expected.
The display makes a huge leap with double the resolution or quadruple the pixels. Calling it a “Retina Display”, Apple managed to bump the 3.5″ display up to 960 x 640, or 326 pixels per inch. For comparison, standard print quality is 300dpi, so resolution on the new iPhone screen is slightly better than a standard magazine. (Can’t wait to see how good our journal looks on it.)
Powering the whole thing is the A4 system-on-a-chip, just like the iPad, and an even bigger battery so it should last even longer. Claim is 7 hours talk or 6 hours web surfing on 3G, but you know how that goes. Still, it should last as long and run even faster. No improvement to the 3G, still HSPA at 7.2Mbps, but I would bet it will support AT&T’s upgrade later this year. (Apple has a history of sneaking in hardware upgrades then announcing them later after they are usable.)
Augmenting the accelerometer is a 3-axis gyroscope. This boosts its motion-sensing to a 6-axis system. It will be interesting to see how developers take advantage of this. Perhaps a 3D version of Trism?
The camera gets a bump up to 5MP, a backside illumination sensor for increased image capture efficiency, digital zoom, and LED flash. The major improvement, however, is the video capture upgrade to HD 720p at 30fps. They’re complementing that on the software side with iMovie for iPhone, an optional video editing app.
And as his “one more thing”, Jobs showed off their new video calling system called FaceTime. It’s Wi-Fi only for now, so no worries about using up that now finite amount of 3G data, but they are working with carriers on this (don’t hold your breath for AT&T to allow it). It’s also limited to working between iPhone 4’s but they intend to establish an open industry standard for it. Fun feature is that you can switch between front and back cameras so if you want someone to see what you’re looking at (or don’t want them to see you), it’s one tap on the screen.
Along with those hardware improvements, there are some software updates, like the addition of Bing to the search engine options (not bumping out Google as some had predicted), iBooks for the iPhone with PDF reader, and the renaming of the iPhone OS to iOS (I would have gone with OSi). More details on software in other posts here and Notebooks.com.
The big renaming for me is the iPhone being named according to model number. At CES, I mentioned to the guys at Dell how their numbering-by-screen-size system kept them from falling into the same trap as Apple and their iPhone 3G and 3Gs. Switching to simple numbering makes it much easier for me to explain the iPhone models to non-geeks.
Update: Apple website is now updated with iPhone 4.