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The Design, Display, A4 CPU & Camera

Gordon Kelly


Apple Unveils iPhone 4

We all knew it was coming, even Steve Jobs started off his presentation with "Now, stop me if you’ve already seen this." So here it is in all its official glory: the 'iPhone 4'.

Yes iPhone HD and iPhone 4G were thankfully jettisoned as names and the long and short of it is we pretty much knew everything already, but there are some surprises so let's break it all down.

The first thing you'll notice is the new, flat design which harks back to the original iPhone. It is just 9.3mm thick (24 per cent slimmer than the 3G/3GS) and has a glass front and back to reduce scratches. The stainless steel sides of the handset feature breaks which Jobs admitted "don’t seem like Apple”, but these are actually quite clever housing the Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, UMTS and GSM antennas. Will putting them into the frame of the handset improve signal reception? Let's hope so.

Next is the display and while it sticks at 3.5in it does indeed sport a massive 960 x 640 native resolution which equates to 326px per inch - 4x higher than the 3GS and the human eye can't see past 300. That means text should be indistinguishable from that in a book and Apple dubs it the 'Retina Display'. It is backed up with an 800:1 contrast ratio (also 4x that of the 3GS). The panel isn't OLED, but Jobs claims "You can’t make an OLED display with this resolution, we think it’s quite superior."

Elsewhere is a front facing camera for video calls (expect networks to unveil brutal pricing for that soon), two mics so we finally get noise cancelling - a long overdue feature which should greatly improve call quality - and Apple has switched to a micro SIM to save space inside the phone. On the downside the ageing facia of the handset remains unchanged and that wasted bezel space is really starting to annoy me.

Duck inside and, again as expected, the iPhone 4 has made the jump to an Apple A4 CPU like the iPad. Jobs didn't say how much faster this will make the handset than the 3GS, but we do know the iPad is quicker than the 3GS. It will need to be given the new phone is driving 78 per cent of the pixels as on its 9in dumber brother.

Other good news is a switch to a 5MP camera with LED flash (sadly not Xenon). The promise here is an improvement in image processing and low light performance, not just a megapixel bump. 720p HD video recording is added as well at up to 30fps and Apple will be launching a mobile version of iMovie which can edit in transition effects and titles, overlay your iPod music, geotag and upload directly to YouTube or Mobile me. It won't come with the iPhone 4, but will cost $4.99 in the App Store.

The next biggie is the introduction of a three-axis gyroscope for detecting pitch, roll and yaw. When combined with the existing accelerometer it now has six axis motion sensing and all six will be available to developers. Expect flight sims galore.

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