Apple iPhone 4 Announced

Apple [AAPL] has announced the Apple iPhone 4. The new generation device brings a huge number of enhancements some of which we think are quite impressive.

New features included in the iPhone 4 include video calling (Wi-fi only at the moment), a very high resolution screen, a 3-axis gyroscope, larger battery (10 hours of wifi browsing and more) and a number of other features we’ll cover in just a moment.

The iPhone 4 measures just 9.3mm thick (24% thinner than the iPhone 3GS). This is the thinnest smartphone ever made according to Apple. We have seen the design previously due to the leak over at Gizmodo, and not much that we can see has changed, if anything at all.

The iPhone 4 is an impressive device. The front and back of the device is covered in glass while a stainless steel band not only holds the iPhone 4 together, it actually functions as an antenna (or several antennas) for the various communications on the iPhone. The left side of the device is responsible for Bluetooth, WiFi and GPS while the right side handles UMTS and GSM. The small black bar you might have seen in leaks is used to separate the antenna.

The next new feature of the phone, and perhaps one of the best we spotted, is the high resolution display. The new iPhone 4 has a 3.5 inch screen that can display 960 x 640 pixels. Apple call it the retina display. It gets the name from the sheer amount of pixels crammed in to each inch of the screen. To be exact, there’s 326 pixels per inch which makes images ultra clear. The device has an 800:1 contrast ratio and uses the same IPS technology found in the Apple iPad.

The results of the new display are beyond impressive. Small text is ultra clear. What’s good to hear is that iPhone 3GS and below apps scale to the new higher res screen. Anywhere that text is used in the app will automatically be improved. Jobs did however recommend that those who have developed apps upload them again with higher quality icons and images to really get the best effect.

“To achieve this, Apple engineers developed pixels so small ” a mere 78 micrometers across ” that the human eye can’t distinguish individual pixels. That makes text remarkably sharp and graphics incredibly vivid. IPS technology also provides excellent color and contrast from almost any viewing angle.”

The iPhone 4 uses a new custom built processor called the Apple A4 Processor. The new A4 chip has been designed in a similar way to the iPad in that it cuts out unnecessary features that waste battery life while improving performance of the new iPhone which includes multitasking performance and allows video editing (more on that below).

Another new feature on the iPhone 4 is the Gyro that brings a new level of interaction with games and apps. By combining the accelerometers, the GPS and the Gyro together it allows for more precise control of games where angular velocity can be tracked amongst other things.

The camera has received an upgrade also. The camera on the back is 5 megapixels and uses a backside illumination sensor that can capture better images in low light situations. An LED flash has also been added that can flash when capturing images or stay lit while capturing video. Video is recorded in HD at 720p. A camera on the front is also included that allows calls to be made over Wi-Fi connections. Steve Jobs said that they are working with network providers to introduce 3G video calling on the phone.

A dual microphone configuration is also included whereby the regular mic at the bottom of the device can be used for regular voice calls and the secondary mic is used to track background noise and cancel it out. Also the second mic is used when making video calls. This isn’t new technology here as we have seen the dual mic configuration in the Nexus One, but it’s good to see this moving in to the iPhone 4.

The battery is now larger and with the A4 processor inside, the iPhone has an impressive battery life. The chart shows that 3G conversations can last 7 hours, browsing in 3G is 6 hours, WiFi browsing an impressive 10 hours (matches the iPad WiFi), Video is 10 hours, Music is 40 hours and a standby of 300 hours. That’s quite a stepup from previous iPhone models and will hopefully see the device last through a days use instead of needing an interim charge through the middle of the day when heavy use happens.

iMovie for iPhone was also announced. The new software package built by Apple, brings HD movie editing to the iPhone that actually looks quite good. A demonstration was made on stage showing how transitions can be made and how portions of movies can be cut and moved around etc… When launched the new iMovie for iPhone app will cost $4.99 and will be available in the app store.

Before the event I was expecting to be a little underwhelmed with what “new” things I saw due to all the leaks on the internet this last month. I have to say I am quite impressed with what extras Apple has put in the new iPhone 4. It launches on June 24 and we plan to do a full review when it arrives.

Video presentation with more details can be found at Apple.

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