iPhone 4: our first impressions

What we make of Apple's new videotastic iPhone

iPhone 4

Well, we thought it was going to be called the iPhone HD, but iPhone 4 is just that – the iPhone 4. So the name was a little bit of a surprise.

And that's not the only thing that's been renamed. iPhone OS4 is now iOS4 - presumably to reflect the growing realisation that the iOS4 is an OS for more than just a phone.

The iOS4 release date is 21 June while Apple has finally been able to break the cycle of having to charge iPod touch owners for the new OS.

The most impressive things about the new iPhone includes the stunning screen, with 326 pixels per inch (but no OLED sadly). It has four times as many pixels as an iPhone 3GS and 78 per cent of the pixels of an iPad according to Apple.

iPhone 4

More impressively, there's also something truly brand new for a smartphone - a gyroscope - using something called 3-axis gyro - that could really cement Apple's place in the handheld gaming market. Sony and others might as well give up now.

FaceTime video calling

As his 'one more thing' Jobs also announced video calling (called FaceTime) and made a call live on stage to Jonny Ive, Apple's design guru. This looks good - though it's Wi-Fi-compatible only between iPhone 4s for the remainder of 2010. We bet networks would charge the earth for it sadly and Jobs admitted as much by saying Apple needs to do some talking there.

You can also flip the video between the two cameras - which is a cool touch - while calls can also be in portrait or landscape.

iPhone 4

Many pundits are being down on FaceTime, but until we've got it in-hand, we'll remain positive. We'd find it a lot more useful if video calling could work with the Skype app, though.

There's also the most welcome boost of 720p (30fps) video recording, as well as a better camera - both of which we'd expected before the announcement took place. Sadly though, you'll have to pay for the iMovie video app to edit and process video - it's $4.99 in the US - which was a bit of a surprise. However, it looks like a superb app for a few quid.

The iPhone 4 UK release date is 24 June with pre-orders starting on 15 June.

iPhone 4

TechRadar Mobile Phones Editor Gareth Beavis says the iPhone 4 screen has "960 x 640 resolution, which is even better than the WVGA used in phones like the HTC Desire.

"But it only has an 800:1 contrast ratio, which is far lower than that possible with OLED-based phones, although Steve Jobs says the new IPS tech used is better."

Thinner, better battery life

Jobs clearly believes iPhone 4 is a thing of beauty, comparing the front and back glass finish to "a beautiful Leica camera." We'd agree - the new handset is also 24 per cent thinner than the iPhone 3GS - 9.6mm. According to Apple, that's the thinnest on the planet.

Even our previous criticism of the design proved unfounded – the lines on the side of the device are actually part of the antenna system and not actually a dodgy design decision. It is, however, a bit of a shame the key switches remain the same.

Although it was a forlorn hope, we wanted the rotation lock found on the iPad. The separated volume buttons will be better though - we often press the volume up when we want down on the current models.

It takes a micro SIM (of course) and has a 5MP camera WITH A FLASH on the back. About time. It's LED, too. 5 megapixels is hardly anything to shout about though, even if there is a 5x digital zoom and tap to focus feature - still, the camera is a bit so-so in terms of spec.

There's also a noise cancellation mic as we saw on the device leaked to Gizmodo. Jobs was candid about that experience, joking with the audience at WWDC as to whether they'd previously seen the new device.

Improved connectivity

Pleasingly, there's also improved data, with 802.11n wireless connectivity as well as ability to take advantage of fast 7.2Mbps data networks.

Naturally, it's also powerful, with Apple's A4 processor. That's the same as in the iPad, which we'd previously predicted. Jobs says this gives iPhone 4 a 40 per cent boost in terms of battery life over the 3GS.

That's a lot better, but hardly stunning and those iPhone owners who have to charge at least once a day won't be hugely impressed.

There's no 64GB iPhone 4, but there is 32GB and 16GB models which have the nominal prices of $199 and $299 each before contract. That's hardly cheap and we'll wait to see with baited breath how the UK networks react.

Also, in a move that reflects its growing unease with Google, Apple is also adding Bing and Yahoo as options within the iPhone search.

However, we're certainly fans of iPhone 4 - some of the stuff Jobs demoed looks stunning and with the news that Farmville and Guitar Hero are coming to the device, iOS4 is surely set to dominate the handheld gaming market, too.


Liked this? Then check out Best iPhone apps: coolest, best and latest revealed

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