Tuesday, June 8, 2010

iPhone 4, Impressions after the Keynote

Steve Jobs has done it again, after opening with a joke; “stop me if you’ve already seen this,” an obvious reference to the debacle relating to an Apple dev losing a prototype iPhone 4 in a bar leading to the device landing on Gizmodo’s front page. It seemed that he was ready to make the best of an otherwise marketing nightmare.

The fourth generation, not to be confused with 4G, of Apple’s do everything device is freshly on the minds of tech geeks and Apple fan-boys (and girls) the world over. But what can we really expect from this new handset? Apple claims that this is the largest leap for their handset since the jump from the original iPhone to the 3G model.

The new form and shape of the iPhone 4 has generated a lot of buzz the net over. Featuring two panels of aluminosilicate glass on both the face and rear of the device, Apple has said that this type of engineered glass is the same type used for the windshields of helicopters and high-speed trains. Also, it was apparently chemically treated to be 20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic, creating an extremely durable glass surface that is more scratch resistant than ever. The stainless steel frame that sits around the device apparently serves the dual purpose as being the main structure for the internal components and as the antennae for cell service, wi-fi, and Bluetooth connectivity. Personally, I applaud Apple’s new take on the iPhone design. The last three generations featured a sleek and curved shape that felt very out of place with the style of Apple’s other devices, my only hope is that antennae structure will make a difference with some of the shortcomings of their previous devices; and regardless how strong they’ll claim the glass is, I’ll still purchase a screen protector.

The most anticipated feature for myself personally is the new retina display. A 960 by 640 backlit LCD screen boasting a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch, arguably the highest resolution mobile phone screen ever developed (as of date). Apple states they engineered pixels so small, a mere 78 micrometers across, that the human eye can’t distinguish the individual pixels. The result is crystal clear graphics with text so crisp it almost looks like print. In my day-to-day world, my iPhone is my gateway to the world around me. Everything from news articles to sports scores delivered instantly with a few taps. One feature in the new iOS4, the new name for iPhone OS, is iBooks, now having spent a good amount of time reading on my current iPhone 3Gs, eye strain is common for long stretches. But with crisper text I expect that to be greatly alleviated.

The camera system has also been retooled; the iPhone 4 now features a 5-megapixel rear camera complete with LED flash. The test photos shown looked almost unbelievable for the iPhone, even photos taken in low light situations. But the biggest innovation has to be the front facing VGA camera. Similar in quality to the camera from the previous generation, the front facing camera is the centerpiece for Apple’s new video call enable program rightly named FaceTime. Yet the most disappointing aspect of this was the absence of FaceTime calls on 3G networks, meaning you are limited to relying on a wi-fi connection to make use of this new camera. A part of me feels that the front facing camera will get more use from people taking self-portraits rather than using FaceTime, but that is yet to be seen.

Now these are not all that Apple unveiled about their new device, but these three are the most appealing to me. As an avid Apple fan-boy, I can’t keep myself from wanting this next phone, and trust me I will be getting it.

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