Apple recently introduced the newest version of its iPhone, called the iPhone 4. This new iPhone replaces the current 3GS model and carries several advantages, including a body that is 24% thinner than its predecessor’s, a front-facing as well as a 5 megapixel rear camera (with flash), a larger battery, and what Apple claims to be the world’s highest resolution screen (1). The device is also installed with a software program called FaceTime, which allows video calling over cellular phones – though currently those phones include only other iPhone 4 phones.
Other new features on the iPhone 4 include iOS4, an operating system (OS) that allows the user to perform limited multitasking (i.e., run several iPhone Apps simultaneously), as well as to organize related Apps into folders. This OS also provides a unified e-mail inbox that organizes multiple e-mail accounts into one and also allows forwarded e-mails t display as threaded conversations.
Apple advertises several critical new features for the new iPhone 4. The back of the phone is made of glass, not plastic. This glass is purported to be 30 times stronger than plastic and scratch-proof.
In terms of resolution, the iPhone 4 has a 3.5 inch screen that carries a resolution of 960 x 640, giving it a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch. That translates to each pixel being a mere 78 micrometers across. By comparison, the average cell in a human body is 50 micrometers (0.5 mm) in diameter. It’s no wonder that Apple is calling its iPhone screen the “Retina display.”
FaceTime face-to-face video calling is another selling point for the iPhone 4, although for the moment it works only on other iPhone 4 devices and with Wi-Fi connection at both sides. The set-up is quite easy: after the caller presses the FaceTime button, the recipient of the video call can accept the invitation to talk and his or her image appears on the screen. The caller’s image also appears, in a small corner window. The FaceTime application can also be initiated during a regular audio call.
Finally, the iPhone 4 allows limited multitasking. This does not mean that every App can run simultaneously on the iPhone 4; however, certain “passive” functions will run. Two examples include Pandora’s streaming audio, which can be set to play in the background, and navigation Apps, which function while the user is on a phone call.
The biggest disadvantage of the new iPhone 4 is its on-board AT&T network. This network is notorious for poor reception and dropped calls. It has also recently dropped its unlimited flat-rate data plan. Unfortunately, the iPhone has been locked into this network for the last 3 years.
Another (current) disadvantage of the iPhone 4 is its video calling feature. Apple promises to make its video calling technology available for free to other phones and networks in the future. However, until that time, one can only do video calling from one’s iPhone 4 to another iPhone 4 (and only via Wi-Fi).
Pricewise, the iPhone 4 will run $199 for a 16 GB and $299 for a 32 GB model (including a 2-year contract from AT&T). The old 8 GB 3GS model will now cost $99 (with the 2-year contract).
1. Apple iPhone 4 http://www.apple.com/iphone/design/