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iPhone 4 Design: If Looks Could Kill

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Apple (s aapl) makes very functional tech, certainly, but it also isn’t the only company that does so. What separates Apple from the rest of the pack is its attention to aesthetics and physical design. I often want an Apple product not because I think it will be terribly useful, but because I just want to hold the dang things in my hand.

The new iPhone 4 is no exception, even if its name leaves a little something to be desired. It’s glass and steel, as you might expect from a company that lately loves the metal and gloss look (the iPad and iMac are prime examples). The front and back are optical glass, which is far more scratch resistant than the current plastic back of your iPhone 3GS, let me tell you from experience. Both will have an oleophobic coating, so you won’t get everything all smudgy.

A steel band rings the phone around its perimeter, striking quite the industrial impression, and on that band are located the various ports for the 30-pin dock connector, headset jack, microphone, speaker and sim card tray. You’ll also find the sleep/wake button, volume controls and silent switch here. No physical orientation lock like on the iPad, but there will now be a software button for that in iOS 4.0.

And that steel band isn’t just there for stunning good looks. It also doubles as part of the antenna system for the iPhone’s various radios, including Wi-Fi, 3G, GPS and Bluetooth. Integrated antennas not only frees up space to make this phone so thin, but it should also help out with reception, too, though you still have to deal with AT&T’s (s att) questionable service, unfortunately.

Speaking of thin, this iPhone is the thinnest yet, and possibly the thinnest smartphone available period. It’s 24 percent thinner than the iPhone 3GS, at an impressive 9.3mm thick. Now you have absolutely no excuse to keep this thing in your pants pocket instead of using a holster, except maybe if you want to show off your newest acquisition.

Combine all of this surface stuff with a new gyroscope sensor on the inside, the amazing new Retina Display, 40 percent more battery life and front and back cameras, the rear of which shoots full 720p HD video and you’ve got yourself quite the contender. The phone is also available in white or black, as per usual, but I’m thinking the white design could be quite a bit more popular now that it’s wrapped in optical glass instead of easy-to-discolor white plastic. Might sway my own decision on that front. What do you guys think, huge design improvement or what?

18 Responses to “iPhone 4 Design: If Looks Could Kill”

  1. Want to put your old iPhone to use doing exciting new things? How about sending it to Kenya in two weeks to record oral history interviews in endangered tribal dialects? My name is Kamilah Welch and I am the public relations intern for Smallbean(, a Boston-based non-profit. Smallbean’s initiatives teach technology skills and document community life around the world through the use of refurbished electronics and solar power.

    With yesterday’s debut of the iPhone 4, we are seeking old iPhones for use as digital voice recorders for our oral history-based Citizen Archivist Project. Any information or references of people whom we could contact on this prospect would be very much appreciated. Thanks!

    Kamilah([email protected])

  2. netwiz

    I agree, this is one sexy phone, and with the new screen, Face Time video chat, and the increased res, this will send all of the other phone manufacturers back to the drawing board.

    This is just apple doing it’s job and innovating once again. I can’t wait to see what happens come next year when the competition is just starting to catch up again. ;)

  3. forget about 64GB, who needs it anyway, for the price I mean :)
    even 32GB sales were very low, that’s why Apply didn’t bover to make 64GB, it would be just a waste of money for Apple..

  4. “With the possible exception of the 5megapixel camera and LED flash, most of these features are “nice-to-haves” and are hardly “must-have” justifications for an upgrade.”

    The screen, the speed of the new chip, the better phone, all are must haves for me, while 64gb is definitely not. That’s the thing, we all have different must haves.

    But I think anyone that believes this isn’t a compelling upgrade for the majority of users is sniffing glue.

  5. goestoeleven

    @cptgibbs, no argument that it looks great, and the new features are certainly interesting. With the possible exception of the 5megapixel camera and LED flash, most of these features are “nice-to-haves” and are hardly “must-have” justifications for an upgrade.

    Adding 64Gb would have made this a very compelling new piece of kit.

    Without it, I will happily wait…

  6. goestoeleven

    Sure, looks great — but the feature I was REALLY looking forward to was the expected storage bump to 64Gb. Am I the only one that noticed this conspicuous omission?


    • Right, all the other new features and updates are meaningless because they didn’t increase the capacity ;}

      I’m bracing myself for a slew of “No [XYZ]? FAIL!” comments on the interwebs.